MEMPHIS DAY 2: Graceland, Sun Studio and Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Start your second day in Memphis with breakfast at Cockadoo's, home of the Memphis Bar-B-Que Omelet. A bus or taxi can take you there from downtown. Fueled with a good Southern breakfast, turn your attention to Memphis music. No trip to Memphis is complete without a visit to Graceland, where thousands throng to pay homage to the city's most famous son, Elvis Presley, who, with his parents, is buried on the property. Take a taxi to get to Blues City Tours' Graceland Platinum tour, or take the free shuttle offered by Sun Studio. (It picks up hourly at the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum at Beale and Third, and at Sun Studio.) Get an early start and count on spending at least two hours, or longer, if you want to see the whole estate. While pictures make the home look large, it's not palatial but a comfortable home decorated in early 1970s style. Elvis put his own stamp here, particularly in the jungle and pool rooms.
In the trophy room, you'll see lots of memorabilia, including some of Presley's many costumes and his numerous gold records. Here is where you come to grips with the huge influence this one-time Mississipi-born truck driver had on global music. True fans should opt for the full tour, which includes a look at his famous pink Caddy and other cars, as well as his private jets. In the Meditation Garden, fresh floral tributes from fans are laid at his grave and those of other members of his family who are buried alongside.
Take the shuttle back to Sun Studio, a natural follow-up to Graceland located just east of downtown. Dubbed the "Birthplace of Rock N' Roll," the tiny studio is where Elvis was "discovered" when he walked in to record a song for his mother. Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins are among artists who have recorded here, and, though small, it's still an active studio. For the city's most exciting museum, take a taxi to the Soulsville USA neighborhood and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, built on the site of Memphis's legendary Stax Records. This funky museum tells the story of Memphis soul, including stars such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Booker T. & the MGs. There's even a dance floor that recreates the 1970s atmosphere of TV's "Soul Train."
For dinner, enjoy new-style Southern cuisine and a great selection of wines at McEwen's on Monroe. Later, check out more clubs on Beale Street or see what's playing at The Orpheum — a restored vaudeville palace where Broadway shows, operas, concerts and other performances are staged. Also check for events at FedExForum, including NBA basketball games played by the Memphis Grizzlies and college roundball played by the top-ranked University of Memphis Tigers.
Continue to Day 3