Memphis is more than just a thriving, cosmopolitan city on the banks of the Mississippi. It’s a culinary, historical and cultural powerhouse which is responsible for some of the most significant developments in American history. It’s the city that gave the world Elvis, John Grisham and fried pickles, and continues to punch well above its weight on the international cultural scene to this very day.
Fortunately, many have taken notice of this. According to the latest reports from the U.S. Travel Association, tourist numbers and spending has continued to increase over the years, reaching record highs of $742 million in Memphis, and $20.7 billion in the state of Tennessee in 2018.
Whether it’s the blues, the food, the parties, or the museums, Memphis has something for every type of traveler. A full list of the must-see attractions in Memphis would easily take up an entire novel, so we’ll stick to the very best ones.
Even better, we’re providing a list of the digital equivalents of each of these attractions, so that you can still experience them even if you aren’t able to make a trip down to the birthplace of rock and roll anytime soon. Read on to find out the top attractions in Memphis and their digital equivalents.
Graceland or The Graceland Virtual Tour
Elvis Presley is one of the most iconic and widely-known musicians in human history, and one of the few people who makes more money in death than they ever did in life – such is the power of his legacy. Graceland, a sprawling 14-acre estate a few miles from downtown, was his sanctuary and the place where he produced some of his most famous tracks.
It was here where his wife gave birth to his daughter, Lisa Marie, who still owns the estate to this day, and it’s where the King himself passed away in 1977. Today it is the second most visited house in the United States (after the White House), attracting more than 650,000 visitors a year. Of course, you might find that you’re unable to get a ticket anytime soon, which is why tech company Panotour came up with the Official Graceland Virtual Tour, which allows fans to explore the entirety of the estate via their mobile and laptop screens.
An Evening on Beale Street or The Beale Street App
The neon-lit Beale Street is the beating pulse of Tennessee. It’s the main artery of downtown Memphis and a 24-hour party zone where revelers can hit up to dance to the best blues music in America while sipping on cheap beer and whiskey.
Its’ role in the history of blues music is unquestionable, as it was the venues on this strip which made the careers of some of the most iconic musicians in American history. This heritage is celebrated every year with the three-day long Beale Street Music Festival, where all of the biggest names in the genre converge to perform and party for crowds of 50,000 plus. Of course, if you’re unable to get a ticket to this electrifying event, you can still experience the music of Beale Street digitally by downloading the official Beale Street app for your smartphone. It comes with music, clips of historic footage, history guides, and the complete low-down on all of the venues on this beloved drag.
Gold Strike Casino or Online Roulette
While downtown Memphis may not be well-known for its casinos, just a few miles south is home to one of the most famous gambling Meccas in the country. Tunica is a charming slice of Las Vegas in the heart of the South, featuring over a dozen mega casinos, mostly themed on the gold rushes of days gone by.
The best of these is undoubtedly the Gold Strike Casino, a glittering if somewhat kitschy resort which incorporates the very best of local culture and history alongside some of the best roulette in the country. Alongside numerous award-winning soul food and barbeque restaurants, visitors will also find 1200 slot machines and over 40 roulette tables. Of course, American roulette is not the only thing on offer here. There is also French roulette, which includes just a single 0 pocket rather than two, and old-school European roulette. Those unable to make the drive down to Tunica can enjoy the exact same experience over at the Betway online roulette platform, which offers all of the different variants of this beloved southern table game, including live roulette options, where you see real croupiers spinning actual roulette wheels on a live streaming video connection.
National Civil Rights Museum or the NCRM VR Experience
For better and for worse, the struggle for civil rights took center stage in Memphis. It was here where many of the Freedom Rides, Sit-Ins, speeches, and protests of the era took place, as well as being the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The location of his murder, the Lorraine Motel near Downtown, has since been converted into the National Civil Rights Museum, the biggest civil rights museum in America and the best place to learn about the struggles of Dr. King and his supporters to advance racial equality in America. If you’re unable to visit this fascinating and highly emotive place, the Tennesse State Museum has kindly created a digital resource known as the National Civil Rights Museum VR Experience, which allows anyone to tour the exhibitions via their web browser. The resource was compiled in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of King’s death and includes the motel room where his final hours took place. Unfortunately, only users inside the US can access this resource.
Everyone should visit Memphis at some point. However, if you aren’t able to see these places up close and personal, technology has provided a way to bring a little piece of Memphis into your living room.