Memphis is a great city for tourists and extremely welcoming, as well as a variety of activities to do for different interests. If you love music too, you’ll have a blast visiting the museums here. The food scene is thriving here, get ready to have your belly full of real Southern-style food! Music and art events are also happening regularly, so check out Choose 901 or I Love Memphis blog if you want to hit up some events. I got sober here in this city so I definitely know how to have a good time here without alcohol. Here I have laid out a Sober City Guide of Memphis, TN.
I have so much love for my hometown, Memphis, TN. As a music lover, I enjoy living in a city rich in music history. I am a huge Elvis fan and even had an Elvis impersonator at my wedding!
Main Areas of Memphis TN
This Midtown area is trendy and also where I live! Grab a coffee at Bluff City Coffee or lunch at Young Avenue Deli. Walk around the shops in this area. My favorites are 901 Comics, Buff City Soap, Burke’s Books, and Goner Records.
Want the classic Memphis feel? Eat at the retro Arcade Restaurant diner! Many movies and music videos have been filmed here, like Walk the Line and Elizabethtown. Don’t miss out on ordering a milkshake! Another cool option for a meal is the Puck Food Hall, with dozens of food stalls to choose from. DittyTV is a digital radio station that has a worldwide audience, and it happens to be based here on South Main! The space has regular concerts and a perfect photo opt. There are tons of cute shops along this street, so it makes for a fun afternoon or evening stroll!
This area is another local spot for delicious food and shopping! Grab a bite at Molly’s Cantina for Mexican food and shop the latest trends at Crazy Beautiful.
I know this is the Sober City Guide of Memphis, but Beale Street is pretty iconic! Definitely go to Beale Street during the day instead of at night if you want to avoid catcalls and drunk people. Silky O’Sullivan’s has a really nice patio space. Head to Blues City Cafe and B.B. King’s for some live music any time of day! AW Weber’s is a cool souvenir shop to visit and the oldest shop on Beale.
Looking to learn about the history of Memphis?
Enter the studio wear Otis Redding recorded “Try and Little Tenderness” and Sam and Dave sang “Hold on, I’m comin’!” You can also view Isaac Hayes’ gold plated Cadillac! The history and music knowledge you will gain at the Stax Museum is unlike any museum in Memphis.
The Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot was converted to the National Civil Rights Museum. This museum is filled with somber history. As you walk through, you are reminded of the past–how much progress has been made and how much still needs to happen. Many parts of the museum may leave you in tears, however, this museum is a must-see for all visitors.
Elvis is the King of Rock ‘n Roll and arguably the most famous Memphian followed closely by Justin Timberlake! Visitors can tour his home, his many cars, and even private airplane at the Graceland Museum. The home is as lavish as you can imagine. The iconic pink Cadillac is the highlight of the car museum!
Sun Studio is known worldwide as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll.” Stop by Sun Studio to be a part of music history. Elvis, Johnny Cash, B.B. King and many others recorded their hits in this studio.
Cool Places in Memphis TN
This architectural beauty is where I always take visitors when they come to Memphis! The building was formerly a Sears distribution center. Now, the building thrives as a cultural center of Memphis, filled with art galleries, restaurants, shops, and more. Grab a local Replenish kombucha from Curb Market or a coffee from French Truck. Ready for a bite? My favorites are Global Cafe, which employs refugees at food stalls to cook their favorite dishes from their home countries. I love trying all of the global cuisines like Syrian and Nepalese food! Check out the Crosstown Concourse website for events like gallery openings, concerts, and more.
You can take the elevator all the way to the top of the pyramid for a meal or just to view the city from the observation deck. The entire building is amazing, especially if you are into hunting or fishing. However, even if you’re not, the view of the city and the river is worth the trip!
Restaurants in Memphis TN
Gus’s is by far my favorite restaurant in Memphis! My family honestly visits this restaurant at least once a month, and my husband even had it catered at our rehearsal dinner. Food Network star Alton Brown has said, “I’m from the South. So I know good fried chicken. And I make seriously good fried chicken. But Gus’s is making quite possibly my favorite fried chicken.” The chicken is a tad spicy, crunchy, and absolutely delicious. Their downtown location is always crowded so check out the other locations if you can! When my sister-in-law made was pregnant, she asked us to drive this chicken to Texas because she was craving it so much. You’ll love it too!
Y’all can’t come to Memphis without trying our world-famous barbeque! My favorite is Central BBQ, but I’m biased because the Midtown location is two blocks from my house. Other favorites are Rendezvous, The Commissary, The BBQ Shop, and Payne’s.
This unique restaurant is famous for formerly being the hair salon where Priscilla Presley got her infamous beehive done back in the day! Now, retro relics from the original beauty parlour fill the restaurant. The food is delicious for any meal, but I especially love their brunch!
This classic restaurant is the staple of South Main Arts District. The vintage milkshake bar and vinyl seating make you feel like you were transported back to the 1950s! The restaurant even boasts that Elvis himself was once a regular. Check out the front counter for all the photos of celebs that have stopped by!
Outdoor Fun in Memphis TN
Rent a scooter to take across the Mud Island Pedestrian Bridge. Take the scooter all the way to the Memphis sign for a great Instagram photo! View the Mississippi River and the beautiful bridges.
Big River Crossing at the Desoto Bridge
The pedestrian area of the Desoto Bridge is a new addition. You can park near downtown and walk right across the bridge into Arkansas. The views of the city are incredible and it is a nice short stroll across.
Overton Park is where the locals go to get some exercise or lay on the grass. The Memphis Zoo, Brooks Museum, and the Levitt Shell are also in the park! The Levitt Shell puts on concerts all year long. A playground and a dog park are also available. The walking loop is about 1.5 miles, with a wooded section or a concrete section.
What would a Sober City Guide of Memphis be without a few friendly 12 Step Meetings? Here are a few that I recommend or visit here for a full list.
Came to Believe – 2865 Walnut Grove Rd, Memphis, TN 38111
- Every day at 7am, Noon, 5:30pm, 8pm
- Saturdays there is a great women’s meeting at 9am
Unity Group (my homegroup!) – Emmanuel United Methodist Church 2404 Kirby Rd
- Mondays and Thursdays at 7pm
Downtown Thursdays – St Mary’s Catholic Church 155 Market Ave
- Thursdays at 7pm
Does this list make you want to visit Memphis immediately? Writing this Sober City Guide of Memphis, TN honestly made me want to revisit some of these incredible spots that I haven’t seen in a while. The Southern culture of Memphis is friendly and vibrant. Sober or not, I hope that you can visit my hometown soon!
Need more sober travel tips? Visit How to Stay Sober at the Airport.
Want to submit a Sober City Guide for your city? Contact me here and let me know!