“Bluff City Law” debuted in September on NBC and is a legal drama set in Memphis, Tenn., addressing civil rights cases. The series is introducing Bluff City, so nicknamed for several bluffs along the Mississippi River, to a new audience. The city was one of 19 travel destinations included in Frommer’s “Best Places to Go in 2019” list. Memphis is known for its barbecue, music, significance in the civil rights movement, and now, a television series. Following are tips for travelers to save during their trip to Bluff City.


Elvis Presley purchased Graceland in March 1957 and paid $102,500 for the 13.8 acres and home. True blue fans will have a burning desire to visit the estate he lived in until his death in 1977. Touring the mansion is $41 while a guided tour of the famous home, access to see the legend’s iconic pink Cadillac and signature jumpsuits, and personal Graceland archives show and tell session, is $174 with the Ultimate VIP tour.

For those minding the budget and looking for a glimpse of the singer’s life, visit the Meditation Garden between 7:30 and 8:30 each morning. The famed musical gates open free of charge to visitors. Walk up Graceland’s driveway and admire the mansion from a distance and see the kidney-shaped swimming pool the beloved entertainer had installed in June 1957.

Pay respects in the Meditation Garden which includes gravestones of Presley, his grandmother Minnie Mae Presley, and his parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley. A memorial for the performer’s stillborn twin, Jesse Garon, is in the gardens along with a fountain, and eternal flame. The Wall at Graceland’s entrance is an attraction, too. Messages left by visitors from around the globe show how the King is always on their mind.

“Bluff City Law” wasn’t the only production here over the summer. The Hallmark Channel filmed “Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays.” The movie debuted Nov. 23 and is one of 40 new holiday films for 2019 in the Hallmark franchise. It is also the third Hallmark movie filmed at Graceland in the last few years.


Memphis was founded in 1819 by future U.S. president Andrew Jackson, Nashville judge John Overton, and former brigadier general James Winchester. They decided to name it for an ancient Egyptian city meaning “Place of Good Abode.” Memphis is located on the Nile River and home to Egypt’s famous pyramids. Did the founders name Memphis because of its location on the Mississippi River which could have made it a cultural and trade hub? Perhaps, but the history books are unclear on the reason.

During the 1950s, an artist thought Memphis needed three pyramids. More than three decades later, his son, Jon Brent Hartz, resurrected the concept and in 1991, the Great American Pyramid opened. Built of steel and glass and 28 stories tall, it initially served as home court for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, University of Memphis men’s basketball and as an entertainment venue. Over time, it was no longer suited for NBA play and eventually closed in 2004. Following lengthy negotiations with the City of Memphis, Bass Pro Shops moved in after extensive renovations and opened in 2015.

Today, the Memphis Pyramid is home to Bass Pro at the Pyramid. Find the world’s tallest freestanding elevator, 600,000 gallons of water with more than 1,800 fish, alligator pools, archery and pistol ranges, duck aviaries, bowling alley, 103-room rustic-luxury hotel called Big Cypress Lodge, Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center, dining, and one of the world’s largest collection of hunting and waterfowl equipment. While there is a fee for some of the experiences and shopping is encouraged, visitors are free to roam and explore the multi-level megastore including the exhibits in the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center.


Absurd yet brilliant ideas are often inspired while sipping spirits. That is what happened in 1933 when the general manager of The Peabody Memphis returned from a duck hunting trip with a friend. Thinking it would be amusing, they placed live ducks in the hotel’s fountain. The response was overwhelmingly positive and began the Peabody tradition. In 1940, Edward Pembroke, an animal trainer, taught the ducks to march to and from the fountain. For 50 years, he served as the Peabody Duckmaster.

Today, visitors can watch the five North American mallards walk during the Peabody Duck March along the red carpet. At 11 a.m., the duckmaster leads them from the elevator to the fountain, and at 5 p.m., they are led from the fountain, to the elevator, up to the rooftop, and to the comforts of their $200,000 Royal Duck Palace. Watching the march is free but arrive at least 30 minutes early to grab a seat and cocktail. Enjoy lunch or dinner at the hotel but you will not see duck on the menu. Since 1981, none of the restaurant’s eateries have served it, including its French restaurant.


Memphis is Home of the Blues and Birthplace of Rock and Roll. The city also is mentioned in more than 1,000 recorded songs. Music is interwoven in the city’s culture and several museums celebrate its past, present, and future. Sun Studio is where an 18-year-old Elvis recorded his first song. Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Roy Orbison and others also launched their musical careers at the legendary studio. Today, artists record in the studio during the evenings and by day, tours are available.

The exhibition at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum was curated by the Smithsonian Institution and shares the story of those who overcame barriers to create influential music from the mid-20th century through today. The interactive exhibits at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music celebrate American soul music and specifically, the Stax sound. These and other museums charge an admission fee and are well worth it.

A visit to the Beale Street Entertainment District can be easy on the budget. This is the official Home of the Blues and music from three blocks of nightclubs and restaurants fill the street. Add in shopping and people watching and a stroll down Beale Street is a stand-alone attraction. For a nominal cover charge, stop in one of the clubs to soak up the musical vibe and you may never know who’s on stage. Memphis native Justin Timberlake made a surprise appearance at B.B. King’s Blues Club earlier in the year. Check out Silky O’Sullivan’s to mingle with the oftentimes beer-drinking goats in the open-air courtyard and listen to queen Barbara Blue belt out silky blues. Visit Handy Park and pay tribute to the Father of the Blues, William Christopher Handy. Snap a photo with the bronze statue of Elvis between S. Main Street and S. Second Street.


Parking in Memphis can put a dent in your travel budget, but there are options. Room rates for a downtown hotel are typically at a premium. Driving in and parking usually has a fee associated, even late in the evening. If planning on visiting Sun Studio and Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, hop on the complimentary Sun Studio Shuttle. It runs hourly beginning at 10:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., seven days a week. Although free, gratuities are appreciated. Another option is hopping aboard the Main Street Trolley. It offers $1 one-way fares per rider. Or, stay at a hotel away from downtown but close enough to offer a complimentary shuttle to downtown.

Allegiant Air began nonstop service between Punta Gorda Airport and Memphis International Airport earlier in the month. Southwest Airlines offers nonstop service between Tampa International Airport and Memphis. American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, and United also offer air service to Memphis.

This Tennessee city on the Mississippi River has countless stories and songs to be heard. Some can be enjoyed on a television screen or through a pair of headphones. Others should be experienced by walking your blue suede shoes down Beale Street.

Jennifer Huber is the founder and voice behind the award- winning blog SoloTravelGirl.com where she celebrates traveling alone, not lonely.


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