Tomorrow I leave for my annual Memphis vacation. That’s Memphis, Tennessee for those of you who have never ventured to the mid-South. By the way, it is not Nashville. Memphis is three hours west of Nashville. There is no country music in Memphis, just blues, soul and rock n roll. I have been to Memphis the first weekend in May for the past 12 years, including the four years I lived there. The three-day Beale Street Music Festival takes place along the Mississippi River in Tom Lee Park every year the first weekend in May as part of the ‘Memphis in May’ month-long celebration.
Where to Stay?
The first thing to decide when planning a trip to Memphis for Beale Street Music Festival (BSMF) weekend is what hotel to book. Usually the hotels downtown that are within walking distance to BSMF are too expensive because the rates are raised that weekend. This year I was fortunate enough to get a reservation at a hotel downtown, just a few blocks from Beale Street. It was a little pricey, but I would be within walking distance to everything, except Graceland, Sun Studio, the casinos, and some restaurants in Midtown. This starting worrying more and more. I decided to look at the casinos in Tunica, Mississippi, which is only a half hour drive from Memphis. I booked a reservation at the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica for $300. less than my downtown hotel. And then I lucked out and found a mid-size rental car from HotWire for only $90.
What to Do?
Now my five-day Memphis vacation has turned into a Memphis-Tunica vacation, which is even better! The trip is of course centered around the Beale Street Music Festival, which is one of the cheapest music festivals at only $75. for 60 acts over three days. This year I am looking forward to seeing Snoop Dogg, Juicy J, Third Eye Blind, Kid Rock, Buddy Guy, Joan Jett, Blues Traveler, Sonny Burgess and of course Jerry Lee Lewis who I’ve seen play every year at MusicFest. But before the festival starts, I will be partying on Beale Street before and after the Memphis Grizzlies game. Again this year, I am attending Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs to cheer on my Grizzlies to a victory! Two must-sees for me (and should be for anyone) while I’m in Memphis are Graceland and Sun Studio. If I have to explain what they are, then shame on you – Google it! Other then that, I will spend whatever time I have leftover at the casinos in Tunica where I am staying. There are many casinos, about 10, along route 61 backing up to the Mississippi River. The Gold Strike Casino where I am staying is within walking distance to two others, the Horseshoe and Roadhouse. Hopefully I can win enough money to pay for my trip. I love casinos!
Where and What to Eat?
No trip to Memphis would be complete without indulging in the fine southern cuisine. Yes Memphis is known for BBQ, but I prefer the down-home, country cooking. My favorite place to feast on this is at The Cupboard on Union Avenue in Midtown, not too far from Sun Studio. I always get the four veggie plate – the eggplant casserole is amazing and the sweet tea is worth a to-go cup. When I want BBQ, I got to Central BBQ in Midtown or Marlowe’s on Route 55 in Whitehaven down the street from Graceland. A favorite of mine on Beale Street is the sausage and cheese plate. You can get it at any of the bars there, but my favorite place to hang out is Rum Boogie.
Follow me on Twitter @DeenasDays as I live tweet my way through the mid-South. For the next five days, I will be updating you with pics and vids from Beale Street, the Grizzlies game, the Music Festival, the casinos in Tunica, Sun Studio, Graceland and of course that delectable Southern cookin.