Hotspots in Memphis, TN

Bellevue Baptist Church

Each year around the Fourth of July Bellevue Baptist Church presents a night of amazing fireworks, entertainment and family fun. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, picnic baskets or even your own grill and get ready to share in food and fellowship. If you’d rather leave the grilling to someone else, there are also food and drink vendors on site. You’ll want to come early to participate in family oriented activities and stake out a great spot to watch the entertainment. The night’s performances begin with a concert by a nationally known Christian recording artist. Once it gets dark fireworks light up the sky as the Bellevue Orchestra provides a patriotic soundtrack.  

Shack Up Inn

"The Ritz we ain't," boasts the Shack Up Inn's motto. Instead, this unique conglomeration of rehabbed sharecroppers' shotgun shacks and the newly reconfigured Cotton Gin Inn makes for one of the most unique boutique hotels in the Mid-South. Located in the cradle of the blues, Clarksdale, Mississippi - birthplace to John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, and a wealth of others - the Shack Up Inn is part rural retreat, part historic getaway. Starting at $65 for the smaller shacks (or a "bin" in the former gin), rooms are a real bargain. Just be sure to make your reservation soon, as the Shack Up Inn stays booked throughout blues festival season and for most of the year. 

Madison Hotel

 Think of the Madison as the Peabody's rakish baby brother: Southern hospitality oozes from every corner of this sleek luxury hotel, named one of the best in the world by Travel + Leisure. Located in the former Tennessee Trust building just a block east of the mighty Mississippi, the Madison is an elegant, yet low-key 110-room hotel that often serves as a home away from home for movie stars filming in downtown Memphis. From the gourmet offerings prepared in Grill 83 to the Italian linens on every bed, this boutique hotel is well worth the price - particularly if you have a traveling companion to impress.

Harbor Town Dog Show

This annual dog show's proceeds benefit the Memphis and Shelby County Humane Society. It is held at Nursery Park on Mud Island's Harbor Town, a nationally acclaimed urban housing development in downtown Memphis. All dogs living on Mud Island are invited to compete. There will be three weight classes and a puppy class. Prizes will be awarded for the Sexiest Walk, Rescued Dog, Best Costume, Obstacle Course, Look A-Like & Silly Pet Tricks, and there will also be a Best in Show award. Hot dogs (of course) are on sale for pets and their owners. 2011 will be the 10th anniversary of the show, which is held every year in early to mid-November.

Peabody Deli & Desserts

Located inside the illustrious Peabody Hotel, you’ll find a wide range of impeccable desserts at the Peabody Deli and Desserts counter. The pastries are as gorgeous to behold as they are delicious. Individual delicacies like berries tartlette, chocolate dome and tiramisu as well as slices of cheesecake, cupcakes and cookies can be found here. The Peabody Deli and Desserts lends itself perfectly to picking up a quick pastry and then people watching in the lobby of the ‘South’s Grand Hotel.’

The Inn at Hunt Phelan

You don't have to be a history buff to stay at the Inn at Hunt Phelan - but even if you're not, it's a thrill to learn that U.S. presidents Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant bunkered here (the latter during his stint as a Civil War general, planning the siege of Vicksburg). Built during the early 19th century as a private residence, Hunt Phelan is more than just a remarkable setting: It's also hidden in plain sight, and extremely convenient to all of the offerings of downtown Memphis, including the Beale Street entertainment district, FedEx Forum, South Main, and more. Accommodations in the ten-room inn range from normal hotel room size to 1000-square foot suites, while amenities include a four-star restaurant led by chef Stephen Hassinger, a garden graced with pomegranate trees and beehives, and one of the best bartenders in town. 

Woodland Discovery Playground

If a team of children got together to design their ideal playground, they might come up with something close to the Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms. That’s almost what happened -  designers interviewed kids before starting on the brand-new, environmentally friendly playground. The result is stunning –  there are several large “nests” where kids of all ages can slide, swing, climb, make noise and build sand castles. The playground is in the middle of one of the country’s largest urban parks, so there are plenty of trails, fields and stables to explore once you’re done playing.

Lauderdale Courts

Until recently, it was touch and go for Elvis' childhood home. The Lauderdale Courts public housing project - where the boy king grew from naïf to nascent performer - was nearly demolished before preservation efforts saved it from the wrecking ball. Today, Presleys' apartment, re-imagined as a one-unit boutique hotel, stands as the crown jewel of Uptown Square. The fee to stay here, $250 a night, is cheap, considering you're buying your way into the teenaged Elvis' psyche. Walking across the threshold is like stepping back through time. A vintage TV presides over the living room, while family photographs and Elvis' ROTC certificate adorn the walls. In Elvis' bedroom, there are pictures of Tony Curtis and Marlon Brando and a can of hair wax. Modern amenities, including wi-fi, a CD player, a new TV, and a microwave, are scattered unobtrusively throughout the apartment, the only place on earth where Elvis lived that you can stay, too.

Mud Island River Park and Museum

Hop on the monorail and allow it to take you and your family over the mighty Mississippi to Mud Island River Park. Here you’ll find the River Walk, an exact scale model of the Mississippi River, and the Mississippi River Museum, an assortment of exhibits detailing the history of the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Your entire family will enjoy traipsing through the to-scale Mississippi River and you may even learn a few fun facts too! In addition to various historical artifacts, the Mississippi River Museum also houses two full size river boat replicas that you can jump onboard and explore. When the weather is right, Mud Island hosts Sleep Out on the Mississippi. Camp out underneath the stars and listen to the sounds of Old Man River. The best part is Mud Island River Park provides the tent and recreational activities and does the campfire cooking!

Brooks Museum of Art

Exchange your nuptials amidst world class art exhibitions at the Brooks Museum of Art, located in the middle of Overton Park. A range of galleries provide a picture perfect backdrop for your ceremony. Permanent collections and rotating art exhibits comprise this museum so with a little planning you can schedule your special day around artwork that matches your wedding’s theme or couple’s personality. If you envision an outdoor ceremony, the Brooks Museum offers a terrace overlooking the park and a spacious courtyard as well. Another prime feature is the on-site catering available through The Brushmark, the museum’s restaurant known for its exquisite food and lavish presentation.