Hotspots in Memphis, TN
"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.
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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!
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.
A French Victorian mansion located in Downtown Memphis, the Woodruff Fontaine House brings an air of stateliness of years gone past to your nuptials. Hand carved woodwork and décor from the 19th century will transport you and your guests to another time and place. Although the Woodruff Fontaine House has other wedding accommodations you’ll want to hold your ceremony on the rolling front lawn when all of the flowers are in bloom. Other features include a smaller garden area with fountain for a more intimate gathering and two reception rooms, The Club Room with its brick and wood beams gives a more rustic feel or The Carriage House which opens onto the garden on one side and the courtyard on the other. The Woodruff Fontaine House also offers the Gingerbread House, a miniature Victorian cottage, perfect to keep younger wedding guests busy at play.
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.
Experience the Zoo in a whole new light! Thousands of strands of lights illuminate the Memphis Zoo bringing holiday cheer to all who enter through its gates. Sip hot cocoa or even a hot toddy as you stroll through the dazzling light displays past singing Christmas trees and stop for snapshots with Santa. Hop aboard the Zoo Tram to get a chauffeured tour around the park. Then the holiday fun continues underneath the city’s only tented ice skating rink. Lace up those skates and get ready to glide across 5,400 square feet of real glistening ice. Not quite ready to glissade? Find refuge inside the warm comforts and plush furnishings of Teton Trek Lodge where TV monitors allow you to watch the ice skating rink action.