If you’re looking to visit a city packed with history, music and culinary delights, Memphis delivers on all fronts. It’s the second- largest city in Tennessee, and it got its name from the ancient capital of Egypt.

There’s no shortage of tourist attractions in Memphis. It is very likely that each one will take more than one visit, so that you can soak it all in. There’s Sun Studio, Slave Haven, the Peabody Hotel, the Memphis Zoo and more. When you need a break from all the hopping around, grab a whiskey and some of the best barbecue around.

Here are five ideal spots in Memphis for the best Instagram photos.

Memphis Sign — Mud Island River Park

Photo Joshua J. Cotten

This peninsula is in the Mississippi River, and it’s open daily. To get here, take the skybridge from downtown Memphis.

Mud Island is similar to New York’s Governor Island. Both offer a bit of respite from the the chaos of the city. In addition to the park, enjoy access to the amphitheater and the Mississippi River Museum. Enjoy the green spaces on a nice, summer day.

Lorraine Motel and The National Civil Rights Museum

Photo by Thomas Konings

If the walls of this motel could talk, they would have stories for days. When visiting this motel, there is no way you can miss the white wreath in front of rooms 306 and 307. It was there that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last hours before his assassination. If you buy a ticket to the museum, then you’ll be able to see the interior of the room and the balcony.

The Lorraine Motel was a stop off point for several Black entertainers over the years, such as Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin. Jackie Robinson also spent some nights here when he was in town. The motel appeared in the Negro Motorists Green Book, or Green Guide. This book identified establishments that welcomed Black travelers. It helped Black people find safe lodging during their travels.

The connecting museum is worth this visit, and allows you to take photos in all of the rooms except one. Exhibits start around 1619, and continue through to 1968. There’s a replica of the bus where Rosa Parks sat, and a statue of her inside. The museum allows visitors to engage with some pivotal moments in Black history.


Graceland in Memphis
Photo by Spencer Jones

Graceland is the second most-visited home in the U.S. after The White House. Depending on the type of ticket you buy, you’ll need several hours to see the house, museums and the impressive plane and car collections.

The upper floors of the house are closed off, as Elvis not to have just anybody up there. The only bedroom you’ll be able to see is his parents on the main floor.

There are a number of beautiful entertainment areas, where the singer would host guests. In the back, there is a pool and the Meditation Garden is right near it.

Beale Street — The Life of Memphis

Photo by Heidi Kaden

During the day, Beale Street is quiet and unassuming. At night, it takes on a new and exciting personality, and this is the best time for photos. You’ll hear live jazz, blues and rock n’ roll coming out of BB King’s Club and Rum Boogie Cafe.

Browse the collection of vinyl records and CDs at Memphis Music, and check out the Rock n’ Roll Museum. You’ll learn about the origins of soul and rock, and the role they played in social justice movements.

At the intersection of Beale and South Main Streets is the Orpheum Theater, where you can enjoy fantastic performances, comedy shows and more.

Stax Museum

Stax Museum in Memphis
Photo by Spencer Jones

If you haven’t been to Stax, then you haven’t been to Memphis.

Once upon a time, magic was made here. Entertainers of all colors came together to create music, in spite of the tensions beyond. The founders, Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, fused their surnames together to form the name “Stax.”

Stax made it possible for Otis Redding to rise from humble beginnings and become one of the most celebrated voices of his era. Rufus and Carla Thomas also recorded at Stax, and Issac Hayes and David Porter penned “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin’.” It was performed by Sam and Dave.

In the museum, visitors will be able to see the clothes, shoes and other personal effects of some of these stars. There is also musical instruments and equipments on display for creating the uniquely Stax sound.