Memphis is all about diversity. Each neighborhood looks wildly different than the rest and offers its own food, music, atmosphere, and activities. Walk a few blocks, and you're in a new world of fun. To help navigate all of them, we put together a guide. Make time to see at least a few, as each one has so much to offer.
Downtown Memphis is where you'll find all the city's landmarks. There is the famous Memphis pyramid, now the home of Bass Pro. You can walk across a bridge that spans the Mississippi River, dance to live music on Beale Street, and learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. at the National Civil Rights Museum. Downtown is the place for sports fans as it's the home of the Redbirds (baseball) and the Grizzlies (basketball.) There are also bars and restaurants galore.
Harbor Town is a modern, upscale neighborhood located on a sand bar in the Mississippi River. Located just across a short bridge from downtown Memphis, there are many dining options that offer incredible views of the city. The terrace of the River Inn of Harbor Town is a perfect place to watch the sunset with a glass of wine. Cordelia's Market has takeaway salads, sandwiches, and sweets that you can buy for a picnic along the river. Harbor Town is lined with walking and biking trails, so head there on a pretty day when you want to be active.
This neighborhood gets its name because it congregates at the corner of Cooper and Young. It is a hotspot for young professionals, and it's where you can find some of Memphis' trendiest bars, restaurants, shops, and cultural institutions. At Young Avenue Sound, up-and-coming musicians record songs. At Cooper Young Gallery and Gift Shop, you'll find local art and crafts. One of the city's best breweries, Memphis Made is located there. Don't miss Burke's Books, an independent bookseller that has been open since 1875. Cooper-Young has so much going on it even has its own outdoor festival every September.
In the past decade, Overton Square has re-emerged as a Memphis hot spot for live music, food, and dancing. The neighborhood boasts five live performance venues, the most famous of which are Playhouse on the Square for theater and Lafayette's Music Room for live music (seven days a week!) There are dining options for every taste. Bayou Bar & Grill is famous for its Memphis-style cajun food. Local on the Square is known for its impeccable food and wine pairings. Next to the neighborhood is Overton Park where your family can hike, visit the zoo, or ascend a gigantic playground.
Broad Avenue used to be a forsaken street. Now it's a booming arts district full of locally owned shops and restaurants. At 20twelve, for example, there are lifestyle and fashion pieces you won't find anywhere. Farm-to-table restaurant Bounty on Broad offers locally grown brunch or dinner. The best part of this neighborhood is there is a restored water tower that hovers above it. Artists have painted on it, and a light show illuminates the rotating designs at night.
East Memphis is the place to go for family-friendly fun. It is the home of Shelby Farms Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United State, that has playgrounds, boating, horseback riding, hiking, even its own buffalo herd. The Dixon Gallery & Gardens and Memphis Botanic Garden are places where you can see flowers and outdoor sculpture. The neighborhood has a fantastic bookstore—one of the city's last remaining independent book shops—named Novel. It's also a convenient neighborhood to see movies, pick up groceries, or eat at a chain restaurant.
On a 12-acre piece of land there is a 1,500,000-square-foot building. It used to be a Sears Distribution Center, and now it hosts a full neighborhood inside its walls. There are over a dozen restaurants that range from farm-to-table to a popsicle bar. Young professionals live in the many apartments. There is a gym, a church, a synagogue, a health care center, and a farmers market. One of the newest additions is a brewery that makes and distributes beer onsite. The Concourse often holds community events and celebrations.
Germantown is an affluent suburb that borders Memphis to the east. While Germantown mostly has homes, it has a few treasures worth exploring. It is home to Commissary, a quaint BBQ joint that serves some of the city's best ribs. Southern Social, an upscale dining restaurant that serves twists on southern favorites, is a great place for a romantic night. In the shops of Saddle Creek you can find high fashion. Germantown also hosts numerous biking and hiking trails along the Wolf River where you're likely to see animals from blue herons to deer.
The University District is the home to the University of Memphis. The city is proud of its universities and rallies around the Tigers whenever possible, especially the accomplished basketball team. While the neighborhood is mostly home to college students, there's a lot to do for everybody. At the Art Museum you can see rotating exhibits from all over the world as well as the permanent collection that includes Egyptian artifacts and African art. Anyone can buy tickets for the theater and dance productions. The campus is beautiful and full of painted tigers; it's a fun walk for the entire family to find them.