A spectacular city for music lovers, Memphis is Mecca for fans of rock, soul, and the blues, but it's also a great destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway. While its unique history is memorialized in museums and other attractions, the city remains a lively cultural destination. If you're planning a trip to Memphis with your loved one, keep in mind that it can get very hot and humid in the summer, when the sound of music continuously fills the sultry air, but may also be quite chilly in the winter months, when the city comes to life with twinkling lights and holiday cheer. No matter what time of year you go, however, you're sure to find plenty of romantic activities for you and your partner.
A place of peace borne out of a site of tragedy, the National Civil Rights Museum began at the Lorraine Motel, a small minority-owned business in downtown Memphis where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. State and local support helped convert it into a museum dedicated to helping visitors better understand the history and lessons of the American Civil Rights movement. If you and your loved one are fans of history, this important museum makes a great addition to your travel itinerary. While it may not be as romantic as some other activities, you're sure to learn something about the important role Memphis played in the Civil Rights Movement.
Memphis is known as the "home of the Blues," and Beale Street is where the voices of the Mississippi Delta and the cotton fields converged years ago to sing their songs of love, life, and hardship. A nighttime attraction for couples, Beale Street in downtown Memphis is home to clubs where the blues are performed live and visitors can pick up recorded music and mementos in adjacent stores.
New Daisy Theatre (330 Beale Street) is a great destination for live shows in a historic venue, while the Rum Boogie Cafe (182 Beale Street) is a happening nightlife spot that always features a big band and vibrant crowd. For something more secluded, Absinthe Room (166 Beale Street) offers a cozy, vintage-style bar with traditional absinthe service and a jukebox.
Elvis, the dirt-poor hillbilly with the incredible voice and mesmerizing performing style, went on to gain millions of fans around the world before his untimely death, but when he wasn't on the road or performing, he retired to Graceland, the 14-acre estate he built for his family and friends. To experience all the romance and wonder of the King of Rock 'n' Roll's historic estate, you and your loved one can book a tour of Graceland year-round. However, Elvis Week in early to mid-August and Elvis' Birthday on January 8 are both great times to visit the estate for special events such as concerts, movie screenings, and an Elvis Expo.
The historic Peabody Memphis is a AAA Four-Diamond hotel located in the heart of the city. Named one of the best historic hotels in America, the Peabody Memphis is known as the "South's Grand Hotel" thanks to its charm, elegance, and gracious hospitality. It first began welcoming guests in 1925 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, but couples hoping for a romantic getaway can still book a room at this luxurious accommodation year-round.
However, what this attraction is best known for is The Peabody Ducks, five live mallard ducks that march to and from the Grand Lobby on a red carpet twice daily in a show of Southern hospitality that even extends to the web-footed. The hotel also has a noteworthy Sunday brunch, which provides a great opportunity to stop by and check out the historic site even if you're not spending the night.
Elvis was almost as famous for his costumes as he was for his voice, and the former were provided by Lansky Brothers clothiers of Memphis. More than an attraction, Lansky Brothers remains a huge draw for men who like to express themselves by their wardrobe. However, Lansky Brothers maintains a shop in Memphis' Peabody Hotel that features popular brands for women, too. Spend the afternoon getting dressed up like a rock star with your loved one at Lanksy Brothers so you can go out in style later that night.
A park that pays tribute to the Mississippi River, Mud Island contains the Mississippi River Museum, a monorail, and the River Walk—a representation of the river from Cairo, Illinois, to New Orleans, Louisiana. Visitors can also rent bikes or board canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats to navigate the harbor, and there are a number of picnic areas throughout the park that are perfect for a romantic picnic lunch with your loved one. As an added bonus, the Memphis skyline is visible from throughout the park, providing an unbeatable backdrop to your intimate meal. However, be aware that Mud Island is a popular destination for school field trips, so couples stand a better chance of enjoying the location on weekends.
Located on the original site of the legendary Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, this attraction is dedicated to keeping the memory of Stax soul music legends alive. Music greats including Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, and the Staple Singers have recorded in the Stax studios, as have comedians Richard Pryor and Moms Mabley. The 17,000-square-foot site holds more than 2,000 pieces of musical memorabilia, video footage, and items that reflect the greatness of American soul music, making it the perfect destination to explore with your music-loving significant other.
Located on 70 acres in Overton Park, the Memphis Zoo is an attraction that is home to some 3,500 animals from more than 500 different species. While it may not sound like the most romantic activity, wandering around through the exhibits is a great way to bond with your loved one. Popular exhibits of the zoo include Primate Canyon, an outdoor environment featuring gorillas, orangutans, and monkeys; the aquarium, which features both fresh and saltwater fish; and Once Upon a Farm, an indoor-outdoor exhibit that's home to a variety of livestock including horses, cows, and donkeys.
If you want to see where Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and other seminal rock 'n' roll performers first recorded their voices, put Sun Studio, "the birthplace of rock 'n' roll," on your tour of Memphis attractions. Located at the corner of Union and Marshall Avenues and open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun Studio offers guided tours as well as the chance to record in the same studio as the King himself. If you and your loved ones are fans of classic rock music, you won't want to miss this historic tour.
There are few better ways to treat your loved one like the king or queen he or she is than to book a reservation for two at a fine dining restaurant. Memphis is home to several top-notch establishments that offer a romantic ambiance, delicious food, and great drinks. ACRE on South Perkins Road has upscale dining in a cozy and intimate setting with a menu that changes with the seasons, while Chez Philippe on Union Avenue allows dinner guests to step back in time to a period of southern decadence in the city. Other great fine dining establishments in Memphis include Folk's Folly, Erling Jensen, Flight, and Paulette's.