Just like Elvis' swinging hips, Memphis is a city in constant motion. Vintage trolley cars and paddle-wheeler riverboats may have kids thinking they've stepped back in time. Chasing legendary ducks and grooving to the beat of the blues, rock, and soul will keep them singing a happy tune throughout their visit.
Memphis blossoms with all the grace and freshness of a Southern belle in the spring, but there's really no bad time of year to visit. Summer is the high tourist season, and spring brings natural beauty and the start of a months-long festival season featuring music, cooking, cultural, and arts activities that linger into fall. Wintertime is when the pace eases a bit, much like the flow of the Mississippi, and is a great time for exploring museums and cultural sites.
Moderate temperatures in spring and fall mean the many outdoor activities, from trolley-hopping downtown to a walk along the mighty Mississippi, are even more enjoyable. Summer is when the city teems with tourists who brave the heat and humidity, but unlike some parts of the South, summer nights are usually accompanied by enough of a drop in temperature to feel almost refreshing. Crisp fall temperatures bring a touch of brilliant colors and lure families to the river and parks for picnics and playtime. Get more weather info.
Memphis is smack in the center of the country and ships more air cargo than any other city in the world. But when it comes to moving people, there's just one option, Memphis International Airport (MEM). Nashville and Little Rock, both homes to discount airlines, are a three and two hour drive, respectively. But both Amtrak trains and Greyhound bus lines serve Memphis.
Public bus transportation is available in Memphis, but not widely used by visitors, so a car rental is your best bet for getting around town. While many attractions --including the National Civil Rights Museum, Mud Island River Park, and the Peabody Ducks -- are located downtown and accessible by an inexpensive trolley, many others -- the zoo, Graceland, and the Children's Museum among them -- are scattered throughout the city. Taxis are readily available at the airport and outside major hotels, but a few cab rides may equal the expense of a car rental. Since the city is laid out on an east-west grid, Memphis is an easy town to navigate by car. Those choosing to take a bus need to plan ahead, as routes and times vary by day and season. Buses and trolleys are managed by the Memphis Area Transportation Authority, or MATA.
Elvis Tribute Week, (called Elvis Death Week by locals), is the marquee event of the year in the mid-South, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city to honor Elvis Presley. Most events take place near Graceland, just south of downtown, but hotels, restaurants, and venues are chockfull of Elvis fans and look-alikes. A variety of cultural and sporting events, many with a kid-friendly atmosphere, round out the year.
MemphisTravel.com is the city's official visitor's site.
The Memphis Convention and Visitor's Bureau offers discount coupons for attractions, restaurants, and events on its MemphisTravel.com, including discounts on everything from admission to the Children's Museum and Sun Studios to reduced-price rental cars.