While speaking on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. You can relive history here by visiting the balcony and Dr. King's room, restored as it was when he was here to support the sanitation workers' strike. Through interactive multimedia exhibits you participate in the civil rights movement and learn its history from the 1600s through Rosa Parks and the freedom riders until today.
Stax Museum of American Soul Music is located on the site of Stax Records which is known to have much significance in the music industry. The company is known to have launched the careers of many successful musicians. There are around 2000 exhibits that include videos, artifacts, films, photographs, and more. Apart from the exhibits, the museum regularly plays host to events like live concerts, educational programs, and fundraisers.
The Dixons were a childless couple who collected art, both fine and decorative and left it all to the city when they died. The travelling exhibits, are often spectacular and have included Faberge eggs, glassworks by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly, and an explosion of color from Raoul Dufy. The 17-acre (7-hectare) garden is usually open for strolling, except during outdoor concerts, picnics, or theater productions. The museum shop often has items from Memphis' Great Wonders exhibits! The museum is free for everyone on every Saturday between 10 am to noon.
Standing on Union Avenue since 1950, this iconic studio has played host to everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and to B.B King and Johnny Cash, who've all recorded multiple legendary albums here. In 1953, a certain 18-year-old named Elvis Presley walked into the studio and paid to record two songs; the rest is history. Trending even today, the Sun welcomes modern musicians to make records here, many of whom have gone on to join the studio's golden roster of world-famous musical talents. The studio has gradually transformed itself into a historic attraction where numerous artifacts and exhibits relating to its illustrious guests are delicately preserved and displayed for generations to cherish.
Memphis Botanic Garden is a collection of gardens that covers over 96 acres (39 hectares) in East Memphis. The lovely Japanese garden, with its bridges, ponds and goldfish is a favorite with visitors, who come for the candlelight evening tours in the summer. In the spring, the Ketchum Iris Garden glows with a myriad of colors, while the Municipal Rose Garden is at its best in May, June, and September. There is even a Sensory Garden that is designed to appeal to all five senses.
This tiny house stands as a reminder of both a dark period in American history and the efforts of many to remedy the wrongs of slavery. A merchant named Jacob Burkle, who ran a stockyard before the American Civil War, provided a haven for many runaway slaves on their journey through the Underground Railroad. Here you can see where they waited for the instructions that helped them find their way across the Mississippi River to freedom.
The Fire Museum is located in the first firehouse in Memphis. Kids will love the video games and interactive videos that simulate firefighting, while parents will appreciate the exhibit of unusual firefighting equipment from the last two centuries. If you take the restored trolley from Union or Beale, you can disembark at the museum, then walk up the street to the National Civil Rights Museum, in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
This historic house is one of the very few oldest surviving homes in Memphis. Constructed by Eugene Magevne, the house has been at its current location since the early 19th Century. An erstwhile clapboard cottage, today the historic structure has been converted into a museum and it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It displays antiques owned by the Magevney family. The museum is open to the public every first Saturday of the month from 1p to 4p.
For an educational outing and a dose of local culture, visit the Mississippi River Museum. The exhibits here cover 10,000 years of history of the Lower Mississippi River, making for a unique mix of exhibits. Artifacts shown range from Native American tools and pottery to Victorian furniture and 20th Century instruments. It's a great field trip destination and a place that visitors to Memphis must go to in order to learn about the rich heritage of the area.
Court Square is a historic park that has existed at least since 1876, when the statue of Hebe was dedicated here. This small oasis in the middle of downtown office buildings also features a delightful gazebo and a bronze fountain. Court Square appeared in the movie The Firm as a backdrop for a meeting between Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman, and in real life serves as a relaxing spot for local office workers and visitors alike, who enjoy watching the restored antique cars of the Main Street Trolley go by.
The survival rate for victims of childhood leukemia has risen dramatically over the past few decades, due largely to the research conducted at St. Jude Hospital. Entertainer Danny Thomas, the driving force behind St. Jude, is buried here in honor of his work. The star-shaped pavilion "symbolizes the far-reaching scope of the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities and the work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital." Self-guided tours reveal the stunning architecture of the pavilion, memorabilia from Danny Thomas' career, and the lovely Danny Thomas Memorial Garden.
Located in downtown Memphis, The Cotton Museum explores an integral part of the South's history. It is located on what used to be the trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange. There are interactive exhibits to keep kids interested as well as archives for research purposes. The exhibits in the museum cover a broad range of topics, including the economic, social, and cultural impacts of the cotton industry.