Everyone knows Memphis has a stellar music scene, especially on legendary Beale Street, but this exciting Southern city has so much more to offer. The arts scene is thriving, a new farmer’s market has blossomed, and — hold on to those blue suede shoes — you can even sleep in the same apartment where a teenage Elvis once lived. Come see what the buzz is all about.EAT
Bluefin (www.bluefinmemphis.com) is one of the hottest places in town for sushi, seafood, and steaks. There’s outdoor dining, or you can kick back on one of the couches in the cocktail lounge and listen to the DJ spin. Also on the food front, downtown Memphis finally welcomes a Farmer’s Market (www.memphisfarmersmarket.com; open each Saturday from May to mid-November), located outside Central Station in downtown’s up-and-coming South Main district.
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (www.brooksmuseum.org) debuts Annie Leibovitz: American Music (June 2 to August 27), an exhibition featuring images of 70 musicians taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, whose work has appeared on the covers of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, among others. Entertainers she’s captured on film include B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, and Norah Jones.
The Peabody Memphis (www.peabody memphis.com), a Memphis landmark dating from 1925, has hosted everyone from Tom Cruise to Nelson Mandela. The 464 rooms were recently renovated, and Chez Philippe has added an Asian flair to its classic French menu. A luxury-boutique option is the 110-room, music-themed Madison Hotel (www.madisonhotelmemphis.com), with contemporary interiors, a sexy bar, and a rooftop garden with sweeping views of the Mississippi River.
Visit the Memphis Zoo (www.memphiszoo.org), fresh from a $77 million expansion and renovation and home to 3,500 animals representing 500 species. The newest exhibit is the indoor/outdoor Northwest Passage, where you can check out polar bears, black bears, bald eagles, seals, and sea lions. Two of the zoo’s most popular inhabitants are the giant pandas Ya Ya and Le Le. They’re known to eat more than 40 pounds of bamboo per day.
Of course, this being Memphis, we’d be remiss not to mention something about Elvis. You, of course, know about Graceland, but did you know you can visit the apartment where a teenage Elvis lived from 1949 to 1953? Apt. #328 in Lauderdale Courts (www.lauderdalecourts.com), now called Uptown Square, has been redone and is open year-round for tours (that is, when it’s not being rented).