Our flight to Memphis was early Friday morning, and we decided to stay in Atlanta the night before. In ended up being a fun night full of surprises. We stayed at The Westin Buckhead and we were greeted by the friendlist, Big Mike. He wished me an early birthday (like, over a month early), and I’m still not sure how he knew. Regardless, he gave us a “birthday treat”, and we were shocked when we opened the double doors to a huge top floor (22nd floor) suite with a kitchen, dining, living, and sitting area plus multiple fireplaces, a tv that comes out of the foot of the bed, a shower with a window over looking the city, and a sauna. It was way more than we needed. BUT, we indulged the space the little bit of time we were there. It was truly a TREAT and huge thank you to Big Mike for exceptional customer service!
We ordered an Uber to take us to dinner with friends at Le Colonial and had the privelage of meeting Aurangzeb Khan, who very well may be the tallest man in the world. From Pakistan, Aura has been in the states for many, many years and has a limo & car service in addition to driving for Uber. He looks over the majority of the population at 8 ft tall. He was a delight to meet!
Trip reason: Paul’s LiveRez conference Sunday-Wednesday, and we came early to explore.
Trip length: Exploration portion 3 days / 2 nights
Trip plans: Graceland, Bass Pro Pyramid, Peabody Ducks, BBQ
Upon arrival at 2:30 pm on Friday afternoon, the Westin looked glorious. We were exhausted from the prior night’s activities and waking up around 5:00 am to head to the airport. Having explored Graceland and then filling our tummies with BBQ was icing on the cake for a nap in one of the Westin Heavily Beds. Wrong! Our room wasn’t ready, so they gave us $40 in vouchers to grab a drink and bite (no thanks, we had full bellies and just wanted a nap!). We should have known that it was going to be a long afternoon. As we so patiently waited in the lobby for the first hour or so, we would see very tall, athletic men walking by with Chicago Bulls logos. Yep, the team was staying at the Westin for their opening night game against the Memphis Grizzlies. So we watched for a while. Come to find out, we blame them for our room delay. Of course the Westin would let them have LATE checkouts at 5:00 pm. By the time we got in our room around 8-8:30, we did hit our Heavenly beds for some shut eye. The hotel is a bit older. You can tell from some of the tilework in the elevators, etc. The bed wasn’t so heavenly, but we slept. The location was awesome! The valet area (and self park) had easy access, Beale St. is around the corner, and the Fedex Forum (where the Grizzlies play) is across the street. There is plenty of lobby sitting space. Trust us, we sat in all areas during our multi-hour wait for our room. We did find a nice corner for a nap in the Bleu Restaurant & Lounge, and we later had a really nice dinner. There’s a good sized Westin Workout room also. We got to see another basketball team take over the hotel on Saturday/Sunday. The Brooklyn Nets were in town for a game. That activity made for a really fun envinronment!
Our first BBQ meal was one I had before and loved, Central BBQ. There are multiple locations, but we went to the Midtown location. It gets you off the beaten path a little, and I believe it was the original. We shared pork nachos, brisket and beers. Yum!
Saturday morning we were on a mission to find a creole brunch, and we hit the jackpot! Bayou Bar & Grille had a line before opening at 11:00 am. We grabbed a couple of mimosos and beignets while we waited for our cajun benedicts (crawfish, andioulle, crab cake, eggs, smothered in a cajun hollandaise). Ammmmazing!
We had a nice dinner at the Cappricio Grill bar area at the Peabody Hotel, which is an Italian Steakhouse. The bar area serves the serves the full steakhouse menu in a cozier environment. There live jazzy piano music in the background. The atmosphere was great and food great as well! We split a chopped salad and carpaccio to start, along with a bottle of Bonanza wine. We then split a steak cooked pittburg style, with the polenta (amazing) and parsnips (even more amazing!). Awesome meal and experience.
On our last day before I headed back to Atlanta, we were on a mission to find the best ribs on Beale Street (Rendevous was closed on Sunday, so we didn’t get to try), so we tried as many places we could before our tummies couldn’t take any more. Paul’s favorite was Pig’s (dry rub) and mine was BB King’s (charred on the grill). All were delish!
When we landed in Memphis, we grabbed a rental car and went straight to Graceland. It’s very close to the airport, so it made sense to knock it out while we were close. Besides, it was rainy, and we thought an indoor activity would be best. We pre-purchased the Elvis Experience Tour tickets, and the information said the would last something like 3.5 – 4 hours. Paul and I aren’t museum people. We like to see, but we like to see at our pace (quickly!). So we laughed that it would take us 1 hour. WRONG! It’s somewhat guided. You start with a pre-show (7 minutes) near the ticket booths, and you have a pre-show time. You are then shuffled directly to a LONG line to get on a shuttle and ride to the mansion across the street. While we waited nearly an hour, we kept looking for a walking path. Heck, we’d walk in the rain if we didn’t have to stand and wait in a line. We finally got to the mansion, and it was really neat. You have headphones and a tablet, and John Stamos virtually guides you through the Presley home. We you return to the actual museum area, we found the Elvis’s automobile musem area the coolest. He had so many incredible vehicles. We probably spent another quick 30 minutes exploring. We got what we needed, AND we were glad we did it.
With the multi-hour room check-in delay, we went over to the Peabody expereince the Peabody Ducks. You can read the histroy by clicking the link, but the way we understand it is that the ducks are brought from the roof at 11:00 and stay in the lobby fountain until 5:00 pm when they are taken back up to the roof (all by marching on a red carpet). We arrived about 4:50 and there was a crowd. People surrounded the fountain with drinks in hand, and we squeezed in behind some folks to listen to an annoucer and watch the ducks march to the elevator. I’d suggest going early and grabbing a spot from the floor above that overlooks the fountain or a table right next to the fountain.
We then visited the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid, just a mile or so from our hotel. This is a must-stop on your visit to Memphis. While you can shop the normal Bass Pro goodies, the pyramid offers a whole wilderness / rustic experience. The store has over a hotel rooms and cabins AND dining options, bowling, a spa, and more (the call all this the Big Cypress Lodge). Wow, how cool!! As a visitor to the store, you can take an elevator ride to the top of the pyramid for about $10 and view the city. We didn’t do this because it was so rainy, but I imagine it would be nice.
Of course, while in Memphis you must hang out on Beale Street. We didn’t hit many of the bars, but we did hear some Blues at BB King’s. It was lively and reminded us of a version of Bourbon Street (less dirty ;)).