In the South, nestled within the state of Tennessee, lies the city of Memphis. Memphis is a place full of Southern United States traditions and history. Lovers of music, history, and Elvis will all find something in the largest city along the Mississippi River.
National Civil Rights Museum
It is no secret that America has a turbulent history when it comes to the lives of African Americans. Historically, the Southern United States has had the most controversial history with the African American community. With this in mind, Memphis recognizes the prejudice and injustice that has happened in the city. Memphis has a museum dedicated to educating visitors on the past and present fight for human rights.
The National Civil Rights Museum traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement from the 17th century to modern times. There, guests will find 260 artifacts, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts. All of this media serves to guide visitors along the five-century journey for civil rights. The museum maps the events out from the resistance started in slavery, the Civil War, the rise of Jim Crow, all the way to the seminal events of the late 20th century that helped inspire people around the world to stand up for equality and freedom.
Of course, those planning on traveling to Memphis absolutely cannot miss Graceland. Home to the one and only king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, visitors can walk through the King’s abode and learn about his life and career. Armed with a multimedia Ipad tour narrated by John Stamos featuring stories and commentary by Elvis and his daughter Lisa Marie, guests will enter the living room where Presley would greet his guests and provide entertainment.
While in the Presley household, travelers should visit the famous Jungle Room. This area is often a family favorite due to the reminiscent Hawaiian atmosphere. Hawaii, where Presley often vacationed, filmed, and performed, held a special place in his heart. Visitors can also stop by the Trophy Building and admire Elvis’s gold and platinum records as well as other memorabilia from his movies and charitable accomplishments. Those wishing to pay respects to the King can take a stop at the Meditation Room, the final resting place of Elvis Presley and other family members.
Music is an essential part of Memphis, so strongly integrated into the city’s identity that it is almost a tangible force that can be felt and heard throughout the streets. Lovers of music must visit the Sun Studio. Sam Philips opened this studio back in 1950. Within these studio walls, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats “Rocket 88” recorded the world’s first rock and roll single. This historical moment allowed Sun Studios to claim the status as the birthplace of rock and roll. The studio is still in use to this day, and lucky guests might catch a living recording while there.
To continue with the music theme, travelers can visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The museum, built as a replica of the Stax recording studio, opened in May 2003. The building is 17,000 square feet with more than 2,000 videos, photos, films, stage costumes, original instruments, and interactive exhibits. The museum is one out of a handful of museums in the world dedicated to soul music. Here, guests can learn about the roots of soul music and celebrate the legacy of Stax Records. They can also learn about artists such as Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and many others.
Travelers should not leave the city without checking out the Memphis Zoo. The zoo holds 3,500 animals and over 500 different species. What’s lovely about this zoo is that there always seems to be something happening among its great exhibits. Cat country, for example, is an open area that focuses on the predators and prey of the cat world. Visitors can witness tigers and lions share a common space with fennec foxes and meerkats. The zoo also hosts a night exhibit devoted to nocturnal animals, which allows visitors to see these animals at their most active. Another fun area is the Dragon’s Lair where visitors can go and meet the zoo’s three Komodo Dragons in either their outdoor or indoor homes.
Memphis is definitely a city that anyone should visit while traveling the United States. The city has a plethora of culture, history, and entertainment. It would be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to learn and live within the city’s walls.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Like in most parts of the Southern United States, Memphis Tennessee can get very hot and humid in the summer. Parents should make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, weather appropriate clothing. Also, it might be a good idea to pack a water bottle or portable mini fan for kids with temperature sensitivities.
- The National Civil Rights Museum is a great place to teach kids about the history of civil rights and racism in America.
- While some parts of the Stax museum are interactive, there are quite a few things that kids are not allowed to touch. Make sure that kids know the difference as you travel through the museum.
- When traveling to the Memphis Zoo, make sure everyone wears comfortable, closed toe shoes as it is certainly a walking destination.
- It can be difficult to get to the Stax Museum, and it is actually recommended to take a taxi.
- For families who want to get a lot out of their visit, they can book a guided Memphis music tour that includes transportation through the city. The groups, who travel by bus or coach, are usually small and each group gets their own highly knowledgeable guide.