Intersecting Industry & Innovation
As someone who travels extensively for work, the simplicity of a good, old-fashioned road trip is always an adventure. As Matthew McConaughey said, “Road trips are so good for us – the head, the heart and the spirit.”
We started our trip in Des Moines, Iowa and made the decision to veer off I-80 in favor of country highways through the beautiful fields and small towns. Our first stop… Eldon, Iowa, home of the famous painting American Gothic. It was so much smaller than I had expected but was classic and fun to see one of the most famous images from Iowa.
From there we headed south through Missouri and stopped for a quick bite in St. Louis. Always an amazing site to see the St. Louis Arch – our gateway to the west from long ago. Once we arrived in Memphis, we checked into our hotel, dropped our bags, and headed to Beale Street! It never disappoints! Live music is everywhere. We absolutely loved Rum Boogie Café’s Blues Hall, an old-fashioned Juke Joint! The music was phenomenal, and the atmosphere was everything you hoped you to see on Beale Street.
After hitting Beale Street, we began our first full day in Memphis at the famous Arcade Restaurant, established in 1919. I had the Elvis sandwich and sat in ‘his’ booth! The food did not disappoint! It is across from the old rail Center Station, now a Curio by Hilton property. After filling our stomachs with comfort food we made our way to Graceland. I absolutely loved everything about it. They have done an amazing job of creating a true destination for anyone who loves Elvis, young and old. I had once gone in the early 90’s and boy have things changed! Now there is a luxury hotel adjacent to the property, The Guest House at Graceland.
The plaza that was built 7 years ago walks you through all the various phases of Elvis’ life: his awards, jumpsuits, historic artifacts, and an exhibit of other artists’ contributions and tributes about how Elvis influenced their lives. The newest exhibit shows a complete movie display with costumes, scripts, etc. I believe the hype around the movie Elvis renewed interest in a life that started with so very little and ended way too soon to enjoy the impact he had. It was wonderful to see young people there carrying on his legacy.
Day 3- I love finding a good breakfast! We succeeded with a great little place called The Liquor Store. Small, beachy vibe with a great menu located in… you guessed it… an old liquor store. Afterwards we visited the epic Bass Pro Shops Pyramid. It is a site! If you make the trip you can even stay in the hotel located in the pyramid!
We spent the afternoon listening to live music on the patio at Silky O’Sullivan’s, followed by drinks at BB King’s Blues Club. The evening wrapped up with dinner in the upstairs portion of BB King’s at a place called Itta Bena’s (named after his hometown). It is a speakeasy vibe that transports you back in time with live jazz music. I highly recommend it!
As our long weekend was coming to an end, we found another little breakfast place across from the Peabody. Our host at Automatic Slim’s made sure to recommend a famous dive bar, Earnestine & Hazel’s. A former brothel owned by two sisters, said to be haunted and that serves up great burgers and live music. We finished up and made sure to be done in time to take in all the pomp and circumstance of the duck march. It happens every day at 11AM and is a delight, especially for the little ones. They go above and beyond to make them feel welcome and ensure they have an up-to-close view! For the grownups – grab a seat at the bar and order one of their specialty drinks complete with a little rubber ducky! We finished our day doing a Mojo Music tour around the city. It offered up a tour of Sun Records, while visiting historic sites as well such as the Lorraine Hotel and Elvis’ teenage home at the Lauderdale Courts. For those that really want an Elvis to experience their former home is now Airbnb.
The people we encountered everywhere we went in Memphis were friendly, gracious, and more than willing to offer up tidbits and tips to make our trip better. The BBQ was great no matter where you were some spots are Corky’s, Rendezvous and Central BBQ. All the locals have an opinion on which they like best. You will have to decide what your favorite is!
For me, I think one of the things that really hit home was the history. Whether it be civil rights, music, or the significance of the Mississippi River, we loved our stay and can’t wait to head back to Memphis!