Built on the banks of the mighty Mississippi and named after the great city of Egyptian kings on the River Nile, Memphis is also the final resting place of another king. Maybe you’ve heard of him? Elvis and his legacy accounts for bringing 20% of all tourists to Memphis’ attractions, and The King’s eclectically decorated mansion at Graceland sees 600,000 visitors trek through its ground floor and surrounding grounds annually and keeps its gift stores’ shelves full of rock royalty and some seriously regal kitsch.
Of course, Elvis’ distinctive soulful growl was merely one of a chorus of voices and sounds to come out of Tennessee’s largest city through the years. The world would sound a whole lot different without Memphians’ musical contributions. Legends from W.C. Handy to Jerry Lee Lewis to B.B. King got their start here and the birthplace of rock n’ roll today offers a slew of juke joints, blues bars and jazz dives in the entertainment district around energetic nightlife strip, Beale Street. The vibrant southern city also boasts an increasingly confident arts scene, with arts organizations, galleries and museums scattered throughout the city.
Gay life is centered round Midtown, home to Overton Park (site of Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis Zoo and Memphis College of Art), hip bars, funky restaurants and the vibrant Cooper-Young festival every September. The city throws an energetic Pride festival, Mid-South Pride in June, but any time of the year this smokin’ city seems to have something to celebrate.