Top Historic Sites & Landmarks in Memphis

Kaylee Giacomini

Memphis, Tennessee is steeped in rich culture, art, and history dating back to the 19th century. Although a landlocked town, Memphis’ vicinity to the Mississippi River made it a major freshwater trading route that helped grow the city from a few quaint homes and shops to a booming Southern metropolis. Memphis played a major role in United States history, from being at the forefront of civil rights activism to the conception of Rock and Roll music. Take a step back in time to the 19th century or the 1950’s and check out some of Memphis’ most historic sites and landmarks.

Magevney House, Mud Island Park, Beale Street, Victorian Village, The Peabody Memphis, Malco Summer Drive-In, Sun Studio, Graceland, National Civil Rights Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music

  • Magevney House in Memphis, United States

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    • kaylee

      The Magevney House is the first stop on this walk back through history, dating all the way to 1833. This home is famous as it is the oldest standing structure from the city’s pioneering days when Memphis was a stop on the way to Western gold territories. Some travelers never made it to the West coast, but Memphis may have just been the hidden gem that they were searching for all along. The Magevney House is furnished with colonial furniture to this day and is staged as it was in the 1800’s.

  • Mud Island Park in Memphis, United States

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      The Mississippi River has been a part of the United States’ topography for nearly 10,000 years. The city of Memphis lies right on the banks. Learn more about this winding river at the Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum. Take an aerial tram to get there, and while at the site be sure to walk the 5-block-long, to-scale model of the Mississippi River laid out on the park grounds. After your stroll, enter the museum and learn not only about the 10,000 year history of the river itself, but about the vibrant towns that border it like New Orleans, St. Louis, and of course - Memphis.

  • Beale Street in Memphis, United States

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      If Beale Street could talk, it sure would have a story! This infamous stretch known for music, history, and civil rights activism has been an iconic part of Memphis’ city map since 1841. Beale Street was originally the city’s heart of black owned businesses and nightclubs, at the turn of the 20th century housed Americans Blues titans in various clubs, and today is still a bustling district known for nightlife, music, and culture. Visit Beale Street to enjoy the music scene, and while you’re here learn about its deep significance in civil rights and black history.

  • Victorian Village in Memphis, United States

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    • kaylee

      Victorian Village is a quaint, residential neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown Memphis. This stretch is unique as it dates back to the 1860’s and has some of the oldest structures in the city (like the Magevney House!). Choose a sunny day to stroll the village and peak into some of the gorgeous colonial structures lining the road. Victorian Village was once home to some of the city’s most wealthy founding families, and today many of the homes have been converted into museums to take a glimpse back in history.

  • The Peabody Memphis in Memphis, United States

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      Every day at 11 am and 5 pm sharp, the Peabody Hotel lays out a red carpet for a parade of ducks to march across the lobby into the Peabody’s gurgling fountain. The Peabody ducks have become some of Memphis’ most iconic celebrities over the years, rivaling the King of Rock and Roll himself Elvis Presley. The Peabody Hotel is one of Memphis’ most grand hotels, and has been since it opened its doors in 1869. Today, it is included in the National Registry of Historic Places. Even if you are unable to secure one of their lavish suites, visit the lobby to see the ducks or support one of the businesses lining the ground floor.

  • Malco Summer Drive-In in Memphis, United States

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      The Malco Summer Drive In provides all of the nostalgia that we crave from a drive in movie. Opened over 100 years ago, the big screen at Malco has premiered everything from “Oliver Twist” in 1922 to “The Batman” in 2022. Grab tickets, a car, and some friends to enjoy this classic American experience that unfortunately can’t be found in too many other cities anymore. Don’t forget the popcorn!

  • Sun Studio in Memphis, United States

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      In 1953, a young Elvis Presley marched into Sun Studios and recorded his first ever demo, “My Happiness.” The Rock and Roll icon best known for his black slick of hair, “Heartbreak Hotel”, and his statement rhinestone jumpsuit is a major icon in the city of Memphis and recorded much of his music in Sun Studio. If you’re an Elvis fan, or simply enjoy learning about the rich history of American music, Sun Studio is a must see. Artists such as Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis are just a few other icons who signed to the Studio. Check out this tiny spot, snap a picture out front, and buy some Rock and Roll memorabilia in the gift shop.

  • Graceland in Memphis, United States

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      The next stop on the Elvis Presley tour of Memphis is Graceland, where the superstar called home while living in the city. Graceland is the second most visited historic home in the United States. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan, the entire estate is drenched in 1970’s nostalgia and interesting exhibits dedicated to the King of Rock and Roll. Stroll the gardens, check out the rooms, and pay homage to Mr. Presley. As Elvis would say, “thank you, thank you very much.”

  • National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, United States

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    • kaylee

      The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is one of the most significant cultural landmarks in all of the United States. The museum has multiple exhibits dedicated to the civil rights era, including one that chronicles the life and assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The museum not only provides a place to learn about civil rights, but a place to amplify Black voices. Do not leave Memphis without spending a few hours in this moving historic site.

  • Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, United States

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      Stax Museum is located in the original location of the historic Stax Record Studio. The museum houses exhibits on the legends who recorded music here as well as other titans of soul music. Stax is unique as it is home to over 2,000 pieces of musical memorabilia including Isaac Hayes’ Cadillac Eldorado, original records and tapes, and signed posters from music legends. Read all about the interesting history of soul music, view the introductory film, and take a break from learning to move your body on the Express Yourself Dance Floor.