This US City Is The Ultimate Destination For Food And Music Lovers
If it isn't on your radar, it should be
When you think of heading to the US, destinations like New York, Boston and Florida often come to mind... but there's so much more to see.
While it might be a hotbed of political upheaval at the moment, America is still a great spot for a trip as it's easily accessible with pre-clearance through Dublin or Shannon Airport and it's got something for everyone.
One of the most underrated spots in the country is the music motherland of Memphis, Tennessee.
Sitting on the Mississippi River, the city is enshrined in musical history as the birthplace of several strains of soul, blues, gospel and jazz - and the good news that it's still a hotbed of talent.
Take a stroll down the main drag of Beale Street and you can wander into any bar to discover live music that will blow your mind. Most places don't have a entry fee and the musicians instead rely on tips from the audience to make a night's pay.
They're not shy about telling you this either and tend to go from table to table with a bucket during intervals, which can be a little strange at the beginning but becomes second nature before long.
King's Palace Café is a great place to start your Memphis journey as the outdoor patio is hopping with live jazz and blues from early in the day. There's also a little stand at the corner of the patio selling beers and buckets of cocktails so you could end up staying for hours.
Memphis is not one of those cities where you sit in the corner politely listening to the tunes. Instead, everyone is up dancing and having the craic - even if it's 3pm on a Thursday afternoon.
By night, take a stroll down to Handy Park - which is usually hopping with musicians, entertainers and a lively crowd.
Keep an eye for their open mic nights, which see different local and visiting musicians jam together over the course of the evening. The atmosphere is amazing and you never know what's coming next.
There is, of course, an Irish bar on the strip as well - Silky O'Sullivan's - and while it has a great patio and is always busy, there are much more interesting spots to try out.
Second to the music (or first, depending on who you're talking to) is the food and one thing is for sure, you will not go hungry.
They are very serious about their BBQ in Memphis and Central BBQ is a good introduction, as they slow smoke everything from ribs and chicken to beef brisket and sausage.
Our advice would be to exercise restraint when ordering, as the portions are large, the food is rich and there's no way that you'll eat as much as you think you will. We ended up taking three boxes of leftovers home with us!
Definitely try the pulled pork nachos though - delish.
There are a few other specialities to try while in this part of the country and fried chicken is one of them.
The Tennesseans do Mac & Cheese very very well, so make sure to order a side if you're a fan. Other than that, you can't go wrong with the traditional baked potato and beans.
Other dishes that you're likely to spot include grits (an interesting boiled corn creation), chicken and waffles, and catfish. Try them all, and make sure to hit up Muddy's for dessert.
Once you've been fed and watered, you might be in the mood for taking in some culture and history.
I would strongly advise blocking off a day to visit the National Civil Human Rights Museum, which is an incredible and thought-provoking collection of exhibits outlining the battle for racial equality in the US and also incorporates the site where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.
On an entirely different note, you're also very close to two major musically historical sites - Graceland and Sun Studios.
The former - home of the most famous Memphis resident of all time, Elvis Presley - is an interesting trip but has been commercialised to a point where it's more like a conveyor belt than somebody's final resting place.
Music fans will need no education on the significance of Sun Studios, with everyone from Johnny Cash to Jerry Lee Lewis cutting their teeth at Sam Phillips' recording studio.
While the tour is brief, the guides are seriously passionate about their music so it's definitely worth adding to your 'to do' list. You'll even get to stand in the little studio and get your picture taken with a microphone used by Elvis himself!
This is literally scratching the surface of what Memphis has to offer with Stax Museum Of American Modern Soul, Memphis Rock And Soul Museum, Dixon Gallery and Gardens... we could go on but I think you get the jist.
The weather is amazing, the people are warm and friendly, the nightlife and atmosphere is incredible - book a ticket, you won't regret it.
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