Overton Square in Midtown Memphis

See Memphis Like a Local

Visitors know Memphis as the place to go for music, history and plenty of partying. Locals, however, know Memphis as a city of hidden gems, local restaurants and underground culture. Here are a few ways to experience a weekend in Memphis like a local:



Once you’re settled in, head to the Broad Ave. Arts District. Broad Ave. is in the middle of a revitalization that’s brought galleries, bike lanes and restaurants to a once-dead warehouse neighborhood. Take a stroll through the galleries, then sip a classic cocktail at The Cove. The nautically-themed dive bar specializes in classic, handmade cocktails and fresh oysters.


For dinner, grab a patio table at one of the restaurants in Cooper-Young. The Midtown neighborhood is a veritable restaurant district with something for just about everyone. Try the sweet potato fries at the Young Ave. Deli, thoughtful small plates at Alchemy, margaritas from Cafe Ole or have a more upscale low-country dinner at Sweet Grass.


Friday night is the night to rock the mic. Sign up to sing your favorite song at the revamped restaurants in Overton Square or at the P&H Cafe on Madison.

If you’d rather dance than sing, head downtown to Paula and Raiford’s Disco to hear Memphis’ favorite octogenarian funkyman spin classic dance music.  You can also dance the night away at Wild Bill’s, a juke joint in north Memphis that has one of the best house bands in the city every weekend.


Grab a snack from Gibson’s Donuts, a 24-hour donut shop in East Memphis. The freshest donuts come out of the oven between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.



Start your Saturday off right with breakfast from Brother Juniper’s College Inn. The University of Memphis-area restaurant is consistently named as one of the best breakfasts in Memphis. Try the Number 3, an omelet made with pesto, cheese and tomatoes that comes with a homemade biscuit.

After breakfast, head back downtown to the South Main Arts District for a morning of shopping. Start at the Memphis Farmer’s Market (behind the train station) for locally grown produce, flowers, baked goods, handmade products and live music.


Check out the galleries and shops along South Main and G.E. Patterson. Hoot + Louise carries adorable vintage clothing and accessories, Charlotte sells unique, interchangeable jewelry, and Sache hand-makes their ultra-soft t-shirts in their shop. Grab a cup of coffee at Bluff City Coffee and enjoy it on the big hill next to the National Civil Rights Museum.

From South Main, catch the Riverfront Loop trolley to Madison Ave., then get on the Madison Ave. trolley line to the Trolley Stop Market for lunch. The farmer-owned locavore cafe serves pizza, sandwiches and sides made from locally sourced ingredients.

After lunch, park your car in the High Point Terrace neighborhood and head out on the Greeline to Shelby Farms. The seven-mile long paved trail runs from Tillman St. to Shelby Farms park in East Memphis. If you’ve got kids with you, be sure to take them to the Woodland Discovery Playground once you get to the park - it’s a brand new, three-acre environmentally sustainable play area.


No trip to a music city would be complete without a visit to local record stores. Head to Goner Records in Cooper-Young to pick up the latest local indie rock releases on their label. While you’re there, ask the guys behind the counter what bands to see that night - there’s always someone playing, and they can point you in the right direction.

After Goner, head down Cooper towards Madison. If you’re hungry, grab a snack at YoLo (on the corner of Cooper and Madison). It’s a self-serve frozen yogurt and gelato shop with a bakery inside.

Head West on Madison to Shangri-La records to pick up some classic Memphis vinyl, posters from local rock’n’roll shows, and the Kreature Komforts Low-Life Guide to Memphis (the store’s guide to the city).

If history’s more your thing, pay a visit to Elmwood Cemetery. The city’s oldest (and largest) cemetery is the final resting place for famous Memphis politicians, musicians, outlaws and dignitaries. You can rent an audio tour from the visitor’s center.

Saturday night is a big sports night in Memphis, no matter what the season. During basketball season, locals pack the FedEx Forum to see the University of Memphis Tigers and the NBA Grizzlies. If it’s summer, grab a cheap ($5) seat on the bluff at AutoZone Park for a Memphis Redbirds AAA baseball game.

If you’d like to get your sports fix in Midtown, head to the Liberty Bowl for a University of Memphis football game, or to the Pipkin Building (at the Fairgrounds) to see the ladies Memphis Roller Derby own the track.


If you’re in the mood for a little music, head to Minglewood Hall. National touring bands (think Gogol Bordello, Iron and Wine, Girl Talk and Clay Aiken) play the Hall every weekend. There are smaller show’s in Minglewoods 1884 Lounge, and you can get snacks at Oasis Liquid, a hookah bar located inside the building.


Grab a burger at Alex’s Tavern on Garland. College students, neighborhood locals and service industry types pack the open-all-night dive bar all weekend for the famous burgers, hot wings and jukebox.



Get a late start on Sunday with brunch at one of downtown’s gastropubs. South of Beale serves amazing french toast, burgers and cheap mimosas until 4 p.m. Head to Bardog Tavern for breakfast burritos, lobster sandwiches and some of the best bacon in town.