AAA Four Diamond Hotel with Acclaimed Restaurant and Sweeping River Views
The Mississippi River has provided inspiration for countless blues songs, and Memphis, Tennessee, is a veritable breeding ground for iconic blues musicians. It’s no coincidence, then, that the two converge; downtown Memphis perches over a Mississippi River bluff on the city’s west side. From the rooftop terrace at the award-winning Madison Hotel, you can survey a huge swath of the largest river in North America as it bends around Memphis, and maybe even soak up a little inspiration of your own.
Honey-jalapeño-butter corn bread, pappardelle with short-rib ragu, and blueberry bread pudding are signature dishes at the hotel’s award-winning eighty3 restaurant. Eighty3 serves a weekend brunch and features a weekday happy hour from 5¬ p.m. to 7 p.m. with discounted cocktails and bites. Elsewhere in the jazz-themed hotel, you’ll find an indoor lap pool and a fully equipped fitness center.
Memphis, Tennessee: Blues, Barbecue, and Beale Street
Perhaps nothing better represents the history of Memphis than the Main Street Trolley, the city’s faithfully restored public transportation system. Solid brass seats, hand-carved mahogany corbels, and antique lighting fixtures on trolley cars recall the city’s glamorous past, and a 2.5-mile route—with near-constant views of the river—travels through downtown, stopping off at the River City’s best modern attractions. Notable trolley stops include the historic Pinch District, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Beale Street, a tourist destination lined with blues clubs and barbecue restaurants.
No trip to Memphis would be complete without a full plate of Memphis-style barbecue. First slow-cooked in a pit, the iconic ribs are served “wet”—brushed with tangy sauce before, during, and after cooking, or “dry”—rubbed in spices and eaten without sauce. Of late, Memphis has embraced the national food-truck trend, and some of the city’s best restaurants can now be enjoyed on the go.
B. B. King, Elvis Presley, and Muddy Waters are just some of the many musicians who made their names in Memphis blues clubs. Excellent live music can still be heard nightly on Beale Street, both on the street itself and inside its many clubs. For soul music, visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music—it resides in the former location of Stax Records, where artists such as Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Sam & Dave once recorded.
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