Originally the land of the Chickasaw Indian Tribe, the bluffs that would become Memphis were a natural trading post along the Mississippi River. After the Union took Memphis early in the Civil War, escaped slaves flocked there toward the promise of protection behind Union lines. Though the Confederacy harried Union forces, they retained this stronghold and Memphis remained a prosperous center of commerce throughout the war. The city's population had exploded due to immigration from both within and without the re-United States, and although unrest stained the post-war years, Memphis became a hub of diverse cultures. Today, this diversity is celebrated.
Memphis has a full event calendar that includes the Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival, Carnival Memphis, the Memphis Italian Festival, and the Southeast Indian Heritage Festival. Coordinate your visit with any one of these fests in order to experience delicious cuisine, unique shopping, and live entertainment showcasing different cultural traditions. Speaking of cuisine, if you love barbecue you won't want to miss the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Memphis is known for its own take on barbecue flavors, so put this event—the largest pork-barbecue contest in the world—on your bucket list.
The Memphis music scene has a storied history and has launched countless legends. The city played an integral part in establishing American music genres like rock and gospel as well as Memphis soul and Memphis blues. Not all of Memphis's musical history is that far in the past, either: crunk and Memphis rap are more recent additions to the city's repertoire. From tours of Graceland to downtown Beale Street's collection of blues clubs and restaurants, there's something for almost any type of music lover here in the Home of the Blues.
Whether you're interested in catching live shows or simply exploring the iconic spots and studios where it all happened, Memphis offers both sights and sounds to keep you busy. If the crowds of music fests and concerts are overwhelming, add quieter museums to your itinerary. Not only can you learn about Memphis's music, you can also explore pivotal moments in American history at the National Civil Rights Museum. Memphis's past asks us what kind of future we want to build together.
Listen to the sounds of this music-saturated city as you explore its history, art, and delicious food when you visit Memphis. Southwest® is proud to serve Memphis International Airport. And when you book with Southwest, know that you can book with confidence. Discover more about what makes the Southwest® Experience so unique and reserve your upcoming flight to Memphis.
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Things to do in Memphis.
- Beale Street
- Broad Avenue Arts District
- South Main Arts District
- Dixon Gallery & Gardens
- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Burkle Estate
- Sun Studio