No visit to Memphis can be complete without a trip to Beale Street. The clubs that once lined the street gave life to the blues music W. C. Handy brought to Memphis from Clarksdale, Mississippi.
While there are a lot of typical tourist chains and clubs – are Coyote Ugly or the Hard Rock Cafe really tourist destinations? – I’ve found a few don’t miss spots on my visits to Memphis’ Beale Street and a few to see just once.
B.B. King’s Restaurant and Blues Club – 143 Beale Street
For only one reason do I recommend B.B. King’s Restaurant and Blues Club – the memorabilia. Think of B.B. King’s as a blues version of the Hard Rock Café – overpriced drinks in souvenir glasses, food that can be found in just about any other bar but lots of great stuff to look at on the walls.
One other reason would be lucking into the chance that B. B. King would take to the stage. Other than that, there are plenty of blues clubs throughout Memphis to enjoy great music.
Memphis Music – 149 Beale Street
Just a few doors down from B. B. King’s Restaurant and Blues Clubs is Memphis Music. The collection of blues recordings is extensive and there is a wide variety of other musical offerings. Memphis and blues-related T-shirts and posters cover the walls and the owner was very personable and willing to give recommendations during our visits.
A Schwab’s Dry Goods – 163 Beale Street
A. Schwab’s is just a fun place to visit. There’s no category for the merchandise stocked in this landmark other than eclectic. I saw camping equipment, dishes, long underwear and toys along with the inevitable everywhere-in-Memphis Elvis souvenirs.
Dyer’s Burgers – 205 Beale Street
If you absolutely must taste a deep-fried hamburger in alleged nearly century old grease, Dyer’s is the place to find it. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium – 130 Peabody Place
While not actually on Beale Street, a short one-block walk brought us to a beer geek’s paradise. Featuring great beers with more taps than I’ve ever seen, The Flying Saucer was a nice break from the tourist-filled Beale Street. The feel of “locals” surrounded us and after a couple of microbrews we were ready to brave Beale Street once more.
Parking lots seemed to be ample within a two or three block walk of Beale Street. We found a surface lot with a automated payment system near the trolley line. When parking in a public lot, look first for a payment box or machine and don’t be fooled by scam artists. Not only will you lose a few dollars, your vehicle could also be towed.
Sources: Beale Street