I will expound on my favorite things in Memphis. It's been a dozen or so years since I've been but Memphis is timeless.
It would be nice if Memphians and others would post any comments or information about music venues; every time I've been to Memphis, my entourage included a preschooler so I am ignorant about nightspots.
I LOVE the Memphis Zoo, with its Egyptian-style entrance and excellent exhibits. The Mud Island museum, including the scale model of the Mississippi and Gulf of Mexico is very interesting too.
We stayed at the Peabody Hotel for one visit, and enjoyed the ceremony of the ducks very much. (Stephanie was three and four years old at our visits; the perfect age for duck ceremonies.) The Peabody has always had very good food, both expensive and moderately priced. And it seems to me that it's a quintessential southern experience to have a drink in the lobby of the Peabody. The last time I visited, the worn shabby sofas contrasted with the elegance of the marble fountain and ornate flower arrangements and seemed to be a metaphor for the contrasts of the post-Civil War south. It's been at least a dozen years, so they've probably replaced the sofas by now.
There used to be a barbeque place downtown, walking distance from the Peabody. I remember looking out my window and seeing a stream of people emerging from the alley with styrofoam take-out boxes. We didn't eat there because of scheduling issues, but it was supposed to be one of the best in town. Memphis is known for its BBQ. If any Memphians know what its name is, please tell me. Latest news, just in. The BBQ place is Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous. Don't get intimidated, it's not hard to find. This is a Memphis must-do.
Haven't been to Beale St. in many years. There were some restaurants/bars with live music, but I don't know where the good stuff is. We walked to Beale St. for an early dinner from the Peabody Hotel, nice walk, but got stopped by many panhandlers (beggars) on the way.