This is the first trip that we took just for the purpose of helping you, our loyal readers, to become travelers as well. With that, this post presented itself as a real challenge to us. We decided that Memphis was the place to visit because it was a new city for both of us. It was also doable in a weekend’s time, and better yet, we spent LESS than $200 for the whole entire trip! We are gonna show you how you can do it, too!
Memphis was new territory for both of us. Unsure of what to expect, we set out to find as much information we could in just a few days time. We asked around to our friends, family, and coworkers for advice on what to do while we were there. We are going to be explicitly honest with y’all. We were given crime rate statistics, warnings, and advice on how unsafe the city could be. We don’t want to be the type of people who judge a book by its cover, but this did persuade us to book a quiet airbnb about thirty minutes outside of the city to ensure that our sleeping quarters would be safe for the night. (The airbnb went above and beyond our expectations. More on the details of the cottage later) However, despite all of the the information paraded around us about being safe, we never once felt like we ever in harm’s way.
The night before we discussed our plans and concerns. In order to cool both of our anxieties about the city we laughingly joked… you have never seen a big ol’ gal who has gone missing, much less two of them. So, we reminded ourselves to put on our big girl panties and go live our big girl life. We made smart decisions by never separating from each other, watching our drinks when we were on Beale Street, and staying in the well lit areas of the street and parking garages.
We started our trip early on Saturday morning around 6:30, and was out the door around 7:30. It would have been sooner, but first…. Lemme get an egg sammich. Hilary is an egg sammich making machine!!! This is just one way we saved ourselves $6-$8 on eating breakfast on the go. We had our carry-ons loaded down in the car along with a small little cooler bag with drinks and snacks. Again, cutting down cost on gas station snacks and fast food is a great way to save money on weekend trips. The money adds up quick resulting in a savings of around fifty bucks or more by the end of the weekend.
We had about a three and a half hour drive between where we are in North Alabama and Memphis. We were headed straight into the city to explore before heading to our Airbnb. Our check in was not until 3:00 that afternoon. Also, if you are headed from North Alabama to Memphis, the directions are really easy. Go to Decatur, turn right, and keep going until you see the Old Muddy Water Mississippi RIVER! We felt as if we became delirious because we stayed on the same road for so F$@%^#$^ long!
After lots of music, laughs, discussions, phone calls to jealous friends and family, and all the packed snacks we arrived at our first stop: The Lorraine Motel and The National Civil Rights Museum. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Located at 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103. It was absolutely the highlight of the trip. Tickets where only $16 and gave us access to two buildings. Honestly, it probably deserves its own post because it is so much more than a museum.
It is an experience that every American should partake in. WARNING: We UGLY cried more than once. If you do one thing in Memphis, DO THIS. We had arrived at the museum around 11:00. We finished everything the Museum had to offer around 12:45. We allotted ourselves two hours here and it was perfect. If you had a larger group or smaller children we would recommend a little bit longer. Also, by the time we were leaving the crowd had grown significantly.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paved a way as a martyr for the Civil Rights movement here in America. To even begin to write about him in this post is quite the honor, and a great task.
We had the opportunity to travel to Memphis, Tennessee just before MLK’s birthday. What we saw here while we were on our little weekend trip was life changing. We don’t mean it was interesting, or inspiring, or great, but in so many ways it absolutely changed our lives, our mindset, and our beliefs.
We want to note that before we continue to write about our experience and thoughts here, we want you all to know that we understand there is still unjust and unfair treatment in the world today. Right in our very own cities and towns, we see things that are unfair. People mistreating other people due to their race, sex, or beliefs. In the true spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we want to approach this topic with love, empathy, and respect for everyone.
The quick planning of the trip lead us to the National Civil Rights Museum for many reasons. The Civil Rights movement is associated with the 60’s but we feel like the movement has continued on into a part of our generation, as well. In our society today, we still see police brutality and unjust treatment of people of a different race or ethnicity.
When we arrived to the museum we were excited with anticipation of getting to get out and stretch our legs after being in the car for over three hours. We knew the museum would be great because of the reviews we had scanned over on the way there. However, neither of us had an inkling of what we would experience on the other side of those doors.
The time is always right to do what it is right. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Upon walking into the exhibit, we both felt a swarm of shame, embarrassment, and even guilt. The first exhibit we encountered was the depiction of the “Middle Passage”. The slave trade was where it all began. To know that human beings had to endure such cruelty and filth was unimaginable. To read about it in school or to even study it in college, as Rachel did, it still was not as real as seeing it before in your own eyes.
We made our way throughout the rest of the museum almost in silence while reading and watching different clips and seeing the harsh reality that was our nation’s history. The stories of lynchings, bombings, protest and murders left us without words and in moments, without breath. There were replicas of the busses, of the sit ins, and of the peaceful protest. All bringing and pulling tears to the surface of our eyes. It was toward the end that there was a short documentary playing on a loop that pulled the tears past the surface and streaming down our faces.
The documentary told of the famous Mountain Top Speech.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the speech to the congregation at the Mason Temple in Memphis. The night of April 3rd, MLK did not believe there would be many people to turn out for the rally due to the weather; however, he was mistaken. After receiving a phone call that the house was packed, he went to deliver a speech he had not written.
Unbeknownst to the world, this would be his last speech. Yet, if you listen to him speak, he may have known this would be the last time he would ever speak to the public again. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed just a day later around 6 pm on April 4th.
In his speech, he is quoted saying how he wished that he could live a long and prosperous life, but if he didn’t get to he was at peace with it all. He quoted death more in this speech than any other he had delivered. It was if he knew his own fate was quickly approaching.
After watching the documentary and sitting in utter silence with tears streaming down our face, the reality of his fate was lying just on the other side of the door we had entered. We got to see the hotel room, just as it was the day MLK was assassinated; the blankets on the bed lie unmade, the ashtray still filled with crushed cigarettes, the newspaper lying on the table. Looking out the window where a wreath marked the spot that he became a martyr.
The impact of his death was felt far and wide. The stress of the incident even caused the owner of the Lorraine Motel, Loree Bailey, to lapse into a coma. She died five days later.
As we looked out across the street at where James Earl Ray shot and killed MLK, it was weary and sorrowful. An experience we will never forget. It felt like just standing in the walkways we could hear MLK calling us into action. Calling us to speak out, and give a damn about the injustice that so many people still face today. We are not sure that we can stand up and cause a movement as large as he did, but we know without a shadow of a doubt we can make a difference, even if it is just by being nice and showing love to everyone we meet.
Located just across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum was Central BBQ. Important Note: There was a line here… out the door kinda line. Long lines typically mean good food. We both were not feeling too hungry after what we had just witnessed at the museum. Jointly, we decided to cross off a few more things before shooting for a late lunch. We were hoping the pig lovers would have eaten and gotten out our way way by two or three o’clock. Hilary and I are a lot of things, but patient isn’t really one of them. This is one way we are very much alike.
We traveled just about two miles down the road to Sun Studios. You can find the studio nestled on 706 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103.
It is rumored by Marc Cohn that you can see the ghost of Elvis somewhere on this road. Rachel was so excited to get there, and was looking at all the scenery that she blew a red light (Sorry Mom and Dad that I left out this detail when we talked later). Thankfully no one was harmed in the making of this road trip or blog. The Sun Studio has FREE PARKING located at the back of the building. We didn’t know until after we parked two blocks away. However, it was free street parking, so we are not complaining about anything but walking in the cold.
The Sun Studio is the recording studio famous for hosting people like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and many more. The tickets were only $14 dollars a piece for a tour that was set to start in just 15 minutes. We opted out of the tour and just explored the lounge, snapped some pics, and fingered through all the merch they had for sale before moving on. We recommend this spot 10/10 stars for instagrammable pics!
Less than a mile down the road is the Peabody Hotel, located on 149 Union Ave. Here we paid $8 for parking just a block from the famous hotel. There were several options to eat down the little side street, from Subway to a fancy Italian Steakhouse, and even a Mexican restaurant. The Hotel was so elegant and would be a wonderful place to sit for a bit if you needed some time to fill. There was ample spots for people…. And DUCK… watching. The hotel is notorious for the famous duckies. At 11 am in the morning, they are ushered down the red carpet to the fountain where you can view them all day until later than night. It gets really crowded when they are ushered on the red carpet, so we opted to view them a little later in the day to avoid the large crowd. If you got some kiddos with you, this might be something you’d want to do. However, heed the warning and get there early for a good spot!
After the duck viewing, THE TIME HAD COME… WE. WERE. HUNGRY! So, we took the two mile drive back to the Central BBQ joint…or as Hilary called it, “The Big Beautiful Blue Building” The alliteration almost brought a proud tear to Rachel’s English teacher’s heart.
Here, Rachel had the rib plate. When in Memphis right? The meal cost $19.93, which is a fair price for good ribs, also the year Rachel was born. A coincidence? We think not. Rachel ordered them half dry rub, and half wet. We sampled both sides and as the amateur food critics we are, we deemed the wet side as the best side (In Rachel and Hilary’s best “Remember the Titans” voice, “WET SIDE!!!…… STRONNNG SIDE!!!!) Hilary had the pulled pork sammich with some bomb baked beans! Afterwards, she ordered the meat and cheese appetizer to go. It was a great to snack on in the evening.
Also, speaking of food critics, guess who popped into Central while we were eating there???? Joe and Kendall from Bachelor in Paradise!!!!! Rachel was caught off guard by Hilary’s jaw dropped expression, and pretended she knew who they were. Hilary watches every episode of the Bachelor, the Bachelorette, and every other spinoff. To say she had a small meltdown was an understatement.
After eating all the bbq, all the sides, and drinking all the soda, we were feeling a little guilty about our gluttony. We made our way to the Mississippi River Walking Bridge.
It was a good idea in theory. A terrible idea in implementation. It was freezing balls cold outside, but we wanted to give you, the reader, the real experience. It was so cold that we were hurting. We were going to rent and ride bicycles across the bridge, but the snazzy phone app was complicated. It hurt too much to have our hands out of our pockets, BUT, being the badasses that we are, we still had to walk on it just to prove we did it. We made it, maybe… and that is a hard maybe. A tenth of a mile onto the bridge we snapped a couple of “for proof” pics and walked a brisk and winey walk back to the car. Unless you’re looking for an actual workout, save yourself the walk and just drive over the damn bridge. Nothing to see here, folks; keep moving!
The walking bridge extravaganza pushed us to our breaking point for the morning and we were ready to scadoodle on to our airbnb for a scheduled nap. Around 4:00, we put our gps on the airbnb address and pointed our car in that direction. We could not wait to get in a solid nap before going out to experiencing more of Memphis’s nightlife later.
I mean, honestly, even after two blog post, do you think driving to our airbnb and taking a nap is what happend? Make your predictions of what happens next in our comments section! Then stay tuned for next week’s post on how you can finish out the Memphis trip in under $200!