Beale Street, Memphis: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Ready to throw yourself into everything Memphis has to offer? A visit to the birthplace of rock & roll wouldn’t be complete without a walk down Beale Street. Also known as “the home of the blues,” the neighborhood is dripping with musical heritage. But this buzzing area is also popular for its excellent dining and unique nightlife.

Start your Beale Street adventure with a huge musical education at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame and W.C. Handy House Museum. Then, experience it for yourself at Handy Park and B.B. King’s Blues Club. Pick up your Memphis souvenirs at A. Schwab then hit the town to chow down on some of the tastiest food in the city.

Not sure how to spend your time in this lively part of town? Start planning with this complete Beale Street guide, including what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay.

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What to see & do around Beale Street

Memphis Music Hall of Fame

A visit to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without diving into its infamous music scene. The Memphis Music Hall of Fame celebrates icons across the world of rock, blues, gospel, soul, jazz, and R&B. Rocking exhibits house rare artifacts and shows you why Memphis is one of the country’s most well-known musical hubs.

Memphis Music Hall of Fame

Delve into the legends who shaped the global music scene, from Elvis Presley to Justin Timberlake. Admire rare memorabilia like Elvis’ 1968 briefcase phone, Rufus Thomas’ “Funky Chicken” outfit, and Jim Dickinson’s Stax Baby Grand piano. One of the coolest exhibits at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame has to be the interactive kiosk, where you’ll get to meet some of your idols.

Right across the street from the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, you’ll find the Elvis Statue. Make sure you take the detour to visit the King of Rock & Roll.

A. Schwab

Step into a big piece of Beale Street nostalgia at A. Schwab. It’s the oldest building left on the street and its last remaining original business. The store is the perfect place to pick up your Memphis souvenirs because, as the locals say, “If you can’t find it at Schwab’s, you’re better off without it!”

Shopaholics will love exploring all the vintage treats on offer. Get a blast from the past with old toys, handmade candies, and local leather. With everything from voodoo supplies to A. Schwab coffee mugs, there’s a surprise around every corner for travelers.

A. Schwab

Chefs can go home and host the ultimate Memphis-themed dinner party with BBQ sauces, vintage tablecloths, and music-themed cookie cutters. Musicians can browse the ukuleles, and fashionistas can pick up one-of-a-kind styles.

A trip to A. Schwab wouldn’t be complete without grabbing something sweet from the soda fountain. Sodas with homemade syrups and Sweet Magnolia ice cream make it an indulgent place to refuel.

Handy Park

Soak up the buzzy Beale Street atmosphere at Handy Park. This public space is dedicated to W.C. Handy, the father of the blues. This is the spot where the music legend first worked as a music publisher in his early career. His legacy lives on with a packed-out calendar of events, live performances, and festivals.

Handy Park

There’s always something happening at Handy Park. Attend everything from local pep rallies to cigar festivals as you explore this iconic Memphis park. Performances are always open to the public. Why not head there in the afternoon and enjoy a free blues show in the sunshine?

At Handy Park, you’ll find two stages for performers, lots of places to sit, a small bar, and a contagious atmosphere. And it’s all watched over by W.C. Handy himself: The life-sized W.C. Handy Statue stands proud with his trumpet in the center of the park.

W.C. Handy House Museum

If W.C. Handy has captured your imagination, learn more about his life at the W.C. Handy House Museum. The original site of his home was on Jeanette Place, but it was moved to Beale Street and restored in the mid-80s. Now, this popular Memphis tourist attraction celebrates the history of blues music and how Handy shaped music for generations to come.

W.C. Handy House Museum

W.C. Handy traveled the country and the world playing in bands before deciding to start his own. He settled in a blue shotgun house in Memphis and started making his mark on the Beale Street music scene. And the rest is history!

During your visit to the W.C. Handy House Museum, you’ll come face to face with incredible artifacts from Handy’s career. Check out sheet music and instruments once used by Handy himself and browse photos documenting his life and career. Interactive displays help you understand what blues music did to shape the American music you hear today.

Withers Collection Museum & Gallery

The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery is a great stop in Downtown Memphis for anyone interested in history, photography, or culture. It displays the photographs by Ernest C. Withers, a photojournalist who captured iconic moments in American history. Browse the collection and step back to key points in time across the worlds of sport, music, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Ernest C. Withers captured moments from the heart of the Civil Rights Movement and was the official Stax Records photographer for two decades. As well as snapping superstars like Martin Luther King Jr. and James Brown, he was passionate about portraying everyday African-American life.

Withers Collection Museum & Gallery

The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery is in Ernest C. Withers’ former studio, a fitting tribute for an artist who produced almost 5 million photos during his life. You’ll have the chance to browse a whopping 1.8 million of them here.

One of Memphis’s coolest museums, the gallery also has interesting artifacts from around the world. Explore new cultures through paintings, sculptures, and pottery.

New Daisy Theatre

You’ve spent a lot of time learning about Memphis’ epic musical heritage. Now it’s time to dive in headfirst at the New Daisy Theatre! This historic music venue has hosted iconic acts from around the world and is now one of the coolest places to catch a show in the city.

The New Daisy Theatre has been standing on Beale Street since 1937, when it opened as a movie theatre. It had a short spell in the 80s as a host for boxing matches before making its debut as a concert venue. Since then, its stage has been graced by a variety of outstanding musical talent, including greats like Bob Dylan, Prince, and Nirvana.

Huge efforts went into restoration and transformation so New Daisy Theatre could finally reopen in 2023. It’s now a premier performance facility with outstanding light and sound facilities and a new VIP area. You won’t be disappointed by a night out at this Memphis institution!

B.B. King’s Blues Club

You’ll get a huge dose of the Memphis music culture at B.B. King’s Blues Club. Opened in the 90s for the Beale Street Blues Festival, the nightclub and music venue has been a top stop for locals and tourists alike ever since. Feed your ears, stomach, and soul with the very best at this super cool supper club-style restaurant.

B.B. King's Blues Club

Feast on a menu of classic Southern dishes like shrimp and grits and southern fried chicken. You can’t come to B.B. King’s Blues Club and not try their signature ribs. Wash it all down with fun, themed cocktails to get you in the mood for an incredible night.

But you didn’t come here just to eat. B.B. King’s Blues Club has an eclectic lineup of resident performers and slots for visiting bands. Sit back and let the sweet sounds of classic soul, blues, and rock and roll wash over you.

Orpheum Theatre

If you want to catch a show during your stay in Memphis, make it at the Orpheum Theatre. The glamorous theatre has been a staple in the Beale Street area since 1928. Today, this cultural landmark on South Main Street attracts some of the best shows in the country.

Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre has been the home of touring Broadway productions in the Mid-South since the 70s. Ballet Memphis also performs here, and it hosts the International Blues Challenge. Whether you love the joy of a classical musical, the elegance of dance, or want to experience music in Memphis, you’ll find tickets that’ll pull at your heartstrings.

The theater is a luxurious spot for a show. Feel the plush carpet under your feet as you gaze up at the shimmering ceiling and twinkling chandeliers, and channel your inner celebrity as you climb the double staircase and take a seat in the golden auditorium.

Where to eat & drink

Drinking and dining out on Beale Street will give you an unapologetic Memphis experience. Warm venues welcome you with open arms and throw you into local culture. Just be aware: You’ll struggle to find your hearty Southern dishes without a side of spectacular live music!

Kickstart your Memphis experience at the Blues City Café. This funky spot serves huge portions of soul food and has nightly performances from top local blues bands.

The super cool Rum Boogie Café also has live music that you can watch under a canopy of guitars signed by local celebrities. Stuff your face with Memphis-style BBQ ribs and some of the strongest drinks in town.

Make sure you try the signature hot chicken at SugaShack. This cozy joint has great soul food and some of the best live performances in Memphis.

Restaurant in Beale Street

The stylish Itta Bena is above B.B. King’s Blues Club. Come here for elegant Southern bites in a glamorous speakeasy-style setting.

You have to make time to visit Peoples on Beale, the oldest bar in Memphis. Play pool on 100-year-old tables and sample the cool choice of drinks.

If you want to experience Memphis through its craft beer scene, try the authentic ales at Ghost River Brewing Co. The craft brewery taproom has a huge beer garden where you can make your way through the beer list or order a flight.

Kings Palace Café is a chilled-out spot to listen to live jazz. Relax under the lights of the courtyard and enjoy a magical evening of smooth listening.

Watch some of the best Delta musicians at Jerry Lee Lewis’ Cafe & Honky Tonk. You’ll have lots of fun at this funky spot, whether you snuggle up in the Backstage Bar, check out the flaming fountain in the courtyard, or watch the Beale Street action unfold from the balcony.

Where to stay

As the cultural heart of downtown, Beale Street is one of the coolest areas to stay in Memphis. Around and along the street, you’ll find a smattering of excellent boutique hotels that number among the city’s finest.

If you run out of lodging options here, expand your accommodations search to other areas in Downtown Memphis, including South Main, or further afield to neighborhoods like Midtown Memphis.

Caption By Hyatt

Caption By Hyatt Beale Street Memphis

This hotel offers a tranquil space tucked away from the buzz of Beale Street. Release tension in the fitness center and pool, then sink into an armchair in the industrial-chic coffee shop. When you’re ready to hit the town, Beale Street is just steps away.

Hyatt Centric

Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis

This boutique hotel is right on the banks of the Mississippi River, giving you glorious waterfront views. Cool off in a cabana by the resort-style pool and squeeze a workout in at the fitness center. Wrap up the day by taking in the Memphis skyline from the rooftop bar to the backdrop of smooth live music.

Hampton Inn & Suites

Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis-Beale Street

A block away from the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, this is a cozy spot to unwind between sightseeing. Start every day with a complimentary hot breakfast and end it with some laps in the indoor pool. This hotel overlooks Handy Park, so you might even be able to watch live music performances from the comfort of your room!

Peabody Hotel

Peabody Memphis

This stunning 1869 building is on the National Register of Historic Places, a glamorous option for your stay in Memphis. Indulge in an opulent choice of bars and restaurants, daily social events, and lavish spa treatments. The unsuspecting highlight though is the resident mallard ducks, who you might spot marching through the lobby.

The Westin Memphis Beale Street

The Westin Memphis Beale Street

Switch off in the light and airy bedrooms of this four-star hotel. Just around the corner from A. Schwab, it’s a prime location for your stay in Memphis. Work up a sweat in the gym, then tuck into modern Southern dishes at the onsite restaurant.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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