Navigating the US: Getting Around in Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is located in the southern part of Tennessee, along the Mississippi River. It is known for its music, particularly blues, jazz, and rock’n’roll. Beale Street offers clubs that emerge visitors into the music styles of Memphis and restaurants where you can find soul food and barbecue. Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash all have roots tracing back to Memphis and the legendary Sun Studio.
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Recommended Modes of Transportation
There are many ways to get around Memphis. The roads are laid out in an easy-to-understand manner and well maintained, so traveling by car is usually the most popular. Traveling by car is also the best way to get to the variety of attractions spread out over the city. However, you do not need to have a car to get around. There is a Memphis Hop tour bus that will take you from one music stop to the next.
Of course, downtown Memphis is easily accessible by foot and walking is by far the best way to experience Beale Street. It is recommended to drive to the area, then park and walk around. For more detailed explanations and transportation schedules, click here.
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Major Highways and Roadways to Know
Memphis, Tennessee is a major Mid-American transportation hub and has a convergence of numerous rails and highways. I-40 and I-55 are two major highways that intersect in Memphis. I-240 is the outer belt highway that circles the city to keep traffic flowing easier. This will eventually become an inner belt, as I-269 is being planned to be the new outer beltway.
Memphis also has seven primary U.S. Highways, which is more than any other city in the Southeastern United States. These include Highway 51, 61, 64, 70, 79, 72, and 78. These highways become renamed as city streets after they enter the city limits. Therefore, it is best to keep I-40, I-55, and I-240 in mind when traveling through Memphis. The names of the interstates do not change, but the highway names do which could become confusing. Click here for a map of the Memphis area.
If you are interested in a more unique drive through Memphis, take a drive along the Great River Road, which is part of Highway 61. It begins in Memphis and is often called the “Blues Highway” as it was travelled by legendary blues singers.
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Alternative Ways of Seeing the City
Memphis was recently named Bicycling Magazine’s “America’s Most Improved Bicycle City.” There are bike routes that lead all over town. The bicyclists have created a great collection of trails, bike lanes, and shared-access roads. If you did not bring your own bike, you can rent one and then use this interactive map to get around.
If biking is not your thing, there are vintage trolley cars and even horse-drawn Cinderella Carriage rides. These types of unique transportation are fun with young kids or on romantic evenings.
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Best Places to Park
There are over 40,000 public places to park in Memphis. Click here for an interactive map of parking locations. If you want to be near Beale Street in the downtown area, one recommendation is 250 Peabody Place Parking near Fourth Street and Rufus Thomas. This parking garage is plentiful, inexpensive and secure.
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Airports and Car Rentals
Memphis International Airport is a civil-military airport seven miles southeast of downtown Memphis. This is also home to FedEx Express global hub, and is one of the busiest cargo airports in the U.S. You can rent a car from the airport or directly at Enterprise or Thrifty Car Rental.
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Hotels and Attractions
There are many hotels in Memphis, TN. Some of the most popular include the Peabody Memphis, the downtown Madison Hotel, and Westin Memphis Beale Street. When in Memphis, you must walk along Beale Street, visit the Memphis Zoo, try some local BBQ, and of course, check out Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Feel free to hum “Walking in Memphis” to yourself as you visit this great city of Blues and BBQ!
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