380 miles from Atlanta
What it is: The Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Sunset Symphony, and international education programs—all take place during May in Memphis and have attracted upwards of 1 million visitors over the past decade.
What’s happening when:
Beale Street Music Festival, May 2–4
International Salute to Panama, May 5–11
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, May 15–17
Sunset Symphony, May 24
Insider tip: So you don’t have to lug around a blanket or worry about dropping your purse in a puddle, consider reserving a locker next to the Merchandise Tent at the Beale Street Music Festival. For a small fee you’ll also get unlimited access to a cell phone charging station.
Why I go: “The best time to visit is in the spring. I recommend staying downtown so you can explore more of what Memphis has to offer. The Peabody Memphis hotel is a great option. Be sure to catch the ducks as they march in—it’s truly a sight to see. Also, don’t miss the National Civil Rights Museum. It’s certain to move you.” —Madison James, B98.5 afternoon on-air radio personality and fitness guru
Where to stay: The Peabody Memphis hotel is a short walk from Beale Street, the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum, and Gibson guitar factory. Famous for the ducks that parade daily from its rooftop to the lobby fountain.
Where to eat: Cozy Corner is the city’s greatest barbecue treasure and probably hasn’t been remodeled since it opened in 1977. Order a rack of ribs and a thick-cut barbecue bologna sandwich.
What not to miss: The recently renovated National Civil Rights Museum, inside the Lorraine Motel, site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.