An afternoon in Memphis

A few weekends ago we drove from Austin, Texas, to Nashville, Tennessee, and stopped in Memphis for the afternoon.

I’m sure the first thing you think of when you hear Memphis is not “wilderness sporting goods store.” But! When driving to the city from Arkansas, the first thing we noticed across the river was a gigantic pyramid! Then we spotted the Bass Pro Shop logo, and thought maybe they were a sponsor. It turns out the entire pyramid is a store and hotel! The inside looks like a bayou, complete with fishing boats on a river. It’s also home to the “nation’s tallest freestanding glass elevator,” which takes you up to a glass floor observation deck around the top of the pyramid. The skies were overcast, but we had a nice view of the river and downtown Memphis.

Ok, now we can get to the hotspots: How about Beale Street, Sun Studio, and Graceland? We hit ’em all! First up was Beale Street for lunch, and yes, the BBQ is as good as the rumors (from my mom and dad, who gave us very specific instructions to find the Elvis statue and then eat at the restaurant diagonally across the street).

Next was a tour at Sun Studio, which includes a visit to the jam-packed exhibit room and the recording studio. It’s a small place, but the guide was enthusiastic and told great stories about the records made there.

Sun Studio, Memphis

Sun Studio microphone

We then headed over to Graceland to continue our music history lesson. There’s much more to see there than I expected. Besides the house tour, there are 2 airplanes and a museum with cars, clothing, and other memorabilia. (And pricey ticket packages for each.) We chose the house tour, which begins with a short movie at the welcome center. From the outside, the house looks like a normal, southern home, but the inside is extravagant, to say the least. iPads with self-guided audio tours take you through the rooms and other buildings and tell you about Elvis’ career and family history. Fun fact: Elvis learned that LBJ had 3 tv’s (one each for the major networks), so he had 3 installed in his entertainment room.



Thanks for reading! Or I suppose I should say, “Thank you. Thank you very much.” 


You’ve heard the slogan, right? “Keep Austin weird.” I thought Austin was really fun, but I wouldn’t necessary call it weird. Except for those stuffed animal snakes wrapped around the electric poles on 1st Avenue. And that time a white peacock crossed the street in front of us. But otherwise, it’s a totally normal town!

Austin, TX

Zilker Park, Austin TX

Bullock Texas State History Museum

We were lucky to get expert insider tips from our friends Gina and Ian, who live in Austin, and from our friendly Airbnb hosts. Wildflowers? Check. Live music? Check. Educational day trips? Check. BBQ, donuts, and breakfast tacos? Check, check, and check!

Texas wildflowers

We hit most of the popular spots in Austin: the murals, bat watching at the Congress Street bridge, Blanton art museum, Zilker Park, Sixth Street, the university, and the state history museum.


University of Texas at Austin

We went on the free tours at the O. Henry house (very small, but very knowledgeable staff!) and the Texas State Capitol (very large, and also very informative). Fun fact: O. Henry worked at the General Land Office building, which is now the visitor center for the Capitol.

O. Henry's house, Austin TX

Texas State Capitol

Not too far outside the city is the LBJ Ranch, now a national park. There’s a long winding drive through the ranch with several interpretive signs that describe the history of the land, LBJ’s life, and his beloved cows. We took a guided tour of the Texas White House, which includes the family’s original furnishings from the 60s.

LBJ Ranch

LBJ Ranch

Another fun day trip took us to Waco, Texas, home of Magnolia Market! Fixer Upper is a popular show, but we were really surprised at just how crowded this place was!

Magnolia Market, Waco TX

Magnolia Market, Waco TX

And, yes, those cupcakes are worth the wait!