Goalpost at the Liberty Bowl

Fan Guide to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl

How to Make the Most of Your Bowl Game Trip to Memphis

So, you’re traveling to Memphis for the 59th AutoZone Liberty Bowl, The AAC and Big 12 Conference battle that kicks off Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. CST. This year the University of Memphis Tigers will get a chance to play at home in Liberty Stadium and face off against the Iowa State Cyclones. You know you could watch it from your couch—ESPN will televise the game nationally—but you want to be in the sea of 50,000-plus fans that descend on Memphis annually for this showdown. (Because you know that you’ve got more than those four quarters to look forward to—you’ve got tailgating, a parade, and Memphis to tackle.)

Here’s what to know before you come:

Liberty Bowl Stadium. Photo by Chuck Lajeunesse.

Liberty Bowl Stadium. Photo by Chuck Lajeunesse.

The Game

There is parking near the stadium, you can use ride-sharing apps like Uber or Lyft, or call a cab at 901-577-7777 to make your way to the Liberty Bowl. While most lodging options are 10-20 minutes from the Stadium on a regular day, expect traffic delays – there are a ton of you going to the Liberty Bowl!

If you want more detailed info on tickets, tailgating, parking, and game day tips, click here.

Check back for more details as we get closer to kick-off.

As for lodging, there are lots of hotels in downtown Memphis and East Memphis. Downtown hotels will be within walking distance (or a short trolley bus ride) from things to do and about five miles to the Stadium. If you stay in East Memphis, you’ll need transportation to get to nearby things to do and will be about seven to ten miles from the Stadium.

Click here for info on local hotels.

Tailgating IS PART OF THE EXPERIENCE 

No Liberty Bowl experience is complete without tailgating along Tiger Lane, where the smoke from slow-cooking barbecue intensifies the excitement of fans. Basics on parking and tailgating are provided here; it’s up to you to bring something tasty.

To make tailgate small talk, you could express your excitement about the coming halftime spectacular, a bona fide pageant with marching bands, dancers, baton twirlers, cheerleaders, and a performance by the legendary Commodores. Or, share some bowl trivia: this year marks the 59th annual Liberty Bowl, making it one of the oldest college bowl games. The competition got its start in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which explains its name (and why its trophy resembles the liberty bell). The bowl has been played in Memphis since 1965, showcasing greats from Archie Manning to Bo Jackson. 

Five Things You Must Do In Memphis

“What are the top things I must do when I visit Memphis?” This is a hard question to answer, since the city is full of fantastic attractions. But if you only have a few days to spend in town, here’s a quick run-down of five Memphis must-dos.

And if you’re staying in town to ring in 2018, check out this Guide To New Year’s in Memphis, click here.

Graceland Record Room

Record Room at Graceland

1. Get A Dose Of Memphis Music History 

If you’re an Elvis fan, or you have an afternoon to spend, a pilgrimage to Graceland is the perfect choice.

If you don’t have the time/budget for Graceland, I recommend a visit to Sun Studio, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (think Sam and Dave), or the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

The Memphis Music Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame should be on your list if you’re a music buff; both museums are new this year.

Central BBQ

2. Eat BBQ

Barbecue is the official cuisine of Memphis. The quintessential must-go is The Rendezvous downtown (get ribs or the sausage and cheese plate). You'll find Central BBQ close to Liberty Bowl Stadium but expect to wait in line (get ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, or BBQ nachos with house chips), The Bar-B-Q Shop (go for ribs, sandwiches, and a side of BBQ spaghetti), Tops BBQ (pulled pork sandwich or burger with BBQ), Corky's (ribs with a side of potato salad), and Payne’s BBQ (try the pulled pork sandwich or ribs) among many others. Want to learn more about the 101+ barbecue joints in Memphis? Click here. 

Beale-Street-Landing

View of Mud Island, bridge, and Pyramid from the top of Beale Street Landing

3. Photo Ops and History

Stop by Beale Street Landing and Tom Lee Park to take in the views of the mighty Mississippi. Don’t forget to get a photo with the iconic bridge.

The historic Peabody Hotel downtown has a beautiful lobby, a rooftop with a great view, and two daily duck marches that the kids will love.

Beale Street is the historic music and entertainment district. Take a daytime stroll past the shops and establishments, then stop in A. Schwab general store for sundaes. At night, enjoy all the live music, have a few drinks, and watch the Beale Street Flippers do their thing.

We may be biased, but checking out the I Love Memphis murals is fun and a great photo op. The two most popular murals are located near 768 Cooper Street and in the parking lot behind 422 N. Cleveland Street. Check out the full list here.

Take a ride on the newly restored Grand Carousel walking distance from Liberty Memorial Stadium. The original Grand Carousel classic merry-go-round was hand-carved in 1909. In 1923 the carousel made is debut at the Memphis Fairgrounds until 1976 when it was showcased as Liberty Land's centerpiece and named to the National Register of Historic Places. Saved from being sold when Liberty Land closed in 2005, the now beautifully restored Grand Carousel returns to service in an all-new facility located in the The Children's Museum.

Grand Carousel in Memphis

Restored Memphis Grand Carousel at the Memphis Children's Museum

4. Attractions

The Memphis Zoo is consistently rated #1 or #2 in the country and is worth a visit, especially if you have kids with you.

The National Civil Rights Museum is an engaging, comprehensive museum focused on the civil rights movement.

You have several options for tours of Memphis: Backbeat Tours offers musical sightseeing bus tours as well as walking “ghost tours”. The Memphis Hop is a hop-on, hop-off shuttle with 10 stops. Historical Haunts guides ghost tours. A Tour Of Possibilities van tour focuses on civil rights and African American history. (Check schedules for availability).

bass pro pyramid exterior

5. Wild Card

This one depends on your interests. Here are some options for your choose-your-own-adventure Memphis number five must-do.

– If you’re the outdoorsy type, go to the Bass Pro Pyramid, an enormous  Inside you can ride the nation’s tallest freestanding elevator to the top ($10 per person, there are lines on weekends) for an incredible view of the city.

– If you’re looking for the local live music scene, venues like Lafayette’s, the Hi-ToneMinglewood Hall, and Bar DKDC regularly host local bands. Beale Street has plenty of live music as well. All these venues have totally different vibes.

– If you’re into craft beer, check out Memphis’ three taprooms: Wiseacre, Memphis Made, and High Cotton, plus Bosco’s Brewpub. Hammer & Ale serves all the local brews, offer flights, and a small food menu.

– If you have the kids with you and it’s not too cold, check out the Memphis Zoo, My Big Backyard play area at Memphis Botanic Gardens, Rainbow Lake Playground at Overton Park. The Children’s Museum of Memphis and the Pink Palace Museum are great indoor options. A few fun, kid-friendly places to eat include Huey’s (multiple locations, burgers), Aldo’s (pizza, two locations), Soul Fish (fried catfish, etc., two locations), and Belly Acres (burgers, one location) which has a really fun atmosphere.

Places To Eat And Drink

Make reservations anywhere you can, especially for brunch. Speaking of brunch, you can find extensive brunch guides for Downtown, Midtown, and East Memphis.

Downtown:

– Earnestine & Hazel’s offers up beer, soul burgers, and late-night music in the divey-est of dive bar atmospheres
– Majestic Grill is crowd pleasing cuisine in an upscale, art deco atmosphere
– Gus’ Fried Chicken’s spicy, crispy chicken is world-famous for a reason
– For bar hopping/late-night eating: SOBBardog TavernLocal, Flying Saucer, Blind Bear (the latter allows smoking), plus Beale Street
– For breakfast: Arcade Restaurant, Bardog Tavern, Blue Plate Cafe

East Memphis:

– Hog & Hominy is a Memphis favorite serves Southern-Italian cuisine family-style, plus craft cocktails
– Porcellino’s upscale coffee shop and butcher has a very tasty but pricey breakfast in an upscale cafe atmosphere
– One & Only BBQ has two East Memphis locations with tasty barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and more
– RP Tracks is a college bar with surprisingly great food; if you’re a vegetarian who wants barbecue, the BBQ tofu nachos there are A+
– For breakfast: Another Broken Egg, Blue Plate Cafe, Brother Junipers (the latter is immensely popular, expect a wait)
– Elwood’s Shack is in a tiny, actual shack in a Lowe’s parking lot; folks love their bbq, fish tacos, and breakfast

MIDTOWN:

– Beauty Shop serves fusion food in a swanky atmosphere for lunch, dinner, and brunch
– Second Line serves New Orleans-style food (especially po-boys) and craft cocktails
– For breakfast: Cafe Eclectic, Celtic Crossing (brunch only)
– For bar hopping/late-night eating: Young Ave Deli, Alchemy, Sweet Grass Next Door, Schweinehaus, Local on the Square
– Soul Fish Cafe serves soul food in a casual atmosphere
– Aldo’s is a chill pizza joint next to Memphis Made Taproom (they also have a downtown location)