tom lee park sunset canopy with city skyline
Julian Harper

Find Great Story Ideas

Memphis is rich in history and full of story ideas waiting to be told. From the newest attractions, restaurants, and events: here are several ideas to inspire and assist you in covering the home of blues, soul and rock 'n' roll. 

What's New in 2024

Marriott’s collection of modern boutique hotels known as Aloft will open its first Memphis location this spring with robotic bellhops, a full-service restaurant, and a private-viewing movie theatre. Built in 1906, Hotel Pontotoc, once a Turkish bathhouse, will be renovated into apartment-hotel units and a restaurant. Memphis will play host to the first and second rounds of the electrifying March Madness for the first time since 2001. Memphis last hosted the regional semifinal and final games in 2017. A new three-day music festival, Riverbeat Music Festival, will take place in the newly renovated Tom Lee Park on May 3-5. Recognized by USAToday as the “Most Prestigious Barbecue Contest,” The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest on May 15-18, 2024, will move to its new home at Liberty Park. A new barbecue competition will take place at Tom Lee Park known as the SmokeSlam: The World's Ultimate BBQ Showdown on May 16-18, 2024. It'll be the most competitive barbecue weekend in the world. This spring, the Memphis Museum of Science & History (MoSH) is set to open the "Discovery Forest" at its Lichterman Nature Center. This is an interactive and unstructured children’s play area created with natural elements. The South City Museum and Culture Center, a place to celebrate one of Memphis' oldest African American neighborhoods, is expected to open in summer 2024. 

Black History

Black history is Memphis’ history. From the struggles to the triumphs, experience the music and movements, and discover the legends and unsung heroes of Black History. The National Civil Rights Museum, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, is one of the nation’s most premiere museums with exhibits from the Civil Rights Movement from 1619 to present day. It is one of eight historical locations in Memphis designated in the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Currently, a portion of the museum's campus is under construction for an expansive exhibition at the Boarding House. The project is expected to be completed in 2025. Each year, King Day is recognized city-wide with volunteer efforts and a celebration at the museum to reflect, honor, and celebrate Dr. King’s legacy on his birthday, January 16. This upcoming King Day would have been Dr. King's 95th birthday. 

Memphis Black Restaurant Week, in mid-March, is one of the largest dining celebrations of Black-owned restaurants featuring nearly 30 restaurants. The region’s sole Black theatre, Hattiloo Theatre, features plays and musicals year-round. As one of the largest dance companies in the country, Collage Dance Collective increases the diversity of dance with expanded access to classical training to communities of color. The historic Clayborn Temple, the organizing site of the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike that brought Dr. King to Memphis prior to his assisination, finished phase one of a massive renovation project. Phase two begins in 2024. Once complete, it will serve as a premier cultural arts center and museum. Take a ride in A Tour of Possibilities to discover all the Black historical and cultural gems in Memphis.

Withers Collection Museum & Gallery

In early February, the historic Withers Collection Museum & Gallery, located on Beale Street, was designated as a new site on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. This marks the 15th site in Tennessee and Memphis' eighth location. The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery features the work of acclaimed civil rights photographer Ernest C. Withers. His most famous work includes coverage of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968, the events that culminated in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While most known for documenting the Civil Rights Movement, Withers' 60+ years of work also documented everyday life including sports, music, and politics. It is estimated that the collection entails 1.8 million photographs including notable figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Elvis, and B.B. King.

The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery is now working with Major League Baseball to incorporate the history of players from the Negro League using the vast imagery captured by Withers. The photos are currently being digitized with the help of the MLB. Two photos captured by Withers, including the sole image taken inside the courtroom during the murder trial of Emmett Till, made the New York Times Style Magazine list of the 25 most significant photographs since 1955. 

Recent Accolades

Coming off 2023, when Memphis was named as one of 23 Best Places to Travel in the World by Condé Nast Traveler, Memphis was named one of the top five places to visit in 2024 in Travel Lemming’s annual 50 Best Places to Travel list. Arrive Memphis, a boutique hotel located in the historic South Main Arts District, earned a spot on Fodor’s Travel 20 Best Hotels in the United States, Canada, and Central America. The hotel was selected for its Southern bohemian meets approachable luxury ambiance. Hustle & Dough, Vice & Virtue coffee, and Longshot, the city’s only shuffleboard bar and restaurant are also a part of the Arrive Memphis experience. From the barbecue capital of the world, two Memphians were recently inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame: Flora Payne, of Payne’s BBQ, and a legacy posthumous induction for Bill Arnold, of Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce.

New Eats

The food scene in Memphis continues to grow at accelerated levels with several dozen recent restaurant openings. Amelia Gene’s in downtown is Memphis’ newest fine-dining restaurant with a contemporary American and French infused menu. Another fine-dining restaurant to join the scene is JEM Dining in Memphis' historic Edge District. Their vision is make fine-dining approachable and comfortable. One of the newest restaurants to open in 2024 with great anticipation was Kinfolk, located in Harbor Town. This country kitchen is a celebration of southern ingredients and one of the best spots to get a delicious biscuit. Vegan options continue to grow with the addition of Arnold’s Smokehouse, a restaurant with two kitchens to offer bbq and vegan menus, Shroomlicious' first storefront, and the recent expansion of a new downtown location for Plant Based Heat. All three businesses are Black-owned. Memphis' West African food scene is growing with the addition of Mande Dibi West African BBQ GrillMomma’s, the only truck driver themed bar in the United States, reopened after a lengthy renovation and patio expansion. 2023 also saw the introduction of new food options with Memphis’ first entirely authentic Sichuan restaurant, Petals of a Peony, which now has a second location in the works. Craving something sweet? South Main Arts District has two new dessert spots with Zio Matta Gelateria and Crave Cheesecakes. In 2024, Memphis will welcome Forsythia, a New York City and MICHELIN Guide Italian restaurant. This will be the second Forsythia location and will also include a coffee shop, Italian bistro, and bar in the new development.

Celebrations and New Exhibits at Elvis Presley’s Graceland

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s legacy in Memphis continues to this day with Graceland the most visited homes in the United States second to the White House. Recently, Graceland opened a newly expanded exhibit for Elvis' late-daughter Lisa Marie. The Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley exhibit reopened in honor of her 56th birthday on February 1, 2024. It features never before seen items from her childhood, outfits, and shares stories and memories through home movies and photos. Jailhouse Rock is another latest addition to Elvis Presley’s Memphis – a 200,000 square foot entertainment complex featuring museums, restaurants, and more. It tells the story of Elvis’ Hollywood career through artifacts and cellblock photo ops. Elvis Week, August 9-17, 2024, is when fans from all over the world make a pilgrimage to Memphis to honor Elvis on the anniversary of his death. The week features live music performances, behind-the-scenes tours, special appearances, and the candlelit vigil at his grave in the Meditation Garden. Graceland celebrates the holidays in style, decorating the home as it was when Elvis was alive. It’s considered to be the Best Holiday Historic Home Tour by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Beginning May 1, a new tour option will be added for Graceland visitors. Inside the Graceland Archives UVIP Tour gives guests a look behind-the-scenes at the work being done to preserve Elvis' precious collection. The Graceland archives is home to more than 1.5 million artifacts. 

70 years of Rock ‘n’ Roll

While rock 'n' roll’s history is rooted in the many blues singers that made up Memphis in the 1920s and 1930s, it didn’t officially acquire its name until 1954. 2024 will mark the 70th anniversary of the genre. Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock 'n' roll, released what is widely believed to be the first rock and roll single in 1951’s Rocket 88 by Ike Turner. Rock ‘n’ roll was ignited on July 5, 1954, when Elvis Presley had his first recording session at Sun Studios where he recorded the hit “That’s All Right.” 2024 marks the 70th anniversary of Elvis’ first public concert which took place at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis on July 30, 1954. Many historians consider it to be the first-ever rock ‘n’ roll show. Trace the early roots of rock ‘n’ roll at Sun Studio or Memphis’ Blues Hall of Fame – the only museum of its kind.

Contact Our Team

Kevin Kern, Vice President of Public Relations

Lauren Berry , PR Director

Kirby Boyd, PR Manager

Camille Connor, PR Manager

Submit a Request for
Travel Media Assistance