Crystal Shrine Grotto / OuiWeGirl

Discover the Hidden Gems of Memphis

Memphis is all about authenticity and creativity in everything we do, from our music to our cuisine to our culture. Dig into the spirit of the city by experiencing its hidden gems, both on and off the beaten path. You'll find anything from marching ducks to barbecue dishes only the locals know about, a secret grotto and more.


Everywhere you look in Memphis, you’ll find awesome public art like murals, sculptures, and interactive exhibits. Perhaps the quirkiest example, though, is the Crystal Shrine Grotto, located at Memorial Park Cemetery in East Memphis. This whimsical site is an entirely man made cave, filled with quartz crystals and unique sculptures depicting religious symbols and the life of Christ. Be sure to sign and read the guestbook to see how this Grotto, created by a Mexican artist over a period of nearly 50 years, has become a worldwide attraction. 


You already have ribs and a pulled pork sandwich on your list of things to eat in Memphis, but what about some of our more interesting barbecue dishes? We’re talking about barbecue spaghetti from The Bar-B-Q Shop, barbecue pizza from Coletta’s Restaurant, barbecue nachos from The Rendezvous, Central BBQ, or Corky’s Memphis, deep-fried Cornish game hen from Cozy Corner BBQ, and even BBQ tofu from RP Tracks for the veggie-inclined. You can find these dishes at many of our ‘que restaurants.

3. Meet the Beer-Drinking Goats of Beale Street

Stop in to Silky O’Sullivan’s on Beale Street for a chance to see one of Memphis’s weirder mascots - the beer-drinking goats. This Irish establishment, known for its mystery cocktail the “Diver” served in a big yellow buckets and nightly piano bar singalongs also has a couple of goats hanging out on their patio in a specially designed pen. As far as the sign “BEWARE: Irish Diving Goats”, this may be more for your entertainment than your safety. 

close up bbq spaghetti
Justin Fox Burks
Wide shot of planetarium at MoSH with empty seats and ceiling lit up
man plays drum set on dance floor in Paula raifords disco
Dustin Williams
woman poses with beer in front of goat pin
Alex Shansky

4. See the Shrunken Head

The Memphis Museum of Science and History is odd enough on its own: the father of modern grocery stores and founder of Piggly Wiggly Clarence Saunders built this large mansion out of pink stone in the 1920s and left it to the city to turn into a museum. Among its treasures—which include a Planetarium, enormous flea circus, and taxidermied polar bear—is a shrunken head, donated by a world traveler who visited South American tribes known to take part in this unbelievable ritual. You’ll have to see the head for yourself to decide if it’s the real thing.

5. Dance the Night Away at the Most Wonderful Nightclub in the World

Paula & Raiford’s Disco downtown is a legendary nightclub and dance hall that specializes in a unique atmosphere and unforgettable energy. Get a “sexy” stamp on your hand from Paula, drink from a 40oz beer, dance on the rainbow-lit disco floor, wait your turn for a solo on the drum set, and twirl on the “dancer” pole (at your own risk). The club is hard to define in words, but if you’re up for a late night that leans more towards fun and quirky than scandalous, Raiford’s is a must.

Boutique, Luxury, Brand Names . . .
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in Memphis

6. Visit a Modern-Day Pyramid and Ride to the Very Top

Did you know Memphis is named after an Egyptian city on of the Nile River? This fact may make our giant glass Pyramid on the banks of the Mississippi make a little more sense. Though it started as a concert and basketball arena, the Pyramid is now a Bass Pro Shops. While from the outside, it’s far from hidden there’s a lot to be discovered inside. Some are more hidden than others! Inside you’ll find a cypress forest, aquariums, live alligators, a bowling alley, a fudge shop, the nation’s tallest freestanding elevator, a luxury hotel, and every kind of hunting, fishing, boating, sporting or outdoors enthusiast gear you could ever imagine.

7. Go Crazy At Wild Bill’s

Where else but Memphis will you find a full-blown juke joint in the middle of a city? Wild Bill’s is a late-night blues music club and dance hall that brings the spirit of the Delta to an historic city neighborhood. The house band will have you on your feet and dancing—or singing along—and you’re sure to meet a local character or two. This is a bucket list hidden gem for blues fans!

8. Find the Listening Room

Music lovers will appreciate the immersive experience of the hidden Listening Room at Central Station hotel downtown. Outfitted with EgglestonWorks Viginti loudspeakers and comfy seating, this secret spot lets you choose the tunes and surround yourself in music with the most crisp, clear sound available. You’ll find the Listening Room tucked behind the Eight & Sand bar in the hotel lobby. 

wild bills exterior entrance
Louis Ziggy Tucker
Exterior photo of Hernando's Hideaway Honky Tonk. The building is all white and two floors with the name above the windows
Alex Shansky
Malco Summer Drive In
Holly Whitfield
Memphis Listening Lab wall of albums and music books
Alex Shansky

9. Or find the Listening Lab at Crosstown Concourse

There is plenty to discover inside Memphis’ vertical village known as Crosstown Concourse. On the second floor, delve into a huge music catalog inside the free-to-visit Memphis Listening Lab. Visitors can browse and listen to a curated library of thousands of songs and albums on a state-of-the-art speaker system from EgglestonWorks Audio and a cozy vibe.

10. Travel Back in Time at a Time Warp Drive-In Movie Night

One of the few remaining in the country, the Malco Summer Drive-In Theater also hosts a series of movie nights featuring classic and cult films every month. Here’s how it works: show up at the theater and park your car before sundown. When it’s dark enough, the movies start and go all night long. Expect themed evenings with 3 to 6 movies each night, like “Giant Monsters Attack!” featuring Jaws and King Kong v. Godzilla, or “Shocktober” with horror flicks like Psycho and Night of the Living Dead. Check the schedule here.


11. Visit one of the last physical video rental stores at Black Lodge

Experience the nostalgia of checking out a movie to watch at Black Lodge, located near Crosstown Concourse, with nearly 30,000 DVDs and Blu-rays to choose from. But that’s not all! Black Lodge is unlike your traditional movie store. They also double as an inclusive event venue hosting movie and tv show screenings, live music, live wrestling where the ring is set up inside the store, and so much more. Hungry? Grab a bite and drink at their bar and restaurant Masquerade also located inside.

12. Tap into Memphis’ creative side at Arrow Creative

Arrow Creative is a non-profit dedicating to make art accessible and to inspire creativity. Think of Arrow Creative as a creative district under one roof. Watch dozens of resident artists at work in their private studio spaces and stores, shop at Arrow Marketplace featuring the work of 90+ local creatives, or learn a new skill with specialized equipment and classes. This creative district can be found near the Cooper-Young neighborhood.

13. Find the zen at the Memphis Gong Chamber

Memphis Gong Chamber is the premiere retailer of gongs, gong accessories, and specialized instruments in the world. Not only that, it’s a place for therapeutic sound journeys. Located inside the Memphis Drum Shop, another hidden gem of its own, the Memphis Gong Chamber hosts people from all over the world in search of healing through sound whether that’s physical, emotional, or spiritual. It also provides relaxation and stress relief.

14. Hit an old school honky tonk at Hernando’s Hideaway

A true historic honky tonk, Hernando’s Hideaway is not far from Graceland. For more than 50 years, Hernando’s Hide-A-Way was a ground-zero for rockabilly music. Jerry Lee Lewis was there so often he called the club his office. Elvis Presley also played here in 1953. Sticking true to its roots, Hernando’s Hide-A-Way was restored in 2018 with its true eclectic old-school style and is again a place for live music and good eats.

15. Find all the hidden gems at one of the largest urban parks

Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country at five times the size of New York City’s Central Park. Spanning 4,500-acres, there’s so many hidden gems to be discovered. Discover the resident herd of buffalo, the only horse-riding operation in the Mid-South, or climb up to the treetop canopy for the Go Ape Treetop Adventure featuring an outdoor rope course and zip lines.

More Hidden Gems to Find in Memphis

  • Johnny Cash statue - a life-size statue at 999 S. Cooper outside the venue of Johnny Cash’s first ever public performance.
  • Nate’s Bar at Earnestine & Hazel’s - E&H is one of the most historic (and haunted) bars in Memphis. Travel to the stairs in the back to head up stairs, a former brothel, to Nate’s Bar tucked away.
  • Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art - one of the best collections of Chinese artistry and Judaic art. A portion of the museum is dedicated to Holocaust survivors who settled in Memphis.
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