Memphis for $100 a Day

Where to score the best cheap eats and wacky souvenirs in town

Blues and 'que rule the scene in Memphis, the town of a thousand facets and a deep-rooted history. 

Some come for Graceland to pay respects to the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" while others come to get elbow-deep in sometimes-hot, sometimes-sweet barbecue that Memphis locals dish out with pride served up by generations of tinkering with their sauce to get it just right. Still others come for the network of museums and historic sites that stretch across the city with spaces dedicated to folk art and tracing history back through the ages. 

Whatever the cause, these suggestions can be knit together to create a weekend getaway or a longer stay for $100 a day.

A three-piece meal with beans and slaw

Where to Eat

Fuel Food Truck: Grab a luxurious grilled cheese for $5 or a set of two veggie tacos for $7—voted some of the best in Memphis—at this local fav. Follow the truck on Twitter for updates on menu items and food truck locations.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken: Belly up to the checkered tablecloths at this local legend for white and dark meat chicken meals including sides like baked beans and rich slaw. With a spot in downtown Memphis and East Memphis, there's plenty of Gus's to go around. Meal with two pieces of dark meat and two small sides, $7

Pho Saigon: The highlight at this cozy, East Memphis Vietnamese restaurant is the "Bánh Mì" sandwich. Crispy pork and liver pate are piled onto a crunchy baguette; look for the offering as a lunch special. Pair with a few appetizers like chicken wings—five for $4—or beef skewers alongside an order of bubble tea to round out the meal. 2946 Poplar Ave, Memphis; 901.458.1644

Orpheum Theatre in Memphis

The Best Cheap Things to Do

Center for Southern Folklore: This free-entry museum houses the legacy of Mississippi Delta filmmakers who created grassroots films and documentaries since the early 1970s. Another draw—besides its prime spot in downtown Memphis—are the regular music shows on the stages in the galleries and the adjacent cafe and gift shop that offer treasures to take home.

Orpheum Theatre: Music lovers trek down to South Main and Beale where this Roaring Twenties theater and its walk of stars highlighting movie celebrities. During the summer, the movie house screens classic films on the silver screen. Star walk, free; movie series tickets $8 adults, $6 children

Cooper-Young Neighborhood: Walking through this up-and-coming neighborhood is free; step into quaint boutiques and coffee shops during the stroll.

Old Dominick Distillery Tour: For $12 visitors can tour the brewery with a guide, sip a curated tasting and leave with a souvenir guidebook detailing the brew process.

Hats hanging up for sale

Where to Shop

Memphis Flea Market: This weekend bazaar is a chance to explore all things cheap, including Elvis souvenirs, fashion and home goods.

A Schwab’s Dry Goods Store: Three floors of curious tonics, mountains of hats and other goods await at this well-known store on Beale Street, open since 1876. 

Junior League of Memphis Repeat Boutique: Peruse through chic outfits and fun accessories at this thrift store stocked and managed by the Junior League of Memphis.

Where to Stay

Hostel Memphis: As a converted church, Hostel Memphis—formerly called Pilgrim House Hostel—is a spot for international and domestic travelers to socialize over the complimentary breakfast and other perks. Co-ed dorm rooms $25/night; private rooms with two beds $55/night

Common room at Hostel Memphis

Jamie Jackson
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