Memphis with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

by Shellie Braeuner, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Aug 31st 2010 03:18 PM

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Memphis with Teens: A Family Vacation

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Organizing a family vacation in Memphis with teens can be a daunting task, but with these suggestions, you'll be all set for a perfect day in the River City!

Morning


When planning your family adventure in Memphis with teens, choosing a headquarters is crucial. If you can manage it, stay at the Peabody Hotel (149 Union Avenue, 901-529-4000?). This hotel is designed to make every member of the family feel pampered, offering a day spa, salon, athletic club and pet-friendly rooms. Here's an interesting story: In 1933, Chip Barwick, the general manager of the Peabody Hotel, returned from a hunting trip and decided to play a joke, placing his wooden duck decoys in the fountain to await the reaction of the guests. Instead of laughing, people said they were charmed. Learning this, Barwick replaced the fakes with real ones, and the Peabody Ducks were born. Today, they march proudly from their home to the fountain and back, a delight to guests of all ages. In their honor, no duck is ever served in any Peabody restaurant. Rooms at the Peabody start at $229.

Start your Memphis family vacation off right with breakfast on Beale Street, just a few blocks from the hotel. A particularly popular draw is Miss Polly's Soul City Café (154 Beale Street, 901-527-9060), which is hard to miss with its bright yellow, neon chicken sign. If you get there early in the morning, you might meet musicians grabbing a bite just before they head to bed. The motto here is "Love, peace and chicken grease," so don't expect a tofu-stuffed, egg-white omelet. Miss Polly's serves hearty southern fare like waffles, ham, and steak and eggs. Their Memphis Omelet is simply fantastic, featuring mushrooms, tomatoes, ham, sausage and cheddar cheese all wrapped up in fresh eggs. Breakfast typically costs between $4.95 and $9.95 per person. Miss Polly's is open Mon-Thu 8AM-11PM, Fri 8AM-4AM, Sat 7AM-4AM and Sun 7AM-10PM.

Once upon a time, there was a little record store in an old theater. When the theater closed in 1959, the record store turned into a tiny recording studio where music greats like Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes had their beginnings. Today, that recording studio is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (926 East McLemore Avenue, 901-942-7685), a Memphis attraction teens are sure to love. Wander through a replica of a delta church and explore the gospel roots of soul. See the costumes of greats like Tina Turner and Otis Redding, as well as hundreds of musical instruments and even Isaac Hayes's peacock blue Superfly Cadillac. Stax also has a musical library of over 1,000 different records. Tickets for adults 12 and over are $12. The museum is located in the heart of Soulsville, a refurbished area rich in the history of Memphis.

A family vacation in Memphis with teens just can't get too much musical history. Check out the Memphis Rock n' Soul Museum (191 Beale Street, 901-205-2533), which was opened in 1996 to commemorate the Smithsonian's 150th birthday. Here, six different galleries explore the history of rock from its rural roots to its role in social change. This museum is dedicated to the belief that music overcomes all racial and social barriers. Now part of the FedEx Forum, the museum is open daily 10AM-7PM. Tickets for adults age 18 and over are $10, while tickets for teens are $7. Be sure to hold on to your ticket stub when you leave.


Afternoon


While chain restaurants can often be uninspiring, the Hard Rock Café (315 Beale Street, 901-522-8612) is an excellent dining spot during your Memphis vacation with teens. Located steps away from the Rock n' Soul Museum, the Hard Rock has become almost a museum itself. Each restaurant focuses on the local musical history. Like the museum, the Hard Rock is loaded with memorabilia from stars like Isaac Hayes, Johnny Cash and, of course, Elvis Presley. Lunch entrees run between $16.95 and $24.95 per person. Open Sun-Thu 11AM-10PM and Fri-Sat 11AM-1AM.

No family adventure in Memphis is complete without a look at Graceland (3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, 901-332-3322). A shuttle runs between the Rock n' Soul Museum and Graceland, and it's free with a Rock n' Soul ticket stub. At Graceland, you'll have the opportunity to wander through the home that has become a shrine for millions. Tickets for adults are $30 and $27 for kids 18 and under. And you don't have to be an Elvis fan to enjoy Graceland. The Platinum Ticket includes access to Hollywood memorabilia, classic cars and even the King's private, customized jets for only a few dollars more. Hours vary throughout the year, so please check the website or call before you visit.

Take the shuttle back to the Rock n' Soul Museum and head over to 45 South Riverside Drive to catch the Memphis Queen or one of her sister ships at Memphis Riverboats. The boats are all beautiful recreations of traditional riverboats, offering 90-minute cruises on the Mississippi. Wander through the decks with your family as you watch the scenery slide by. Along the way, you will hear stories about riverboat gamblers, tragedies and the wry humor of Mark Twain. Tickets for adults 18 and up are $20, while passengers age 17 and under are $17. Reservations can be made online or by calling (800) 221-6197.


Evening


For dinner, head back toward the hotel and wander Beale Street. There are literally dozens of great music venues and restaurants to explore here. Want ribs? Try the Pig on Beale (167 Beale Street, (901) 529-1544), where pulled pork will run between $4.95 and $19.95, depending on your appetite. They're open Mon-Wed 11AM-close, Thu-Sat, 11AM-11PM. You can also check out Silky O'Sullivan's (183 Beale Street, 901-522-9596), open Mon-Fri 11AM-midnight, Sat-Sun 11AM-3AM. Silky started barbecue competitions in Ireland and then came across the pond to the home of pulled pork. Here, dinner will run between $9.95 and $24.95 per person. Don't forget to pet the goat for luck! Another great option is Blues City Café (138 Beale Street, 901-526-3637). They offer barbecue as well as the best tamales in town - a dozen for $10.00. Hand-cut steaks are also available by the pound. A six-pound sirloin will feed up to six people and runs $14.25 a pound. The Blues City Café kitchen is open Sun-Thu 11am-3AM, Fri-Sat 11AM-5AM. After dinner, wander the street and listen to some of the best live music on the planet. Some clubs have an over-21 policy, but most are open to families.

It's a good idea to check the schedule for Mud Island before planning your trip. The park is equipped with a beautiful outdoor amphitheater where big acts regularly play. With stars like Sheryl Crow, Maroon 5 and the Black Crowes performing there, tickets sell out early. It's a great place to end your family day in Memphis, and your teens will think so, too.


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