Traveling is my FAVORITE. And, there’s I love more than sharing my experiences from the road with pretty much anyone who will listen. Which brings me to my new series, Keeper of The Fruit Loops Approved! It’s official AF, I tell you. When I find a restaurant, museum or location that I love, I’m going to share with all of you. I’m not being paid by sponsors so don’t think I’m getting to to fancy places on someone else’s dime (though, if travel bureaus in major cities come knocking, I’ll be sure to tell you). I’m just a mom who knows how hard it is to find cheap entertainment while traveling!
When you think about Memphis, the first thing you think about it Elvis, right? Images of a bigger than life HunkaHunka Burnin’ Love in a bedazzled white jumpsuit living in an over the top house on the outskirts of Memphis. I mean, entire songs have been written about going to pay homage to The King and, though he’s been gone for more than 40 years, people assume Memphis is a tacky stop on the the way to Nashville.
So, not true, you guys.
In fact, I love Memphis.
My father and I spent many a night in Memphis as we drove back and forth to my Northeast college town. My parents lived in Texas and my father and I would take our time driving my little white Neon and all of my worldly belongings up I-40 back to my college life after a summer at home. And, we’d always, always stop in Memphis.
Because BBQ. Duh.
And, because of the Peabody Hotel.
The Peabody Hotel is a throwback to a different time. Built in 1925, the Peabody is old fashioned and luxurious. Uniformed bellmen and perfectly manicured pots overflowing with Boston ferns make you feel like you’ve walked right into an episode of Downton Abbey. Gorgeous Oriental rugs and stunning oil paintings decorate the space and I’m not gonna lie: it’s fancy AF.
But you know what the Peabody is not?
Because they have ducks.
The Peabody is known for the gaggle of ducks who reside in coops on the top floor of the hotel. Yes, seriously.
As the story goes, back in 1930, two good old boys returned the hotel after a hunting trip in Arkansas. And, apparently, they thought it would be great fun to put real duck decoys in the now famous fountain in the lobby. As they sipped their Tennessee whiskey as one does, amazingly, no one cried fowl. Thus, the tradition of ducks in the Peabody fountain was hatched. When Bellman Edward Pembroke joined the hotel in 1940, he took it upon himself to teach the ducks to march triumphantly through the lobby and into the elevator, back to their rooftop perch daily.
And they still march the ducks through the lobby, 60 years later, you guys.
It’s the cutest frigging thing you’ll ever see.
And, they do it twice a day, at 11 am and 5 pm. Your kids will love the pomp and circumstance. Trust.
Okay, yes, I agree, taking your kids to a fancy hotel to watch ducks march in and out of the lobby seems ludicrous but, I’m not kidding, it’s worth it. Because it’s FREE.
What’s more: the Peabody Hotel is in walking distance from Mud Island, the other best kept secret in Memphis, TN.
If you’ve seen the movie The Firm, you are already familiar with Mud Island. You know that scene where Tom Cruise is running from that guy for doing that thing and he has to jump on the monorail and then he runs into his wife’s friend at that museum? Okay, fine, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie but my point is this: Mud Island was in the movie and Tom Cruise was there once and whatever. Not sure what my point is here….
You get to ride a monorail over the Mississippi River, explore a museum and enjoy panoramic views of the Mississippi River. After seeing ducks march in a hotel lobby. It’s like the perfect day, you guys.
Mud Island River Park is located on, well, an island, in the middle of the Mississippi River, between Tennessee and Arkansas. A monorail system takes you over the river and to the Mississippi River Museum. For a nominal fee, you and your kids can tour interactive exhibits and explore artifacts from the rich history of the Mississippi. According to the website, the museum covers over 10,000 years of historic information about the Mighty Mississippi.
That’s a lot of history for your $10 admission fee, folks.
And, the history doesn’t stop there. Because no visit to Memphis is complete without a stop at the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum website says it best: “Slavery. Separate but equal. Boycotts. Assassinations. Black power. This is the history of the uprising that pushed national and international civil rights forward.” Do NOT skip this powerful museum, got it?
Of course, after all of that museum learning and duck marching, you will need to replenish your strength and, naturally, you’ll need to do that with a stop for some authentic BBQ in downtown Memphis. My personal recommendation is Rendezvous because it’s kid friendly, cheap and they make ribs that are slap your grandma good (Sorry, Nana, but it’s the truth). You can also pop in to the Blues City Café if you want to fully add to you’re the Firm movie experience (there’s that scene with the FBI guys who yell at Tom Cruise for doing that thing and it’s tense and he’s eating BBQ….you know, that scene).
Memphis is so much more than white jumpsuits and jailhouse rock songs and, come on, where else can you pretend you are running from the Feds, watch ducks march in a lobby and eat the best BBQ in the country? I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna skip going to Graceland….
Memphis, TN is also home to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I am a proud blog ambassador for this amazing hospital and research center. If you’d like to learn more about their mission and/or donate to their cause, please click here.