Artwork by Catherine Ferguson
I don’t know why you don’t take me downtown...
When most people think of the “Downtown” area of a relatively big city, a large commercial shopping hub comes to mind. Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta … these cities have their commercialized centers filled with retail stores and streets of people in a hurry to get from place to place, coffee and shopping bags in hand.
Memphis is a tad bit different.
Memphis is a city with a deep history, artful culture and southern soul. When taking a trip west towards the mighty Mississippi, we Memphians take it slow. We eat, we stroll, we sit by the river: we take it all in, savoring every moment.
As life seems only to get busier, slowing down every once in a while becomes more and more important. Downtown Memphis is the perfect place to do just that, so here are some suggestions for a day spent on the town.
For the breakfast “brunchie”...
The Arcade Restaurant
Most Memphians know the oldest café in our city is the hotspot to be after sleeping in on a Saturday morning. Situated right on the up-and-running S. Main Street, the Arcade has witnessed Downtown’s transformation since opening in 1919. In celebration of its 100 year anniversary, dine on some of its famous sweet potato pancakes or french toast and eat just as Elvis did.
For the doers who go out on a Friday night…
Trolley Night on South Main
At the end of every month, South Main transforms into the longest-running street festival in Memphis. Stores and restaurants open their doors with discounts, galleries feature their latest art and live music fills the air with the sporadic dancer moving on the sidewalk. While walking down South Main, Puck Food Hall is a great place to stop for a scoop of gelato, slice of pizza or Chinese dish. With a wide variety of cuisines, Puck Food Hall offers a taste of Memphis’ eclectic food culture.
For the movie fanatic…
Malco Powerhouse Downtown
The newest movie theater in Memphis, the Powerhouse is where cinephiles gather for a movie experience. With a bar and grill, reclining seats and a variety of screen options, this theater is top of the line. When ordering tickets, customers choose the seat in which they wish to sit, deciding between a seat in the 206 person “Malco Extreme Theater” with 4K resolution or a seat in the intimate 35 person theater. Either way, Malco has stepped up its game. Coming soon: The Addams’ Family (see this before St. Mary’s puts on the production!).
For outdoor lovers and casual strollers…
Walk by the river
The Mississippi River provides the revitalization everyone needs after a long first quarter. If making that drive down Riverside is not pretty enough, walking down the river is the perfect way to get a breather. Tom Lee Park has “The River Line” to follow where runners and dog-walkers frequently find themselves taking advantage of the river view. Along the way, basketball goals, bikes, and monkey bars keep every age entertained.
For the explorer who needs an escape…
This is Memphis’ hidden gem. A cute little island village nestled right beyond the downtown area, Harbortown draws in those looking for a place to escape. I suggest spending a whole afternoon exploring this quaint spot. Whether strolling down the streets with storybook-looking houses or stopping into Café Eclectic for an iced coffee pick-me-up, Harbortown exhibits its own laid-back and hip energy. After a day of wandering, a picnic on the river during sunset is the perfect way to end the day. Cordelia’s Market, the grocery store, provides all of the food you could possibly need. Do not forget the blanket and speaker!
These are just a few ideas to start your Memphis adventures. As Downtown continues to draw people looking for an evening of art, culture and laid-back fun, our city’s planners have ideas for the upcoming future. The Downtown Memphis Commission has created “BuildDowntown: the Downtown Memphis Master Plan,” to decide how Memphis will develop in the next ten years. With input from many citizens, the commission has heavily considered what the people want and plans to help create a more livable and walkable downtown.
This project is the continuation of a revival of the Downtown Memphis we have always known. People crave experience, and Downtown Memphis, new and old, is ready to give that to them.
For & By Students
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