March 23, 2023

The 5 Best Memphis Tours

Note: Some tour providers on this list may have ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Memphis, Tennessee, is known for blues and rock ‘n’ roll music, barbecue and civil rights history. One of the best ways to explore its wealth of attractions is on a guided tour. U.S. News compiled this list of the top tours based on expert input and reviewer sentiment. From bus and boat rides to walking and pedaling tours, these five experiences offer an excellent overview of the city.

Graceland – Elvis Entourage VIP Tour

You can spend an entire day exploring all things Elvis with this tour at Graceland – the singer’s former mansion. The package includes a VIP shuttle to the estate. After you arrive, skip the lines, view an orientation film and then proceed with an audio-guided tour of the property. Other highlights include an exclusive VIP exhibit and full access to Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex. At this facility, you can tour museums that feature Elvis’ car collection, his famous jumpsuits and additional exhibits about his life outside of the entertainment industry. There are even several interactive games and exhibits to try. Elvis fans rave about the experience and say they can still feel his presence in the house. They also remark that there is a phenomenal amount of memorabilia that is meticulously maintained. Tickets start at $124 per person. Children younger than 5 can tour for free. Graceland offers several other tour options to explore Elvis’ former home.

Memphis Best Tours – City Tour

This three-hour bus ride gives tour-takers an introduction to downtown Memphis and sights along the Mississippi River. Notable attractions include the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the B.B. King statue and the Memphis Pyramid. The bus also stops at Beale Street, Sun Studio and the Peabody Memphis, home of the Peabody ducks. Tours depart daily at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets cost around $30 for adults and $22 for children. Prices include round-trip transportation from select downtown hotels. Reviewers enjoy the informative guides and learning about the history of the city. The company offers several other tours, including a few Elvis-themed excursions.

Backbeat Tours – Walking Ghost Tour

Head out for a two-hour walking tour that delves into the city’s haunted history and some of its lesser-known characters. Stops include Earnestine & Hazel’s, the Orpheum Theatre and Gayoso Avenue. As you walk, guides will share tales of the dearly departed. Tourgoers rave about the knowledge and insight of the guides. They also comment that the tour involves a lot of walking, so wear supportive shoes. Tours are available at 8 or 8:30 p.m. nightly; hours may vary in the winter. Prices start at $20 for participants 13 years and older and $13 for children 7 to 12. Children 6 and younger tour free. The company offers other experiences, including walking historic tours and tours highlighting the city’s music history.

Tastin’ ‘Round Town – Memphis BBQ Tastin’ Food Tour

Skip lunch and bring your appetite for this roughly four-hour walking food tour that focuses on one of the city’s most delicious traditions: barbecue. Patrons comment that they appreciate learning about the history of the city as much as they enjoy the food. Some also remark that it’s one of the best food tours they have ever taken. During the tour, pig out on dry-rubbed and sauced ribs, barbecue spaghetti, pork nachos and pulled pork at eateries like Central BBQ, A&R BBQ and Arnold’s BBQ & Grill. Tours begin at 2 p.m. and are available Tuesday through Friday. Prices start at $70 per person. The company also offers tours of the city’s food scene as a whole, as well as a tour that combines its barbecue heritage with chef-inspired eats.

Memphis Riverboats – Sightseeing Cruise

Go rolling on the mighty Mississippi – North America’s second-longest river – for a unique perspective of the city’s landscape. This 90-minute paddlewheel boat cruise includes live narration covering the past and present history of life along the Mississippi. There are restrooms on board and refreshments are available for purchase. Patrons offer mostly positive reviews and say that it’s an enjoyable experience. Others comment that the boat gets crowded and the sights aren’t interesting. The operating schedule varies by season, but from May through October there are daily tours at 2:30 p.m. with an additional 5 p.m. tour on Saturday and Sunday. Prices start at $20 for adults; discounts are available for children and seniors. Memphis Riverboats also offers a dinner and music cruise.

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