As you will know from reading our blog post on the best time to take a river cruise, the perfect time of year for a Lower Mississippi River cruise is fast approaching. Due to hot and humid weather in the summer, we suggest April and May as the best months to sail the southern regions of America’s most famous waterway and so here is some great inspiration.
Most cruises on this part of the Mississippi take place between New Orleans and Memphis. And since we’ve covered the best things to do during your time in The Big Easy, here are some unmissable sights and attractions in Bluff City – so called because of the piece of land that stops the river flooding. So, whether you start or finish your river cruise in Memphis, here are some great things to see and do while you’re there.
Long Live The King
Image: Wikipedia Commons - Joseph Novak
Memphis is probably most famous for being the city where Elvis Presley lived and died and this is a big reason why people travel here. Even if you wouldn’t class yourself as a fan of the king of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s still worth checking out the Elvis related attractions. If you are a fan, though, this is a great year to visit as it has been 40 years since the King passed and so there are many events happening throughout the year to commemorate this. Many of the 40th-anniversary celebrations are taking place from the 11th to the 19th of August, dubbed Elvis Week. During this time there will be dance parties, tribute acts, discussion panels, auctions and more.
The two major spots for Elvis enthusiasts are Graceland and the Sun Studio. The converted colonial house where the man himself died has become a mecca for those making this music pilgrimage. You can tour the rooms in which he lived, see the trophy building which holds all his gold records and the step into the office from which his father managed the personal business.
The studio he made iconic when recording for the first time in 1954 is now a museum dedicated to rock ‘n’ roll. As you walk around the rooms of the Sun, you’ll see the booths where Roy Orbison, Jonny Cash and Elvis himself once stood; hear some of the original recordings; and even touch the first microphone the King ever held. Other Elvis-related activities in Memphis include the chance to see some of his classic car collection and climb aboard his private jet, the Lisa Marie.
A King By A Different Name
Image: Wikipedia Commons - DavGreg
Elvis is not the only king associated with Memphis, as the city is also where legendary reformer and civil rights activist Martin Luther King was assassinated. The place in which he spent his final hours, the Lorraine Motel, has since been turned into a museum which showcases the events of the time and offers a poignant insight into what was happening during this point in history.
From a room providing an in-depth look at the Atlantic slave trade to a greyhound bus used by the Freedom Riders as they headed into the southern states, the National Civil Rights Museum takes you through more than 500 years of history. A moving look at the hardship these people faced, the museum shows how previous events have shaped what the city looks and feels like today.
Incidentally, there are plenty of other Memphis museums worth exploring on your Mississippi river cruise. The STAX Museum of American Soul, the Children’s Museum, the Mississippi River Park and Museum and the Pink Palace Museum are just a few to look out for.
Ducks Walking In Memphis
Image: Wikipedia Commons - Roger Schultz
If you’re looking for something fun and free to do during the limited time you have here, head to the Peabody Hotel at around 11am. Already one of the most famous places to stay in the city, the Peabody has earned even more notoriety for a feathered procession that happens every day. Since the 1930s, when the general manager at the time placed a decoy call duck in the fountain, five mallards have made their way through the hotel lobby.
Emerging from their palace on the roof and then waddling along a red carpet, they are accompanied by the Peabody’s Duckmaster and march to the sound of John Philip Sousa's ‘King Cotton March’. Crowds form every day to watch this quirky event and so it’s best to get their early if you want a good spot. Alternatively, you could wait until 5pm when the Peabody Ducks are escorted back to their living quarters – a $200,000 replica of the hotel.
Animal lovers looking for more exotic wildlife should take a trip to Memphis Zoo. One of the biggest and oldest zoos in America, it covers 76 acres and is home to more than 3,500 animals. From pandas to polar bears and elephants to electric eels, there is plenty for visitors of all ages to see and do. The zoo also does some fantastic educational work in the local area and conservation across the world.
There’s no doubt that Memphis will be a highlight of any Lower Mississippi River cruise. Whether you follow in the footsteps of Elvis, Martin Luther King or the Peabody Ducks, you’re sure to look back on your time here fondly. Call us today to discuss specific sailings and we’ll find the perfect itinerary for you.