Every city has its secrets — it’s one-off dives at the edge of town, haunted cemeteries and abandoned mansions, weird public art and legendary backroads. To be a local means to have a grip on the lore of your hometown landscape.
Memphians pride ourselves on our Southern hospitality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep some local secrets close-to-the-vest. To be a Memphian means knowing the city from the “M” Bridge to the Summer Avenue Drive-In. It means being able to tell your “Voodoo Village” from your “Victorian Village,” and your Beale Street bars from your juke joints.
But even insiders sometimes need a guide. Which is why, in honor of Memphis magazine’s 40th anniversary year, we compiled this all-purpose “Insider’s-Insider’s-Guide,” complete with 40 places and things that we think are quintessentially Memphis. If you’re new to town, this is for you too … you’ll catch on. Eventually. Today, we present the first four of the series.
Observation Deck at the Pyramid
The Memphis Pyramid has defined our skyline for more than two decades now, but when it was reinvented a year ago as the South’s flagship Bass Pro Shop, it gained something really cool: an observation deck. Now, for 10 dollars and an elevator ride, visitors can catch sunset views of the Bluff City from high in the sky. The observation deck is accompanied by a restaurant called — what else? — The Lookout. — Eileen Townsend
Every city has a skyline, but how many have a signature? When lit at night, the Hernando DeSoto Bridge serves as the most distinctive river beacon in America, if not the entire world. (The 200 lights were first illuminated in 1986 at a cost of more than $350,000.)
Merely a glimpse from any direction reminds us of our connection to the Mississippi River and that our mojo starts with the letter “M.” — Frank Murtaugh
Whether jogging, strolling, or grabbing lunch on one of several benches, Memphians enjoy a path unlike any other on the planet. A gaze from atop the south bluffs — four bridges, a pyramid, Tom Lee Park, Mud Island, and all those barges — brings a gentility foreign to the hustle and bustle of a more typical downtown. Geology can, in fact, be artistic. — Frank Murtaugh
The Mississippians were a mound-building Native American civilization who lived in the Mississippi Valley from roughly 800 to 1600. Chucalissa, a museum and historical site, offers insight into these people’s way of life. Located south of town in T.O. Fuller State Park, Chucalissa is home to a mound complex, nature trail, and arboretum. — Eileen Townsend