You have to buy your barbecue ingredients from somewhere. Usually, that “somewhere” is Kroger, which, like good barbecue, is in abundance throughout the area. The store has almost everything we need — food, detergent, underwear, and gas. The only thing it doesn’t sell is dignity, which you may lose if your barbecue is not on point. So, from Annesdale to Whitehaven, have no fear. A Kroger is near.
2. Memphis tap water
Forget bottled water. You can save a few coins by drinking straight from the tap. In fact, the city’s tap water tastes better than some bottled water brands. It is clear and safe, with a hint of sweetness. It will also leave your skin feeling as soft as a fat baby’s bottom wrapped in lamb’s wool.
3. Blues music
Ain’t no blues music like Memphis blues music, and since the city is considered the “home of the blues,” you hear it almost everywhere you go. Its unique sound, which combines a talkin’ guitar, a gospel-tinged melody, and a soul-penetrating bass, will have you snapping your fingers and stomping your feet — no matter what your musical preference is. (And if our own Ruby Wilson is the lead vocalist, add “snatching off your wig” and “waving your hands in the air” to the list.)
4. That relaxed Memphis lifestyle
You’ve heard the song, Summertime, right? Well, in Memphis, like in the rest of the South, the livin’ is not only easy in the summertime, but in the spring, winter, and fall as well. You won’t find a lot of people ripping and running. Partly because we believe in not breaking a sweat, especially during the hot and humid summer months. However, we also realize that life is short. So, we use our precious time to enjoy it, usually with family and friends around a table filled with sweet tea, barbecued chicken, and all of the trimmings, while listening to the musical stylings of B.B. King, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, or Elvis.
5. Walking/running/lazing along Riverside Drive
Although the water of Ol’ Man River is not as clear as what flows from our taps, it provides a peaceful backdrop and a cool breeze along Riverside Drive. And during the spring and summer, this part of downtown is alive. Folks are running, walking, they’re picnicking in Tom Lee Park, they’re out in the boats, and we can just people watch it all. With the “New Bridge” and the Pyramid looming in the distance, Riverside Drive is definitely the hottest spot for those of us who simply want to chill while still being part of the action.
6. Rooftop parties at the Peabody Hotel
As the weather warms up, we tend to raise the roof. Or, at least, take an elevator to get to the roof of the iconic Peabody Hotel. Every Thursday in April through August, hundreds of people gather there to unwind, drink a few beverages, sway to the music of local bands, and, of course, watch the amazing sunset over the Mississippi River.
7. Those Peabody ducks
Before heading to the roof, we usually like to schmooze with the true VIPs in the lobby — the world-famous Peabody ducks. They hang out in the hotel’s elaborate fountain all day — in between making their grand entrance (at 11 a.m.) and exit (at 5 p.m.). The red carpet is laid out for their daily duck march, and like all superstars, they own it by giving their best pose, smize, and waddle in front of all of the flashing camera lights. It never gets old.
If there is one thing we know, it is barbecue. And not just any barbecue. Good barbecue. The “make you get up and do the funky chicken down Beale Street while wearing blue suede shoes in the summertime” kind of barbecue, which can be found in every part of the city — whether it’s on a grill in one of our world-renowned barbecue restaurants, or in someone’s backyard. There must be something in the water that mysteriously allows us to know how to take parts of a chicken, cow, or pig, and “smack it up, flip it, and rub it down” with the perfect blend of herbs, spices, and sauces.
9. Waving your growl towel at a Memphis Grizzlies game
One way we Memphians relax is by supporting our hometown sports teams. Whether it is high school, collegiate, amateur, or professional, you can almost guarantee the stands will be filled with fans cheering players on to sweet victory. However, the Grizzlies games are in a class all by themselves. The energy of the fans chanting and waving their growl towels. The intensity of the players on the court. The flashing lights. Grizz and the dancers. The crunk music. It is an electrifying experience.
10. Jack Pirtle’s Chicken
What kind of food would you expect from a restaurant where its mascot is a perfectly coiffed-haired chicken wearing a blue cowboy hat? If your answer is “southern-fried and fattening goodness,” then you would be correct. This Memphis staple has been satisfying taste buds for decades with its crispy, yet slightly salty chicken, its melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, its come-to-mama steak sandwiches, and its I-can-now-die-happy gravy. And don’t forget its famous sweet tea. With several locations throughout the city, you have plenty of opportunities to treat yourself to its deliciousness. (But only on the days when you aren’t counting calories.)
11. Easy Way
Easy Way is where you go if you’re looking for the freshest fruits and vegetables. Although there aren’t as many locations now as there used to be, you know that you can always stock up on quality produce inside this little orange, locally-operated, family-owned storefront.
12. Ice/snow-related vacation days
Almost every winter, an ice or snowstorm moves into the city. During that time, we are reminded that we have no clue how to operate in it. And we have no desire to learn. So, the city shuts down, and we spend the day (or days) living the relaxed lifestyle mentioned earlier. Only in this situation, we replace our sweet tea with hot chocolate.
13. Starry Nights
Each year, millions of lights illuminate Shelby Farms Park and turn it into a magical winter wonderland. You can drive your own car or take a carriage ride to view this awesome light show, which features everything from nativity scenes, to Elvis, to sea creatures. Starry Nights has been going strong for decades, and it is a tradition that never seems to get old for us.
14. Tunica casinos
Memphis offers a number of recreational options. However, gambling is not one of them. So, if we’re feeling lucky, we hit Highway 61 South, which leads us to the “promised land” of Tunica, Mississippi. The town is less than an hour away and it has nine casinos and resorts. So not only do we get a chance to win extra money, but they’ve got endless buffets, a variety of entertainment, and spacious hotel rooms — just in case we enjoy the extra money, buffets, and entertainment a bit too much. Jackpot!
15. Buying watermelons on the side of the road
Easy Way is not the only place to score a good watermelon. Some of the sweetest, juiciest melons of all sizes can be found chillin’ on the back of a farmer’s pick-up truck parked along the side of the road. During the summer months, you’ll spot quite a few farmers at several busy intersections (like Airways and Holmes in Whitehaven), selling these tasty, filling treats for low prices.