MEMPHIS TO NASHVILLE
“Beale To Broadway”
If you’re coming into Memphis after traveling the Delta Highway portion of the trail, this route is a natural next chapter in the coming-of-age story of American music. The city itself is a musical time capsule, and its heart was (and many argue, still is) Beale Street, where merchants and musicians traveling the Mississippi in the mid-1800s played, influenced and borrowed stylistically from one another. During its original heyday it was the center of African-American culture in the U.S. Beale was the spot to be entertained, earn a living, gamble your earnings, and engage in all manner of illegal activities. It was this cultural mix that laid the foundation for an ongoing evolution of sound and style, as blues, jazz, R&B and gospel music collided, combined and borrowed from each other to create sounds that couldn’t have happened anywhere else, or at any other time. In 1950s Memphis, after brewing for decades, that complex mix of style, sound and genre would become the fuel for America’s best-known export: rock and roll.
As the civil rights movement took hold in the American South during the 1960s, the history made on this part of the Gold Record Road changed the world forever. Memphis became the national stage for more than just music; in turn, the music of Memphis was so much more than just a soundtrack. Music dramatically transformed the social landscape, giving people access to each other, and to opposite points of view during one of the most turbulent times in the country’s history. It provided a common language that did more to integrate blacks and whites in the Southern U.S. than perhaps any other cultural force of the time, bringing people together in the studio, on the dance floor and in everyday life.
In many rural areas, restaurants and other stops are open and ready for business on the weekends only; in other areas, attractions close on Sundays and Mondays instead. Be aware that hours of operation may vary, especially in smaller communities, and lodging options can be few and far between. We encourage you to visit websites, make phone calls and prepare in advance in order to catch these sites—small businesses and small towns in particular—at their best.
Interstate 40 is well patrolled, and speed limits are enforced. Make sure you stick to the speed limit.
The rural South is economically diverse, with pockets of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, which can raise safety questions with travelers. Our advice is to behave as you would in any urban area—keep car doors locked, keep valuables with you and don’t flaunt jewelry or cash.
This information was accurate when published but can change without notice.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected the hours and operation of many sites and businesses. Please confirm hours and availability before you visit.