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Memphis Layover? Enjoy a Quick and Affordable Visit

Not every trip is a leisurely one, and with the Memphis International Airport (MEM) such a busy hub, you might find yourself unexpectedly spending some time in Memphis. There are lots of ways to make a visit fun and memorable.

Affordable Stays That Won’t Leave You Racing to the Airport

No one wants to have to drive across town to catch an early morning flight. Fortunately, Memphis has lots of options for cheap and cheerful hotels near the airport.

The Holiday Inn Memphis Airport Hotel has been recently renovated and provides free shuttle bus service to the airport.  At a ten-minute drive from the airport, The Comfort Inn & Suites Airport is conveniently located and features comfortable rooms plus a full breakfast.

Ful breakfast

Full breakfast. Photo CC by Mark Longair.

If you can’t resist a visit to Graceland on your Memphis trip, the Days Inn Memphis at Graceland puts you within walking distance of Elvis’ mansion.

The hotel continues the Elvis theme with the King’s music playing alongside the guitar-shaped outdoor pool. Also close to Graceland is the Best Western Executive Inn, which offers clean and comfortable rooms and secure parking.

For more options and ideas on things to do, check out our other Hipmunk blog on Memphis airport hotels.

You Don’t Have Much Time! What to See? What to Do?

A tour of Graceland is often the focus of any visit to Memphis, and it does have the benefit of being not far from the Memphis airport. It is best to book tickets ahead of time to make sure you’re able to get in.

Memphis is all about music, from blues to country to rock ‘n’ roll. If you’re looking for tickets to live events, try Fest300 or Tiqiq for online deals. An even more affordable option is going downtown to Beale Street. Stroll around listening to buskers and free performances in Handy Park. There’s also the Stax Museum of Soul Music or a tour of Sun Studios.

To get a deeper sense of Memphis history, a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum offers a thoughtful and moving look at the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the ongoing struggle for human rights.

The museum is closed on Tuesdays, and you should expect to spend at least two hours on your visit.

A Must for Any Visit – Memphis Barbecue

Memphis is famous for its particular style of barbecue, sweet and spicy pork ribs served either dry or with tangy sauce. You can also get chopped pork sandwiches liberally doused in barbecue sauce. There’s no need to go downtown to feast, as some of the best barbecue places are near the airport.

There’s Neely’s Bar-B-Q, which has barbecue spaghetti for the truly adventurous. The other champion of Memphis barbecue is Leonard’s, which is known for its slow-cooked pit barbecue.

Coleman’s is close to the airport and provides old-school ribs and pulled pork. Payne’s Bar-B-Que has been the goal of many a road trip. If you are downtown, there’s The Pig on Beale. Just remember not to pack too much sauce into your carry-on.

Erin Curtin writes from her home base of Toronto, Canada. She’s always looking for new destinations to add to her travel wish list, balancing her love of adventurous destinations with an even greater passion for fancy hotel bathrooms.


  1. Looks like a fun trip – definitely to see Graceland and the MLK museum. Would be a well spent day.

    • Absolutely! Memphis is a great city to explore, with so many different ways to spend a day :)

  2. Looks like a great trip. I deff need to visit Graceland sometime soon. Beale street looks a fab place aswell, love the neon signs!

    • Hope you have the chance to travel soon! It’s a fabulous place :)

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