Memphis, the largest city in southwest Tennessee, once served as a port for ships traversing the Mississippi River. It is popular for its music scene with many festivals being held here, including Memphis in May. It is also known for its Memphis-style barbecue, a cooking method that inspired numerous international barbecue contests. Most of the attractions in and around this city are accessible by train and bus, though a rental car is still recommended. With its great location in the central US, you can enjoy some land travel to the neighboring states. Check out our list of the top 10 road trips from Memphis, Tennessee.
1. Fredericksburg, TX
Fredericksburg, the earliest Germanic settlements in the state, is known for its Historic District. Here, you will see almost 200 buildings dotting the main road. This district is reminiscent of the Old West setting as portrayed in the movies and home to many shops and diners that have been around for a long time. Pioneer Museum and National Museum of the Pacific War feature exhibits that provide a glimpse into the town’s past. Enchanted Rock, a granite formation located some 17 mi (28 mi) north of town, is a natural wonder that attracts many curious tourists. The city is 700 mi (1120 km) southwest of Memphis, so be sure to pack some snacks before you visit.
2. El Reno, OK
El Reno, Oklahoma, is about 500 mi (800 km) west of Memphis, just right beside Oklahoma City. The name of the town came from a fort that used to be the US Army cavalry post. Today, all you can see is a marker along Route 66. You can visit the Canadian County Historical Museum, a compound that houses many of the oldest structures here, including General Sheridan Cabin. The town is also home to the only working rail trolley in Oklahoma, so be sure to ride on one of these. If you get hungry, don’t forget to try out the onion burger from Sid’s Diner which is a local favorite.
3. St. Martinville, LA
St. Martinville, Louisiana, is a town built around Bayou Teche and located 440 mi (708 km) south of Memphis. It is a town rich in history that is very much tied to both Native Americans and African-Americans. St. Martinville Cultural Heritage Center tells the story of the African-Americans who arrived in Louisiana over two centuries ago. Duchamp Opera House is a faithfully restored theater that continues to host shows. St. Martin of Tours Church is one of the oldest structures in the town and still holds masses every day. Aside from historical buildings, you can also check out the eateries here.
4. Jefferson, TX
Jefferson, Texas, is known for its historic buildings built in the 1800s. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church and Christ Episcopal Church are some of the old churches in the town. Meanwhile, Jefferson Historic Museum and Historic Jefferson Railway provide a glimpse into the town’s rich history. Howe Truss bridge was built in 1879 and carried trains across the river. If you want to explore the other side of this city, you can avail yourself of the riverboat tours. The city is located 335 mi (538 km) southwest of Memphis, so be sure to pack a lot of stuff for the long journey.
5. Hugo, OK
Located about 353 mi (564.8 km) from Memphis, Hugo in Oklahoma got its name from the famous writer Victor Hugo. In the early 1900s, the city was once a railroad and a venue for most circuses. Frisco Depot Museum features exhibits dedicated to railroad history, while Mount Olivet Cemetery has a “Showmen’s Rest,” the resting place for performers and managers marked with unique headstones. Endangered Ark Foundation just outside town serves as a sanctuary for the second-largest herd of Asian elephants in the USA. There are more hidden gems in the town that you can find on your visit here.
6. Grand Isle, LA
Grand Isle has the distinction of being Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island that protects the inland areas from floods caused by typhoons. The structures here are low and raised above the ground as protection against the weather. You can stay on the beach and watch all kinds of migratory birds passing through. Since it’s also a hub for shrimping, a trip here gives you the chance to sample some of the freshest seafood at classic Louisiana restaurants. Prepare yourself for a long trip though as Memphis is 473 mi (757 km) north of this town.
7. Salado, TX
Salado, Texas, describes itself as an art town and visiting here confirms that. It is located almost 600 mi (960 km) from Memphis so be prepared for a long journey. The village hosts a number of art fairs, including the annual Salado Art Fair in August. Artists in Salado showcase their talents in boutique stores around town like those at Wells Gallery and Griffith Fine Art. You can eat the classic Texas-style meats at Brody’s Steakhouse or pepperoni at Pizza Place. Don’t forget to pass by Stagecoach Inn, the oldest surviving structure in Salado and one of the oldest hotels in Texas.
8. Perry, OK
Thousands of years ago, Perry used to be inhabited by Native Americans. Today, it is a town built around tourism and Ditch Witch, a manufacturing facility. The main road is dotted with historic buildings dating back to the 1800s. Most structures here haven’t gone through any reconstruction since the 19th century. Cherokee Strip Museum features exhibits that tell the history of Cherokee Outlet. Down south you will see Perry Lake and Municipal Park where you can bike, jog, stroll, boat, or even just relax. There are also hotels and shops to the west of town too. The town is 480 mi (768 km) from Memphis so you can book a stay in one of the nice hotels here.
9. Covington, LA
Surrounded by three rivers, Covington, Lousiana, is a charming town with plenty of its own history. There are many historic buildings that fill the city including Parish Justice Center, First United Methodist Church, and more. If you want to learn more about local history, visit Covington Trail Museum and check out its collection of films and photos. Of course, you can also visit the many breweries and restaurants in the city such as Buster’s Place and Columbia Street Tap Room & Grill. Covington is just an hour’s drive away from New Orleans.
10. Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth is one of the largest cities in the US and home to almost a million people. Used to be an army outpost, the city is now a hub for modern American living. Fort Worth has some world-class museums including Kimbell Art Museum, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Aside from museum-hopping, you can also go on a food tour of the many dining spots here.
Memphis, the barbecue capital
People from around the world flock to Memphis to experience its music and food scene. The world-famous barbecue is a favorite among locals and foreign tourists and you can sample it at one of the restaurants here. Memphis is a not just great place to visit but also a good starting point for your backpacking trip.
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