As you would expect, Beale Street is the hub of nightlife activity in Memphis. Many bars, clubs, and some restaurants stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Especially during the summer months. Beale Street stays up much later than the rest of Memphis (with the exception of the Fed Ex complex with its 150 plus freight departures each night). An added bonus of Beale Street is it is the only place in Tennessee where you can walk from venue to venue with drink in hand. You’ll even come across several beer wagons and vendors directly serving you from the street.
Beale Street is on the bucket list of many people so making it count is important. Grab a drink to stroll from one end to the other and see which places are hopping because it varies from night to night. Start early (around 7 pm) to get the most of it. After your stroll, pop in somewhere that catches your attention for a meal, snack, or second drink while finalizing your agenda for the night.
Wednesdays are Bike Night on Beale Street from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. during April through September. Hundreds of bikes turn out every Wednesday and don’t be surprised to see 1,200 or more. These aren’t only about Harleys. You’ll see every style and color, including choppers, cruisers, scooters, sport bikes, and lots of custom creations.
To say the least, Beale Street is an active entertainment venue open 7 days a week. Most bars and restaurants are open until 3 a.m. with the ability to stay open until 5 a.m. if they choose. The Official Home of the Blues (as declared by an Act of Congress in 1977), Beale Street is Tennessee’s top tourist attraction and among America’s most iconic streets.
This recent Sunday night before Memorial Day there were thousands of people milling about and having a wonderful time in the blocked off streets. Music of all sorts could be heard from a variety of bars and outside venues. Freelance entertainers were in the streets earning money. In general, everyone was in a festive mood.
Any night on Beale Street can be family-friendly. While almost all bars and clubs are restricted to those 21 years and older, many restaurants have patio seating where children of all ages view the goings-on. However, on Friday and Saturday nights there are a few restrictions you’ll want to be aware of. At 9 p.m., a security checkpoint goes up, ensuring that guests coming onto the street are 21 or older. Minors already on the street at this time are permitted to stay, accompanied by a parent, until 11 p.m. After 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, Beale goes 21 and up.
Of course, the music, drink, and food are wonderful but bringing it all together is the history. An entire book of history would cover only a few city blocks. Beale Street was built on memories – good and bad. Today it’s a “must see” attraction for tourists and home to countless entertainers. But Beale Street’s heyday was in the roaring 20′s, when it took on a carnival atmosphere. The booming nightclubs, theaters, restaurants, stores, pawnshops, and hot music thrived alongside gambling, drinking, prostitution, murder, and voodoo.
Young ladies sashayed down Beale Street and inside the bars, gamblers waited for an easy mark to wander in. By mid-evening, the street would be packed. A one block walk could mean a detour around the medicine show set up in a little hole in the wall, as much as stopping and listening to the wandering bluesmen playing for pennies and nickels.
Beale Street – come see a Memphis jug band, Memphis blues, or W.C. Handy Blues!
Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or if you have a question.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for eleven years. He also draws upon 25 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest in the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.
I like your article, and appreciate you writing and posting. At last count, I have played around 3,000 shows in the clubs on Beale. I have seen and learned so much there, throughout my seventeen years on Beale. It's my home.
Thanks for the cool piece of writing!
Thanks for the comment. I hope you have many more enjoyable years on Beale street.