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If you’re a music lover or enjoy learning about the history of blues, rock ‘n roll, or soul, you likely have Memphis on your bucket list of places to visit.
It’s an iconic city with rich cultural history. Beale Street Memphis is one of the most popular places in the city. However, the attractions that bring tourists to the area are also reasons to avoid the downtown area altogether.
Let’s look at why you might want to avoid Beale Street instead of taking that “walk in Memphis.” Let’s dive in!
Where Is Memphis?
Memphis is located in southwestern Tennessee on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi-Tennesse border lies to the south, while the Arkansas-Tennessee border lies to the west.
Two major interstates run through Memphis: I-55 and I-40. Nashville is a little more than three hours to the northeast, and Little Rock is about two hours to the southwest.
What Is Memphis Known For?
Memphis is well known for its rich musical heritage. Rock ‘n roll, blues, gospel, and other genres have roots in Memphis. B.B. King, Ike Turner, and Elvis Presley all recorded here.
In fact, Elvis made his home at Graceland, which is about 15 minutes from Beale Street. You’ve probably heard the song “Walking in Memphis” about walking down Beale Street. This popular location is lined with clubs, restaurants, and all types of street entertainment.
Is Memphis Good for Camping?
The outskirts of Memphis are good for camping. Since the Mississippi River flows through the city, it provides several scenic locations to enjoy a weekend in this iconic Tennessee city.
Graceland even has its own RV Park, and you can find a Jellystone nearby for families who want kid-friendly entertainment. Tom Sawyer’s RV Park and T.O. Fuller State Park are also popular locations for RVers.
What Is Beale Street Memphis?
Beale Street Memphis is a street downtown that runs less than two miles long. You can find the blues clubs and restaurants that make Memphis famous here.
It became a major hub in the 1860s and into the 20th Century for Black musicians. Later it became a central city in the Civil Rights Movement.
Today you’ll find a Hard Rock Cafe, B.B. King’s Blues Club, the Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum, Wet Willie’s, Coyote Ugly, the Historic Daisy Theatre, and more along Beale Street Memphis.
It’s listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is registered as a U.S. National Historic Landmark District.
5 Reasons to Avoid Beale Street Memphis
With all this history and culture, it seems that Beale Street Memphis would be a great place to visit while traveling through Tennessee. Perhaps a stroll along the 1.8-mile street is a checklist item, but many have reasons to stay away. Let’s take a look!
1. It’s Not Family-Friendly
Your campgrounds will be more kid-friendly and family-friendly than Beale Street in Memphis. There’s not a lot for kids to do or see here. You won’t find a children’s museum or playground in this part of town.
The restaurants and clubs usually have a cover charge, which is free for children, but they may not be venues where you want to sit down for a family meal.
2. It’s a High-Crime Area
Memphis was named the most dangerous city in the country back in 2021. This obviously isn’t true for the entire city, but the closer you get to the downtown area and Beale Street, the higher the crime rate.
The Downtown Memphis Commission and the Memphis Police Department even instituted a $5 security fee for patrons on Beale Street after 9 p.m. after a shooting and several robberies in April 2022.
Other security measures instituted include mandatory ID checks after 8 p.m. and mandatory wanding with a metal detector from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Keep in Mind: Looking for a way to keep your items secure during travel days? Then you need to see this Secret Tip RVers are loving!
3. Large Homeless Population
Because Beale Street Memphis is popular with tourists, it also has a large homeless population. You’ll find people begging on the side of the road, especially later into the evening hours.
This isn’t unlike many other cities across the country, but it adds to why you might want to avoid Beale Street.
4. There Are Lots of Drunks at Night
There’s a reason there’s increased security at night along Beale Street. Like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Honky Tonk Highway in Nashville, or The Strip in Las Vegas, Beale Street Memphis is a place of partying crowds.
Not only does this sometimes lead to violence, but it also leads to obnoxious behavior that can ruin your experience. Beale Street is the only place in Tennessee where you can carry open containers of alcohol into the street and between bars.
5. It’s Busy
Finally, even during the daytime hours, Beale Street can be crowded. It certainly fills up after dinner with the partying crowd. If you want to grab a quick bite to eat, it likely won’t happen because of long wait times.
You also have entertainers, dancers, and musicians that line the street. Especially during the annual Memphis in May festival, crowds, including drunks, can ruin your overall experience.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Memphis?
Memphis can get hot in the summer. You’ll want to avoid the heat, humidity, and bugs that summer brings, especially since the city sits on the banks of the Mississippi River.
In general, the fall and spring are the best times to visit. You’ll want to aim for April or October to avoid the major crowds.
Keep in Mind: Before you visit the National Parks in Tennessee, you’ll want to read this article to make sure they’re worth visiting!
Is Beale Street Memphis Worth a Visit?
Beale Street in Memphis is a place of history and culture. Undoubtedly, the city and this particular street have played important roles in the overall development of our nation.
But especially if you’re traveling with children or aren’t into the party scene, Beale Street Memphis is worth avoiding. You can savor delicious food and relax to the sound of a saxophone in other places.
Have you ever walked down Beale Street? Would you recommend it to travelers?