The nightlife in Memphis is as musically sophisticated and up-to-the-minute as you'd expect from one of the world’s most famous musical destinations. The city is famous for its hospitality, and locals are laidback, welcoming and always keen to share a new favourite band or watering hole.

    Beale Street is the obvious first stop during a night out in Memphis – some of the best jazz and blues clubs in the USA can be found here. But venture further out and you'll see there's much more to Memphis’ nightlife, which ranges from offbeat bars and local craft breweries to independent theatres and performing arts centres. Stay up late and party with our guide to the best nightlife in Memphis.

    1

    B.B. King's Blues Club

    Chill to the sound of jazz and blues in this legendary club

    • Nightlife

    B.B. King's legend lives on in this quintessential blues club, which hosts some of the most famous performers in the USA. When no guests are scheduled to play, the house band keeps everyone on the dancefloor with live music ranging from classic blues and soul to rock 'n' roll.

    The musical theme extends to the atmospheric interior, featuring offbeat art depicting Memphis' musical icons. The drinks menu is full of unique, Southern-themed signature cocktails like Love on The Delta and Hoochie Coochie Man. If you’re hungry, make sure to try B.B. King’s speciality ribs, barbeque chicken, or shrimp and grits.

    Location: 143 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to midnight, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 1 am, Sunday from 11 am to 11.30 pm

    Phone: +1 901-524-5464

    Map

    photo by Bjoertvedt (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    2

    Beale Street

    Bask in the atmosphere at the world-famous home of the blues

    • Nightlife

    Beale Street is one of the most iconic music streets in the USA. Over the years, it's seen celebrated artists like Muddy Waters, W. C. Handy and Louis Armstrong performing in its clubs. Wander down the street and you'll hear blues and jazz spilling out of almost every doorway.

    Classic Beale Street drinks include the 'Diver', a gallon-sized cocktail served by Silky O'Sullivan's, and the frozen Walk Me Down, which is the city's signature drink. Grab a seat outside and you can watch the Beale Street Flippers performing gravity-defying acrobatics. There's always something happening here, from parades and music festivals to relay races and the unparalleled New Year's Eve festivities.

    Location: Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, USA

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    photo by Heath Cajandig (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    Club 152

    Dance the night away at Memphis' coolest club

    • Nightlife

    Club 152 should be at the top of your list if you love dance music. The nightclub is spread across 3 floors, each catering to different tastes in music. The ground floor is fairly lowkey, with live music in the evenings followed by a DJ playing popular hits from the past 50 years. The 1st-floor area blasts out mainstream hip-hop, and depending on the night, DJs on the top floor spin anything, from house to techno to alternative rock.

    Drinks are poured and cocktails are expertly mixed from 2 full-service bars on each floor. The crowd is young by Beale Street standards, and the atmosphere is energetic and high-octane – get ready to wear out your dancing shoes at Club 152.

    Location: 152 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, USA

    Open: Sunday–Wednesday from 5 pm to 3 am, Thursday–Friday from 5 pm to 5 am, Saturday from 1 pm to 5 am

    Phone: +1 901-544-7011

    Map

    photo by Gary J. Wood (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Overton Square

    Mixing live performance venues and fashionable restaurants

    • Nightlife

    Overton Square is a compact but vibrant neighbourhood that’s packed with everything you’d need for a great night out. Start your evening by grabbing a bite to eat – the area has everything from tacos to pizza to Cajun to Indian food. Once you're fuelled up, head to Lafayette's Music Room for smooth jazz and blues or enjoy a craft cocktail accompanied by live piano at The Zebra Lounge.

    Entertainment options include family-owned multiplex cinema Malco Studio On The Square, relaxed performances at the welcoming Circuit Playhouse, and Hattiloo Theatre, one of the few independent African-American theatres in the USA. Public art installations such as wind chimes and colourful murals dot many corners, contributing to the square's groovy and energetic feel. 

    Location: 2101 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104, USA

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    photo by Paul Sableman (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Blind Bear Speakeasy

    Live through a whole other epoch at this atmospheric venue

    • Nightlife

    Blind Bear Speakeasy is an excellent spot if you want to be transported to the Roaring Twenties. At this vintage, Prohibition-themed bar, order a classic cocktail like a Manhattan or Old Fashioned or get adventurous with one of their Golden Age drinks. The Moonshine Tea is made with tea-flavoured liquor, and – just like in the secret bars of the era – served in a mason jar.

    Blind Bear Speakeasy also brings the 1920s to life with its elegant interior, plush couches and blackjack and poker tables. For added authenticity, you'll need to know the password to enter – a new one is announced on the bar’s Facebook and Twitter every week.

    Location: 119 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 3 am

    Phone: +1 901-417-8435

    Map
    6

    Cooper-Young Historic District

    See up-and-coming acts at the hippest neighbourhood in Memphis

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • History

    Cooper-Young is an artsy neighbourhood where you can buy vinyl and vintage fashion during the day, but it really comes alive after sunset. Restaurants run the gamut from sushi to Korean barbeque to Italian food, and the area is the centre of Memphis' craft beer scene, featuring beers from local independent breweries like Memphis Made and Wiseacre Brewing.

    Johnny Cash recorded his first album here in Galloway Church, so Cooper-Young takes its music scene very seriously. Bar DKDC is a reliable destination for live music, with a regular line-up of international artists. Check out live Irish bands at Celtic Crossing or relax in a beer garden and enjoy outdoor entertainment at Railgarten.

    Location: 2120 Young Ave, Memphis, TN 38104, USA

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    photo by Thomas R Machnitzki (CC BY 3.0) modified

    7

    Playhouse on the Square

    Enjoy a musical in this cosy independent theatre

    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Families

    Playhouse on the Square is Memphis’ only professional resident theatre that brings the greatest hits from Broadway. Past shows included Peter Pan, Murder on The Orient Express, and Memphis: The Musical. The theatre is also the home of the Ballet Memphis company. Its 347-seater auditorium has wonderful acoustic and a reassuringly intimate feel – no seat in the house is more than 30 ft away from the stage.

    Playhouse on the Square’s spacious lobby includes a cafe and fully stocked bar that are open before and after a performance and during intermission. Every year, events such as the Memphis Midtown Opera Festival and an independent film festival run by Indie Memphis take place at the theatre.

    Location: 66 Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104, USA

    Open: Showtimes vary

    Phone: +1 901-726-4656

    Map

    photo by Thomas R Machnitzki (CC BY 3.0) modified

    8

    Alchemy Memphis

    A destination cocktail venue with a sleek interior

    • Nightlife

    Alchemy Memphis is a connoisseur's bar with an extensive menu of avant-garde cocktails, local beers, craft whiskies and bourbons. The drinks are all skilfully mixed using fresh and unique ingredients. If you're not sure what to try first, the expert bartenders are more than happy to recommend a new whiskey or a quirky cocktail.

    The venue's clean décor and atmospheric lighting bring an opulent style to your evening tipple. The food at Alchemy Memphis is just as sophisticated, with upmarket dishes like truffle deviled eggs and pan-seared sirloin. It's worth showing up during happy hour (from 4pm to 6pm) on weekdays – nearly everything on the drinks list is at half price.

    Location: 940 Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm, Friday–Saturday from 4 pm to midnight, Sunday from 10.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 901-726-4444

    Map
    9

    Germantown Performing Arts Center

    A diverse line-up of cultural delights

    • Nightlife
    • Families

    Germantown Performing Arts Center is an 800-seater arts venue that hosts live events year-round. Depending on the season, you might catch a tap dance band, large-scale ballet production, cabaret jazz session, or a classical concert with the resident Memphis Symphony Orchestra. The New Ballet Ensemble and Memphis Opera regularly have shows here, too.

    The centre runs a Youth Symphony Program, providing educational activities to inspire a love of the arts in kids of all ages. Another community outreach involves showcasing local artists in the free Lobby Gallery, Q&A sessions with artists and performers, demonstrations and workshops.

    Location: 1801 Exeter Rd, Germantown, TN 38138, USA

    Open: Showtimes vary

    Phone: +1 901-751-7500

    Map
    10

    Mollie Fontaine Lounge

    Enjoy a cocktail at this quaint period house

    • Nightlife

    Mollie Fontaine Lounge is a quirky bar that’s housed within a 19th-century mansion in Adams Avenue. The homely venue is decorated with elaborate wallpaper and period furniture, as well as 19th-century antiques and curiosities. Two full bars serve era-appropriate drinks like Millionaire's Row and Uptown Gin, plus several local and national craft beers.

    Join in with a piano sing-along as they did in the old days on the ground floor or check out DJs and weekend bands on the top floor. The menu, helmed by resident chef Karen Carrier, focuses on locally inspired small plates and changes seasonally. No need to worry about curfew at Mollie Fontaine – the lounge is open "till the spirits go to sleep".

    Location: 679 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38105, USA

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 5 pm to 3 am (closed Sunday–Tuesday)

    Phone: +1 901-524-1886

    Map
    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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