850 White Station
by Sally Walker Davies
Keeping to a travel budget may be easier in Memphis than it is in other cities, thanks to the city's already reasonable cost of living, a plethora of casual local restaurants specializing in inexpensive and delicious dining and plenty of free activities and free-admission opportunities at a number of attractions.
Memphis has finally flown out of the list of the top 10 most expensive airports, owing in large part to the fact that Southwest Airlines serves the city – so score one for those with their eyes on the budget. With the exception of hotels located downtown, most Memphis accommodations offer free parking, as do most of the city's attractions (one notable exception is the Memphis Zoo).
Speaking of the zoo, there's free admission for Tennessee residents on Tuesday afternoons. Even on regular days, the Memphis Zoo is one of the most moderately priced zoos in the country. There's no charge to explore Beale Street, the Danny Thomas Pavilion at St. Jude, the excellent Art Museum at the University of Memphis, sprawling Shelby Farms on the city's east side or the Center for Southern Folklore. The Brooks Museum, Dixon Garden and Galleries and Pink Palace Museum all offer free admission or pay-as-you-go days. You can even check out the Meditation Garden at Graceland at no charge, every morning from 7:30am to 8:30am.
Eating on the cheap is easy throughout the city, and you'd be surprised at how inexpensive some of the best restaurants in town can be. You can spend less than $10 per person on meals at Mosa Asian Bistro, Huey's and Bryant's. The city's famed barbecue establishments offer pulled-pork sandwiches for an average of $4, and a plate of Gus's Fried Chicken – including slaw, beans and bread – comes in under $7.Jerry's Sno Cones is another spot for cheap treats. Though sno-cones are the main attraction here, hot dogs and other snacks can be purchased for pocket change.If you like to picnic, hit the prepared-food cases at Whole Foods or Fresh Market and head to Shelby Farms or the riverfront to enjoy a gourmet alfresco meal.
While many of the city's attractions are downtown, it's easy to avoid the more expensive downtown hotels and still be close to everything. Rates at Midtown's GenX Best Western start at $103, while the Hampton Inn on Poplar Avenue includes breakfast and Wi-Fi for a rate of $104 on weekends. Top prices take over at all hotels during the first two weeks of the Memphis in May festivities and during Elvis Week in mid-August.
Source: USA Today