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Posts Tagged ‘Memphis’

While w would have loved to stay at the posh Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, TN we did  scurry ourselves over there to witness the daily parade of ducks as they make their way to the fountain in the lobby, as they have every day since the 1930s!
Peabody Hotel BookThe place was an absolute madhouse of families and tourists all lined up on the red carpeted path from the penthouse elevator to the fountain, but it was fun to be part of this tradition. We managed to catch a quick glimpse of a duck butt or two as they waddled quickly to their aquatic destination, and I could not help but laugh at how quickly it was over. We did catch a glimpse of the elevator that takes the ducks from their penthouse suite to the lobby, and lo and behold, there’s an egg.

The Peabody Duck Egg Memphis TN

We decided to return to the Peabody later in the day when it wasn’t so crowded, and I’m glad I was able to get some shots of this glorious downtown hotel. As well as the ducks, up close and personal.

Here’s the beautiful centerpiece of the lobby, the Italian travertine marble fountain where the ducks swim daily:

Fountain at Peabody Hotel Memphis TN

And a closeup of the webfooted fiends and their little friends:

Peabody Ducks and Kids

So how did this tradition of the Peabody Duck March of the ducks start?

Funny enough it started with the General Manager returning from a hunting trip and thinking it would be funny to leave their live duck decoys in the fountain (much to the delight of guests). This tradition was given the added pomp and circumstance of the march when a bellman – who happened to be an ex-animal trainer for the circus was put in charge of the ducks. He trained the ducks to march (more like scurry) to the fountain to the strains of the Sousa King Cotton March and it has been a tradition at 11am and 5pm ever since.

This has also become a tradition at the Peabody hotels in Orlando and Little Rock.

Now onto the hotel!

The Peabody Hotel we see today was built in 1925, continuing the tradition and history of The Peabody hotel that had been on a different location in Memphis from 1869-1923. Built in an Italian Renaissance style it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Peabody Hotel Lobby

A destination in its heyday, The Peabody was famous for it’s rooftop “Skyway” venue – one of just three national locations for live radio broadcasts during the 1930s and 1940s.

Peabody Hotel Skyway Postcard ebay mikeleach

I may sound like a broken record when I remind readers of the dark times that many of these historic downtowns went through in the 1960s and 1970s, and Memphis was no exception. The Peabody closed down in 1975 but then was luckily saved and restored, to once again serve the public in 1981.The reopening of The Peabody is considered by many to have been a major inspiration for the downtown revitalization that continues to this day in Memphis.

One of the many interesting thing to note about the Peabody is that it has 13 floors – not a particularly lucky number to many. Because superstition is so strong about this number in many hotels, the Peabody has replaced the number 13 in their elevators with the letter S – for Skyway. Bad luck avoided!

House Phone

So if you’re in the mood for some silly swimmers or a swanky swig at the Grand Lobby Bar (named by Esquire as a Top Ten Best Watering Hole in America) waddle on over to the Peabody!

The Peabody Hotel
49 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 529-4000

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Would you believe that we weren’t even planning on going to the Sun Studio tour while we were in Memphis? Wacky, huh? But when we saw this gigantic Gibson glowing in the morning sun, we had to investigate. So glad we did, as the tour ended up being a highlight of our entire visit to town.

Sun Studio Tour Memphis TN

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Day or night your visit to Memphis is not complete without an amble down historic Beale Street.  Here are some snapshots from our all too short visit to this famous thoroughfare to inspire you:

Blues Hall and Juke Joint – you just don’t hear those phrases much anymore, do you? Same with Drinks to Go-!
Juke Joint and Blues Hall

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As I mentioned during our visit to the Silver Skillet in Atlanta GA, the presence of authentic “boomerang” formica usually means a good meal awaits – as was the case with our breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant in Memphis, TN.

Arcade Restaurant Boomerang Formica(a silly smiling girl in the background doesn’t hurt either!)

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OK, I know you’re probably saying that “The Rodeway Inn in Memphis IS part of a chain” – but this renovated and well kept vintage motel was more like a mom and pop – and nicer than a few of the places we had stayed so far on our retro road trip! Just take a look at how huge our room was, as we stumbled in after our 11+ hour drive to Memphis, dinner at Gus’s and night on Beale Street:
Rodeway Inn Memphis TN Room Interior

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We drove from Austin, TX to Memphis, TN in record time, just so we could partake of the world famous fried chicken at Gus’s. If that isn’t a carrot (chicken leg) dangling in front of you to make you step on the gas I don’t know what is!

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken Sign (more…)

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It kinda reminds me of Pottersville, but everyone’s having fun this Saturday night- and I’m just glad we made it here after our 12 hour jaunt from Austin!

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