The third and final stop in our spring NBA Road Trip brings us to Memphis, the city we call home. We won’t be traveling far to experience a Memphis Grizzlies weekend, but staying a couple of days in Downtown will give us a chance to experience the city like a weekend visitor does. There is so much going on in Downtown Memphis, and when all the museums, shopping, food and fun is mixed with a Memphis Grizzlies home game, it becomes a 48-hour period of giddiness for this family that loves everything about Downtown Memphis.
Our Memphis Grizzlies weekend begins at 4 p.m. sharp on Friday with pregame dinner and drinks, and won’t end until Sunday afternoon. Memphis has so many options to keep visitors busy for several days. But we are going to concentrate everything on Downtown. If we can’t walk to it from FedExForum, it won’t be an option. So what all do we have in store for this Memphis Grizzlies weekend? Well, it all starts with a game.
Before the 2013-2014 season, the Memphis Grizzlies were named by ESPN The Magazine as the top franchise in all of North American sports. That might seem odd for a small-market team that has never won a championship. But the rating took in more than winning; it included best bang for the buck, passion of the fans, management commitment and several other factors all related to the happiness of the team’s fans.
The team was in the Western Conference Finals last year, and are fighting for a fourth-straight playoff berth this season. And entering our April 11 game against Philadelphia, there are just four games remaining to secure that playoff spot.
Nicknamed the Grindhouse, FedExForum is one of the newer arenas in the NBA. Opened in 2004, the arena has been recognized by national publications as one of the more unique NBA experiences, in part because of the inventive music played throughout the game. And maybe that makes sense, considering Memphis is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. I’m excited about a closer look at the operational side of the FedExForum madness after the game.
And before we go watch this blue-collar team and its crazy intense mascot, Grizz, we’ll check out the great pregame scene Downtown. We might head over to our favorite spot, South of Beale, or possibly just have drinks at bleu in the lobby of the Westin across from FedExForum. There are so many choices all around the arena. We’ll just follow our noses.
Museums, Shopping and Fun
I don’t have a real agenda for this weekend, and that’s OK. The great thing about exploring our hometown is that we know all the ins and outs and little secrets.
As fun as those visits will be, the one I’m most excited about is the National Civil Rights Museum.
The museum just reopened a week ago following an extensive renovation. The site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Lorraine Motel is sacred ground in Memphis. And I hear the work done at the museum is impressive.
But before we hit any of those museums, we’ll head over to the Memphis Farmers Market in the South Main Historic Arts District, which opened for the season last weekend. Every Saturday through October, this market welcomes regional producers and artists selling their products. I’m hoping to make it a shopping breakfast. But who knows, maybe we’ll head over to the nearby Arcade Restaurant, one of the city’s top breakfast spots and its oldest restaurant.
And I’m sure Colby will protest, but if we’re going to be in the South Main Historic Arts District, I’m confident Stacey will find her way to Hoot-Louise, a vintage shop on G.E. Patterson Avenue that happens to be her favorite shop in the city. There are several other shops and art galleries in the neighborhood, as well.
I’m looking forward to rolling out of our room at the Westin Memphis Beale Street hotel on Sunday and walking to one of several brunch options. We sometimes drive to Downtown Memphis for brunch, but it’s a 40-minute drive from our house. This will be a five-minute walk.
But the food fun will be more than Sunday brunch. the only restaurant I know we’re going to is bleu restaurant and lounge, which is located at the Westin Memphis Beale Street. Stacey and I enjoyed a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner at bleu, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the restaurant has to offer.
Downtown Memphis has many restaurant options, and with the temperatures looking to be in the mid-70s, it’s going to be perfect patio weather, and in Memphis, patio weather is celebrated.
A Place to Call Home
The Westin Memphis Beale Street is across the street from FedExForum. It is the closest hotel to the arena as well as the South Main district. This hotel is always packed, so I’m glad we were able to get a room for this weekend. I’ve never stayed at the Westin; actually, I haven’t stayed in a hotel anywhere in Downtown Memphis. In fact, the last time Stacey and I stayed in a hotel overnight in Memphis was on our wedding night back in 1999.
So why the Westin Beale Street? Well, there are a lot of great hotels in Downtown. But as far as picking a place to center an NBA weekend on, this place can’t be beat. In fact, the NBA agrees with that sentiment. Most of the teams use the hotel when in town to play the Grizzlies.
We’re looking forward to exploring Memphis as NBA fans for a weekend. I hope you’ll follow along this weekend on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #NBARoadTrip. And check back next week for reviews on our weekend as well as an in-depth look at what makes Grizzlies games such an experience.