Taxis from Memphis-Shelby County Airport to the downtown city center generally cost about $30. Travelers looking for budget transportation have a couple of options to get into the downtown Memphis area.
The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) provides public bus transportation service from the airport to the Hudson Transit Center in downtown Memphis. Connecting buses and trolleys are available at the center to all areas of the city. The airport bus leaves from the outer drive outside the baggage claim area of Terminal “C” -- look for the MATA bus sign overhead.
Since there is plenty of competition among Memphis budget hotels, many provide a complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport for hotel guests. The official Memphis-Shelby County Airport website offers a comprehensive list of Memphis hotels providing this free service.
Most major rental car companies service Memphis Airport as well. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Rent A Car, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty are the main players with the most frequent rental car deals.
While many attractions offer free or discounted admission to Memphis residents, only a few offer freebies to non-locals. Here are some of the Memphis attractions that won’t break the bank for out-of-towners:
Sun Studio, credited as the recording studio where the first Rock and Roll record ever was made, is an iconic symbol of Memphis. Greats like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Roy Orbison recorded here. The official Memphis Travel website offers discount coupons good for $2 off admission, and Sun Studio even offers a free shuttle bus to Graceland.
The Pink Palace Museum offers visitors a great opportunity to learn more about the history, culture, and natural surroundings of the mid-South. Admission to the museum is free every Tuesday after 1pm.
“Celebrating the arts, music, and heritage of the South,” the Center for Southern Folklore on South Main Street in Memphis is always free.
Memphis plays host to a number of festivals throughout the year and hotel prices tend to rise considerably during these events due to the high demand. The city’s largest draw is the Memphis in May International Festival. Its kickoff event, The Beale Street Music Festival, can draw over 100,000+ visitors during the three days that it runs, so book your hotel well in advance if you are making plans to attend.
Because the weather gets extremely hot and humid during the summer months many travelers avoid the city altogether, so the best time to find hotel deals in Memphis is during July and August. The exception is Elvis Week, a celebration of the life, music, and career of long-time Memphis resident Elvis Presley. The main events are held at Graceland, but several other venues throughout Memphis play host to offshoot events as well. Even though it’s named Elvis Week, the celebrations actually span a 10-day period in early August. The city experiences a large influx of Elvis fans and another spike in hotel bookings during this time.
Although there are several budget options for accommodation in Downtown Memphis, generally the further away from the center of the city, the more availability you will find. Regardless of the location, budget conscious travelers will be happy to learn that Memphis has a wide array of hotels and motels with free parking, a free pool, and even free Wi-Fi.
West Memphis across the Mississippi River in Arkansas offers a cluster of hotels and motels for the budget-minded as well. Journey Inn, Econo Lodge, and Motel 6 West Memphis are a few of the inexpensive hotels available. West Memphis also benefits from being only a 15-minute public bus ride away from downtown Memphis in Tennessee, and capitalizes on its small town feel to offer a safe and friendly option for those who still want to be near the action that the city center offers.
Midtown Memphis hotels are few and far between. The good news is that since this is mostly a residential area, there are quite a few AirBnB and Homeaway listings in Midtown’s neighborhoods. Just be sure to book with as much advance notice as possible – you’ll have a wider range of choice and much more availability if you wish to stay in this is the part of the city.
The triangle between East Memphis, Cordova, and Germantown is home to a string of economical hotels and motels that won’t break the budget. The Rodeway Inn and Motel 6 Memphis consistently have the lowest rates in this region.
For anyone just doing a quick overnight stay in Memphis for business or pleasure, the area near the airport offers a few great options. Knights Inn, Motel 6, America’s Best Value Inn, and Best Western Executive Inn are all a short drive from the airport, and have the added bonus of being exceptionally cheap hotels near Graceland for those on a pilgrimage to Elvis Presley’s former mansion. Geared toward long-term stays, Extended Stay America offers kitchenettes with refrigerator and microwave to help save on meal costs.
Hostels aren’t really an option in Memphis. It seems that the idea hasn’t caught on yet since there’s only one true hostel in the entire city, and it's run by a church. A private room at Pilgrim House* is comparable to the price of any of the cheaper motels in Memphis, so that’s also something to take into account. If you have a strong desire to stay in the Cooper-Young district, then this may be a place you should consider.
AirBnB and HomeAway do offer a few apartments, homes, and room shares for those looking for more unique accommodations and the ability to connect with locals, but pricing again is similar to budget hotels and motels in Memphis. As mentioned, most are situated outside the downtown center in the Midtown Memphis region.
The center of the entertainment district in Memphis is historic Beale Street which offers a wide range of bars, restaurants, and cafés for visitors. Several major tourist attractions call Beale Street home as well -- The Rock n Soul Museum, The Orpheum Theater, and The Historical Daisy to name a few.
FedExForum, home to the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and a prime venue for many Memphis concerts, is an easily recognizable fixture along Beale Street. Most travelers to the city will spend at least some time in the area, so there is usually high demand for cheap hotels within walking distance of Beale Street.
Book as far in advance as possible to get the best hotel deals in downtown Memphis if you’ve got your heart set on this area for the duration of your stay. The Econo Lodge Downtown is the best value option, and even offers guests a pool, free Wi-Fi, and access to a fitness center. For most other budget hotels in the area, expect prices to start at the $100 mark. Exchange Suites, Sleep Inn at Court Square, and the well-reviewed Comfort Inn Downtown are other inexpensive hotels in downtown Memphis within walking distance of Beale Street.
© 2017 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2017 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.