Memphis: A Food and Cultural Destination

This was my first time to Memphis and I found it to be a world class stop for food, culture and a whole lot of fun!

When you travel….or at least when I travel, I enjoy a nice hotel. It’s also an added bonus when the hotel has a history, a story and personality. I had all of the above at The Peabody in downtown Memphis.

The beautifully restored hotel is almost all the way through a massive room renovation. The hotel rooms where spacious, clean and very comfortable. I also had a great experience in the hotel restaurant as well as room service. I was able to get an early breakfast and complete some work as I began my day. That first touch point is always critical and often overlooked by many hotels.

I found customer service was a big differentiator at The Peabody. Every employee greeted you with a smile and a what can I do for you attitude. Its nice to experience that in your home away from home, while on the road.

Our group had the pleasure of a private showing of the famous Peabody Ducks. Twice a day, these famous ducks march through the lobby, with their equally famous Duckmaster, and put on a show for the crowd that gathers.

The Duckmaster if filled with personality and presence. He puts on a show for kids and adults but also serves as a walking ambassador for the brand. It was a pleasure to speak with him in a small intimate setting.

We where lucky enough to get a tour of the Old Dominick Distillery.

Old Dominick

This brand new facility is where they host events, serve food at their bar and restaurant and do all their distilling. The tour was so much fun. It was filled with history and interesting insight into the process of fermenting and distilling. We even got to taste some fermenting mash!

Fermetning Mash

It had an interesting taste! Don’t worry about germs, there is so much alcohol in there that it would kill off anything we may have added by putting our hands right in there. This is a must do if you are in the area.

While you are in the area, make sure to go and visit Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, which has a location right across the street. I loved the fried chicken, and had fried green tomatoes for the first time, those are a must have as well.

National Civil Rights Museum

We had a really special historical and cultural walk through some nice areas. They are revitalizing a lot of Memphis and it really shows. I loved the street art near the National Civil Rights Museum. This also sits on the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, which was a very sad day in our history.

I Am A Man

The street art is so moving. This depicts the sanitation worker’s strike in 1968. This was the reason while MLK was in town. There is also a large installment commemorating this in the I Am A Man Plaza in downtown Memphis.

No experience to this city would be complete without a trip to Beale Street. You don’t have to party all night long to enjoy a day time or evening walk down this entertaining strip.

Beale Street

Memphis was a truly special experience. Our group was able to pair all aspects of travel from food, accommodations, culture, history and a good time. That is my recipe for success.

I highly recommend a visit to Memphis. Get this wonderful city on your bucket list!

 

Indianapolis – Great Food, Culture and Energy

The last time I traveled to Indianapolis, the RCA Dome, was a large attraction. It has since been demolished by implosion, like my opinion of the city. The once seemingly industrial city has transformed into an enjoyable, high energy destination, fit for all.

I was fortunate to be speaking at a travel conference in Indianapolis last month and throughout the weekend, we spent time around the city, some of those destinations will be highlighted in this article.

Its so nice to see the buildup of the city and the enhancement of the natural features that contribute to a wonderful experience, when out on the town. There are a few organizations whose job it is to showcase this city and state. Visit Indiana, does a wonderful job of marketing and showcasing the vast expanse of the state and all it has to offer. I will say, I grew particularly fond of the Visit Indy team as well. They are what you would call, the boots on the ground, for anything and everything Indianapolis. They truly define what it means to be a brand ambassador as they provide a wealth of information and experience to round off their easily approachable demeanors.

Indianapolis sunset

When you spend time in a city, your home base is critical. Its not just where you lay your head at night but its where you feel comfortable in your down time and where you plot your next adventure. I was extremely impressed by the conference hotel. The JW Marriott really delivered on all aspects of my experience. The staff was helpful and nice, the facility was clean and comfortable and the location was an A+. Its rare in the hotel world to get the full package as I find myself compromising on something. That is not the case here. They are truly the full package.

JW Marriott Indianapolis

We spent a lot of time with the Visit Indy team as they served as our official guides throughout the conference.

We had a very exciting experience at the Indianapolis Zoo. We saw a dolphin show and some behind the scenes fun with the staff. They showed us many of their skills and we observed some of their most skillful tricks and aerial acrobatics.

I also really enjoyed the Children’s Museum. Despite being an adult, I am a kid at heart and going into the museum was really engaging. There was a lot to see and it was laid out in a spacious and logical format. I saw everything from Michael Jackson’s shoes to Bumble Bee from Transformers to a breathtaking display of blown glass from the master himself, Dale Chihuly! I did get to touch a real dinosaur bone as well so that was pretty special too.

When I visit other cities, whether its for business or pleasure, I like to get into the food scene. I like the tried and true winners, like St Elmo Steak House, but also, its nice to see the new scene like Milktooth.

St Elmo Steak House has been around since 1902 and is a great place to have a steak and their famous shrimp cocktail. They have a very spicy horseradish cocktail sauce that they are known for and the steaks are thick cut and do not disappoint.

The final day brought the end of our conference but in usual style, the Visit Indy team gave us one last recommendation and that was Milktooth.

Milktooth-basil-drink

When I came to Indianapolis, I only carried with me memories of playing hockey as a child and that large dome that is no more. I left this time with a wealth of memories, good times, new friends and a place I look forward to returning to, one day soon!