Memphis is served by the following airlines: American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300); Delta (tel. 800/221-1212); KLM (tel. 800/374-7747); Northwest (tel. 800/225-2525); Southwest (tel. 800/435-9792); United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522); and US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322).
Northwest has a hub in Memphis and is the city's largest carrier. It's also your best bet for package deals. For details, visit Northwest Airlines online, at www.nwavacations.com, or call tel. 800/225-2525.
Some large airlines offer transatlantic or transpacific passengers special discount tickets under the name Visit USA, which allows mostly one-way travel from one U.S. destination to another at very low prices. Unavailable in the U.S., these discount tickets must be purchased abroad in conjunction with your international fare. This system is the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to see the country.
Getting into Memphis from the Airport -- The Memphis International Airport (tel. 901/922-8000) is located approximately 11 miles south of downtown Memphis, off I-240. From the airport to East Memphis, it's about 9 miles. The route into either downtown or East Memphis is on I-240 all the way. Generally, allow about 20 minutes for the trip between the airport and downtown, and 15 minutes between the airport and East Memphis -- up to an hour more during rush hour.
Although there is no direct bus service from the airport to downtown Memphis, it is possible (though impractical), with a change of bus en route, to get downtown on Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) buses (tel. 901/274-6282). These buses, however, do not run very often and are not very convenient for visitors. The buses run every 1 to 2 hours until about 5:30pm Monday through Saturday, and until 5:15pm on Sunday, and the fare is $1.25. From the lower level at the airport, take no. 32, the East Parkway/Hollywood bus, and transfer to no. 10, the Lamar bus (which runs about every hour Mon-Fri, fewer times on Sat), or the no. 56, the Union/Kimball bus (running about every half-hour Mon-Fri), which will take you downtown. If you want to take the bus, the best bet is to call MATA or ask a bus driver for the latest schedule information.
A taxi from the airport to downtown Memphis will cost about $25; to East Memphis it will cost about $20. There are usually plenty of taxis around, but if you can't find one, call Yellow/Checker Cab (tel. 901/577-7777) or City Wide Cab Company (tel. 901/324-4202). The first mile is $3.20; after that, it's $1.50 per mile. Each additional passenger is 50¢ extra.
International visitors should note that insurance and taxes are almost never included in quoted rental-car rates in the U.S. Be sure to ask your rental agency about additional fees for these. They can add a significant cost to your car rental.
Memphis lies at the southwestern tip of Tennessee, bordering Mississippi and Arkansas. Interstate 40 connects Memphis with Nashville to the east and Little Rock, Arkansas, to the west. Interstate 55 connects Memphis with Mississippi to the south, and St. Louis to the north. Both interstates intersect with I-240, which loops around the city's north, east, and southern suburbs. The western edge of downtown Memphis is the Mississippi River.
For Memphis, here are some driving distances from other cities: Atlanta, 390 miles; Chicago, 534 miles; Little Rock 135 miles; New Orleans, 395 miles; St. Louis, 284 miles.
If you are a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA) and your car breaks down, call tel. 800/222-4357 for 24-hour emergency road service. The local AAA office in Nashville is at 2501 21st Ave. S., Ste. 1 (tel. 615/297-7700), and is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.
The speed limit is 70 mph for much of the stretch between Nashville and Memphis, which also offers access to clean rest stops and dozens of service stations and restaurants. For travel information at any time, dial tel. 511 on your cell phone.
If you're visiting from abroad and plan to rent a car in the United States, keep in mind that foreign driver's licenses are usually recognized in the U.S., but you should get an international one if your home license is not in English.
Check out Breezenet.com, which offers domestic car-rental discounts with some of the most competitive rates around.
There is no plane service between Nashville and Memphis. You will have to rent a car and drive the 3-hour distance between the two cities. Interstate 40, also known as "The Music Highway," has several interesting diversions along the way.
Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) is the sole nationwide bus line. International visitors can obtain information about the Greyhound North American Discovery Pass. The pass, which offers unlimited travel and stopovers in the U.S. and Canada, can be obtained from foreign travel agents or through www.discoverypass.com.
Greyhound service between New York and Memphis costs about $77 one-way and $154 round-trip; the fare between Chicago and Memphis is $54 one-way and $88 round-trip. The Greyhound bus station is in downtown Memphis, at 203 Union Ave.
From Atlanta, Georgia, round-trip fares are $78 to Memphis and $56 to Nashville.
Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) serves Memphis (but not Nashville) with a route that goes from Chicago through Memphis (about 11 hours' travel time) en route to New Orleans (about 8 hours) on the City of New Orleans. If you arrive in Memphis on an Amtrak train, you'll find yourself at Central Station, 545 S. Main St. (tel. 901/526-0052), near Calhoun Street. This historic railway station has been completely renovated into a combination transportation center with public bus and Main Street Trolley connections and retail complex. However, the neighborhood around the station remains quite run-down. The area is not safe on foot, especially after dark. If arriving by train, you should take a cab or the Main Street Trolley to your hotel.
International visitors planning to visit several U.S. cities can buy a USA Rail Pass, good for 5, 15, or 30 days of unlimited travel on Amtrak (tel. 800/USA-RAIL [872-7245]; www.amtrak.com). The pass is available online or through many overseas travel agents. Visit Amtrak's website for the cost of travel within the western, eastern, or northwestern United States. Reservations are generally required and should be made as early as possible. Regional rail passes are also available.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.