Although the economic heart of Memphis has moved to the eastern suburbs, this is still a Mississippi River town; no visit to Memphis would be complete without spending a bit of time on Ole Man River. Memphis Riverboats, 45 S. Riverside Dr. (tel. 800/221-6197 or 901/527-5694; www.memphisriverboats.net), operates several paddle-wheelers, all of which leave from a dock on "the cobblestones" at the foot of Monroe Avenue in downtown Memphis. From March through November, there are 1 1/2-hour sightseeing cruises, and in the summer, there are sunset dinner cruises and party cruises. The barbecue-buffet dinner cruises include live music. The 1 1/2-hour sightseeing cruise costs $20 for adults; $17 for seniors, military, and students; $10 for children 4 to 17 (free for children 3 and under). The evening dinner cruise costs $45 for adults, $43 for seniors and military, and $30 for children.
You'll find half a dozen or more horse-drawn carriages lined up in front of The Peabody most evenings, operated by Carriage Tours of Memphis (tel. 888/267-9100 or 901/527-7542; www.carriagetoursofmemphis.com). Gentle equine giants with such names as Chester, Marley, Doc, and Jane proudly clop along city streets while human tour guides -- accompanied by big, friendly dogs, sometimes wearing funny hats -- regale passengers with Memphis trivia. Tours are offered year-round (see-through plastic canopies keep you relatively dry during rainy weather); and rates vary.
Backbeat Tours, 140 Beale Street (tel. 866/392-BEAT  or 901/272-2328; www.backbeattours.com), does a booming business from its convenient Beale Street ticket office. For these guys, "Rockin' Rides through Memphis Music History" is more than just a tag line. In this case, these fun-loving tour operators actually strum guitars and perform Sun-era songs while showing off the local sites. Best of all is the actual bus, "Miss Claudy." She's a 1959 cream-and-crimson colored, city-transit beauty. Fully restored, the comfy bus still has those cheesy Naugahyde seat covers. Tour-package pricing starts at $25 for adults for the 90-minute Memphis Mojo Tour ($23 for seniors, $14 children 7-12) and goes on up to $44 per adult for the gig to Graceland ($44 for seniors, $32 for children 7-12.) They also offer a Historic Memphis Walking Tour, which lasts about 90 minutes. Prices are $15 for adults and seniors and $10 for children.
Blues City Tours of Memphis, 325 Union Ave. (tel. 901/522-9229; www.bluescitytours.com), offers tours similar to the Gray Line tours. There is a half-day city tour that takes you past all the city's most important attractions, and there are also Graceland tours, Beale Street night-on-the-town tours, and casino tours to Mississippi. Before taxes, the city tour costs $24 for adults and $16 for children; the Elvis Graceland Tour, $30 for adults and $19 for children; after-dark dinner tour, $60 for adults and $50 for children (includes an evening on Beale Street with two clubs, two shows, two drinks, two meals with a choice of barbecue, chicken, or catfish and any cover charges, at specified places). They also offer tours to the Tunica, Mississippi, casinos -- a smart bet if you plan to drink alcohol while you're there.
For a thoroughly unique tour of Memphis, book a tour with American Dream Safari (tel. 901/527-8870; www.americandreamsafari.com). This is your chance to be chauffeured around town in a '55 Cadillac, with stops at such key Elvis sites as Humes High School (where he went to school) and the now-closed but still-standing Poplar Tunes (where he used to buy records). Other popular itineraries include a Sunday morning gospel tour and brunch, or the irreverently named (given Memphis's high crime rate) "Drive-By-Shooting" photographers' tour. Really, though, what American Dream Safari offers would be better described as authentic experiences than mere tours. Prices vary, from the Jukejoint Full of Blues for $75 per person (which includes admission to three Delta-area clubs), to $225 per person for an 8-hour pilgrimage along historic Highway 61. It includes blues-museum admission and lunch in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
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.