Sun Studio

Top choice historic site in Memphis
Image by Dosfotos / Design Pics / Getty Images

This dusty storefront is ground zero for American rock and roll. Starting in the early 1950s, Sun's Sam Phillips recorded blues artists such as Howlin' Wolf, BB King and Ike Turner, followed by the rockabilly dynasty of Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and, of course, the King himself (who started here in 1953). Tours last 45 minutes.

Packed tours (no children under five allowed; hourly from 10:30am to 5:30pm) through the tiny studio offer a chance to hear original tapes of historic recording sessions. Guides are full of anecdotes; you can pose for photos on the 'X' where Elvis once stood, or buy a CD of the 'Million Dollar Quartet,' Sun's spontaneous 1956 jam session between Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The story will have music fans welling up. From here, hop on the studio's free shuttle (hourly from 10:15am), which does a loop between Sun Studio, Beale St and Graceland.