Why it's great: With respect to Nashville, Memphis is Tennessee's most vibrant and diverse hub for culture. A huge part of that culture is wrapped around the three Bs (which we definitely just made up): beer, BBQ, and the blues. Those three are everywhere, whether they're your sole reason for visiting or just stop-offs while you tick places like Graceland and Sun Studio off your tourist list. It's the city they claim invented rock and perfected the blues, which, again with respect to Nashville, are way more fun to drink along to than country. The city hums with live music and clanking glasses, and if you don't like what you're hearing or drinking, your next unforgettable (or, more likely, very hazily remembered) bar experience is probably just down the street. For real. That old Marc Cohn song "Walking in Memphis" probably wasn't intended as a rallying cry for bar hoppers, but it definitely works as one.
The best neighborhood for bar hopping: Look, we know it's a very touristy thing to say, but we're also guessing locals aren't exactly clamoring for us to tell them where to drink in their own town (it's Overton Square, in case said locals ARE for some reason coming to us for this right now). So we're just going to say it: Go to Beale Street. It's one of the most hedonistic places on this list, but the liberal open-container policy isn't the only reason Beale boasts a rep as the most visited strip in all of Tennessee. Music lovers can pay tribute at B.B. King's Blues Club or at the Jerry Lee Lewis' Cafe, but at any given time you're just as likely to hear a revelatory solo at a hole-in-the-wall bar or even a makeshift alley stage. Admittedly, you might end up with the same replaceable cover band, but the pours are strong enough and the history deep enough to forgive a half-baked rendition of "Ain't No Sunshine." It's the type of street you want to roll deep on, especially when confronting massive challenges like Silky O'Sullivan's rum-fueled Diver Bucket or a neon daiquiri from Wet Willie's. But since we are adults after all, we suggest ending the evening with a civilized absinthe cocktail at the King's Palace Cafe's Absinthe Room or trekking a block north to the Blind Bear. -- Dan Gentile/AK