Instead of: South Main Arts District
Go to: Broad Ave Arts District
The South Main Arts District is just blocks away from Beale St, making it a convenient walk for tourists looking to take in the full scope of Memphis’ bustling Downtown. And it certainly offers a wide range of art galleries, dining options, and boutique clothing & gift shops.
But those wishing to experience a more grassroots-style arts district should hop in a cab for the short drive to the Broad Ave Arts District. Just a few years ago, this strip of galleries, bars, and shops was a ghost town on the outskirts of the residential neighborhood Binghamton. But a few longtime residents banded together DIY-style, hosting neighborhood street festivals and using urban revitalization strategies to revive their little street into the lively arts district it is today. Pop into T Clifton Art for high-end sculptures, glassworks, and visual art, and enjoy a farm-to-table gluten-free dinner at Bounty On Broad. Then stop by Five in One Social Club for locally made jewelry and screen-printed tees, or sign up for one of the “kindergarten for grown-ups” crafting classes, where you can learn to make everything from etched glass to woodcut prints. Get a souvenir tattoo from artist Babak Tabatabai at Ronin Design & Manufacturing, and enjoy a handcrafted cocktail from nautical-themed bar The Cove (designed to look like a pirate ship). If you’re lucky, you may catch live music or a dance performance by the students from the Collage Dance Collective on the outdoor Water Tower Pavilion stage.
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Katie Smith is a Memphis-based writer who spends her days avoiding tourist traps and long lines like the plague.