Heading down to Memphis for Beale Street Music Festival? Now that you’ve got your tickets an accommodations, it’s time to figure out how to get there. Luckily Beale Street is in a great location in Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis. This article goes over all your options for getting to Beale Street, how much it’ll cost you, and how convenient it will be. After reading this article you should know all your options for getting to Beale Street.
Beale Street Music Festival takes place each year in Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis. It is an awesome location for a music festival – near the downtown area and right on the river. If you are staying in downtown Memphis, which will be most of you, you will have no problem getting to Beale Street. If you aren’t in downtown Memhpis don’t worry, you can still get there no problem.
There are multiple entrances into Beale Street: the north entrance is the most popular as it is nearest to downtown and Beale Street. The south entrance and the entrance inbetween the two will have far fewer people utilizing them. If you see the line at the north entrance being long head to one of the other lines. Just know you can only re-enter the festival at the entrance you exit. So if you leave to go get some food remember which entrance you left through. I suggest skipping the popular north entrance and heading down to the other entrance near Butler Park.
Can you do it? Sure. Should you? No. Traffic is miserable, parking is expensive, and parking will fill up quickly. I always say this with music festivals: you can drive, but if you can avoid it you really should. Skipping driving allows you to have as many drinks as you want, skip parking fees and not have to deal with miserable traffic. If driving is your only option I understand, but if you can utilize one of the other options below I suggest it.
The trolley doesn’t cover a huge portion of Memphis, but it is great if you are staying downtown. Basically the Memphis trolley runs throughout downtown and up and down the river front, where Beale Street takes place. The great part is the trolley is really inexpensive – it is just $1 a ride, or you can purchase a three day pass for $9. Memphis is really hot and humid, ride the trolley versus walking if you want to save yourself the misery of walking far in the heat. I highly suggest utilizing the trolley and get the three day pass. As I mentioned its cheap and it dropps off at multiple Beale Street entrances. You can see the Memphis trolley map here. The trolley also runs extended hours during Beale Street – it will run until 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and until 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Ultimately you want to make your way to the Riverfront shuttle. It’s possible you need to take one of the other lines to get to this shuttle, but it’s where you want to end up. The Riverfront shuttle stops at both Tom Lee Park (North Entrance) and Butler Park (south entrance). You can use either to get into Beale Street.
Beale Street has really become bike friendly over the past few years. Recently Beale Street has added multiple bike racks at each entrance. They are at the following locations:
You are free to park your bike at any of the stations, just be sure to remember where you parked it and to bring your own lock. There are no locks provided so do not forget this. If you are close enough to Beale Street to ride a bike it is a great option – you won’t have to deal with parking or traffic, and you can quickly leave at the end of the night. The trolley is great, but it will be absolutely packed at night. If you ride a bike you won’t be sandwiched into the trolley like a sardine. If you have a bike or are close enough to rent one, I strongly suggest you consider it.
Definitely an option as Uber is an official sponsor of Beale Street. Heading to Beale Street won’t be that bad – a ride share will still subject you to some traffic but you are spared any parking fees. The rates won’t be too bad in the morning either so this is a viable option to get to Beale Street. Leaving, however, is another story. If you plan to leave immediately after a headliner, like 80%+ of the crowd, you can expect extremely elevated rates. It also will be hard to get an Uber as cell service is usually fairly crappy and there will be thousands of people competing for your Uber. In summary, you can Uber, but be ready to get screwed at night with elevated rates and waiting to get one.
The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) provides bus services throughout the Memphis area. There are no trains or lightrails, there are really only buses to get around Memphis. If you are staying far from the downtown area for Beale Street you can look into the bus – it’s actually fairly efficient and cheap. Each ride on the MATA will cost you $1.75 if you are an adult and only $1.35 if you are a student.
As you can see above, you can literally stay anywhere in Memphis and there will be a bus route near you. It’s fairly easy to find one that connects you to downtown Memphis, and the routes are fairly quick. For example, if you are in east Memphis you can take 50 bus to downtown and it will only take about 20 minutes. The bus system runs until midnight so you can use it fairly well for Beale Street. I know buses aren’t the most glorious option, but the MATA has great coverage of the entire Memphis city, is inexpensive, and runs late into the night. I would absolutely choose taking the bus over driving to Beal Street – a slight inconvenience of the bus, but no traffic and no parking fees makes it worth it to me in my book.
Getting to Beale Street is super easy if you stay downtown – you can walk, bike or utilize the trolley. All of these options are inexpensive and an efficient way to get to Beale Street. If you stay far away you need to either drive or take the MATA (bus system). I personally prefer the bus, but often people drive – just get there early as parking will fill up quickly and traffic gets worse throughout the day.