Best of Memphis 2019 Arts & Entertainment 


Best Casino

BOM 1. Southland Casino Racing

2. Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino

3. Gold Strike Casino Resort

The fact that our most beloved gaming experience includes a top-notch dog track is truly Memphis as all-get-out. Beyond the canine appeal, Southland Casino Racing has games aplenty, with slots, table games, and a high-limit room.

Best College Gallery

1. Memphis College of Art

2. Art Museum of the University of Memphis

3. Christian Brothers University

Our love for the Memphis College of Art Gallery has a bittersweet edge, knowing that it likely won't be around after next spring. Now is the time to savor its local character, such as the annual exhibit of student works from Horn Island, now celebrating its 35th year.

Best Gallery

1. Dixon Gallery & Gardens

2. Crosstown Arts

3. Orange Mound Gallery (OMG)

Having a verdant, landscaped oasis of lush greenery in the heart of the city gives the Dixon Gallery & Gardens a unique charm when contemplating works of art. And the art itself is imaginatively curated, from the popular art of Mexico's El Taller de Gráfica to the diversity of Southern women artists and everything in between.

Best Dog Park

click to enlarge The Outback at Shelby Farms
  • The Outback at Shelby Farms

1. The Outback at Shelby Farms

2. Overton Bark

3. Tobey Park

It's doubtful that many dog parks in the country, let alone the county, could compare with The Outback at Shelby Farms. It's a true doggie paradise, with more than 100 acres of open fields, ponds, and unpaved trails.

Best Park

BOM 1. Shelby Farms

2. Overton Park

3. Memphis Botanic Garden

Just knowing there's a buffalo herd in the heart of Memphis is somehow reassuring. Yet Shelby Farms has so much more than bison. One can explore it on foot, on wheels, on horse, with dogs, wet or dry, and, thanks to the zip line, tree by tree.

Shelby Farms
  • Shelby Farms

Best Family Entertainment

click to enlarge Levitt Shell
  • Levitt Shell

BOM 1. Memphis Zoo

2. Levitt Shell

3. Memphis Redbirds

Given the imaginative environmental immersion of the Memphis Zoo's various habitats, it's no wonder it's considered one of the top zoos in the country. The fact that baby giraffe Mashamba was named in honor of Fields Falcone, a much-beloved former Zoo associate, just adds that personal Memphis touch.

Best Festival

1. Cooper-Young Festival

2. Beale Street Music Festival

3. Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest

All of Memphis' many festivals must honor our plethora of local musical talent, but the Cooper-Young Festival makes local music its centerpiece. Beyond that, this gathering of the city's best artisans, craftspeople, and food trucks is a feast for the eyes and palate as well.

Cooper Young Festival
  • Cooper Young Festival

Best Local Band

1. Lucero

2. Marcella & Her Lovers

3. The Bo-Keys

Lucero is no stranger to the top slot in the Best of Memphis, and their continual reinvention is one reason why. Still riding high on last year's album, Among the Ghosts, this band of over two decades now mines a darker literary vein, commingled with their reliably rocking catalog.

Best Local Comedian

1. Katrina Coleman

2. Mo Alexander

3. Hunter Sandlin

As co-creator and producer, with director Craig Brewer, of the the LOL Network's You Look Like series, Katrina Coleman is a comedic powerhouse. And, containing multitudes, she manages to be both an advocate for domestic abuse survivors and incredibly funny, often at the same time.

Best Local Singer

1. Joyce Cobb

2. Marcella Simien

3. Louise Page

Though Joyce Cobb first came to Memphis at the behest of Stax Records, even as that label was in its death throes, it wasn't all bad. Since she decided to stay anyway, the city has long benefitted from her direct linkage of contemporary R&B with the classic soul and jazz singers of the '50s. She's all that, with a show on WEVL to boot.

Best Movie Theater

1. Malco Powerhouse Cinema Grill & Bar

2. Malco Paradiso Cinema Grill & IMAX

3. Ridgeway Cinema Grill

The former coal-fired steam plant that provided heating and energy for the Downtown train station has a rich history. The building, with its towering smokestack, was transformed into a state-of-the-art movie palace by Malco. The flagship MXT theater, with 4K projection and Dolby Atmos sound, is the best place in the Mid-South to see a film. And you can have concessions or go to the restaurant for a sit-down meal and a glass of wine. This is the future of the theatrical experience.

Best Museum

1. Pink Palace Museum

2. National Civil Rights Museum

3. The Children's Museum of Memphis

This year, Memphis turned 200 years old. The Pink Palace put on a meticulously researched exhibit of artifacts telling the story of those two centuries, with emphasis on those who have been overlooked in the past — not only African Americans, whose saga of oppression, redemption, and tragedy is intertwined with the city, but the growing Hispanic population, the tight-knit Vietnamese community, and the refugees who have found a home here. The exhibit helped earn the museum the top slot.

Best Performing Arts Venue

click to enlarge a_e_51a3103.jpg
BOM 1. The Orpheum

2. Levitt Shell

3. GPAC | Germantown Performing Arts Center

Best Live Theater

BOM 1. The Orpheum

2. Playhouse on the Square

3. Hattiloo Theatre

The Grande Dame of Beale Street had the performing arts categories in the bag the moment Hamilton's three-week run was announced. But the traveling Broadway shows like Waitress and Wicked are just one part of what The Orpheum does. There's the well-curated film series, popular comedians, and musical acts, too. The theater is wearing its recent revamp well and promises to be a Downtown anchor for decades to come.

Best Place to See Live Music

BOM 1. Levitt Shell

2. Live at the Garden

3. Lafayette's Music Room

Actual, inadvertent Yogi Berra-ism overheard in Midtown: "Nobody goes to the Shell anymore. There's too many people." Well, unknown Midtown hipster, you were right about one thing: The Shell's music series has grown from our cozy little secret to one of the most popular attractions in the city. You can't just saunter in at showtime and expect to get a good spot on the lawn — not that there are any bad spots. With the addition of new food and drink options, it's gotten even better.


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