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Best of Memphis 2020 Arts & Entertainment



Best Casino

BOM 1. Southland Casino Racing

2. Horseshoe Tunica

3. Gold Strike Casino Resort

Many identify Southland Casino with its grandest feature: a world-class dog racing track. But this West Memphis institution has much more, including slots, table games, and a high-limit room.

Best Gallery

1. Brooks Museum

2. Crosstown Arts

3. Metal Museum

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is truly the jewel of Overton Park, with ever-captivating curation that both spans the world and honors local visionaries. Beyond that, in safer times, its performance space brings music and other events, like chamber ensemble concerts or special film events.

Best Park

Shelby Farms Park
  • Shelby Farms Park

BOM 1. Shelby Farms Park

2. Overton Park

3. Tom Lee Park

Shelby Farms Park offers a true escape from the city's pavement, glass, and steel with its 4,500 acres of green space. But the sheer variety of activities, from kayaking to axe throwing to the Treetop Adventure zipline course, offers escape from the mundane as well.

Best Dog Park

1. Shelby Farms Dog Park

2. Overton Bark

3. Sea Isle Dog Park

The dog park at Shelby Farms, aka The Outback, is a paradise for pups with its 100 acres of open fields, ponds, unpaved trails, and other off-leash areas. But your pooch might think it's a spa as well, with its doggie bowl/water fountain and dog-wash station.

Best Family


1. Memphis Zoo

2. Levitt Shell

3. Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium

The Memphis Zoo has so many nooks and crannies, kids can explore it for hours. Where else can you turn a corner and find yourself face to face with an inquisitive gorilla? The habitats are brilliantly designed, and their inhabitants help us forget the petty squabbles of Homo sapiens for a while.

Best Festival

1. Cooper-Young Festival

2. Memphis in May

3. Memphis Italian Festival

Missing it this year only made C-Y Fest that much more dear. What other festival combines the charm of its neighborhood with the panache of the entire city's food, arts, and musical fare?

Best Local Band

1. Lucero

2. Almost Famous

3. Lucky 7 Brass Band

Lucero captured the hearts of many Memphians over 20 years ago. As they've grown old with us, they haven't lost the plot. Bleak tales from Among the Ghosts continue to resonate with the times.

Best Local Singer

1. Joyce Cobb

2. Amy LaVere

3. Austin Carroll

Joyce is a soul and jazz institution, but she's surprisingly eclectic. Her first record was a minor hit on the country charts. With that inclusiveness in her radio show, she represents the best of what we can be.

Best Museum

BOM 1. National Civil Rights Museum

2. Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium

3. Stax Museum of American Soul Music

"We are talking about the continuation of the struggles that take place in the realm of civil and human rights," Terri Lee Freeman, president of the National Civil Rights Museum, has said. That spirit of continued relevance shapes the ever-evolving exhibits and perspectives of this globally recognized institution.

Best Performing Arts Venue

1. Minglewood Hall

2. Playhouse on the Square

3. GPAC | Germantown Performing Arts Center

With a capacity of 1,600, Minglewood Hall is one of the premiere mid-sized venues that can consistently draw national acts. It's especially on-point with its hip-hop shows but has always programmed eclectic artists, from Steve Earle to the late Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

Best Live Theater

  • Photographs by Justin Fox Burks
  • The Orpheum

BOM 1. The Orpheum

2. Playhouse on the Square

3. Hattiloo Theatre

From Alvin Ailey to Elvis Costello to Wicked, the Orpheum brings world-class performances to Memphis time and time again. Who could resist taking the stage within that classic gilded interior? Hard to believe that only a citizens' movement, including the late Jim Dickinson, saved it from demolition in the '70s.

Best Place to See Live Music

1. Levitt Shell

2. Live at the Garden

3. Lafayette's Music Room

The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation restores classic bandshells across America, and this one in Overton Park is one of their gems. Aside from the family-friendly space and the well-curated music programming, outdoor venues like this may be the key to enjoying live music as we adapt to COVID-19.

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