This article is part of an ongoing series on Memphis, Tennessee.
Growing up in southern Missouri, the Memphis Pyramid always evoked a sense of wonder in me. Who wouldn't love a giant pyramid in the same city as Elvis Presley's delightfully kitschy mansion? It somehow always seemed fitting -- Ancient Egypt had the pharaohs, Memphis has The King. But until recently, the Great American Pyramid mosty meant two things to me: 1) It was one of my very favorite roadside attractions and 2) the place where I saw Disney on Ice in the mid-90s.
I never dreamed I would be spending the night there. And if you told me that the most relaxing and unique hotel stay of my life would be inside that same pyramid, which now houses a giant retail store, I might have been a little skeptical. That all changed earlier this year when I spent two glorious nights at the pyramid, inside a gorgeous, rustic room overlooking a swamp, alligators, a giant fish tank and all the outdoor sporting goods I could ever dream of purchasing.
The Memphis Pyramid re-opened as a Bass Pro Shops in 2015 and the story of how the store wound up inside the pyramid is as wondrous as the 321-foot monument itself. Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, who also owns Big Cedar Lodge in the Missouri Ozarks, was fishing in Memphis with world famous fisherman Bill Dance. Morris decided that if they caught a fish over 30 pounds, he would open a Bass Pro Shops inside the Memphis Pyramid. When they caught a 34-pounder, it was destiny and the sprawling Memphis Bass Pro Shops was born.
The Big Cypress Lodge, which is known as a wilderness hotel, has 103 gorgeous log cabin-inspired rooms surrounded by 100-foot tall Cypress trees.
The lodge offers a variety of room styles, including treehouse rooms, duck cabins, fly fishing lodges and junior suites. The 1,995 square foot Governor's Suite overlooks the Pyramid's cypress swamp, which holds about 600,000 gallons of water.
Each room comes with an electric fireplace, a spa-inspired bathroom (with a jetted bathtub and a separate shower) and a screened-in porch with a rocking chair. If the amenities aren't enough already, each room includes free snacks and the hotel even delivers fresh Mississippi Mud cookies to your door every night. (They're what dreams are made of.)
The hotel's lobby offers a full bar and is designed to have the look and feel of a hunting lodge.
During your stay, take your time and wander around the 535,000 square-foot Bass Pro Shops retail store, which features giant fish tanks, duck ponds, alligators, live fire pistol and archery ranges, the Ducks Unlimited National Waterfowling Heritage Center and much, much more. It's more than a store -- it's an experience.
Oh, and there's also a 13-lane, quirky-cool underwater-themed bowling alley inside the Uncle Buck's Fishbowl & Grill.
The Memphis Pyramid is home to the world's largest freestanding elevator, which takes you to the very top of the structure, providing a breathtaking view of the city.
Take the elevator to the top of the building and have lunch or dinner at The Lookout at the Pyramid.
After your meal, be sure to walk out onto the observation deck for a bird's eye view of Memphis. For the Instagrammers in your family, this is the best place to snap photos of the Memphis skyline.
After just four years, the Big Cypress Lodge and the revamped Memphis Pyramid have become a staple of Memphis and only add to the city's incredible charm. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and book your stay and get ready to hang with alligators, bowl with sharks and buy all the Bass Pro gear your heart (and wallet) can handle.
Big Cypress Lodge is located at 1 Bass Pro Drive in Memphis, Tenn. For more information, visit the hotel's official website.