Things to do in Memphis TennesseeAre you planning a trip to Memphis? This historic Southern city has many popular attractions to keep you busy and entertained for your entire stay! There is a wide variety of activities to do from learning about the city’s rich musical history to horseback riding in Shelby Farms Park. Keep reading for a list of fourteen things to do in Memphis, Tennessee.
Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee Outdoors
1. Memphis Zoo
The Memphis zoo is home to over 3,500 different animals including elephants, polar bears, penguins, and many more. Get up close and personal with exotic creatures from faraway lands as you walk through the different sections of the zoo.
There are a number of programs scheduled throughout the day to help you make the most of your visit. View an animal feeding, catch an animal show, or hear a keeper talk to learn more about the amazing animals that call the zoo home.
2. Memphis Botanic Garden
The Memphis Botanic Garden is a tranquil place you can go to escape the noise of the city and experience the beauty of nature.
Walk through thirty specialty gardens in ninety-six acres of beautiful, green space. The rose garden is filled with fragrant blooms, and the sculpture garden will inspire you with it’s many interesting works of art.
Kids will enjoy playing in the family garden called “My big backyard” where they can run, jump, climb, splash, and dig in sixteen different themed areas.
3. Shelby Farms Park
Shelby Farms Park is located in the heart of Memphis. With 4,500 acres of green space and over ten miles of trails to walk, run, and bike, the park is a haven in the middle of a bustling city.
There are a number of fun activities offered in the park. Visit Shelby Farms stables to go horseback riding, rent a bike or bring your own for the trails, or take your kids to the woodland discovery playground.
In the summer you can rent a paddle boat or kayak to take out on Hyde lake.
Visit the gift shop for a souvenir or to get a snack, ice cream, or MEMPOPS popsicle.
Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee To experience Music
4. Beale Street
Beale Street is probably the most well known street in all of Memphis. This iconic area is a major landmark for blues style music and is one of the most popular things to do in Memphis, Tennessee.
Beale street began way back in 1841 as a hub for travelers. Musicians could always find a willing audience among the people coming and going from the port on the Mississippi river.
Today you can step into popular music clubs such as B.B. King’s, Coyote Ugly, and Blues City cafe to hear live music or grab a drink and a hot meal.
If you visit during the day stop in at the W.C. Handy House Museum to learn about William Christopher Handy who is known as the father of the blues.
5. Blues Hall of Fame Museum
Beale St is the home of blues music and is a must see for anyone wanting to experience the rich history of this music style but there are even more ways to celebrate the history of Blues music in Memphis.
To immerse yourself in the Blues even more, visit the Blues Hall of Fame and Museum located on Main St. Here visitors can learn about the history of blues music and musicians like BB King and Etta James who made some of the biggest contributions to the genre.
Browse the current exhibits in ten individualized galleries and check out music memorabilia from some of the greats.
Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee to Learn about History
6. Historical Haunts Bus Tour
On a Historical Haunts bus tour you’ll spend ninety minutes driving by historic and haunted locations throughout the city as your guide tells you about the dark side of Memphis history.
You’ll hear stories of murders, hauntings and other interesting history as you visit locations such as the Arcade Restaurant, Ernestine and Hazel’s, and the Woodruff Fontaine house.
Tours often sell out so you may want to book early. You can schedule your haunted bus tour online or give them a call at 901 497-9486. Due to the scary nature of the experience, children under age ten are not permitted.
7. Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
In the 1800’s Memphis was Tennessee’s biggest slave trading city. Millions of Africans were taken from their homeland and brought to the Americas to be sold as slaves.
Forced to endure terrible treatment and inhumane conditions many slaves tried to run away. People in the antislavery movement sometimes tried to help slaves escape trough the underground railroad.
Set in the former home of abolitionist Jacob Burke, the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum was once a haven for slaves waiting to cross the Mississippi river. You can tour the house and see trap doors, secret passages and tunnels where runaway slaves hid until it was safe to continue on their journey to freedom.
8. National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is a fascinating place where you can discover and understand more about the important history of the civil rights movement.
Challenge your beliefs and assumptions as you learn about the important work of Martin Luther King Jr. and others who fought to make equal rights possible for every American, regardless of race.
The museum is open Wednesday-Monday from 9:00-5:00, closed on Tuesdays.
9. Victorian Village
The Victorian Village is a unique area of historic homes with beautiful architecture including Italianate Victorian and Greek Revival styles. The homes were built from the mid to late 1800’s in what was once the outskirts of Memphis.
In the 1900’s the area became known as an art district until the art schools moved elsewhere. Over time many of the original homes have been demolished. Preservation efforts began in the 1980’s and many of the remaining houses are now used as museums, restaurants, or bed and breakfasts. It’s a beautiful place to visit and take in some culture. Near-by sits the local landmark, Sun Studio, which is known for having early recordings by Elvis Presley and others.
Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee for Families
10. Children’s Museum of Memphis
The Children’s Museum of Memphis is a place where children are free to play, discover, imagine, and create as they stretch their minds and bodies.
Kids will enjoy interactive exhibits like the dinosaur dig and earthquake table plus many more. They can climb to their hearts content on the rock wall and role play in areas like the grocery store and garage.
The whole family can enjoy a ride on the carousel for a few dollars more.
The museum is designed for children between the ages of two and ten, though the entire family is welcome to visit together. They are open Tuesdays-Sundays from 9:00-5:00.
11. Golf and Games Family Park
Golf and Games Family Park offers fun for the whole family. There is a wide variety of fun activities to choose from including putt putt golf, laser tag, bumper boats, go karts, an arcade and more.
If you get hungry the park has a number of snacks available like nachos, pizza, popcorn, hot dogs, and ice cream.
Families can easily spend all day enjoying the different attractions. They offer daily specials to help you save money and make the most of your visit.
12. The Peabody Hotel
This grand Southern hotel has been well known for it’s charm and elegance for well over 100 years. The Peabody hotel first opened in 1869 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Everyone is welcome to come and watch the world famous ducks march through the lobby every day at 11:00 am and 5:00 pm.
If you’d like to experience the hotel as a guest, you can book an overnight stay where you’ll be treated to the finest southern hospitality as you rest in one of the luxurious guest rooms.
13. Memphis Museum of Science and History
At the Memphis Museum of Science and History you can explore many exhibits to discover and experience the science, history, nature, and culture of the area in and around Memphis.
The museum is full of intriguing artifacts and fascinating stories.
Explore prehistoric fossils and learn about native plants and animals. Step back in time as you discover what it was like to be a Victorian era socialite in the historic Mallory-Neely house.
The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday. Gallery demonstrations and activities are offered on Saturdays and Sundays.
14. Mississippi River Cruise
Take a ride on an authentic riverboat with a Mississippi River Cruise.
A river cruise is a fun way to see and experience the history of the “Mighty Mississippi” river.
Sightseeing tours are offered daily. You can also book a dinner or music cruise where you can hear live music such as Jazz, R&B, and of course, the Blues.
Wrapping up Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee
Whether you want to visit a museum, enjoy some live Blues music, or spend some time on the river, Memphis is a bustling city with plenty of options to keep you busy, learning, and having fun. For more things to do in Tennessee check out this list of the best BBQs in Tennessee.