Things to Do in Memphis

As a lifelong Memphis resident, I’m excited to share my personal picks of the best things to do in our wonderful city.

Instead of your typical travel guide, I’ll be giving you a local’s perspective, filled with insider tips and favorites.

Maybe you’re curious about how Memphis has been the foundation of American music, art, and culture. Or maybe, your taste buds are tingling for that smoky, mouthwatering Memphis barbecue.

Regardless of what brings you to Memphis, Tennessee, I promise, it will meet and likely surpass your expectations.

3 Must-Do Activities

After all, Memphis didn’t earn its reputation as one of the South’s premier tourist hotspots for nothing. Prices are subject to change:

1. Stroll Down Beale Street

  • Where: Downtown Memphis, in the heart of the city.
  • Price Range: Free to stroll, various prices for restaurants and shops.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, during the day.

Beale Street, located in downtown Memphis, is a vibrant street that encapsulates the spirit of the city. It’s filled with blues clubs, restaurants, and shops that make for a lively atmosphere. I frequently walk down Beale Street, simply enjoying the energy and the rhythm of the blues music.

As a local, I would advise you to visit in the late afternoon. This way, you get to experience the transition from a bustling day to an exciting night. And if you’re wondering about the best season, Beale Street is lively year-round! But, the Street really shines in the warmer months, where the music seems to hit a high note.

Remember, while the street is kid-friendly during the day, it tends to become more adult-oriented at night with bars and clubs opening up. So, if you’re planning a family outing, I’d recommend an afternoon stroll.

2. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum

  • Where: 450 Mulberry Street, located at the former Lorraine Motel.
  • Price Range: $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, $13 for children aged 5-17.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, but more suited for older kids due to the historical content.

The National Civil Rights Museum is a powerful and moving museum that brings to life the struggle for civil rights in the United States. As a resident, it’s a place I visit often to reflect on the resilience and determination of those who fought for equal rights.

The museum is open year-round, but I personally enjoy visiting during the quieter months like February and September. The crowds are fewer, which makes for a more personal experience.

If you’re visiting with kids, it’s important to note that the museum’s content can be heavy. However, it’s a fantastic educational opportunity to discuss the civil rights movement and its impacts. Be sure to prepare them in advance for the topics that will be discussed.

3. Explore Memphis Zoo

  • Where: 2000 Prentiss Place in Overton Park.
  • Price Range: $18 for adults, $17 for seniors (age 60+), $13 for children (2-11).
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, definitely!

One of my personal favorites is the Memphis Zoo. With over 3,500 animals, this place is an absolute delight for kids and adults alike. I visit the zoo often, especially when my nieces and nephews come over.

The zoo is open all year, but the best times to visit are in the spring and fall when the weather is mild. Summer can be quite hot for the animals (and the visitors), while the winter can be a bit chilly.

My tip would be to arrive early in the day when the animals are most active. Don’t forget to check out the Giant Panda Exhibit – it’s one of only three in the US! Trust me; it’s a treat you wouldn’t want to miss.

4. Dive into History at the Stax Museum

  • Where: 926 E McLemore Ave.
  • Price Range: $13 for adults, $12 for seniors, students, and military, $10 for kids (9-12).
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, particularly if they’re into music.

The Stax Museum is a must-visit for any music lover. It brings the history of Stax Records, and soul music in general, to life. Having visited many times, I can tell you there’s nothing quite like standing on the same ground where music legends once stood.

The museum is open throughout the year, but I find it less crowded during weekdays. A quiet afternoon at the Stax Museum offers a great escape into the world of soul music. Kids will appreciate the interactive exhibits, while adults will love the rich history.

5. Get Inspired at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

  • Where: 4339 Park Avenue.
  • Price Range: $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, free for kids under 18.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, but better appreciated by older children and adults.

Art lovers, nature enthusiasts, or those seeking tranquility will find the Dixon Gallery and Gardens to be a haven. I often visit to enjoy the exquisite art collection and beautiful gardens.

The best time to visit the gardens is in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom. The art exhibits, on the other hand, are excellent all year round. If you have kids, make sure to take them to the ‘Family Studio’ where they can create their own artwork.

6. Savor Memphis Barbecue

  • Where: Various locations across Memphis.
  • Price Range: Varies, typically around $10-$30 per person.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

If there’s one thing Memphis does right, it’s barbecue. It’s hard to recommend just one BBQ joint because there are so many good ones. Trust me, I’ve tried them all!

There’s no wrong time to enjoy Memphis barbecue. It’s a year-round love affair for us locals. However, you might want to plan your visit around the ‘Memphis in May’ festival. It includes a world championship barbecue cooking contest!

7. Tour Graceland

  • Where: Elvis Presley Boulevard.
  • Price Range: Tours start from $41 for adults, $37 for seniors and students, $21 for kids (7-12).
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, but they should be fans of Elvis.

Last, but definitely not least, we have Graceland. This iconic mansion was home to the ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, Elvis Presley. As a local, I still get chills every time I step into the King’s home.

You can visit Graceland year-round, but a good time might be around Elvis’ birthday (January 8) or the anniversary of his death (August 16). During these times, the mansion holds special events that make the visit even more memorable.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful for your visit to Memphis. This city has so much to offer, and these are just a few of the gems that make Memphis a great place to live and visit. Enjoy exploring my hometown!

8. Marvel at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

  • Where: Overton Park.
  • Price Range: $7 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, free for kids under 17.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, especially older children interested in art.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art houses an incredible collection of art that spans centuries. As an art enthusiast, I never tire of the inspiring exhibitions here. Open throughout the year, the museum is a great destination any day. However, on Wednesdays, admission is pay-what-you-can, a fantastic deal for budget-conscious travelers.

Visitor Opinion: One visitor raved about the diversity of the museum’s collection, saying it was a hidden gem. They particularly enjoyed the temporary exhibits and mentioned the museum’s tranquil atmosphere as a major plus.

9. Attend a Memphis Grizzlies Game

  • Where: FedExForum.
  • Price Range: Tickets start at around $10.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, great for sporty kids!

If you’re into sports, you’ve got to catch a Grizzlies game. The energy is infectious and the games are always exciting. My family and I are big fans and never miss a home game.

The NBA season runs from October to April, with playoff games potentially extending into June. So plan your visit accordingly if you’re a basketball fan.

Visitor Opinion: A recent visitor described the Grizzlies game as a thrilling experience. They were impressed with the energy of the crowd, the great food options, and the overall atmosphere of the FedExForum.

10. Shop at the Memphis Farmers Market

  • Where: S Front St & GE Patterson Ave.
  • Price Range: Free entry, variable prices for goods.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

The Memphis Farmers Market is a treat. Local vendors sell everything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses. I make it a point to visit every Saturday morning, and I always discover something new.

The market runs from April through November, so if you’re visiting in those months, make sure to swing by. Arriving early ensures you get the best picks!

Visitor Opinion: One frequent market-goer described their experience as fantastic, praising the friendly vendors and wide selection of fresh, local produce. They also recommended trying the homemade pastries.

11. Hike in Shelby Farms Park

  • Where: 6903 Great View Drive North.
  • Price Range: Free, with rental fees for some activities.
  • Suitable for Kids: Absolutely.

Shelby Farms Park is a local treasure. It’s one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. I love hiking the trails, and you’re sure to spot some wildlife.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit, as the weather is usually perfect for outdoor activities. There are also plenty of kid-friendly activities like paddle boating and a playground.

Visitor Opinion: Two friends of ours recently spoke about the park’s size and diversity of activities. They loved the peaceful walking trails and also mentioned how clean and well-maintained the park is.

12. Enjoy Live Music at Levitt Shell

  • Where: Overton Park.
  • Price Range: Free, donations encouraged.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

Levitt Shell offers 50 free concerts a year, making it a local favorite. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy a picnic while listening to live music. I always pack a blanket and some snacks and make a night of it.

The concert season typically runs from June to July and September to October. So, if you’re visiting in these months, don’t miss out!

Visitor Opinion: Another friend of ours, who is a frequent concert-goer called his experience at Levitt Shell unforgettable. He loved the quality of the music and the sense of community. He also mentioned the location being ideal for a summer evening outing.

13. Visit Sun Studio

  • Where: 706 Union Ave.
  • Price Range: $14 for adults, $12 for students and military, free for kids under 5.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, especially if they love music!

Sun Studio, known as the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” is where Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash got their start. I’ve taken the guided tour a few times, and it never gets old.

It’s open year-round, but if you visit in the summer, you’ll avoid the peak tourist season. And trust me, there’s nothing like standing where legends once stood.

Visitor Opinion: A visitor described their tour of Sun Studio as a “walk through music history.” They appreciated the knowledgeable tour guide and felt the experience was well worth the admission price.

14. Take a Memphis Riverboats Cruise

  • Where: 45 Riverside Dr.
  • Price Range: Starting at $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, $10 for children (3-12).
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

Taking a riverboat cruise on the mighty Mississippi is a fantastic experience. I love the sunset cruises in particular.

The cruises run from February to November, and the sunset cruise is particularly breathtaking during the summer months.

Visitor Opinion: One visitor praised the cruise as a “highlight of their Memphis trip.” They loved the informative guide, stunning views, and called the experience romantic and peaceful.

15. Experience the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum

  • Where: 826 N Second St.
  • Price Range: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, $6 for children.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes, for older children due to the historical content.

The Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum is an important part of our history. It’s an educational experience that offers insight into a dark period in American history. The museum is open year-round, but be aware that the subject matter can be intense for younger children.

Visitor Opinion: A recent visitor described the museum as a powerful and moving experience. They appreciated the educational aspect and felt it was a must-visit for understanding a significant part of American history.

16. Check out Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum

  • Where: 191 Beale Street.
  • Price Range: $13 for adults, $10 for youth (5-17).
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

Created by the Smithsonian, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum tells the story of Memphis music history. I’ve visited multiple times and still discover something new each time.

The museum is open year-round, so anytime is a good time to learn about Memphis’s rich musical heritage.

Visitor Opinion: A music lover called the museum a “must for music fans.” They enjoyed the detailed exhibits and found the audio tour informative and engaging.

17. Explore the Pink Palace Museum

  • Where: 3050 Central Ave.
  • Price Range: Varies per exhibit, starting at $15 for adults, $10 for kids.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

The Pink Palace Museum is a family favorite. It offers everything from a planetarium to natural history exhibits. I’ve been visiting since I was a child and it’s always a fun day out.

The museum is open year-round, but do check the schedule for any special exhibits or shows during your visit.

Visitor Opinion: One parent praised the Pink Palace as a great place for kids. They were particularly fond of the planetarium and said the exhibits were interactive and educational.

18. Wander Around Overton Square

  • Where: Midtown Memphis.
  • Price Range: Free to wander, prices vary for food and entertainment.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

Overton Square is a great spot for dining, shopping, and entertainment. It’s a place I often go for a night out or to enjoy a lazy Sunday brunch.

The square is lively throughout the year, with the summer season bringing a series of outdoor concerts and events.

Visitor Opinion: A visitor called Overton Square a “vibrant area full of life.” They appreciated the range of food options and enjoyed the lively atmosphere.

19. Attend an Event at the Orpheum Theatre

  • Where: 203 S Main St.
  • Price Range: Varies per show.
  • Suitable for Kids: Depending on the show.

The Orpheum Theatre hosts Broadway shows, concerts, and classic films. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows here, and the venue’s architecture is simply stunning.

Check their calendar before your visit to catch a show. A holiday favorite is the annual performance of “The Nutcracker” in December.

Visitor Opinion: One theater-goer described their visit to the Orpheum as an “unforgettable experience.” They loved the historic ambiance and high-quality productions.

20. Enjoy the Memphis Botanic Garden

  • Where: 750 Cherry Rd.
  • Price Range: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for kids (2-12).
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

The Memphis Botanic Garden is a beautiful place to unwind. I love taking peaceful walks amidst the blooms.

The best time to visit is undoubtedly in the spring when everything’s in full bloom. But even in the winter, the Garden offers indoor exhibits.

Visitor Opinion: A nature lover called the Botanic Garden a “slice of paradise.” She praised the well-maintained gardens and the variety of plants. She told us that she found it to be a peaceful retreat.

21. Visit the Memphis Pyramid

  • Where: 1 Bass Pro Dr.
  • Price Range: Varies per activity.
  • Suitable for Kids: Yes.

The Memphis Pyramid, now home to a massive Bass Pro Shops store, is a sight to behold. With shopping, a hotel, and an observation deck, it’s a fun destination. My favorite part? The views from the top of the pyramid.

It’s open year-round, but the views are especially clear in the cooler months. If heights don’t bother you, it’s worth the elevator ride to the top.

Visitor Opinion: One visitor described the Pyramid as an “unexpected surprise.” They enjoyed the unique shopping experience and said the view from the top was unbeatable.


So, there you have it, my top 21 things to do in Memphis. As a local, I can confidently say that Memphis has something for everyone. I hope you enjoy exploring my city as much as I do!

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