Whether it’s Blues and Beale Street, music studios, history, civil rights, or Elvis and Graceland, planning for things to do in Memphis is a varied and eclectic task. So, to save yourself some internet surfing time and keep your fingers fatigue-free, we’ve done the research for you.
Located along the mighty Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee at the Arkansas border, Memphis is famously known as the “home of the blues and the birthplace of rock n roll.” Music, dining, historical attractions, blues clubs, entertainment, and other fun stuff are found along every corner (and not just Beale Street).
Famous Memphis musicians and musical pioneers who made their way to Memphis (thanks in part to Sun Records) include Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley. Aretha Franklin, Booker T. Jones, and the Man in Black’s daughter Rosanne Cash all hail from Memphis.
The city of Memphis has been immortalized in songs like “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn, “Big River” by Cash, “Graceland” by Paul Simon, and “Dixie Chicken” by Little Feat. Have you seen the new flick Elvis, starring Austin Butler as Elvis and the always entertaining Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker (his manager)? It’s marvelous and may just make you want to get to Memphis even sooner. Let’s get started!
Enjoy a top-rated Memphis city tour that includes Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Sun Studio, where legends like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins recorded some of their most famous tracks. You’ll explore all the top attractions in Memphis with ease and learn about the city’s rich history and culture from your expert guide. For an extra dose of fun, add on the optional riverboat cruise or Sun Studio tour. Either way, you’re sure to have a blast on this unforgettable Memphis experience!
This guided tour takes you through the heart of the city's music scene, with stops at historic Beale Street, Stax Studio, and the Lorraine Motel. You'll also get to enjoy live music from local musicians throughout the tour. And for an added bonus, you can upgrade to include admission to Sun Studio, the most famous recording studio in the world. So whether you're a diehard music fan or just looking for a fun day out, the Memphis Mojo Bus Tour is perfect for you.
Experience the best of Memphis food culture with this guided tour of downtown Memphis. You'll enjoy seven specially prepared food tastings at six different hotspots, including both family-owned eateries and award-winning restaurants. Classic dishes - from hot tamales to house-made desserts - use only sustainable, locally sourced ingredients. Along the way, you'll discover the culture and history of this dynamic Tennessee city.
Show Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee
- 1. Graceland
- 2. Elvis Presley’s Memphis
- 3. Memphis Statues
- 4. The Elvis Presley Apartment at Lauderdale Courts
- 5. Lansky Brothers
- 6. National Civil Rights Museum
- 7. Memphis Zoo
- 8. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
- 9. Beale Street
- 10. B.B. King’s Blues Club
- 11. Enjoy some good ol’ Southern Comfort and Soul Food
- 12. Old Dominick Distillery Tour
- 13. Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
- 14. Sun Studio Tour
- 15. Memphis Music Hall of Fame & Museum
- 16. Audubon Park
- 17. Memphis Botanic Garden
- 18. Blues Hall of Fame Museum
- 19. Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- 20. Orpheum Theatre
- 21. Dixon Gallery & Gardens
- 22. Visit the Birthplace of the Queen of Soul
- 23. Walk the I AM A MAN Plaza
- 24. Memphis Pyramid
- 25. A. Schwab General Store
- 26. The Museum of Science and History
- 27. National Ornamental Metal Museum
- 28. Mud Island Park
- 29. Selfie Time at the Memphis Murals
- 30. Watch the Ducks March at the Peabody Hotel
- 31. Memphis Riverboats
- 32. Fire Museum of Memphis
- 33. Ashlar Hall
- 34. Art Museum of the University of Memphis
- 35. The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
- 36. Ghost Tour
- 37. Crystal Shrine Grotto
- 38. Shelby Farms Park
- 39. Agricenter Sunflowers
- 40. Children’s Museum of Memphis
- 41. Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art
- 42. Sports
- 43. Putt-Putt Golf and Games Family Park
- 44. Elmwood Cemetery
- 45. Jerry’s Sno Cones and Burger Shack
- 46. Memphis Heritage Trail
- 47. Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
- 48. Victorian Village
- 49. Tom Lee Park
- Getting Around Memphis, Tennessee
- What are the best tourist attractions in Memphis?
- What are some fun things to do in Memphis?
- What is the best thing to do with kids in Memphis?
- What are some things to do in Memphis when it’s raining?
- Most Significant Landmark in Memphis – Graceland (Was there any doubt?)
- Best Park in Memphis – Shelby Farms Park
- Best Free Activity in Memphis – Peabody Hotel duck walk
- Best Activity for Kids in Memphis – Memphis Zoo
- Best Activity for Adults in Memphis – Memphis Riverboat Cruise
- Best Food in Memphis – The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant
- Best Nightlife in Memphis – Beale Street
- Best All-Around Accommodation in Memphis – Days Inn by Wyndham Memphis at Graceland
Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee
Located along Elvis Presley Boulevard, Graceland is the second most visited house in the U.S. – the White House is first. You can take a self-guided tour of the mansion The King bought in 1957. He lived on the 13.8-acre estate with his family. Tours include the living room, the dining room, his father’s office, the pool room, the kitchen, and, of course, the Jungle Room.
The final stop on tour is the Meditation Garden. Elvis and other family members (his mother, father, grandmother, and twin brother who passed at birth) are laid to rest there.
On a side note, it’s free to visit the Meditation Garden. You won’t get the mansion tour, but you’ll be able to check out the garden and view the gravesites (as well as get a good view of the mansion). Hopefully, you’re an early riser because this experience is only available from 7:30 a.m.to 8:30 a.m.before the daily mansion tours begin.
Looking for a hotel near Graceland that doesn’t break the bank? The Days Inn by Wyndham Memphis at Graceland checks off all of our boxes for Memphis accommodations. With Elvis memorabilia throughout, it’s within walking distance to Graceland and offers free Wi-Fi, flat-screen HD TVs, a microwave, and a mini fridge. There’s even a guitar-shaped pool.
Want something even closer to the King? The sleek and contemporary Guest House at Graceland is about a five-minute walk from Graceland. It’s a great choice if you want to be the first in line for the Meditation Garden. The luxury hotel has a business center, a pool, a conference center, banquet facilities, a restaurant, several bars, and a gift shop. A complimentary airport shuttle is available.
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2. Elvis Presley’s Memphis
Elvis Presley’s Memphis is a massive 200,000-square-foot entertainment and exhibit complex. Located across the street from the Graceland mansion and the Guest House at Graceland, it opened in 2017 and is undeniably one of the most popular things to do in Memphis.
The museum offers the Elvis Presley’s Automobile Museum and the Elvis: The Entertainer Museum, which focus on his career, hobbies, vintage family photos, interactive media, U.S. Army artifacts from his time in the service, and more King memorabilia. The Graceland Soundstage, a state-of-the-art entertainment venue, holds live music, film screenings, and concerts by legendary and leading country, rock, and pop artists.
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Memphis Airport is within easy access to Elvis Presley’s Memphis as well as Stax Museum of American Soul, Sun Studio, and Brown Park. It has a guitar-shaped pool, a fitness center, and business facilities. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi and a continental or buffet breakfast. Book this tour for
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3. Memphis Statues
Pencil these attractions onto your Memphis itinerary. The Elvis statue, cast in bronze, is at 115 Beale St. The B.B. King statue, also in bronze, is in the Tennessee Welcome Center on Riverside Drive.
The Westin Memphis Beale Street is near the Elvis statue, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. There’s a fitness center, meeting rooms, banquet facilities, and an on-site restaurant (the Bleu Restaurant and Lounge). Spacious guest rooms offer iPod docking stations and a coffee maker.
For quick access to the Tennessee Welcome Center and the B.B. King statue, check out the Comfort Inn Memphis Downtown. The hotel overlooks the Mississippi River and offers a swimming pool, a fitness center, and a meeting space. Spacious rooms have seating areas, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.
Guests can enjoy a free hot breakfast and high-speed internet access. The hotel is on the trolley line and near attractions like the Memphis Zoo, FedEx Forum, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and Graceland.
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4. The Elvis Presley Apartment at Lauderdale Courts
Live like a king (before Graceland). The Memphis home Elvis lived in the longest – from 1949 to 1953 – is this apartment at Lauderdale Courts. He and his parents (Gladys and Vernon) lived at 185 Winchester, Apartment 328. Tours are available, and you can also stay overnight.
Built in 1936, Lauderdale Courts (currently renamed to Uptown Square) was one of the first federal housing projects in the U.S. Elvis performed for residents in the courtyard and community areas.
The Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown is near Lauderdale Courts, the Cook Convention Center, and the entertainment of Beale St. There’s an outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, a fitness center, a gift shop, and free Wi-Fi. Guest rooms have a work desk, a mini-fridge, and a coffee maker.
The Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel is another great mid-range hotel choice if you want to be near Lauderdale Courts. Guest rooms have flat-screen LCD TVs and a work desk. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, complimentary laundry facilities, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a meeting space, and a snack shop. Some rooms offer views of the mighty Mississippi River for your viewing pleasure.
There’s a Main Street Trolley stop outside the hotel. This is an excellent way to get around town to sites like FedEx Forum and the National Civil Rights Museum.
Open since 1946, Lansky Brothers has gained fame as the Clothier to the King. The Memphis apparel store supplied his suits and clothing throughout much of his career (including the suit he wore on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956).
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5. Lansky Brothers
Lansky Brothers was also popular with customers such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and B.B. King., which is probably where Elvis got his fashion inspiration. You can peruse or purchase Elvis-inspired apparel, reproductions, t-shirts, and accessories.
The original location was 126 Beale Street. It then moved to the Peabody Hotel, where there’s still a location. In 2014, Lansky Brothers moved back to the original site (at 126 Beale St) as part of the Hard Rock Café complex. Rumor has it that Steven Tyler, the Jonas Brothers, Robert Plant, and Stephen Stills shop there.
Looking for a hotel near Lansky Brothers on Beale? The Westin Memphis Beale Street is a terrific choice. Guest rooms have a work desk, free Wi-Fi, a coffee maker, and flat-screen cable TVs. Suites have a separate living area, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.
This pet-friendly hotel offers a fitness center, a restaurant, meeting rooms, and a business center. The Westin is across from the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and near the National Civil Rights Museum and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
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6. National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is one of the most famous Memphis attractions located at the Lorraine Motel. It provides preservation and education on the history of the civil rights movement from the 17th Century to the present.
A member of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum didn’t initially start as a collecting museum. It began actively collecting artifacts, documents, images, and other items in 1992. The complex of museums and historic buildings features exhibits and displays on 1960s student sit-ins, the Montgomery bus boycott, slavery in America, freedom rides, and Martin Luther King Jr. and his fight for equality and economic justice.
King was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in 1968 during the height of the American civil rights movement. Today, it is one of the most fascinating, important, and poignant museums in the country.
The contemporary Hilton Garden Inn Memphis Downtown offers convenient access to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the Orpheum Theater, AutoZone Park, and other Memphis attractions. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, an on-site restaurant and bar, a fitness center, and a pool. Rooms offer flat-screen TVs, a coffee maker, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.
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7. Memphis Zoo
Home to more than 4,500 animals, the Memphis Zoo (located in Midtown) features creatures from around the world. Habitats include the ocean, the African savannah, Asia, and more. Learn about conservation efforts, attend fun events, and visit cheetahs, lions, giraffes, zebras, and pandas (one of only four zoos in America to have pandas) as you make your way around the zoo, one of the best tourist attractions in the area.
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8. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Founded in 1916, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the oldest art museum in Tennessee. Memphis Brooks Museum is located in Overton Park beside the Memphis Zoo. Stroll through galleries featuring contemporary paintings, sculptures, and photographs as well as themed exhibitions such as Memphis on the Mississippi, Digital Art in Motion, and Women in Europe: 1500-1680.
9. Beale Street
Don’t go to Memphis without visiting the historic street of Beale Street. Just don’t. Memphis music’s heart and soul (and jazz and blues) is found along the 1.8-mile Beale Street. A 1940s street busker, the guitar-playing B.B. King, started there. He became known as the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” then Blues Boy, and finally just B.B. (and now you know the origin of the name).
The iconic street is popular with music lovers and famous for food, soul music, nightclubs, shops, blues music and clubs, music festivals, and world-class entertainment. Check out restaurants and clubs such as Coyote Ugly, the Hard Rock Café, Jerry Lee Lewis Café & Honky Tonk, and Miss Polly’s Soul City Café.
The Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis – Beale Street is right in the heart of Beale Street. Enjoy free Wi-Fi and a complimentary daily breakfast. Guest rooms have a desk and chairs, while suites have separate seating areas, a microwave, and a refrigerator.
The Hampton Inn has an indoor pool, a fitness center, a business center, and meeting facilities. The hotel is near the Memphis Rock & Soul Museum, FedEx Forum, and AutoZone Park.
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10. B.B. King’s Blues Club
B.B. King’s Blues Club is on Beale St, but we thought it deserves its own section. Indulge in Southern cooking and Memphis favorites such as BBQ ribs and chicken, shrimp and grits, burgers, chicken and waffles, meatloaf, signature drinks, and more. Oh, and you might find a few stellar live musics and rock n roll acts to listen to while you’re there.
11. Enjoy some good ol’ Southern Comfort and Soul Food
When in Memphis, you’ve gotta have BBQ at least once (preferably two or even three times, just to be sure). The Cozy Corner Restaurant, open since 1977, serves sandwiches, meat plates, ribs, and whole barbecue chicken.
Coletta’s Italian Restaurant, open since 1923 and supposedly a favorite of The King, is the oldest restaurant in Memphis. The menu at this family-owned eatery features traditional Italian favorites and BBQ pizza (along with other types of pizza). Now, we’ve never had BBQ pizza, but frankly, we’re kinda craving it.
The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant has seen diners such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Al Green, and Tina Turner. Open since 1946; the cozy diner sits on the corner of Walker and Mississippi Boulevard in the Soulsville area of South Memphis. Order fried green tomatoes, turkey and gravy, cornbread, macaroni and cheese, and fried catfish.
For a taste of sweetness with all the savory going on, check out 17 Berkshire for colorful macarons, pastries, coffee, tea, and other sugar-coated treats. It’s located in Midtown’s Overton Square.
The Beauty Shop Restaurant is in an actual former beauty shop. Reportedly frequented by the one and only Priscilla Presley (when it was a beauty shop). While you can’t get a cut and perm anymore, the décor is still alive as a ‘50s-inspired beauty parlor. The vintage hair dryers are now used as seating.
Located in the Cooper-Young section of midtown Memphis, the Beauty Shop Restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. You can order chicken and waffles, lamb chops, eggs Benedict, pork carnitas, and fresh fruit salads.
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12. Old Dominick Distillery Tour
Explore the whiskey, gin, and vodka-making process (as it was done nearly 150 years ago) at the Old Dominick Distillery. The 45-minute tour takes you through the history of the distillery, gives an up-close look at the distilling process, and offers a taste of the products. Check out the rooftop for excellent Mississippi River views while enjoying whiskey, cocktails, and other beverages.
13. Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
Learn about the birth of rock and soul music at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum downtown. The Memphis rock n soul History Museum collection, created by the Smithsonian Institution, serves as a story of the musical pioneers who overcame racial barriers. The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is at the corner of Beale St and B.B. King Avenue.
To be near all the history at the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, this lovely one-bedroom one-bath, third-floor walk-up vacation rental. Amenities include a swimming pool, internet, a washer and dryer, a kitchenette, and a living room.
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14. Sun Studio Tour
Tour the hallowed halls of Sun Studio, the music studio home of the historic recording label Sun Records. B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, and Carl Perkins all recorded at Sun Studio.
With a professional Beale St musician as your guide, you’ll tour Sun Studio and learn everything you’ve always wanted to know about blues music, American soul music, and Memphis music history. Walk by the early homes of King, Cash, and Presley and go behind the scenes on Sun. This is an excellent tour to see Sun Studio as well as other Memphis sites such as Beale Street, the Peabody Hotel, Stax Studio, and Cotton Row.
15. Memphis Music Hall of Fame & Museum
On the corner of Second and Beale St, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame is a tribute to legendary and groundbreaking musicians. The organization was established in 2012. The museum opened in 2015. Check out memorabilia and other items from more than 60 inductees, including Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Three 6 Mafia, Sam & Dave, Al Green, Justin Timberlake, and Otis Redding.
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16. Audubon Park
If you’re looking for outdoor activities in Memphis, you should get yourself to this park. The 373-acre park has pavilions, a playground, a one-mile paved trail, a field, a lake, the Leftwich Tennis Center, an 18-hole public golf course, and the Memphis Botanic Garden. The tennis center has 24 outdoor courts and 12 indoor courts.
17. Memphis Botanic Garden
The 96-acre Memphis Botanic Garden is located in Audubon Park. With 30 specialty gardens, you can explore Japanese, shade, formal, woodland, and urban home garden settings. Special exhibits include Holiday Wonders at the Garden and Alice’s Adventures at the Garden, complete with giant topiaries.
Art and sculptures mingle with flowering plants, symmetric shrubs, and colorful wildflowers. The garden also hosts seasonal outdoor concerts, so check out their calendar.
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18. Blues Hall of Fame Museum
The Blues Hall of Fame Museum preserves the history of blues through interactive exhibits, displays, and Hall of Fame inductions. Peruse record albums, costumes, musical instruments, art, and other special items and memorabilia at this and other music museums.
It’s near the National Civil Rights Museum, so you could easily visit both. If this doesn’t answer your questions on what to do in Memphis, we don’t know what to do.
ARRIVE Memphis is located near the Blues Hall of Fame Museum. Colorful rooms feature exposed brick and contemporary décor and furnishings. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, and a cocktail bar at this pet-friendly hotel.
19. Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Learn about the history of soul with a tour of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. This music museum tour starts off in a recreated 1906-era Mississippi church and meanders through antique instruments, albums, and more.
Show off your dance moves on the Express Yourself dance floor, watch vintage episodes of Soul Train, and gaze at the wall of Stax recordings. Don’t miss the custom Cadillac Eldorado (complete with 24-carat gold trim, white fur carpeting, and refrigerated mini-bar), owned by Stax creative force and singer, songwriter, as well as the composer (and voice of South Park’s Chef) Isaac Hayes.
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20. Orpheum Theatre
Open in 1928, the Orpheum Theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s at Beale and South Main’s intersection, making it a convenient stop on a Beale St. tour and one of the best things to do in downtown Memphis. Originally a vaudeville-style venue, it now features comedy, concerts, movies, dance, and Broadway plays like To Kill a Mockingbird, Pretty Woman, Chicago, and Dear Evan Hansen.
21. Dixon Gallery & Gardens
If you like your art with a side of horticulture, you’ll want to check out the Dixon Gallery & Gardens while you visit Memphis. The 17-acre garden and art gallery make a lovely way to spend the day in Memphis.
Peruse flowers, fountains, English gardens, and Greco-Roman sculptures, or head inside for exhibits on fashion, American art, paintings from the National Academy of Design, abstract art, 18th Century German porcelain, and decorative arts. A few of the artistic names you might discover the works of include Renoir, Chagall, Degas, Matisse, and Munch.
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22. Visit the Birthplace of the Queen of Soul
Born in 1942, Aretha Franklin lived at 406 Lucy Avenue in Memphis. Her father was a minister at the nearby New Salem Baptist Church.
The family moved to Detroit in 1944, where her singing career launched in the ’60s. The clapboard house had fallen into disrepair, but efforts are being made to restore it. There’s a historical marker to denote this significant structure.
23. Walk the I AM A MAN Plaza
Installed in 2018, the I AM A MAN Plaza sculpture at Clayborn Temple honors the people of the 1968 Sanitation Workers’ Strike. This was the group Martin Luther King Jr. was supporting before his assassination in Memphis. The strike was for better working conditions and higher wages. A marble wall features the names of the 1,300 workers.
24. Memphis Pyramid
Formerly known as the Great American Pyramid and the Pyramid Arena, the Memphis Pyramid was originally a sports and entertainment venue. It’s now owned by mega outdoor outfitter Bass Pro Shops.
Within the pyramid, there’s a Bass Pro Shop, a hunting-lodge-themed hotel, a bowling alley, restaurants, and a swamp. It’s also one of the largest pyramids in the world (just in case you’re ever a contestant on Jeopardy).
Be sure to take a ride on the Sky High Ride, the tallest free-standing elevator in the U.S. It goes to the top of the pyramid, where you can have dinner and drinks at The Lookout or just enjoy views from the glass observation deck.
If you want to be near the shopping, activities, and attractions at the Memphis Pyramid, why not stay right in the pyramid itself? Big Cypress Lodge is a rustic outdoor-themed hotel that offers treehouse-themed rooms, luxury suites, and elegant rooms. Guests can enjoy a fitness center, a restaurant, a bar, free Wi-Fi, complimentary shuttle service, a business center, and complimentary tickets for the Sky High Ride.
25. A. Schwab General Store
Step back in time at A. Schwab is one of the last remaining original businesses on Beale Street. There’s a little something all the family will love. In operation since 1876, you can peruse shelves of old-fashioned candy, art, food items, souvenirs, Johnny Cash memorabilia, and more.
Don’t miss the soda fountain for a sandwich, salad, milkshake filled with Sweet Magnolia ice cream, or a soda drizzled with house-made syrup. They also serve alcoholic milkshakes, so be sure to check that out while at this historic store in Memphis, Tennessee.
For the over-21 crew, of course. The Beale St Museum is on the second floor of the store. It features a collection of historical artifacts from Memphis and Beale St.
26. The Museum of Science and History
The exterior of the Museum of Science and History (MOSH) stands out in pink Georgian marble. Known as the Pink Palace Mansion, the Pink Palace Museum was originally built by the owner of Piggly Wiggly stores, Clarence Saunders.
As a result of the Great Depression, he went bankrupt before completion. The city acquired the mansion from the Pink Palace family, giving it new life as a museum, IMAX theater, and planetarium venue.
The Pink Palace Family Museum offers science and history exhibits that range from archaeology and chemistry to LGBTQ rights and Memphis history. There’s also a replica of a Piggly Wiggly store and displays on music, culture, travel, and race in this Memphis, Tennessee, museum’s collection.
27. National Ornamental Metal Museum
For unique things to do in Memphis, the Metal Museum should be at the top of your list. This Memphis museum is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of historical, decorative, and contemporary metal.
Peruse ornamental metalwork, a sculpture garden, art exhibitions, and a working blacksmith shop and foundry. Take classes on metalsmithing techniques, wire-wrapped jewelry, and decorative designs on copper.
The Super 8 by Wyndham Memphis/Downtown is near the Metal Museum and about 10 minutes from downtown Memphis. There’s an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel has shuttle access to various sites around town.
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28. Mud Island Park
Fire pits, picnic tables, play areas, and stunning sunsets make Mud Island Park a great place to visit. The 52-acre Mud Island Park has a museum, an amphitheater, and walking paths along the Mississippi River.
The park is on Mud Island, an island-like stretch of land between Wolf River Harbor and the river. Other nearby local parks include Mississippi River Park, Fourth Bluff Park, Tom Lee Park, and Greenbelt Park.
29. Selfie Time at the Memphis Murals
Here’s where you can get creative while getting your art and culture fix. There are “I Love Memphis” murals all over town. Get out that selfie arm and check out some of these Memphis murals.
- The original, embellished with a big red heart and the words “I Love Memphis,” is next to Memphis Made Brewing in the Cooper-Young neighborhood.
- The “With Love from Memphis” mural is near the High Cotton Tap Room near Sun Studio.
- There’s an “I Love Memphis” mural sporting a big heart and the Hernando de Soto bridge. It’s behind the UrbanArt Commission office in the Crosstown neighborhood.
- The Sound of Memphis, featuring musical instruments and famous Memphis musicians, is across from Aldo’s Pizza.
- Others include B.B. King on Lamar Avenue and the I Am Man mural in the Main Arts District.
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30. Watch the Ducks March at the Peabody Hotel
Yeah, you heard what I said. Now, this is what we call a unique activity in any city. At 11 am and 5 pm daily, the Peabody Hotel’s mallard ducks march to and from their rooftop penthouse to the fountain.
They walk (Or would it be waddle?) the red carpet from the elevator to the fountain, spend the day splashing about, and then return to the rooftop. They’re led by the official Duckmaster. Just how does one get the job of Duckmaster? Asking for a friend.
Speaking of Peabody Memphis, it makes for a luxurious stay in the heart of downtown Memphis. There’s an indoor pool, a fitness center, an on-site restaurant, a bar, a ballroom, a full-service spa, and a rooftop venue.
Of course, you’ll find duck-related art and accessories throughout. Spacious guest rooms have free Wi-Fi, work desks, and extra seating.
31. Memphis Riverboats
Book dinner and sightseeing cruises on the mighty Mississippi. Old-fashioned sternwheeler riverboats, such as the Memphis Queen, sail along the riverfront as you dine, learn about the history of the Mississippi, and enjoy the scenery. Boats sail down the Memphis side of the river and then back on the Arkansas side. This activity tops our list of relaxing things to do in Memphis.
Looking for a hotel near the river? Check out the Kasa Downtown Memphis. Guest rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, a living room with a sofa, and a kitchen with a dining area. Choose from two or three-bedroom apartments. This is an excellent choice for an extended stay or a larger group.
32. Fire Museum of Memphis
Gather your fire truck-loving crew and head to the Fire Museum of Memphis. Kids can have fun with experiences like dressing up in full gear, entering a room with a simulated kitchen fire, and extinguishing a virtual fire. Outside, you’ll see the Memorial Wall, a 22-foot-high brick sculpture dedicated to Memphis firefighters who have lost their lives fighting fires since 1880.
Located in Fire Engine House No. 1, the museum uses interactive displays to promote education about fire and safety. Peruse interactive exhibits like an 1865 fire alarm bell, firefighter stained glass, a 1912 R.A. Utley American LaFrance Pumper, antique lockers, firefighter uniforms, fire helmets, and more.
For quick access to the Fire Museum, check into the Hotel Indigo – Memphis Downtown, an IHG Hotel. This pet-friendly hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a snack bar, a lounge, a business center, and free Wi-Fi. It’s also within convenient access to AutoZone Park, the Mississippi River, and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
33. Ashlar Hall
The historic mock Victorian castle, Ashlar Hall, features stained glass, oak accents, and intricate crown molding. The 11,000-square-foot Renaissance mansion was built in 1896 by Robert Brinkley Snowden as a family home. Members of the family lived in it until 1957.
Ashlar Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has seen life as a home, a restaurant, a nightclub, and an abandoned structure. Also known as Prince Mongo’s Castle, it was purchased in 2016 with the intent to refurbish it. Rites of Spring, an immersive theater show, was once being performed at the mansion.
34. Art Museum of the University of Memphis
Opened in 1981, the Art Museum of the University of Memphis is one of the best museums in Memphis. It features exhibitions on African and Egyptian art, architecture and design, indigenous textiles, prints and photographs, sculptures, and more. This art and culture gallery is located at the University of Memphis.
In town to check out a basketball or baseball game at the University of Memphis? The Holiday Inn Memphis – University of Memphis is just across the street. Guest rooms have a mini-fridge, a microwave, a desk, and free Wi-Fi. There’s a fitness center, a gift shop, and an on-site restaurant.
35. The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
The Cotton Museum, which opened in 2006, presents exhibits on the global cotton industry, how it’s grown, harvested, and produced as well as the countless products it’s used to make and its influence on the city of Memphis, and the area’s natural history. This historical, educational, and cultural museum is located on the former trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange (built in 1922) in downtown Memphis.
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36. Ghost Tour
Join professional guides for a historic (and maybe a little spooky) haunted walking tour of the Memphis area. You’ll visit sites like the Orpheum Theater (where “Mary” has haunted performances since 1921), the Victorian John Alexander Austin House (and its tales of star-crossed lovers), and Ernestine and Hazel’s, a former brothel considered the most haunted site in Memphis. Tours last about two hours and are a unique way to connect with Memphis, Tennessee history.
37. Crystal Shrine Grotto
Featuring the only man-made crystal cave (grotto) in the world, Crystal Shrine Grotto is home in a peaceful cemetery setting at Memorial Park Funeral Home & Cemetery. Memorial Park was founded in 1925 to be a place of beauty, comfort, and peace.
There aren’t any upright markers or monuments at this cemetery. Enjoy works of art and nature. The grotto and many of the folk-art pieces are designed by Mexican artists Senor Dionicio Rodriguez.
The cave was dug nearly 60 feet into a hill and decorated with quartz, cement, figurines, and Biblical illustrations of things like the Last Supper, the Nativity, and the Resurrection). Sunlight creates a glowing effect on the whole scene. You may also hear harp music. Additionally, there’s a meditation garden, a wooden bridge, a pond, a wishing well, and a fake tree that’s big enough to walk through.
If you just can’t get enough of the Crystal Shrine Grotto, book your stay at the Hampton Inn Memphis-Poplar. The pet-friendly hotel has a swimming pool, a fitness center, a business center, and free Wi-Fi. It’s within easy access to the Memphis Zoo, Shelby Farms Park, and the Pink Palace Museum.
38. Shelby Farms Park
Gather the whole family and head to Shelby Farms Park. It’s located off of N. Pine Lake Dr., One of the biggest urban parks in the country. It offers 4,500 acres of green space and miles of paved and unpaved trails for walking, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Forget your bike? No worries. You can rent bikes and kayaks.
There’s something for all the family to do. Go horseback riding at Shelby Farms Stable, go fishing, or play outdoor laser tag, paintball, or arrow tag at Battlefront Laser Tag/Paintball. There’s a 100-acre area designated for off-leash dog play. There’s even a herd of buffalo!
Within easy access to Shelby Farms Park, the Hilton Memphis is a great option to anchor your adventure-driven trip. There’s a pool, a business center, event facilities, a restaurant, and a lobby bar. This pet-friendly hotel is in the business district. Other nearby attractions include the Memphis Botanic Garden, the University of Memphis, Crystal Shrine Grotto, and the Pink Palace Museum.
39. Agricenter Sunflowers
Drive down Walnut Grove or Germantown Road to keep a good look and some stunning selfies with colorful sunflowers. Agricenter International, located on Walnut Grove Road, plants these sunny flowers every year for passers-by to enjoy. There are a few areas for parking, and you can walk right up to the giant flowers.
After the sunflower season ends, the sunflower seeds are harvested for local animals to snack on. There’s also a corn maze (the Mid-South Maze) in the fall, so be sure to check that out as well. On weekends, it’s a haunted maze. During the week, it’s a regular ‘ole corn maze. So, take your pick. Us? We’re going to the haunt. Give us all the scares!
When the corn maze season is over, the field is flooded to provide a habitat for migratory birds. This is in partnership with the nearby headquarters of Ducks Unlimited. How cool is that?
A leader in agriculture research, the center specializes in conservation, education, and informal learning on forestry, agriculture, and natural resources. Shelby Farms Park is just down the road if you want to make it a two-for-one kind of day (or let the kids work off some energy after posing pretty with the sunflowers).
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40. Children’s Museum of Memphis
Located in Midtown Memphis, the Children’s Museum of Memphis offers hands-on interactive exhibits and interactive displays for kids of all ages. Check out children’s museum fun zones like the bubble garden, a splash park, a dinosaur dig area, a carousel, a playful flower shop, and much more at this children’s museum of Memphis.
41. Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art
When it opened in 1998, the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art consisted of three small rooms. It has grown into 24,000 square feet and has more than 1,400 objects. There are three Asian art, one Judaic art, and one Holocaust Memorial Gallery, as well as annual special exhibits.
One of the main exhibits is sculptural jade, which garnered the museum the name “The Jade Museum.” Exhibits include Asian art from the Qing Dynasty, the Chinese New Year, and more than 200 works of art by contemporary Jewish artists.
For accommodations near the Belz Museum, check out the Hyatt Centric Beale Street Memphis. This pet-friendly hotel has a pool, free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, a bar/lounge, a fitness center, meeting and event rooms, and valet parking. Guests can also enjoy stunning river views.
Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis is another hotel close to the action and attractions of Beale Street (not to mention the river views). There’s a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar. Guests can enjoy a flat-screen cable TV and free Wi-Fi.
Hu. Hotel, also in downtown Memphis near the Belz Museum, has a pool, a fitness center, an indoor pool, a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and a business center. Adjoining rooms are available, which is a handy option for larger families. Originally built in 1905, the building offers great views of the river.
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Not into art and culture? No problem. Head to a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game at FedExForum or a Memphis Redbirds baseball game at AutoZone Park for fun things to do in Memphis.
The University of Memphis Tigers basketball team also plays at FedExForum. If you’re traveling with kids, check out the Boardwalk area at AutoZone Park. This family-friendly fun area has games, a playground, and other amusement types of attractions.
If you’d rather participate in the sports scene, head to the Mid-South Ice Arena & Skating Center. You can play ice hockey games and take lessons in figure skating and curling. This venue is in Olive Branch, Mississippi, which is a suburb of Memphis. It’s about 23 miles from downtown Memphis.
To be close to the action at AutoZone Park and FedExForum, consider the La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Downtown Memphis. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, a snack shop, a meeting space, and a fitness center.
This mid-range hotel is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring the four-legged kids along. The Elvis statue and the Cotton Exchange building are nearby. Another option for the sports enthusiasts in your group is the Hotel Napoleon, Ascend Collection, which offers a restaurant, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, a business center, and valet parking.
43. Putt-Putt Golf and Games Family Park
If it’s a fun activity you’re craving, Putt-Putt Golf and Games Family Park has…well, golf and games – admittedly, lots of them. Play mini golf to your heart’s content, zip about in go-karts hit ‘em hard at the batting cages and driving range, and soar along zip lines or splash about in bumper boats. You can even enjoy a wicked VR experience at the Hologate!
Then, why not just relax at picnic facilities after all that activity? This family-friendly venue has been open since 1966 but has kept up with the times and remains a local favorite.
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44. Elmwood Cemetery
Looking for historical things to do in Memphis, Tennessee? Established in 1852, the historic Elmwood Cemetery is the oldest active cemetery in Memphis. It has 80 acres of architecture and ornate headstones as well as structures such as the Morgan Entry Bridge, the Phillips Cottage (visitor center) built in 1866, and the 1870s Norfleet bell (all on the Register of Historic Places). It’s an Official Bird Sanctuary and Arboretum as well.
The cemetery is the final resting place of American war veterans, lawyers, doctors, and others who helped establish the city of Memphis. A scene from Paramount’s 1993 movie The Firm (starring Tom Cruise) was filmed there.
45. Jerry’s Sno Cones and Burger Shack
Rather than Elvis, shaved ice and soft serve ice cream are king at this Memphis hot (or rather, cold) spot. Open year-round, Jerry’s snow cone supreme is the most famous treat around. They also serve hot food such as burgers, funnel cakes, and Philly cheese steak sandwiches. But, really, it’s all about the snow cones. Trust me on this – these cones of snow are actually pure fire!
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46. Memphis Heritage Trail
The Memphis Heritage Trail is dedicated to landmarks and stories that show how African Americans helped shape the city of Memphis. The walking trail is about 20 blocks through the downtown Memphis area. There are a couple of themed loops to take based on your interests or time. There’s an app to help you navigate the various extensions of the trail.
The Historic Commerce Loop goes past the Beale Street Baptist Church and the Solvent Savings Bank, the first African American-established bank in Memphis (1906). The Civil Rights Historic Loop takes you past the Civil Rights Museum, the Blues Hall of Fame, the Mason Temple, and the I AM A MAN Plaza, which features a sculpture dedicated to members of the Sanitation Workers’ Strike in 1968.
The Business-Entertainment Loop takes you to the Cotton Museum, the Orpheum Theater, the Beale Street Historic District, W.C. Handy park, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Reflection Park.
The Historic Residential Loop goes by the First Baptist Church Lauderdale, Booker T. Washington High School, and Mason Temple, which is the Church of God in Christ world headquarters. Mason Temple is the site where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech the night before he was assassinated.
47. Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
For historical things to do in Memphis, check out the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum. This 19th Century Memphis, Tennessee home was once part of the Underground Railroad. It opened as a museum in 1997 and covers some of the most harrowing and inspiring true stories to ever come out of one of America’s darkest chapters.
Visitors can explore and examine tunnels, trap doors, artifacts, and exhibits about this turbulent time in history with a guided tour. The house is decorated with preserved and refurbished 19th Century furniture and décor.
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48. Victorian Village
Victorian Village, Memphis’ first suburb, is a neighborhood filled with Victorian-era homes that have been converted to museums. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Memphis for fans of architecture and design.
The area is near Sun Studios, making it convenient to visit either one on your Memphis vacation. It’s one of our favorite Memphis things to do. Spend a relaxing time strolling around the neighborhood and visiting houses like the Mallory-Neely House.
The Italianate mansion is decorated with 1890s furnishings and intricate stained-glass windows. The Woodruff-Fontaine House has textiles and fashion items from the Victoria era to the 1920s. Don’t miss the adorable fairytale playhouse in the back. Built in 1890, it can be rented for fairytale weddings!
Want to stay in a Victorian mansion? Who wouldn’t? The James Lee House luxury B&B, listed on the Register of Historic Places, is a stunning example of Victorian architecture. Enjoy a romantic and luxurious stay in guest rooms featuring hardwood floors, four-poster beds, opulent linens, freestanding tubs, and marble tiles.
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49. Tom Lee Park
Tom Lee was the hero of a steamer (the M.E. Norman) that capsized in the Mississippi in 1925. He had been out in his wooden skiff (the Zev) and saw the sinking steamer and passengers (members of the Engineers Club of Memphis).
Unable to swim, he maneuvered his small boat through the wreckage, gathering eight people at a time. He rescued 32 of the 72 passengers (some had perished immediately upon the sinking of the steamer). There were about 12 who made it to shore without his help. He was considered a hero by both the Engineers Club and the city of Memphis).
Inspired by the waterscape of the Mississippi River, Tom Lee Park features four main “zones” for visitors to enjoy and learn. The Civic Gateway is at the northern end. The entrance is accessible from Beale and Vance Avenue, with a safe crossing area at Riverside Drive. This new entry has shade trees and a water feature.
The Active Core area has a 20,000-square-foot canopy for events and recreational activities. There’s a play area and a café with porches that overlook the river. The Community Batture section is a wooded area on a higher spot of ground designed for family-friendly picnics and gatherings. There are meditative paths and a Peace Walk that incorporates the natural landscape and the Tom Lee memorial sculpture.
Habitat Terraces, at the southern end of the park, offers a more secluded and peaceful area for nature watching. A Canopy Walk connects the park to the city of Memphis via an elevated pathway. An outdoor classroom is available for educational activities.
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Getting Around Memphis, Tennessee
As you’re planning things to do in Memphis, you’ll want to factor in transportation. The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) offers several bus routes around town. There’s also a rail line that includes the Main Street Trolley rail line, a Riverfront line, and a Madison line.
If you prefer to rent a car, check Kayak for great rates on vehicles as well as flights and hotels. Memphis International Airport (MEM) has a variety of car rental agencies, including Hertz, Avis, and Thrifty. You’ll find SUVs, sedans, or compact vehicles to accommodate your whole group.
What are the best tourist attractions in Memphis?
In addition to Memphis’ most famous attraction, Graceland, popular places include the National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, Sun Studios, and the Elvis and B.B. King statues.
What are some fun things to do in Memphis?
Stroll past historic architecture and elaborate mansions at the Victorian Village, enjoy fragrant flowers at the Memphis Botanic Garden or watch the ducks at the Peabody Hotel.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Memphis?
If the kids in your crew are adventure seekers, Shelby Farms Park is your one-stop shop for laser tag, paintball, and much more. The Memphis Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Memphis are other fine things to do with kids in Memphis.
What are some things to do in Memphis when it’s raining?
When it’s raining in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s time to check out the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, the Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, or the Memphis Rock & Soul Museum.
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Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and yacht charters to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and other fun spots. In addition to Via Travelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.