25 best things to do in Memphis, Tennessee

The list of the top 25 things to do in Memphis is full of fascinating attractions, culinary delights, unique history and activities. When vacationing here one can enjoy sightseeing at several sites, walking through various neighborhoods and taking part in many exciting activities. The list includes popular attractions like the Memphant Riverwalk, Cedar Crest Cemetery, Graceland Museum and Gardens, Greater Memphis Zoo and Gardens, Oakwood Canyon Park and the famous River Ridge Country Club. Also on the must-do list are many museums and art galleries.

Fun Things to Do in Memphis

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the top 25 best things to do in Memphis:

Why Must I Visit the National Civil Rights Museum?

Civil Rights Museum

, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Civil Rights Museum is an impressive collection of historic buildings and museums in Memphis, Tennessee; its displays trace the evolution of the civil rights struggle in the US from the late 19th century to today. It brings to life the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech, one of the greatest speeches in the history of the world. The museum was created as a component of the National Historic Landmark Program of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is located in downtown Memphis. In addition to this important museum, there are two other important ones in Memphis. They are the Jackson and Henderson Museum and the Mempholeum.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis features many prominent nationally and internationally known attractions such as the Jim Lovingood Memorial Monument, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. historic plaque, the Mississippi Freedom Center, the Memphis Zoo, and many others. All these attractions are must see for any visitor to Mempholeum. You can also do some shopping at the many specialty stores. There are also many eating houses where you can enjoy meals. Finally, when you get tired of visiting all these attractions and shops, you must go to one of the restaurants in the Mempholeum, which serves delicious local cuisine.

Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

Belz Museum Memphis TN
Thomas R Machnitzki, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art has been home to many great attractions for the art enthusiasts. Visitors to the Belz Museum get an opportunity to view original works by some of the region’s most famous artists. In addition to this, the museum presents a rich array of works from the art and cultural history of the Middle East and Asia. The Belz Museum has a long history of participating in the exhibition and research of the art world.

The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art has been one of the leading institutions of its kind in the United States, and is home to an extensive collection of Chinese and Asian art, wood carvings, leatherwork, textiles and other works of art. Besides this, the museum has a number of exceptional exhibitions that showcase the work of internationally renowned artists. There are also a number of student activities taking place at the museum, including the summer camps for children from kindergarten up to age twelve.

FedEx Forum

FedEx Forum
Jspotts at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

FedExForum, formerly known as FedEx Field, is a multipurpose sports arena located in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s the home of both the Memphis Grizzlies of Major League Baseball and the University of Memphis, which both play home games at the former FedEx Field. The FedExForum also serves as a film studio, a performance venue, a restaurant and other facilities. It is commonly known as the FedEx Field out of town, but the name is now used for all events at the venue. Events can be anything that you want to book at FedEx Field.

Explore the Rich History of Soul Music With the Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Stax Museum of America Soul Music, Memphis, Tennessee
Carol M. Highsmith , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, formerly known as the Stax Records Museum, is a contemporary museum located inside the old Stax Records building in Memphis, Tennessee, at nine26 East McLemore Avenue. It is run by the Soulsville Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting popular music through programs that unite communities interested in the genre. The name “Stax” was selected as a reference to the legendary” Soulsville” album recorded by jazz artist Louis Armstrong and his band in segregated Memphis. The name” Soulsville” has been used to refer to the predominantly black neighborhood in the southern United States, originally occupied by African Americans who were forced to live there due to the city’s racial restrictive covenants.

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music features a wide range of musical performances by various artists who have impacted the popular culture of today, as well as an on-site restaurant that serves food from many different cuisine styles. Numerous soul music acts have made their home in the Museum, including the Temptations, Scott Weiland, interference, and more. The Stax Music Academy offers classes and training for both new and experienced artists. The Academy offers classes such as Breakcore, Dance, Drum Instruction, and Music Theory, as well as workshops for students interested in voice over applications, production work, and video artistry. If you’re looking for a place to experience America’s rich history of music, or just want to see what goes on behind the scenes when major label companies are bringing together top artist for the ultimate record deal, then the Stax Museum of American Soul Music may be a perfect place for you to visit!

Enjoy Mud Island River Park in Memphis

Mud island river park
Thomas R Machnitzki, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mud Island River Park is a natural park that is located in the heart of Memphis. It was designed and built by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is the second-largest park in the city of Memphis. It is located near the south end of the lake on the southern tip of the island and has been open to the public since 1982. It is conveniently located within the Memphis area, about 1.2 miles away from downtown, and is surrounded by restaurants, museums, and even an aquatic center.

This park is home to a wide variety of wildlife including alligators, deer, numerous turtles, a variety of birds, several varieties of mammals, among other species. The most notable feature of this park is the three large groves of hemlock and pine trees that line the banks of the Mississippi River. It is also home to a unique collection of manatees, as well as many other reptiles, amphibians, and corals.

Shelby Farms Park

Shelby Farms Park Memphis TN
Thomas R Machnitzki, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Many Memphis residents live in and near the city of Shelby Farms in Southeast Memphis. This community features beautiful homes, shopping, eating, working, and recreation opportunities in addition to its beautiful landscape. This neighborhood was designed around an ideal river valley setting, and the homes are built to stand up to any kind of weather – whether it is sunny rainy, snowing, or sunny, you will find a home here that can suit your lifestyle and needs. Public parks such as Shelby Farms Park really play a vital role in making a more just and equitable community, and all are welcome here! Whether you play in the Park on your own, on wheels, off the swings, or in the cool shade, Shelby Farms Park has things for everybody.

One thing that is unique about this community is that it is home to some of the finest private, state-of-the-art fitness clubs and workout facilities in all of Tennessee. The numerous sports clubs that make up the membership of Shelby Farms Park include The Southtown Athletic Club, The Athletic Club of Shelby Farms, The Country Club of Shelby Farms, and The Blue Grass Club of Shelby Farms. With locations in both North Memphis and West Memphis, the various fitness centers provide a variety of options for participants of all fitness levels. These fitness clubs also offer a host of recreational opportunities for residents who live in and around this amazing community.

An Introduction to Elmwood Cemetery

Elmwood Cemetery Chapel
WillyBearden, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historic Elmwood Cemetery is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and is one of several burial locations for the Residents of Memphis. It was founded in 18 52 as one of the very first urban cemeteries in the entire South. Although it was intended to be a mass ground for all burials, it has grown into a beautiful 3-acre lot containing the graves of many city residents who have passed away.

This historic cemetery has a wide variety of plots from which to choose. There are historical cemeteries designed solely for African Americans, while others are designed for those who may not have originally belonged to any particular racial group. Regardless of what type of plot you prefer, there is sure to be a plot that is perfect for your personal needs in terms of size and design. The area is serviced by numerous public schools and churches and is one of the most ethnically diverse places to live. Many people buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis are of African descent and this has added to the richness of this cultural landmark.

Pink Palace Museum In Memphis

Pink Palace Museum Memphis TN
Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tennessee, is a fine example of twentieth century art and culture. The pink granite facade of the building exudes elegance and beauty. It attracts thousands of visitors every year who enjoy the collection of artifacts and fine examples of African and Middle Eastern artwork. In addition to this, the museum also houses one of the largest collections of dinosaur bones found anywhere in the world.

The Museum of Science & History comprises two main sections: a science center and a history museum. The pink palace museum in Memphis, Tennessee, features permanent exhibits ranging from anthropology to chemistry to ecology and from genetics to zoology. Over 240,000 visitors visit the museum every year. Apart from its well-loved African and Middle Eastern collection, the museum has a replica of Stone Age fortifications, The Aquarium, Medieval Castle and an interactive aquarium, which are visited by a number of families, schools and professionals.

Memphis Riverboats

Riverboat Cruises, Memphis Queen Riverboat, Memphis

When you book your trip on the Memphis riverboats, you’ll also have the option of taking a day-long tour through some of the most important historic areas in the area. Some of the key places include the former city hall and courthouse, some of the old plantations still operating today, and the beautiful Riverwalk that link several areas of the river. The Riverwalk makes looking at the many attractions in the area very convenient because it goes right down the middle of the river. It’s an easy and fun way to get a look at all of the sights and experience some good dining and good shopping as well.

Memphah Zoo and Aquarium

The Memphis Zoo, situated in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee, houses more than 3,000 animals including more than 500 species of mammals. Established in April 1906, the museum was a key tenant of Overton Park in Memphis for over a century. Today it serves as one of the major attractions in the metropolitan area and is known for having one of the finest collections of mammals in the world. The Memphis Zoo also includes a dinosaur exhibit, a floodway conservation center, a nature center, a recreation center, a children’s zoo and a marine aquarium. The zoo is currently in the process of adding an “Aquarium of the Americas” to its existing exhibits.

One of the most popular zoo tours offered is the “Morphology of Man,” which traces the history of man through the species that he has domesticated and through his relationship with other animals. The tour show the information about each species, and the audience is encouraged to ask questions by selecting specific animals from the slide show. In the early 1900s a round barn may been used for housing monkeys in the Memphis Zoo; this building is still used today as a habitat for many monkeys. A round barn is built of wood with several platforms at different levels, allowing the monkeys to move around freely without bumping into the sides or bumping into the walls of the cage.

Throughout the evening you will see many exotic animals such as alligators, snakes, turtles and lemurs being exhibited in the various exhibits, and you will be allowed to feed some of these animals by purchasing their preferred treats. The round-roof structure gives the visitors a feeling that they are at the zoo, but being taken into another world where they can see different species of wild animals. If you enjoy wine, you will love dining at the cafe located on the opposite side of the zoo, where you can enjoy complimentary wines from four different wineries. The Memphah Zoo and Aquarium make sure that all of the guests have a wonderful time during their stay at this fine establishment.


Graceland mansion
Bjoertvedt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Graceland is a famous mansion on a massive estate in Memphis, Tennessee, known as the residence of former major pop star Elvis Presley. His daughter, Lisa Marie Presley has been the sole owner of Graceland ever since his untimely death in 1977. The Presley clan developed Graceland into an internationally acclaimed theme park that features a number of attractions aimed at children. In addition to numerous restaurants, video rental shops and a casino, Graceland is also home to the largest private collection of martial arts weapons in the world. It is also the site of numerous Elvis Presley film shoots and productions including an audio-visual presentation entitled “Graceland: The Cutting Cholesterol Life of Elvis”, a documentary as well as a series of movies and TV specials.

Beale Street

Beale Street in Memphis, TN
WillyBearden, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beale Street is a historic street in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, that runs between the Mississippi River and Main Street, a distance of about 1.8 miles. Beale Street is important in the history of blues history, and in today’s cultural history. It is also known as the artery that blues musicians traveled through as they made their way from the clubs of St. Louis and Chicago to Memphis and New Orleans. It was a central route for musicians who were traveling to Memphis for the first time, as well as a route for many who came back to the area after their time in New Orleans.

Beale Street has always been an important part of the African-American community in Memphis, but in recent years it has become one of the fastest growing sections of the general population. Beale Street is where you will find some of the oldest and most established African-American owned businesses in town. Many of these businesses have been here for many years, and they do a roaring business on the weekends. Many are family owned and operate out of the same building that the beale restaurant is now operating out of.

Overton Park

Overton Park is an impressive large public park in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee; its main attraction is the historic RiverWalk which links the eastern part of the park to the downtown area. The park also includes the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Zoo, the Memphis College of Art, the Rainbow Water Park, theippi Outdoor Theater, and several other attractions. The park has been preserved and is one of the best landscaped in all of Memphis.

The majority of Overton Park’s historical value comes from the river walk that runs along its entire length. Walking along the banks of the Chattahoochee River will give you a breathtaking view of the historic Overton Park. In addition to the riverwalk, many events and special events take place at the park grounds zoo. In addition to the traditional zoo games and rides, visitors can enjoy the butterfly show or watch a pettin

Tom Lee Park

Tom Lee Park Memphis TN

Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com)
, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tom Lee Park, also known as Bywater Park, is a public park consisting of a natural park with an outdoor swimming pool. It is located to the southwest corner of downtown Memphis, Tennessee. For more than fifty years, this park has provided a unique venue for community events, sports and recreation, nature observation, bird watching, fitness testing, hiking and biking trails. The entire facility was designed and constructed by renowned landscape architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who is widely considered to be one of the country’s leading landscape architects.

Tom Lee Park is part of an approximately twenty-seven-square-mile park system along the edges of metropolitan Memphis that was planned, developed and is managed by the City of Memphis and the Parks and Recreation Department. The park is located directly to the west of downtown Memphis, spanning about one mile of prime riverfront property on the west side of Memphis. Surrounding the park are about thirty acres of Preserve lands that were designated in honor of civil war Rear Admiral Tom Lee. The park features several buildings that were designed by prominent landscape architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Roy Pierron and Frick. This includes the Lee Building, Lee Pavilion, Lee Terrace and a memorial fountain that are dedicated to the late Rear Admiral Tom Lee. Additionally, the park features the Audubon Society building and a Hilton Grandstaff Landscape Building.

The Children’s Museum of Memphis

Children's Museum Memphis TN
Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Children’s Museum of Memphis features interactive exhibits, interactive games and museums for the whole family. The museum was founded in 1958 and was designed by Dr. Robert M. Aldrich. The museum is housed in a historic landmark building that served as the former headquarters for two industries: printing and metal working. It has two major components: a children’s museum and an interactive museum.

The Museum has two main areas: the Museum Shop, which offer a wide range of items such as photo albums and greeting cards, books and DVD’s about the history of Memphis; and the Science Center, which features an aquarium, a planetarium, and several interactive exhibits to inspire children and adults.

The Dixon Gallery & Gardens

Dixon Gallery and Gardens Memphis TN
Thomas R Machnitzki, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dixon Gallery & Gardens are a fine arts museum in Memphis, Tennessee, dedicated to the artistically inclined. Established in 1976, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens are presently an art museum with over 17 acres of beautiful gardens, built on a piece of land that was formerly a plantation. The gardens are designed to replicate the greenery of plantations from the past and are surrounded by an archipelago of sculptures and paintings of nature and Americana. A portion of the garden is devoted to the Botanical Garden of Memphis, designed to promote unity among the flora and fauna of the entire region by providing a central location for research and viewing collections of botanical specimens. Partaking in the development of the garden were some of the city’s most notable architects such as Robert T. Lewis, Jr., Emery Goldsmith and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Sun Studio

Sun Studios
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The Sun Studio was built by rock-and-roll icon Sam Phillips, who was born and raised in segregated Memphis. The building which bears his name has been home to the Phillipses for the last 55 years. As one of the founding members of Sun Records, Sam began the recording business in this facility. In later years, Sam and his brother Jerry developed Jive Records and then spawned their respective record labels; Geeshic, Reebok, Bad Boyz, and C-tone.

Sam’s recording place is still located on Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. It was constructed in a style quite similar to the Sun Records building which is now a history museum. Originally, it was known as Memphis Recording Service (or simply Memphis Recording), sharing the exact same building with the Sun Records firm. Many notable musicians and recording artists have recorded there including the King Curtis, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, Johnny Jenkins, Jack Wilkins, and numerous others, just to name a few.

Memphis Botanic Garden – A Wonderful Blend of Green & Scenic Beauty

Memphis Botanic Garden sign Memphis TN

Thomas R Machnitzki (thomasmachnitzki.com)
, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Memphis Botanic Garden is an ornamental botanical garden located at 750 Cherry Street, Memphis, Tennessee. It is one of the largest such gardens in the country. It was established in 1968 and is one of the major components of the botanical landscape design plan designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This landscape plan included five regional parks, two national parks and two major city parks.

The Memphis Botanic Garden has been able to keep up with this ever changing landscape by adding numerous additions and beautiful scenery that attract people from near and far. It has been hosting educational programs for children, teenagers and adults alike since 1969. Programs range from nature programs to cultural programs and everything in between, all designed to help kids, teens and adults have fun while learning about the beautiful greenery of this unique city.

The Brooks Museum

The Brooks Museum is an extraordinary art museum located in Memphis, Tennessee. The Brooks Museum, which originally was founded in 1916, now is the largest and oldest art museum in the state. It houses one of the largest collections of European art ever assembled in one location. The museum is privately funded, and its permanent collection comprises more than one million paintings, sculptures, and prints. Some of the more popular pieces of art include The Prodigal God, Beloved, Saint Peter, Madonna and Child with Snails, Saint Anthony, Donatella and Cupid, and Madam Tussauds.

Olive Branch City Park

An extremely popular attraction, the main feature of the Olive Branch City Park is a three-mile stretch of beautiful oak trees which provide a lush canopy over the park. This unique feature provides a first class venue for various activities such as bird watching, hiking, picnic tables, basketball courts, equestrian activity areas and, of course, the ever enticing water fountains. The most popular area of interest is Main Pond which is a spectacular two hundred and fifty yard long greenway that snakes through the center of the park. The pond area is surrounded by numerous picnic tables and pavilions, which are scattered throughout the park. It is the perfect setting for weddings, parties and family reunions. On a cool evening, the entire park glows with the soft glow of hundreds of candles as they dance across the moonlit waters of Main Pond.

Autone Park

Auto Zone Park is an indoor professional baseball stadium located in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee and is home to both the Memphis Redbirds of Major League Baseball and the Memphis 901 FC of the Southern League of Professional Baseball. The Redbirds are also an independent Triple-A affiliation of Major League Baseball. The venue has also been used as a location for major league soccer matches, as well as for concerts, corporate events, and film productions.

Auto Zone Park features an outdoor hitting cage, clubhouses, batting cages, picnic facilities, Wi-Fi internet access, and suites for admission. The facility also offers television screens for either the home team or the opposing teams and a restaurant with a full service bar and waitstaff. All of these options provide a comfortable atmosphere for baseball games. Auto Zone Park has also transformed into a premier destination and the owner hopes to expand the venue in the near future.

Things to Do in Mississippi River Park

If you are visiting with your family, one of the best things you can do is go to Mississippi River Park. The park is one of the best destinations in the area and is loaded with activities that every member of the family can enjoy. You can go to the attractions that range from the boardwalk to the Riverside pond. There are also activities for children ranging from swimming to fishing.

One of the most exciting ways to spend a day is to take part in the historic Mississippi river museum. The Mississippi river museum is filled with original artifacts, artwork, and architecture that showcase the rich culture of the Mississippi delta. If you are looking for a great way to spend the afternoon, you should take the family to downtown airport, which is just a few blocks away from the Mississippi river museum. You can spend time walking along the Mississippi river while listening to the rushing water of the Mississippi.

What should you not miss in Memphis?

The 25 best things to do in Memphis, Tennessee

  • National Civil Rights Museum
  • Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art
  • Autone Park
  • FedEx Forum
  • Soul Music With the Stax Museum of American Soul Music
  • Mud Island River Park
  • Shelby Farms Park
  • Elmwood Cemetery
  • Pink Palace Museum
  • Memphis Riverboats
  • Memphah Zoo and Aquarium
  • Graceland
  • Beale Street
  • Overton Park
  • Tom Lee Park
  • The Children’s Museum of Memphis
  • The Dixon Gallery & Gardens
  • Sun Studio
  • Memphis Botanic Garden
  • The Brooks Museum
  • Olive Branch City Park
  • Things to Do in Mississippi River Park

Author: Locations Unknown

Locations Unknown is a travel resource that covers destinations all around the world. Content is written by several freelance writers/travelers based on their own experiences and/or researching the web.

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