Did you know Memphis’ name translates to “Enduring and Beautiful”?
With the second-highest population in Tennessee, Memphis is known as the “Home of the Blues & Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll,”.
Memphis is located near the Mississippi River in the state’s southwest and it’s a great vacation spot.
Explore Graceland. One of the most visited destinations in the city. In fact, in terms of yearly visitation, it is only surpassed by the White House.
Then there’s the neon-lit Beale Street, where legends like W. C. Handy and B.B. King gave performances and contributed to the survival of the Memphis Blues musical genre.
There’s also the zoo with over 3,500 animals from 500 species.
You wouldn’t want to miss Memphis in May, one of the greatest events in Memphis.
There is so much to explore and do in Memphis. Therefore, these are the best things you should do to have a perfect and nice time in Memphis.
Things to do in Memphis
1. National Civil Rights Museum
If you are in Memphis, then one of the most iconic places you need to visit is the national civil rights museum.
It is a great museum showing the travesty of slavery in America to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The museum opens with a 15-minute video that begins in Africa.
Asides from the history of slavery in America, the life and final resting place of Dr. King is one of the main draws of this museum.
Similarly, the Lorraine Motel building, where Martin Luther King was assassinated, now serves as the museum.
Through engaging multi-user, multi-touch interactive, you are taken through five centuries of history and will learn, of course.
Overall, the museum is a beautiful testimony to the amazing life MLK lived and to many of the women, teens, and other men and allies of the history of the United States who have fought for our civil rights and freedoms.
So this is a must-see as a reminder to welcome change and, most importantly, to welcome freedom for all people.
Plan to spend around 2-3 hours so as to really read and absorb this experience.
Address: 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
2. Memphis Zoo
If you love seeing animals or are a fan of visiting zoos, then you will love the Memphis Zoo. In fact, you don’t even need to be a zoo lover to find this place fascinating.
Founded in 1906, this zoo sits on more than 70 acres of space and despite the zoo’s large space, it still maintains its organization and animal visibility.
When you visit this magnificent zoo, keep an eye out for some of the most unusual and amazing creatures from your list of favorites.
There are different sections for different animals. To get up close to giraffes, elephants, rhinos, antelope, and ostriches, enter the African Veldt area.
Pandas with fur live in the China region, whereas Komodo dragons live in the Dragon’s Lair.
You can also witness the variety of aquatic animals housed in the tanks by visiting the aquarium.
As you go through the park, look out for penguins, monkeys, and tropical birds.
So whichever your preferred animal is, you are most likely to find them here.
There’s also a fun place for children of all ages.
You find five different slides of different sizes for all ages, plenty of spray features with a large dump bucket, a nicely sized toddler area, bathrooms, and lots of tables and chairs.
There are also a few concessions, however, you can bring in your food and drinks.
The Memphis Zoo is open every day and is situated in Midtown Memphis’ Overton Park.
It is open from 9 am to 6 pm during the summer while the zoo is open to guests in the winter from 9 am to 5 pm.
Address: 2000 Prentiss Pl, Memphis, TN 38112, United States
3. Beale Street
Get ready to be wowed by one of the most famous streets in America, Beale Street.
Located in the middle of downtown Memphis, the street is one of the hippest areas in Memphis, with its blazing music and lively streets.
Come enjoy three blocks filled with bars, eateries, and businesses that serve as a fusion of gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and the delta blues.
Grab a drink and enjoy the music coming from establishments, including the Hard Rock Cafe, Silky O’Sullivan’s, B.B. King’s Blues Club, and more.
Furthermore, because Beale Street takes its music seriously, several of these clubs host late-night jam sessions.
Asides from that, it is one of the most recognizable streets in America, it is also home and the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and blues.
So even though it has a reputation for loud music and late-night revelry, it is actually much more than that.
If the party scene isn’t really your style, or if you’re visiting with kids or young adults, you may still take advantage of Beale Street’s exciting, interesting, and delectable daytime activities.
Beale Street is an absolute must-see when visiting Memphis, and you should definitely visit.
Address: Memphis, TN, United States
4. Southland Casino
Did you know Tennessee frowns at gambling?
Despite the fact that gambling is growing more and more widespread across the nation, Tennessee’s gambling laws remain fairly strict.
But because Memphis city is on the borders of Arkansas and Mississippi, the city has found a way around the rules.
Therefore, you will find Southland Casino in West Memphis, which is a city that lies outside the state lines.
Visiting the casino is really a great experience.
Although the museum lies in West Memphis, however, it is a short drive and the feeling once inside is Vegas-type.
Along with a 113,000-square-foot casino facility that has 2,400 slot machines and 60 live table games, there is also a sparkling, blue-glass high-rise hotel.
Weekends are traditionally filled with live entertainment; you can enjoy a cocktail while listening to comedians or vocalists.
The buffet at the Kitchens, Sports Bar & Grill, Ignite Steakhouse, The Fry House, and The Grind are some of the restaurants available here.
Address: 1550 Ingram Blvd, West Memphis, AR 72301, United States
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5. The Memphis Pyramid
Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Memphis pyramid is one of the largest pyramids in the world.
The story behind the pyramid is mixed, yet fascinating.
The Great American Pyramid was intended to provide the Tennessee city with a historical architectural landmark. Instead, a sizable sporting goods store was built there.
Furthermore, some Memphians thought that the Pyramid would be the southern city’s equivalent of St. Louis Arch, bringing in large numbers of tourists.
However, hardly much of the building’s original intentions were still in place when the 321-foot tall structure debuted as a basketball arena in 1991.
Basketball greats, including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, played at the Pyramid over the course of 12 seasons.
Although the Memphis Pyramid was previously a site for sporting events and concerts, today it has been transformed into a sizable plaza for dining, shopping, and housing.
You may unwind in the hotel, eat at the restaurants, and shop till you drop into the maze of shops and boutiques that resemble a mall.
Address: Memphis, TN, United States
6. Graceland Mansion
If you are an Elvis fan, then you need not be told to explore the Graceland mansion.
One of the most recognizable structures in the US is the former residence of Elvis Presley.
The living room, his parent’s bedroom, the kitchen, the TV room, the pool room, the iconic Jungle Room, and more are all included in the Graceland Mansion tour.
The self-guided tour of the mansion grounds starts with a shuttle from across the street. It is simple to follow using given pads that play audio through a headset.
The audio can be played back or muted as desired, and each room contains new information on Elvis.
The foyer of Graceland Mansion will be your first stop inside. From here, you can see Elvis’ living room, dining room, stairways, and mother’s bedroom.
The famous Jungle Room, with its emerald green shag carpeting, Polynesian vibe, and exotically carved wood, can be explored going upstairs.
Although these rooms feature decor from all of Elvis Presley’s Graceland eras, the appearance is predominantly from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.
You can purchase tickets in advance or upon arrival.
Address: 3764 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, United States
7. Elvis Statue
Loved the Graceland tour? Then, if you’re on Beale Street, stop and see this good statue depiction of a young Elvis.
The first bronze statue of Elvis in the world was installed in 1980.
However, the monument was too delicate for the weather, and visitors tore the tassels off of Elvis’s outfit and removed the guitar strings from the statue.
In 1994, it was demolished and relocated indoors to the Tennessee Welcome Center in the heart of Memphis.
Another bronze statue was built in 1997. However, it was built to be stronger than the previous statue.
The statue is a wonderful piece of art to remind us of a wonderful past. The statue is also an amazing place to pose for a picture. So get your camera out.
Address: 115 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
If you are a sports fan, make sure don’t miss FedExForum, especially pro basketball and college basketball games.
This forum is located at the foot of Beale Street and is the ideal venue for concerts, sporting events, and any activities that require stadium-style seating.
Furthermore, it is home to the Memphis Grizzlies and the University of Memphis Tigers.
Events like basketball, boxing, wrestling, ice shows, and more may be seen at FedExForum.
The arena also offers a range of catering choices from Levy Restaurants.
Address: 191 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
9. Memphis Botanic Garden
Escape the city hustle and bustle, and come spend some time with nature.
With its 23 specialty gardens on a 96-acre site, the garden offers visitors and residents of the Mid-South a peaceful natural retreat in the middle of Memphis.
In fact, the opportunity to meander through nature, the enormous gardens, and the chance to leave your worries are what make this place truly fascinating.
Popular attractions include the well-known Seijaku-en, Japanese Garden of Tranquility, with its famous red drum bridge and other cultural elements.
The Garden also hosts a variety of unique events and programs throughout the year, such as the Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series, monthly wine tastings, family-friendly activities, art exhibits, classes, and workshops.
Address: 750 Cherry Rd, Memphis, TN 38117, United States
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10. Shelby Farms Park
Want outdoor activities? Then take a break from Beale Street and seek thrills at Shelby farms park.
Shelby Farms Park is a 4,500-acre playground involving trails and different bodies of water.
In fact, Shelby Farms Park has grown to be a well-liked place for residents and visitors.
Hiking and bicycling are some of the popular activities visitors do here. And if you don’t have your own wheels, the park rents bicycles.
The Shelby Farms Greenline, a famous 10.65-mile paved trail for pedestrians and cyclists, is a part of the park’s trail network and links Cordova and Memphis. You should try the trail.
There are also numerous water bodies in the Park.
At Hyde Lake’s boathouse, visitors can hire kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards or launch their own.
There are also several options for fishing in the park’s more than 20 water features.
With only 20 minutes from Downtown Memphis, Shelby Farms Park is a nice place for an outdoor lover.
Address: 6903 Great View Dr. N, Memphis, TN 38134, United States
11. Sun Studio
Say you only have the opportunity to visit one music museum in Memphis, then undoubtedly, this has to be it.
In fact, Sun Studio is the place to be if you want to feel like you’ve actually traveled back in time and are getting to stand where important events occurred.
Come take a 45-minute guided tour of Sun Studio, the world’s most renowned recording studio and the home of rock and roll.
Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and countless other legendary musicians began their famous careers at Sun Studio.
Follow in their footsteps as you learn about the events that made 706 Union Avenue the home of rock ‘n’ roll.
The tour is authentic, unexpected, thrilling, and from the heart rather than polished and commercialized.
You will get a coupon to use in the fantastic Sun Studio store in addition to taking advantage of the studio’s guided tour.
Numerous awesome products are for sale, including apparel, collectibles, posters, and more.
Although the structure is old, with tiny rooms and low ceilings; however, it all adds to the overall feeling and authenticity.
Address: 706 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103-3218
12. Putt-Putt Golf & Games, Memphis
This is one of the best leisure facilities in the city as it features everything from Go-karts to batting cages to arcade games.
Come and let loose your inner child in a flurry of games, rides, events, and activities.
Go-karts, multi-level Lasertron Lasertag, Putt-Putt golf, batting cages, Hologate virtual reality, and a ropes course are some of the facilities you will be able to enjoy
Max flight, a virtual roller coaster, and kids’ rides are also all included in this 40-acre family entertainment complex.
Play a game of laser tag or enter the “hologate” virtual reality experience.
They also provide birthday packages to suit any budget.
Address: 5484 Summer Ave, Memphis, TN 38134, United States
13. Mud Island Park, Memphis
Offshore from Memphis, Tennessee’s city center, in the Mississippi River is a place called Mud Island.
The park offers spectacular views of the Memphis skyline, a scale model of the Lower Mississippi River, and a 50-foot “MEMPHIS” sign.
However, mud island isn’t without its own uniqueness and effizy. To get to the mud island, you have to board an aerial tram.
You might recognize the aerial tram that takes you to Mud Island from the Tom Cruise film “The Firm”.
On Mud Island, there is a scale model of the Mississippi River that you can walk along to observe how the river changes over time.
Additionally, the 10,000-year history of the Mississippi River is examined by the Mississippi River Museum.
The music of the Delta blues, New Orleans jazz, early rock ‘n’ roll and Elvis are highlighted in the Memphis Blues exhibition.
From dawn until sunset, Mud Island Park is open every day.
Address: 125 N Front St, Memphis, TN 38103-1713
14. Dixon Gallery & Gardens
If taking a leisurely stroll, getting some great photos, and viewing some famous art sounds like fun to you, look no further.
Established in 1976, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens is a fine art gallery and public garden situated in the center of Memphis.
The Dixon houses a permanent collection of nearly 2,000 items, including famous French Impressionist paintings and sizeable holdings of German and English porcelain, as well as a variety of temporary exhibitions of fine and decorative arts.
In fact, the finest impressionist and post-impressionist holdings outside of Europe can be found in the permanent collection,
The Dixon’s 17-acre estate is also a renowned public garden and accredited arboretum.
Despite the short amount of walking required, both the outdoor and inside tours are worthwhile.
The artwork and memorabilia inside are equally lovely and fascinating as the surroundings.
Address: 4339 Park Ave, Memphis, TN 38117, United States
15. Fire Museum of Memphis
Travel back in time and experience firefighting from the horse-drawn era to the present state.
The Fire Museum is the country’s top interactive fire museum and is one of the places you shouldn’t miss in Memphis.
So, come test your ability to locate a safe exit in the event of a fire.
You will also be able to find out about the most disastrous fires in Memphis’s past and learn about the illustrious past of the first African-American firemen in Memphis.
The Fire Museum also frequently hosts children’s birthday celebrations. However, the Fire Museum may also host gatherings of adults.
This museum is fantastic for people of all ages and covers a lot, so definitely recommend it.
With a fascinating history and beautiful exhibits, the museum is one of the hottest(pun intended) attractions in Memphis.
Address: 118 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
16. Stax Museum of American Soul Music
In and around Memphis, there are a lot of music-related museums, and they are pretty great to visit. So if you loved sun studios, then you will also appreciate Stax.
Sun Studios, which is small and original, and the Stax Museum, which is enormous and reconstructed, are like two opposite ends of a spectrum.
In fact, music fans ought to schedule time for both.
The various performers that passed through Stax and the confluence of forces that led to the birth of soul music are all covered in great detail by Stax.
Although Stax has many events, the museum goes beyond those to discuss the wider impact of soul music on a variety of other subjects.
First, the museum opens with a movie that serves to explain, summarize, and create an atmosphere.
Then you work your way through the label’s history, starting with the first stars on the label and the circumstances surrounding the label’s founding.
You discover lesser-known yet crucial performers who had a major impact on the music industry.
You also get knowledge about well-known performers, including Ike and Tina Turner, and Isaac Hayes.
Other artists highlighted here include Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, and lots more.
One special thing about the museum is that it concentrates on the history of the setting, the music, and the eras around Stax recordings rather than just music in general.
The museum’s main section ends with a section of changing displays.
In addition to everything, you also get to see Isaac Hayes’ 24-karat gold-plated Cadillac!
Address: 926 E McLemore Ave, Memphis, TN 38126, United States
17. Crystal Shrine Grotto
How about a visit to a cemetery? And no, it’s not just any cemetery.
Located in Tennessee’s Memorial Park Cemetery, the Crystal Shrine Grotto is situated in the middle of the grounds.
But don’t worry, this section of the cemetery is empty of graves.
During the Great Depression, the artist Dionicio Rodriguez was in charge of enhancing the cemetery’s grounds.
On the property, he constructed a cave that was nearly 60 feet long and adorned the interior with artificial crags made of cement and quartz crystals that shine when exposed to sunlight.
Numerous scenes depicting the conception, life, and death of Jesus can be seen inside the cave.
Bring your camera in as you will experience an ethereal wonder and a pretty picturesque view.
It’s in a cemetery, after all, so the outer vegetation and water features are tranquil and quiet, while the interior is simultaneously odd and lovely.
Similarly, a fountain of youth, a wishing well, and fake animals surrounds the grotto.
There is also a twisted concrete tree that visitors can climb on or sit in.
Every day that the cemetery is open, the Grotto is also open.
Address: 5668 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38120, United States
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18. The Children’s Museum of Memphis
A visit to the Children’s Museum is essential for families traveling to Memphis.
The children’s museum features interactive, hands-on kid-friendly exhibitions and activities.
The themes covered in the exhibits span from plumbing to health, recycling to home building, and finance to transportation.
Additionally, in the designated theater area, there are paintings, sculptures, weavings, puppets, and costumes for presenting plays.
Ride the restored 1909 Memphis Grand Carousel, climb a skyscraper, fly on the cool mist zipline, splash around in the water park, and more.
There is also a small gift shop, a brown bag area, and a cafe on the property.
The museum hosts unique events in addition to numerous activities for youngsters.
Address: 2525 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104, United States
19. Mississippi River
A paddle-wheeler trip is one of the best ways to discover the Mississippi River.
Grab your significant other or family and dance the night away on a dinner cruise.
The Mud Island River Park entry is just a short distance from the old cobblestones on the riverbank. So you can stop by and explore.
You can also stop by Tom Lee Park, a 33-acre riverfront park not too far from the Mississippi River.
Here, you can go biking, running, throwing Frisbees, or flying kites.
Grab your camera, set up a picnic, or relax on a park bench as you take in the spectacular vistas of the undulating river.
20. Mason Temple: Church of God in Christ World Headquarters
Ever been to the place Martin Luther King gave his last speech?
Built in 1941, this church is well known as the place where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.
However, MLK was killed the next day.
Bishop Charles Harrison Mason founded the Church of God in Christ and the church was named after him.
The main entrance, which is covered in beautifully dressed stone, still has some of its late art déco adornment.
The temple is situated on a complex comprising more than six buildings.
Along with the temple, you will see the John Lee Hall, Old Publishing House and Administration Building, and more.
The Church of God in Christ continues to function as the global headquarters of the Pentecostal movement.
So you can come, speak to God or pray, observe some me time, and do just about anything you would do in a church.
Address: 930 Mason St, Memphis, TN 38126, United States
21. Memphis Museum of Science & History
Are you a fan of science and history? If so, then you will love the Memphis Museum of Science and History.
You will get the opportunity to learn about Memphis’ natural and cultural history through its extensive collection of permanent displays.
The Pink Palace Museum was the previous name of this kid-friendly establishment before it became the Museum of Science & History.
It was constructed of pink Georgian marble in the early 1920s to house Clarence Saunders, a well-known Memphian.
Currently, it is a part of a sizable site that also includes a planetarium, an IMAX 3D theater, and a museum.
You can choose to visit one attraction at a time or all of them.
There are three ongoing displays at the museum. One focuses on the Mid-cultural South’s history and tells the tale of cotton, slavery, and the Civil War.
Another focuses on the Mid-natural South’s heritage, where you may discover more about the Mississippi River and the creatures that have lived there throughout history.
The third exhibit teaches visitors about the legendary Pink Palace.
Address: 3050 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38111, United States
22. The Arcade Restaurant
Located in downtown Memphis, the Arcade is a third-generation family-run restaurant.
In fact, this is the oldest restaurant in Memphis.
During the summer weekends, a lot of visitors visit this attractive location as it is iconic, and the fact that Elvis dined here before.
Along with the Elvis booth, their sweet potato pancakes have helped them become well known.
Breakfast is available all day, seven days a week, at this family-run establishment.
Specialty brunch and breakfast items are offered on Saturday and Sunday.
In addition, Arcade Restaurant has been highlighted in various motion pictures, television programs, and documentaries, as well as on The Travel Channel.
You are welcomed inside the restaurant by hand-made pizzas, home-cooked dishes, big breakfast plates, and a retro atmosphere.
Even though the restaurant may be one of Memphis’s older eateries, the food is always fresh, and the atmosphere is always lively.
Address: 540 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
23. A. Schwab
Aside from the arcade restaurant, another oldest places you can be in Memphis is A. Schwab.
The oldest business on Memphis’ Beale Street is A. Schwab’s.
If you can’t find anything at Schwab’s, you’re probably better off without it, reads the store’s motto. Is it true? Well, you are about to find out.
Everything from stick horses to old-fashioned confectionery to ukuleles may be found at A. Schwab.
There are several t-shirts, hats, and other presents on the ground floor.
You will also find other adorable gift things there, in addition to items having “Memphis” printed on them.
There is even a sizable soda fountain with a wide selection of drinks.
Additionally, if you go upstairs, you’ll see a type of museum that pays homage to the store’s and Memphis’ early years on half the floor.
Visit this store if you want to have that travel-into-the-past kind of feeling.
Address: 163 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
24. Peabody Hotel
Peabody hotel is one of Memphis’ most famous landmarks. The huge, square edifice that towers over the city’s core is well-known for its opulent luxury living.
Peabody is more than just a hotel; it’s an experience that will leave you with lifelong memories.
The Peabody continues the illustrious heritage of full-service hotels.
One fascinating sight you will come across here is the Peabody ducks as referred to by locals.
The hotel has a marble lobby with a live duck water fountain as its focal point that has been in numerous films and local ads.
Every day at 11 AM and 5 PM, ducks go through the hotel lobby as guests take pictures like they’re on a red carpet.
Address: 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
25. W. C. Handy House Museum
Memphis is home to quite some music icons and iconic structures. W. C. Handy is one of them.
Visit WC Handy’s Beale Street home from the turn of the century to learn about his modest beginnings.
During his stay in Memphis, W. C. Handy, the father of the blues, resided in this small home with his wife and 5 kids.
In addition, this house is known as a shotgun house because it is so tiny that a shotgun could fit through it.
You might not even notice it if you were to stroll by without seeing the sign.
It also underwent substantial renovations. In essence, it is one large room with white-painted walls, antiquities, and a few photos.
Address: 352 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, United States
26. Mallory-Neely House
For those who enjoy architecture and history, this is a must-do. In fact, with such unique decorations and content, you shouldn’t miss here.
Come view the lifestyles of the billionaires in the 1800s.
This majestic residence is one of the few historic buildings in Memphis that still maintain the majority of its original furnishings.
This 25-room palace, which dates back to 1852, is located in the center of the Victorian Village district.
A tour of this residence is one of the best things you can do in Memphis.
An educational history lecture about the owners and their life is given before the tour starts.
You will also witness a famous illustration of how the wealthy lived in Memphis during the Gilded Age at the Mallory-Neely House.
While there are many original pieces of furniture, you will notice some that have been repaired when you first enter.
The tour guide does an excellent job explaining the original artifacts in detail, even outlining which objects were bought at World Fairs.
The tour last around 75 minutes, so make sure you enjoy every bit of it.
Address: 652 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38105, United States
If you love anything entertainment, especially music, then visiting this “Home of the Blues & Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a no-brainer.