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10 Of The Best Things To Do In Memphis, Tennessee

TheTravel logo TheTravel 9/23/2022 Sera Parris
© Provided by TheTravel

Memphis, Tennessee, should be a must on any history buff's or music lover's travel bucket list as it is the birthplace of blues, soul, and rock 'n' roll music. Beloved legends like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King walked the streets and honed their craft to perfection here—and that's just part of Memphis's story. This city is also brimming with soulful culture, history, one-of-a-kind attractions, delicious eats, classy hotels, and more. Not only is there a little something for everyone, but overall this iconic city is also, simply put, a good time waiting to happen. That said, here are ten of the best things to do in Memphis, Tennessee.

Related: 10 Tennessee Fall Trips That Aren't In The Smoky Mountains

See The Home Of The King

One of the best things to do in Memphis is to see the famous Graceland and pay homage to 'The King.' The former home of Elvis Presley, this Memphis landmark is a larger-than-life mansion open for tours—guided, self-guided, and family-friendly. Once visitors get a glimpse into this musical legend's home and its stately grounds, they can head on over to the various gift shops for souvenirs, Elvis CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, other themed apparel, and more. As a bonus, if you want to take a tour of where the musical magic happened for Elvis and other famed musicians, then add a trip to Sun Studio in downtown Memphis to your to-do list.

Head To The Stax Museum Of American Soul Music

Yet another Memphis treat for music lovers is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. This expansive museum pays tribute to incredible musicians and artists that recorded classics within this building's very walls. Visitors can enjoy an amazing collection of over 2,000 artifacts, films, interactive exhibits, the company's Wall of Sound, and galleries. Also on display here is Isaac Hayes' shiny custom Cadillac Eldorado, equipped with a television, refrigerated mini-bar, 24-carat gold exterior trim, and white fur carpeting. So come check out this incredible place—it is fun for the whole family.

Stop By Beale Street

For explorers looking to get in on all the fun in this city, head to Beale Street. From unique novelty items and kiddies games to art and rare vinyl, Beale Street is a shopper's paradise with its various boutiques, music memorabilia, and all things Memphis. But that's not all; with ample dining options, southern charm, and lively blues-infused nightlife (Rum Boogie Café, BB King's Blues Club, and many more), Beale Street is the place to be if you're looking to have a fantastic time.

Check Out Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art

This art museum is a great daytime activity with an inviting atmosphere both inside and out. With over 9,000 phenomenal pieces of artwork, temporary exhibitions, renowned photography expos, multimedia art, and more, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the perfect spot for culture, art, and history lovers alike. The state's largest and oldest art museum (built in 1916) also has a few lovely outdoor spaces with one-of-a-kind sculptures, greenery, street art, and flowing fountains, so once you get done exploring this expansive and thought-provoking art space, make sure you check out the grounds.

Spend Some Time At Shelby Farms Park

Speaking of must-see outdoor spaces in Memphis, spending some time at Shelby Farms Park, when the weather is nice, is an absolute must for nature lovers. This park is definitely kid-friendly, with more than 20 bodies of water, 4,500+ acres of green space, the unique Woodland Discovery Playground, and the Water Play Sprayground. There are also ample activities for adults and adventurers, including zip lines, water sports rentals, hiking trails, nature trails, biking paths, and several routes for horseback riding. Parkgoers will have no trouble spending all day in this recreational haven—especially with its visitor center, picnic areas, restaurants, food vendors, water stations, and public facilities.

Take A Stroll Through Victorian Village

Victorian Village is a stunning community in Memphis with colorful 19th-century mansions that reminds visitors of the golden age. Many of these impressive abodes are, in fact, private residences. But, the good news is that more than a few homes have been converted into museums. Here, village goers can marvel at historical artifacts and these stately homes. For those looking to get a little more up-close-and-personal with Victorian Village—take a tour of the immaculately preserved Mallory-Neely House or the Woodruff-Fontaine House (rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Mollie Fontaine). A bonus, if you opt for the haunted house, paranormal seekers can learn all about this ghost and her fascinating past and grab a bite to eat at the Mollie Fontaine Lounge just across the street.

Day Trip To Mud Island River Park

While visiting this iconic city, a trip to Mud Island is likely in order, especially for the outdoorsy types. This small peninsula is surrounded by the Mississippi River and has a quaint Wolf River Harbor that attracts quite a few visitors annually. The actual park itself, River Park, was created in 1982 and is easily accessible by foot, thanks to a pedestrian bridge that connects the island with the Civic Center Plaza. There is also an amphitheater for outdoor concerts, a Mississippi River museum, pedal boat rentals, nature trails, and so much more.

Pop In The Peabody Hotel

If you haven't heard about The Peabody Hotel in Memphis before, it is possibly the most famous hotel in the city. Steeped in over 80 years of tradition, this lavish hotel is a true delight for visitors and guests. Besides being a posh establishment, The Peabody hosts an adorable daily duck march (at 11 am and 5 pm) whereby resident mallards walk to their fountain area via their own red carpet. In addition to this must-see march, The Peabody keeps up with the changing times with its rooftop parties. So even if you can't snag a room or suite at this magnificent hotel, make sure you pop in for the events.

Visit The National Civil Rights Museum And Lorraine Motel

A visit to The National Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel should also be on your itinerary. Not only does this outing offer visitors much-needed insight into the struggle for civil rights over five centuries, but it also highlights 40 new films, oral histories, 260 artifacts, interactive media, and more. Museum-goers can take a tour through US history—starting from slavery, the country's Civil War, the rise of Jim Crow, and the fight for civil rights to the present-day impact of it all. Notable exhibitions include The Rise of Jim Crow, Standing Up by Sitting Down, The Year They Walked, and a stop at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. had his final moments.

Related: When Visiting Memphis, Touring The Lorraine Motel Is Something That Should Not Be Missed

Catch The Trolley

A great way to see many of the sights and get around is via the MATA. Since 1930, this convenient way of town has run intermittently, offering visitors, locals, and people just passing through a fun way to experience downtown Memphis. In fact, the Main Street Line, which was recommissioned not too long ago, is now one of the best activities to get into while visiting. This is especially true when all you need to do is hop on the trolley for a quick and affordable way to get to Beale Street, The Peabody Hotel, the National Civil Rights Museum, and many other major attractions.

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