7 Riveting Things to Do in Memphis

Best known as the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, there are many fun things to do in Memphis. This city on the banks of the Mississippi River is a popular destination for people who are interested in both music and delicious food. With a wide selection of live music venues, restaurants and bars, the Blues City is one of the top places to go for evening excitement. However, there are also many other things to do in Memphis TN.

From the lush landscapes to the children’s museums, the city is a hotspot for people of all ages. Check out a few of these soulful and unique options.

1. Take a Trip Down Beale Street

This historic street covers about 2 miles between East Street and the Mississippi River. With an area of 27 acres, you can find many blues clubs, restaurants and other things to do in Memphis along Beale Street. Since its construction in 1841, the avenue has been a prime place for traveling musicians, especially during the 1920s and 1940s when blues and jazz performers took up residence. Although there was a period of decline in the 1960s, Beale Street has reemerged in the past few years.

Known as the most popular street in America, Beale Street is open to the public year-round. There are many different restaurants and bars for you to explore, including the Blues City Café, the Coyote Ugly Saloon, and the Tap Room. In addition, you will find the New Daisy Theatre, the Blues City General Store and Tater Red’s. Each of these locations has its own hours.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, hours vary per business.
  • Address: Beale Street, Memphis, TN 38103.

2. Sing into the Mic at Sun Studio

A trip to Memphis is incomplete without a stop at the iconic Sun Studio, the recording location opened in 1950 by Sam Phillips. This is where Elvis Presley made some of his most famous records. This history makes a visit to the studio one of the best things to do in Memphis. Now a museum, Sun Studio offers tours of the rooms where important rock ‘n’ roll was created, and you can even listen to some of those recording sessions. Check out the original posters and other pieces of memorabilia throughout the studio and the gift shop.

You can see the place that launched the careers of musical greats like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King every day between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. You should plan for at least 1.5 hours in the building. No children under the age of 5 years are permitted, but kids ages 5-11 years can enjoy free entry. Everyone over the age of 12 years pays $14.

  • Best for: Couples, families with children over 5.
  • Season: Open year-round, every day between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Guided tours leave at the bottom of every hour from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Address:  706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN.

3. Gaze at the Works in the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Take a break from the music side of things to do in Memphis and check out the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. As the oldest and largest art museum in Tennessee, this building has been housing impressive works since 1916. Roam the 29 different galleries, and you will find pieces in the museum’s permanent collection from artists such as Gainsborough, Pissarro, and Renoir. Be sure to check out the cylindrical extension completed in 1955 that adds even more visual impact to this Beaux-Arts style building.

In rainy or overly humid weather, this is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours wandering through the well-kept halls. Youth ages 7-17 years pay $3 to enter, and adults are just $7. All teachers and children ages 6 years and under are free.

  • Best for: Couples, children, families.
  • Season: Open year-round; the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, you can visit from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday or Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Address: 1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104.

4. Visit the National Civil Rights Museum

Opened in 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum serves to investigate the time period and the way it has shaped the freedom of people today. The museum building itself is the former Lorraine Motel, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Through a wide variety of interactive and multimedia exhibits, specially invited speakers and historic collections, the museum has become one of the most important things to do in Memphis.

The museum is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Tuesday. Children ages 4-17 years owe $12 for entrance, and adults pay $15. Parking is always free in the visitor lot on Mulberry Street, and the museum suggests that you allow at least 2 hours for a satisfying visit.

  • Best for: Couples, children, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except Tuesday. The hours are extended until 6:00 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
  • Address: 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103.

5. Relax at Shelby Farms Park

As one of the largest urban commons in the nation, Shelby Farms Park provides a green oasis in the middle of the bustling city. With over 4,500 acres of ponds, green hills, meadows and hiking trails, this area is a great place for kids and adults to play, bike, fish and relax. It is open from sunrise to sunset every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

If you have children, visit the Woodland Discovery playground, which encourages children to go on outdoor adventures. The Park’s Conservancy also offers many community programs and activities for visitors of all ages, or you can just spend some time in the leadership garden, at the Wooden “O” amphitheater or at the picnic areas spread throughout the park. Check the weather before you visit, plan your attire appropriately and you will have a great time at this free park in the middle of the Memphis action.

  • Best for: Children, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
  • Address: 6903 Great View Drive North, Memphis, TN 38134.

6. Lick Your Lips at Central BBQ

You will find a line reaching far out the door and down Central Avenue in Midtown almost any day of the week for this top-ranked barbeque. There are also locations downtown on East Butler and on the city’s east side on Summer Street. Not only do the locals think eating here is one of the best things to do in Memphis, but tourists also flock to the establishment.

Try the signature pulled pork sandwich with Central BBQ’s slaw, the unique dry rub ribs or the BBQ nachos. If barbeque is not your style, check out the restaurant’s creamy mac and cheese, just-picked collard greens or freshly made potato salad. Enjoy a half-rack of Central BBQ wings for $15.99 or a chicken plate full of chicken carefully marinated for 10 hours and smoked for two more for just $9.99. Head to this restaurant for a filling, home-cooked meal at reasonable prices.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address: Downtown 147 E Butler Ave, Memphis, TN 38103; Midtown 2249 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104; East 4375 Summer Ave, Memphis, TN 38122.

7. Check Out the King’s Home at Graceland

No trip to Memphis would be complete without a stop at Graceland, the charming colonial mansion, and home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. Elvis lived at Graceland for 20 years, and he also died there in 1977. Since that time, the home has been open to the public with guided tours and glimpses into Elvis’ private life in the carefully preserved rooms. Be sure to check out the trophy building that houses the King’s platinum and gold records, as well as memorabilia from his many movies and his charity work.

Visit Graceland on Elvis’ birthday (January 8), Christmas and other specified occasions for exciting planned events. Hours vary by month. There are also a variety of tours and ticket packages available. A basic mansion tour starts at $38.75 for adults while the ultimate VIP tour, including full access to all the museums and a meal, costs $159 per person.

  • Best for: Couples, families.
  • Season: Open year-round, the estate is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. most days.
  • Address: 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116.

There are so many things to do in Memphis that it is difficult to decide where to begin. With a rich background of jazz and blues music, as well as a location of historical significance, you will find Memphis to be a welcoming and entertaining city. Be sure to check out all of these fun things to do in the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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