Are you planning a Memphis vacation? There is something about my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee that draws people in from the music, food, and energy that creates a magical experience you can’t get anywhere else in the country. If you are wondering what is there to do in Memphis this weekend I have the Ultimate Memphis Itinerary.
Whether you’re into blues, soul or rock’n’roll, Memphis is a must-see destination and if are wondering what to do for your Memphis vacation here is my guide for things to do in Memphis with Kids.
While most people think of Beale St. partying and drinking when it comes to Memphis there are equally just as many fun things for kids to do in Memphis.
I have taken all of the guesswork out what to do in Memphis with the kids and you will discover that the city is full of attractions seemingly created just for your little ones.
Make your vacation to Memphis fun with everyone from your toddler to teens. There’s the Children’s Museum of Memphis, Pink Palace Family of Museums, and the march of the famous Peabody Ducks (both perfect for little ones).
Get outdoors and hop on a bike, kayak or stand up paddle board and look for the herd of bison at Shelby Farms Park, and for even more animals, including giant pandas, visit the Memphis Zoo. Everyone will enjoy taking a relaxing riverboat cruise along the Mississippi, having (indoor) outdoor adventures at the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, touring Elvis’ Graceland and strolling Beale Street.
Top Things To Do In Memphis With Kids
The Memphis Zoo is our absolute favorite spot to take the kids. With exhibits that let young ones get close up and personal with the animals and everything from grizzly bears to panda bears and wolves, the zoo is a treat for the entire family.
The Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid is an ultimate family destination that combines the outdoor and sporting goods retailer with a bowling alley, cypress swamp (seriously!), gun and archery ranges, an aquarium and more.
Kids of all ages can learn all about the history of the city – and the Mighty Mississippi – at the Mud Island River Park /Mississippi River Museum, ride around downtown on the historic trolley, explore the Wolf River via bicycle on the Green line and visit Buffalo or go horseback riding at Shelby Farms.
No trip to Memphis is complete without a visit to the historic Peabody Hotel, where the resident ducks march to and from their rooftop palace every morning and afternoon. And there’s no better place in town than the old-fashioned five-and-dime called A. Schwab’s – right on Beale Street, and full of souvenirs from your Memphis vacation.
There is so much authentic music is being created in Memphis from R&B, blues, and rap. Memphis is a place where you can eat fall off the bone BBQ or the next day eat at a 5-star restaurant where the food is literally a work of art.
Memphis is a place where there is a rich history on every corner. You can stand in the same spot as Martin Luther King Jr. or where the Blues Legend BB King made sweet music. A Memphis vacation will allow to to create your own magical experience surrounded by family, food and music.
Top Things To Do In Memphis This Weekend
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum should be your very first stop when you come to Memphis, and it will not disappoint. The National Civil Rights Museum is a wonderful historically accurate museum that depicts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.
The museum is located in the old Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King stayed and was killed when he was in Memphis to help and support the striking sanitation workers. The museum focuses on the civil rights struggles of African-Americans, but it has expanded to that of other groups.
The museum is filled with history, emotions, incredible photos, mementos, people’s stories, along with archival video and audio footage.
The stories of slavery in our nation and of the civil rights movement are gut-wrenching and I need my daughter to understand how far we have come. I bring my daughter once a year to ensure she knows her history so she will appreciate the freedoms she currently has because of the brave men and women who came before her.
Fire Museum of Memphis
The Fire Museum of Memphis occupies the old Engine House Number One in downtown Memphis, built in 1910. The museum depicts the life of a firefighter and presents vintage equipment dating from the early 1900s, including a restored 1897 Hale Water Tower, which was actually used through 1973 to fight fires in buildings higher than two stories.
The “Fire Room” exhibit uses advanced technology to deliver true-life effects of past fires and disasters. You’ll actually feel the heat as you view firefighters tackling huge flames.
Additional exhibits include a 1910 horse-drawn steam engine, a pictorial history of the city’s first African American firefighters, and interactive exhibits that teach fire safety and educate about emergency services, from EMS to 9-1-1.
A. SCHWAB DRY GOODS STORE
Located on historic Beale Street since 1876, this general store is a Memphis staple that draws locals and visitors alike. The inventory includes everything from knick-knacks, vintage candy to tons of Elvis-themed items.
Kids are fascinated by A. Schwab, while I felt as if I had stepped back in time. For visitors, A. Schwab’s is a great place for purchasing souvenirs to take back home to friends and family. Most importantly, you need good ole fashion paper money because A. Schwab does not accept credit cards!
Children’s Museum of Memphis
At the Children’s Museum of Memphis, you’re supposed to touch everything! Hands-on, interactive exhibits and activities for children are the focus here. Exhibit topics range from waterworks to health, recycling to house construction, money to transportation.
The special theater area has costumes and puppets for performing plays, as well as painting, sculpting, and weaving. Recent additions include a dinosaur dig, and an outdoor play space featuring a bank-shot basketball area.
Transportation exhibits have a motion simulator, hot air balloon, even a mini-van that kids can “drive” and “repair.” A small cafe and brown bag area, and a gift shop are also on the premises.
Wolf River Greenway
Wolf River Greenway runs through Memphis and Germantown and is part of the longer Greater Memphis Greenline that will eventually connect Collierville to downtown Memphis. The Wolf runs along the Wold River and includes a wide paved path for non-motorized activity.
Out east the greenway is off Walnut Grove Road and Humphreys Boulevard, across from Baptist Hospital, or from Shady Grove Road / Shelby Farms Park via a pedestrian bridge over the Wolf River.
Mud Island Park
Mud Island is reached by an aerial tram (you may remember it from the Tom Cruise movie, The Firm) and features a to-scale model of the Mississippi River that one can walk along, noting the changing conditions of the river. The Mississippi River Museum explores the 10,000-year history of the Mississippi, noting how it developed and what the areas around it have drawn from the river.
The Belle of the Bluffs, the reconstructed front half of a 1870s steamboat, complete with cotton bales stacked on the lower deck and water lapping at the hull. The Memphis Blues exhibit highlights the music of the Delta blues, New Orleans jazz, early rock ‘n roll, and Elvis.
Mud Island’s pay-one-price package includes entry to the museum, a round-trip monorail ride, and a guided tour of the five-block scale model of the Mississippi.
Bass Pro Shop
The massive retail space combines a giant-sized version of a Bass Pro shop with a giant cypress swamp filled with fish and alligators, a 13-lane bowling alley, a 28-story freestanding glass elevator, a 120-room hotel that resembles a swanky lodge, an observation deck at the tip of the Pyramid (visit for a fee), and all manner of boats, ATVs, and more to explore.
Oh, and a gun range, an archery range, a shooting gallery, and a hotel spa.
March Peabody Ducks
The tradition of the duck march started following a hunting trip in 1932. The story goes that then-general manager of the hotel and his hunting buddies, along with their live decoy ducks, stopped in the Peabody’s ornate lobby bar for a glass or three of Jack Daniels.
The guys thought it would be a hoot to let the decoys paddle around in the fountain of the lobby bar while they relived the hunt. A tradition was born. Anthony Petrina is the fifth duck master at the hotel; the job was created in the 1940s when a former Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus animal trainer named Edward Pembroke offered to help deliver the ducks to and from the fountain each day.
The Memphis Zoo is consistently rated one of the top zoos in the country, both for its breadth of exhibits in an easy-to-navigate layout and for the sheer fact that one can get pretty close to the animals in almost every habitat. With giant pandas from China, a Teton ecosystem replete with grizzly bears and wolves, and a Northwest Passage habitat filled with polar bears and river otters, this is a top-notch zoo that will enchant both kids and their parents.
During the winter, a skating tent and festive lights bring the holiday spirit to the zoo, and it is open for select evening visits.
Pink Palace Museum
The Pink Palace Museum started out as the home of Clarence Saunders, founder of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. The sprawling pink-stone-clad mansion was gifted to the city to become a natural and city history museum. Its large collection of permanent exhibits will help kids to explore Memphis’ natural and cultural history, and the planetarium and CTI Giant 3D Theater provide education and entertainment. Add in rotating visiting exhibits, and there is always something new to see.
Memphis’ food scene is one of the most compelling reasons for adults to visit Memphis, and it should be no different for the kids! Take your kids to Belly Acres for burgers in an elaborate farm-fun atmosphere (including an airplane and a tractor), or take them for milkshakes at an old-timey soda fountain during the day at A. Schwab general store on Beale Street.
Graceland has undergone a massive renovation and it is no longer the Graceland of the past and is well worth the stop on your Memphis vacation. The tour will take you from Elvis’ humble beginnings through his rise to becoming a megastar.
You will see how Elvis lived by touring the mansion and the Entertainment Complex which allows you to immerse yourself in Elvis’ life and career.
The state-of-the-art entertainment complex includes the Elvis The Entertainer Career Museum, Presley Motors Automobile Museum and themed discovery spaces showcase Elvis’ influences in the Elvis Discovery Exhibits.
Make sure you grab a bite to eat from one of the two restaurants on the complex. You can easily spend 5 hours touring the mansion and entertainment complex so make sure you give yourself enough time to see each exhibit.
Go to a Redbirds Game
Take ’em out to a ball game: Saturday night fireworks, apple pie on a stick (it’s on my list to try), the very hilarious Rockey the Redbird, an awesome park, and of course…great baseball from future big leaguers. Tickets start at just $9.
Check out the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.
Have an hour or two to spare? The Smithsonian-affiliated Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is a great way to introduce the kids to Memphis music and history.
Go to the indoor trampoline park.
Need to burn off some energy, but require air-conditioning? The Sky Zone indoor trampoline park is what you’re looking for. It’s $10 for a half-hour of open jumping.
Check out Shelby Farms Park in east Memphis. Shelby Farms park is all about choosing your own adventure, whether that’s zip-lining, horseback riding, paddleboarding, biking (rentals available), playing disc golf, skipping through a sprayground or discovering an award-winning playground.
Have a climber? Take your pick of two climbing gyms: High Point Climbing and Fitness in east Memphis (featuring an outdoor wall) and Memphis Rox in the Soulsville neighborhood, across from the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
Walk across the Mississippi on Big River Crossing, a century-old bridge reborn as a pedestrian path between downtown Memphis and West Memphis, Arkansas.
W. C. Handy Park
Handy Park is great for people watching and just spending time with your family. Make sure you look for the statue of the ear20th-century trumpeter, which dominates this open-air park and amphitheater. After three days of walking take a load off at one of the benches and listen to the sounds of the Mississippi River.
What To Eat in Memphis
Next on your list should be Cozy Corner which has by far, in my opinion, the best BBQ in Memphis.
Cozy Corner has been in operation since 1977 and has established itself as a Memphis BBQ gem. They have been spotlighted on “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” on The Food Network and have been preparing some of the best BBQ in Memphis for generations.
Known for their BBQ Cornish game hen along with other classics like the BBQ bologna, and of course, ribs.
Now that you have tasted my favorite here are a few additional local favorite BBQ joints.
Central BBQ is a local favorite and you can’t go wrong with ribs or shoulders but they have other delicious options, including wings, smoked sausage, homemade potato chips and a special 8-inch portobello that is marinated, grilled, and topped with smoked Gouda cheese.
Rendezvous is legendary in Memphis and where at any given time you might see celebrities with bbq sauce running their chin and enjoying the goodness of Rendezvous. They have been featured on both the Travel Channel or Food Network because of their famous dry-rub ribs.
A&R Bar-B-Qis a staple in the African American community in Memphis and even though I no longer live in Memphis every single time I visit home I make it my business to stop by and get a hot link!
The hot links are spicy and sweet at the same damn time! Lawd, they are so good and the bbq sauce just drips everywhere and with every bite, you will close your eyes think life is good.
They also have pork ribs that are tender, juicy and the meat just falls off the bone. Order the dry-rub ribs, so that the flavors of the meat that is smoked in their own pits won’t be masked by any sauces and you can enjoy Memphis BBQ.
Don’t forget the half-slab of the pork ribs, smoky dry-rub rib tips, or the chopped pork sandwich.
A & R is the essential stop for every barbecue lover who will be spending the weekend in Memphis.
Lunch Box Eat
If you are looking for a great place to have lunch then “Lunch Box Eat.com” is the place for you. I Love this place simply because of their fried avocados and eggplant! I never thought those two could be so delicious.
I don’t know what kind of mayo-based dipping sauce was served with the avocados, but it was so delicious.
Make sure you also try the Mac ‘n Pork club and the Broken Rib Bones. The club sandwich was half a mile high and the meat was falling out of every side. The sandwich went really well with bbq sauce.
The creamy, cheesy goodness of the mac complemented the pork and the sauce complemented the pork. The broken rib bone sandwich was equally messy, but in a good way and it was so smoky and flavorful. The toasted bread provided a nice crunch to all of it.
If you are looking for things to do in Memphis with kids Lunch Box Eats will not disappoint.
While Felicia Suzanne’s is usually reserved for date night I love taking my daughter to upscale restaurants. If your child loves a fancy dinner Felicia Suzanne’s is the perfect spot.
Felicia Suzanne’s is located in an older building that was once a department store on Main Street. The restaurant has been tastefully converted into an upscale restaurant.
My husband and I were greeted with a sample (catfish tartare) from the chef once we sat down, which was a very nice touch. The hubby ordered spaghetti and I ordered lamb chops. Both were VERY filling and hearty.
Looking at the menu, there seem to be a lot of classics offered, with a modern flare. Food and service were excellent so make sure you put Felicia Suzanne’s on your Memphis bucket list.
Additional Things To Do in Memphis With Kids
Slave Haven was once the home of Jacob Burkle, a German immigrant who used his home as a haven for slaves escaping along the underground railroad. The home has now been turned into an underground railroad museum.
Although it may not look like much from the outside, the museum, and really its curators and guides, packs a big punch. Your tour starts with a look at the middle passage, the transport of slaves from Africa to the United States.
The tour continues with an in-depth look at the clues and symbols slaves used to communicate the path to freedom from the hymns to the symbols embedded in quilts.
You will also learn about stereotypes that have been used to make black people seem and look inferior. The last stop on the tour is to see actual crawl spaces slaves used to escape from the slave catchers.
I took my mom and daughter to visit Slave Haven and it was quite an eye-opening experience and just made me so thankful for how we have come but how far we still have to go.
Best Places To Stay In Memphis
I suggest staying in Downtown Memphis to be in the bluesy heart of the city and easy access to Mud Island, parks, and restaurants which make for a perfect family setting.
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Make sure you check out these additional Things To Do In Memphis In This Weekend.
- AutoZone Park
- Country Music Hall of Fame
- Memphis Music Hall of Fame
- Magevney House
- Fire Museum of Memphis
- Civic Center Plaza
- Handy Park
- Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
- Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island
- Mud Island River Park
- Statue of Elvis
- W.C. Handy Memphis Home and Museum
- Orpheum Theater
- Downtown Memphis
- Memphis Cook Convention Center
- Cannon Center for the Performing Arts
- Hunt Phelan Home
- Mallory Neely House
- Woodruff Fontaine House
- Sun Studio
- National Civil Rights Museum
- National Civil Rights Museum – Lorraine Motel
- Pyramid Arena
- Memphis Amtrak Station
- Slave Haven Burkle Estate Museum
- Business District
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- Autozone Park
- Beale Street
- FedEx Forum – Memphis Grizzlies
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
- Memphis Zoo
- Rhodes College
- Overton Park and Zoo
- Children’s Museum of Memphis
- Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
- Tom Lee Park
- Pink Palace Museum
- Southland Race Track
Click Here To Watch My Video On Things To Do In Memphis
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