Are you planning a family vacation in Memphis with the kiddos? There are so many things to do in Memphis with kids from the music, food, and fun.
Memphis is the birthplace of the Blues, slow-cooked bbq, and the Birthplace of Rock ’n Roll therefore Memphis will not disappoint as a perfect weekend getaway with your family.
Your family will leave Memphis with a fresh and brand new perspective of music after you visit Stax Museum, Memphis Rock n Soul, Music Hall of Fame, and even Graceland.
I have the Ultimate Memphis Itinerary if you are planning a vacation to Memphis with kids.
Memphis is a must-see destination for everyone in your family no matter if you are traveling with your toddler, teen, or young adult.
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.
Here is my list of the most fun things to do in Memphis with kids.
Fun Things To Do In Memphis With Kids
1. Memphis Zoo – Midtown Memphis
The Memphis Zoo is our absolute favorite spot to take my daughter.
Some of the exhibits allow your children to get up close up and personal with the animals including the grizzly bears, panda bears, and wolves, the zoo is a treat for the entire family.
The Memphis Zoo spans 70 acres and is home to more than 4,500 animals, representing over 500 different species.
The Zoo is also home to the world’s longest-living hippopotamus, “Adonis,” who died in 1965 at the age of 54. The male hippo sired approximately 25 offspring in his lifetime, giving the Zoo the title of “hippo capital of the world.”
There are so many exhibits at Memphis Zoo and I definitely recommend visiting both the China Pavilion to see the pandas and the polar bears.
Meet “Haley” and “Payton,” the two polar bears.
Haley was named after Haley’s comet. Payton was named after Walter Payton, the famous football player.
2. Bass Pro Shop – Downtown Memphis
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.
It’s more than a store; it’s an adventure! In addition to an incredible assortment of fishing, boating, hunting, and outdoor gear, the megastore includes a 103-room hotel with treehouse cabins/
600,000 gallons of water teeming with over 1,800 fish; a cypress swamp with alligator pools and duck aviaries; and a breathtaking observation deck at the top of the 32-story steel pyramid.
Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid offers something for everyone, from serious outdoor enthusiasts to families looking to have fun.
Don’t forget to take the ride 28 stories to the top of the Pyramid on America’s tallest free-standing elevator.
Once at the top, check out the awesome 360-views of Memphis and the Mississippi River on the outdoor observation deck (patterned after the Grand Canyon Skywalk).
Rides cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids before 4 p.m.
3. Stax Museum
Stax Museum of American Soul lets you connect to the music that helped shape the Civil Rights Movement and soul music in the South.
Inspired by Sam Phillips, a Memphis radio technician who had started producing a few years earlier (and made a huge sum of money on Elvis Presley), Jim Stewart founded Satellite Records.
The tour starts with a short introductory video (which alone is worth the price of admission!).
From there you will see an amazing collection of more than 2,000 interactive exhibits, films, artifacts, items of memorabilia, galleries, and – of course – Isaac Hayes’ gold-plated, peacock blue 1972 Superfly Cadillac El Dorado.
While touring the museum, you will hear Stax hits including “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “Green Onions” by Booker T. and the MGS, “Do the Funky Chicken” by Rufus Thomas, and “Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes. Soulsville U.S.A. needs to be part of your Memphis music pilgrimage.
The Blues Hall of Fame
The Blues Hall of Fame honors those who have made the Blues timeless through performance, documentation, and recording.
Since its inception in 1980, The Blues Foundation has inducted new members annually into the Blues Hall of Fame for their historical contribution, impact, and overall influence on the Blues.
Members are inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in five categories: Performers, Individuals, Classic of Blues Literature, Classic of Blues Recording (Song), and Classic of Blues Recording (Album).
Since 1980, The Blues Foundation has inducted over 400 industry professionals, recordings, and literature into the Blues Hall of Fame. Of the 130 performer inductees, 120 of them are African-American.
4. Peabody Hotel – Downtown Memphis
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.
The tradition of the duck march started following a hunting trip in 1932.
The story goes that the 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.
5. National Civil Rights Museum – Downtown Memphis
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.
6. Slave Haven – Downtown Memphis
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.
7. MLK Reflection Park – Downtown Memphis
The park includes benches, a large walkway, reflection areas, the iconic 1977 “I have been to the mountaintop” sculpture, and some never-before-seen images of Dr. King from the Withers Collection. They were revealed Friday.
“Let us use this reflection site as a place where dreams can become realities, desperation can become hope, and isolation can become an inspiration,” Memphis City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd said.
8. Fire Museum of Memphis — Downtown 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.
9. Sun Studio — Medical District
Sun Studio is known worldwide as “The Birthplace of Rock’n’roll”.
It is the discovery location of musical legends and genres of the ’50s from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis; from Blues and Gospel to Country and Rock’n’roll.
Today our goal is to spread the story of Memphis’ history and culture through the music that put Memphis on the map.
Stand in the very same spot that Elvis first recorded. Your tour guide will tell you the inside stories of B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Ike Turner before Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, & Roy Orbison who were all drawn to the new Sun Sound.
See the priceless memorabilia from the musical legends that blended blues and country music to explode in the “big bang” of Rock’n’roll.
10. AutoZone Park — Downtown Memphis
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 the future big leaguers. Tickets start at just $9.
11. Beale Street – Downtown Memphis
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.
12. American Queen Steamboat Company — Downtown Memphis
Music is the heart and soul of the city of Memphis. Begin your American Queen journey with The Complete Memphis Experience City Stay and enjoy three days and two nights to explore the musical roots of this Southern Belle.
This classic Mississippi riverboat offers loads of amusing and entertaining activities for the whole family.
American Queen offers accommodations at Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel, which is just a short trolley ride from Beale Street, home to such musical genres as Rock and Roll, Jazz, Soul and Blues.
Visit the Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum before heading to the legendary Sun Studio. This special package also includes a visit to the historic Peabody Hotel to see the world-famous Peabody Duck Parade.
13. Memphis Music Hall of Fame — Beale Street
More than a century ago, music began pouring into Memphis, Tennessee. Musicians of all races and backgrounds came together and, for the love of music, created a sound that changed the cultural complexion of the world forever.
America’s music exploded out of Memphis. Today, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame honors many of the greatest musicians of all time, who created this city’s musical legacy, and who shook our planet to the core!
Each year, the Committee’s deliberations consider musical performers, producers, engineers & studio or recording industry professionals, writers, promoters, and radio professionals.
They consider the group or individual’s relationship with Memphis, Tennessee, including the extent of recording projects, musical impact within Memphis, city residency, and exceptional involvement within and/or influences are drawn from the Memphis music industry.
14. Pink Palace Museum— Chickasaw Gardens
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.
15. Memphis Botanic Garden — Audubon Park
Memphis Botanic Garden strives to enhance lives by connecting people with nature, increasing awareness and appreciation of our environment.
The 96-acre property includes 30 specialty gardens, which provide an in-depth look into various families of plants, flowers, and trees.
We go frequently to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy it each time. All year long. Many different gardens, lakes, artwork on display, places for kids to play – a very pleasant environment for everyone.
Just discovered some new additions yesterday, so they keep improving it and making it more interesting and pretty.
16. The Children’s Museum of Memphis — Midtown 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.
17. Shelby Farms Park
At 4,500 acres, Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country! Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the Park is both a vibrant community hub and a retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Public parks like Shelby Farms Park play an important role in creating a just and equitable community for all, and everyone is welcome here!
Whether you play the Park on foot, on wheels, in the trees, in the open, or on the water, Shelby Farms Park has something for everyone.
Shelby Farms Park features more than 40 miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, that are popular for walking, biking, running, and hiking.
The Park’s trail network includes Shelby Farms Greenline, an iconic 10.65-mile paved cycling and pedestrian trail that connects the heart of Memphis to the heart of Cordova through Shelby Farms Park.
The Park is home to more than 20 bodies of water which provide plenty of opportunities for fishing.
It’s also home to a herd of buffalo! Learn more about our most iconic residents here!
Kids can play and discover all sorts of fun at the award-winning Woodland Discovery Playground and make a splash at the Water Play Sprayground.
There is even fun to be had for four-legged friends! Dogs are welcome to explore the Park’s trails (on-leash, leash in hand at all times) and to visit The Outback for off-leash fun!
18. Graceland — Whitehaven
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.
19. A. Schwab Dry Goods Store – Downtown Memphis
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!
20. Wolf River Greenway – East Memphis
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.
21. Mud Island Park – Downtown Memphis
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 an 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.
22. 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.
The Rock ‘n’ Soul experience comes with free audio guide headsets, packed with over 300 minutes of information and over100 incredible songs.
Guests have the option to enjoy the museum experience without an audio guide.
23. 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.
24. W. C. Handy Park – Downtown Memphis
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.
Handy formed his own marching band in 1902, which combined various elements from popular dance music and performed for both white and black audiences alike.
In 1909 Handy and his band moved to Memphis and established their presence on Beale Street. “The Memphis Blues” was written in 1909 and was the first blues ballad Handy ever wrote, and arguably the first blues ballad in history.
After publishing the song himself in 1912, “The Memphis Blues” became popular all over the United States. It was originally entitled “Mr. Crump” as it was a campaign tune written for mayoral candidate Edward Crump.
25. I AM MAN Plaza
This a new plaza created to honor the sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968.
The “I am a Man” Plaza is located next to Clayborn Temple, a key rallying point for the historic 1968 Memphis sanitation strike.
I Am A Man” slogan made famous by the 1968 strike, and a wall with the names of 1,300 strikers, among other artworks.
26. Memphis Grizzlies Basketball Game
Through 20 soulful seasons and towel-waving moments, Grizzlies basketball has carved out the corner of our state and the NBA, planting its flag in the ground, home in Memphis.
The Grizzlies will don their 2001/02 classic black away uniforms in recognition of the 20th Season of the franchise in Memphis.
Last year’s alternate historical court will showcase a new 20th Season logo, connecting design elements from all eras of Grizzlies basketball.
Memphis Grizzlies basketball is perfect for a family night out.
Where To Eat in Memphis
1.Cozy Corner BBQ
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.
2. Central BBQ
Central BBQ is a local favorite and you can’t go wrong with ribs or shoulders.
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.
While Rendezvous is legendary in Memphis it is not a local favorite but 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.
4. A&R BBQ
A&R Bar-B-Q is 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.
5. 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 complimented 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.
6. Felicia Suzanne’s
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.
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.
7. Memphis Pizza Cafe
If you want to feed your kids after a day of sightseeing you should head straight to Memphis Pizza Cafe. Each pizza is made to perfection and I love thin crust. I love Memphis and Memphis Pizza Cafe!!!
Best Places To Stay In Memphis
I suggest staying in Downtown Memphis at the Canopy by Hilton in order to be in heart of the city with easy access to Mud Island, parks, and restaurants which is perfect for a family getaway.
You can walk everywhere during your stay at Canopy including Beale Street, I AM Man Plaza, MLK Reflection Park, Ernest Withers Museum, First Baptist Church, and many more attractions.
The hotel is located next to Autozone Park and a half-mile from FedEx Forum Arena.
The Memphis Music Hall of Fame is five minutes away and they are under a mile from Mississippi River Park and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.
Additional Hotels in downtown Memphis
Additional things to do in Memphis with kids
- Magevney House
- Orpheum Theater
- Cannon Center for the Performing Arts
- Hunt Phelan Home
- Mallory Neely House
- Woodruff Fontaine House
- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
- Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Click Here To Watch My Video On Things To Do In Memphis
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