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Memphis, Tennessee is a great place for families, especially those who love music and sports. The city has its own airport and is an easy drive from Nashville and Atlanta. Summer is a popular time to visit due to school holidays, but fall and spring are better due to the weather.
The Peabody Hotel is one of the most unique places to stay for first-time visitors to Memphis. The rooms are large for families and kids can enjoy the daily duck parade. Read our review here. Big Cypress Lodge is located inside the Memphis Pyramid and has rustic-style rooms, multiple restaurants, and an observation deck.
The Guest House at Graceland is across the street from the Elvis attraction with decor inspired by his famous costumes. It has a swimming pool, restaurants, and nightly movies. Read our review here. Graceland RV Park and Campground is also nearby with RV and tent sites as well as cabins.
Rentals like Airbnb are also available in the city’s fun neighborhoods for a comfortable stay.
Museums and Attractions
Give yourself at least three days to explore the many attractions in the greater Memphis area.
- Graceland– Your kids may not know who Elvis Presley is, but they’re sure to enjoy the incredible collection of antique cars and airplanes that belonged to “The King.”
- Memphis Zoo– The award-winning facility has over 4,500 animals from all over the world including giant pandas, African elephants, and lions. They have programming for all ages.
- Mud Island River Park– Located across the Mississippi River, this park has a museum, walking path, and play areas for kids. It’s one of five Memphis River Parks.
- Pink Palace Museum– The offbeat museum was previously the pink stone home of the owner of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. It has exhibits on the company, Memphis history, and art. They also have a 3D theater, planetarium, and science center.
- The Children’s Museum of Memphis– The educational museum has exhibits on a variety of topics including dinosaurs, money, and human anatomy. It also includes a 1909 hand-carved carousel that still runs.
- Casey Jones Home– Set in nearby Jackson, the famous locomotive engineer is honored with an 8,000 square foot museum with exhibits on railroad history.
Parks and Gardens
Despite being a large city, Memphis has plenty of green spaces for your family to take advantage of year-round.
- Overton Park– The 300-acre park in the Midtown area of Memphis has walking and biking trails, two museums, a zoo, and a golf course. It also has a natural old-growth forest. The Levitt Shell amphitheater was one of the first places Elvis performed.
- Memphis Botanic Garden– The nearly 100-acre garden in Audubon Park was established in 1947 in Overton Park. It has features like a Japanese Garden, an azalea trail, and daffodil hill. Get your admission before you go.
- Shelby Farms Park– Set on 4,500 acres, the park is one of the largest in the country, five times larger than Central Park. It has playgrounds and trails accessible by foot, bike, horse, or with dogs.
- Tom Lee Park– The 30-acre park on the banks of the Mississippi River overlooks the border with Arkansas. The park is named for an African-American man that saved over 30 from a sinking steamboat in 1925.
- T.O. Fuller State Park– The 1,000-acre state park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. It contains Mississippian burial mounds as well as trails and camping facilities.
Memphis has an incredible restaurant scene for a city its size and there are plenty of spots that provide good value and options for picky eaters.
- Central BBQ– I asked a local where she eats ribs and barbecue and she directed me to Central, where locals had already formed a line at 5:45 pm. The wait is worth it, especially for the platter, which has ribs, pulled pork and brisket with sides.
- The Arcade Restaurant– Said to be a favorite of Elvis, Memphis’ oldest restaurant opened in 1919 by a Greek immigrant. Stop by for breakfast of sweet potato pancakes and beignets or a catfish sandwich for lunch.
- Crosstown Concourse– This former Sears building has a number of eateries including a refugee-owned food court, ice cream shop, burger joint, and pizzeria.
- Flying Fish– The restaurant near Beale Street has fun decor like the wall of Billy Bass and a menu of favorites like fried catfish, shrimp, and po boys.
- Sunrise Memphis– The team behind Central BBQ opened this breakfast spot, which uses house-prepared artisan meats. Favorites include hot chicken biscuits and breakfast tacos.
Looking for something a little different? Memphis has tons to offer for all types of families and interests.
- Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill– Located inside the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is an underwater-themed bowling alley. Get a discount on an hour of bowling and shoe rental.
- Golf and Games Family Park– Spend a rainy day at this arcade with laser tag, video games, and putt putt. Get a discount on your round of games.
- Peabody Ducks– Catch the daily duck parade at The Peabody when the resident ducks make their way from the roof to the fountain in the lobby for playtime.
- Memphis Redbirds– The minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals play at AutoZone Park downtown. The games are a fun way to spend the afternoon.
- Memphis Scavenger Hunt Adventure– The smartphone-guided scavenger hunt brings the sights of the city to life with history as well as puzzles and clues.
There’s never a shortage of events going on in Memphis, no matter what time of year you visit!
- Memphis in May– The month-long festival is made up of many smaller events, including the Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and Great American River Run.
- Duncan-Williams, Inc. St. Jude Dragon Boat Race – The children’s hospital holds an annual race on the Mississippi River, which visitors can see from the riverfront parks. Cheer on the 46-foot boats with corporate teams raising money for the organization.
- 4th of July Fireworks on the River– Watch fireworks over the Mississippi River from the riverfront parks or at Mud Island. Other festivities include a Redbirds game and a 4th of July Parade.
- Zoo Lights– The Memphis Zoo hosts many seasonal events but their holiday lights are among the most popular. They have a Ferris wheel and free train rides along with the lights covering the grounds.
- Starry Nights at Shelby Farms Park– The large park also decorates for the holidays, serving as a fundraiser. They offer carriage rides, holiday shopping, and ice skating.