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Top Things To Do In Memphis

Memphis is a city with music in its soul. Known as the birthplace of rock n’ roll, this town on the Mississippi River is a mix of history and contemporary growth. After paying homage to the many music legends that have graced the illustrious Beale Street, folks in Memphis are following the tradition of southern hospitality and whipping up true Memphis style barbecue. And with so many artists and musicians in residence, the nightlife and art scene is booming. Check out all of the amazing things Memphis has to offer.

Memphis has deep roots in music history. As the home of soul, blues, and rock n’ roll, the city is filled with commemorative museums dedicated to the American genres. Be sure to pay tribute to America’s musical cornerstones at Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul, Stax Museum of American Soul, and the Blues Hall of Fame.

Here are some of the top things to do in Memphis:

  • Admire the metalworks and jewelry crafted in The Metal Museum
  • Check out Sun Studios, the birthplace of rock and roll
  • Visit bars and venues on in the Beale Street entertainment district
  • Tour Gibson Beale Street Showcase and see famous guitars
  • Pay your respects to the greats at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame

The Cooper-Young neighborhood in midtown is one of the many attractions in Memphis on the National Register of Historic Places. Exploring this district is one of the many affordable things to do in town.  Be sure to check out one of the many vibrant bars, shops, galleries, and historic homes that make Cooper-Young the most favored neighbood in town.

For those looking for cheap or free things to do in Memphis, check out:

  • Lichterman Nature Center, which is free on late Tuesday afternoons
  • A. Schwab has a museum on the second floor of the soda shop
  • Mud Island River Park has a miniature version of the Mississippi to explore
  • The Peabody Memphis has a troop of ducks parade through the lobby twice a day
  • Handy Park often holds free events and concerts

When visiting Memphis, music is the center of its tourist attractions. The Victorian Village is a neighborhood of 19th century Victorian homes that have recently been converted into museums. Check out the Mallory-Neely House, the Woodruff-Fontaine House, and St. Mary's Episcopal cathedral to learn about how the wealthy of Memphis once lived.

Other popular tourist attractions in Memphis include:

  • Visiting the Stax Museum of American Soul Music
  • Gazing across the Mississippi from Beale Street Landing
  • Learning about an important historical trade at The Cotton Museum
  • Feeling the music at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
  • Honoring the legends at the Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame

Thousands flock to Memphis every year to attend the World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest. Be sure to save room for Memphis-style ribs from one of the top joints in town, like Payne’s Bar-B-Q, Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, and Interstate Barbecue.

Looking for something fun to do in Memphis today? Check out:

  • The National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Hotel honors the work of those in the past
  • Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe serves world-renown soulfood
  • Laurelwood Shopping Center has many high end retail stores  
  • Jerry’s Sno Cones sell the best ice treats in the city
  • Earnestine and Hazel's burger dive has been called the best dive bar in the country

Beale Street, once the home to blues and jazz icons, is a revived street full of live music, historic buildings, and neon lights. The street is also home to some of the top things to do in Toledo at night, such as playing pool at Peoples and hearing a performance at Blues City Cafe.

Other top nighttime activities near Memphis include:

  • Having a late night meal at Alex’s Tavern
  • Dancing like no one’s watching at at Paula & Raiford’s Disco
  • Singing karaoke at The P&H Cafe
  • Feeling the groove at Blues Hall Juke Joint
  • Laughing your pants off at Chuckles Comedy House

Some of Memphian favorite things to celebrate are music, food, and community. Be sure to be in town for one of the many annual weekend festivals, like the foodie’s favorite Memphis Caribbean Jerk Festival, the community driven Cooper-Young Festival, and the indie music themed Gonerfest.

Check out these things to do in Memphis this weekend:

  • Have and Irish breakfast at Celtic Crossing
  • Admire the fine art at Dixon Gallery & Gardens
  • Taste local libations at Old Dominick Distillery
  • Enjoy a unique brunch at The Beauty Shop
  • Visit Graceland , the home of the King

The Memphis Zoo has more than 4,500 different animals and hosts two endangered Giant Pandas. The whole family will love the things to do in Memphis with kids like riding the trains throughout the zo and meeting the animals, including bears, hippos, monkeys, and pythons.

Here are some other family-friendly things to do in Memphis:

  • Cruising down the Mississippi with American Queen Steamboat Company
  • Racing on the Gold and Games Family Park go karts track
  • Learning history and science at Pink Palace Museum
  • Interacting with educational exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Memphis
  • Eating handmade popsicles at MEMpops

In Memphis, not all romance has to end in the blues. Take your significant other for a night to remember at the Orpheum Theater. This renovated 2,308 seat hall hosts a variety of productions, such as comedy shows, concerts, Broadway performances, and movie screenings.

Romantic things to do in Memphis include:

  • See a film in your car at Summer Quartet Drive In - Malco
  • Have dinner for two at Bounty on Broad
  • Compete together in the Beale Street Wine Races
  • Take a magical ride with Uptown Carriage Rides
  • Feel the vibe at the B.B. King’s Blues Club

Spend time with your friends in Memphis on a brewery tours with Memphis Brew Bus. The bus carries beer tourists to a number of local breweries, such as Memphis Made Brewing, Ghost River Brewing Co., and High Cotton Brewing Co. for a day of ease and fun.

Check out these fun things to do with your friends in Memphis:

  • Young Avenue Deli is perfect for a night of drinks and pool
  • Railgarten has a variety of group games, like volleyball and ping pong
  • Rec Room has old school arcade games
  • The Memphis Grizzlies play at FedExForum Arena
  • Sprock n’  Roll Party Bike is the most mobile party in Memphis

Step out of the buzz of Beale Street and into the Sun Studios, a historic and active recording studio that has seen the likes of music masters Johnny Cash, Jerry Lewis, and B.B. King. Make sure to grab a snapshot of you in belting the blues on Elvis Presley’s microphone.

Here are some more things to do indoors in Memphis:

  • Dine in the sky at The Lookout at the Pyramid  
  • Hear someone share a personal experience at Spillit Story Slam
  • Volunteer at the House of Mews cat sanctuary
  • Learn history at the Mississippi River Museum
  • Explore the stars at the Sharpe Planetarium

Located in the heart of the city, Overton Park offers a green, wooded space to escape city life and enjoy the outdoors. Spend some time at the zoo, museum, or golf within the grounds, or explore the nature areas and trails.  

Outdoor activities and things to see in Memphis:

  • Memphis River Tours serves dinner on some cruises
  • Shelby Farms Park is an urban park with trails and wildlife
  • Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum teaches visitors about Memphis cultural history
  • The Big River Crossing on the Mississippi is the city’s most scenic bike ride
  • Old Forest State Natural Area has a variety of walking paths to explore

No visit to Memphis would be complete without visiting Graceland, the residence of the King of rock n’ roll, Elvis Presley. The mansion has been converted into a museum with exhibitions on Elvis’s home life, career, automobile, and airplanes. Consider staying the night at The Guesthouse at Graceland and eating at one of the themed restaurants.

Be sure to check out these must-see attractions in Memphis:

  • Memphis Opera hosts the free 30 Days of Opera event in September
  • Walk Me Down, the signature drink of Memphis, is available in local bars
  • The Crystal Shrine Grotto is a unique concrete design at Memphis Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Silky O'Sullivan's gains fame from their Irish BBQ and friendly goats
  • Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art has the most eclectic pieces of arts in town