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Memphis City Guide | 5 min read

The Best Family Memphis City Guide!

Familydaysout.com has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to with this ULTIMATE Memphis City Guide to print & use!

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Lisa Downs

Lisa Downs

02 Oct | read


Bright lights, amazing music, a rich history AND what is considered to be THE best BBQ in the entire world, Memphis is just one of those cities you have to visit to understand how incredible it really is. It's a city that draws people in, and draws people back, and YOU have a front row ticket to hear about all the fun things to do in one of the USA's most iconic cities!

We at Family Days Out just LOVE Memphis, so we're excited to share with you our Memphis City Guide featuring our "Top 9 Family Attractions", which are just the tip of the iceberg in what to enjoy with kids and the family in this vibrant, energetic and exciting city!

So make sure really dig deep into our entire Memphis City Guide (because we've carefully put together just for you!), so you know just how to plan your exciting family day out in this truly unique and exciting Tennessee favorite!

Main Image Credit: Dustin Williams

Image Credit: Sean Fisher | Mr. Bootstraps

In this amazing Memphis City Guide (if we do say so ourselves!), we list our top 9 things to do with kids in this one-of-a-kind city, plus we share some really fun experiences that are must-dos on any visit!

We know budgets are often a consideration when traveling as a family, so also in this Memphis City Guide we share some FREE things to do with children that won't break the bank accounts!

Getting around Memphis without a car is really easy, so keep reading as later one we offer some tips on getting around Memphis on public transport. We also have some really fun facts about Memphis that you can impress your friends with!

If you want to explore a bit further out for the day, our Memphis City Guide also features a great day trip, plus we let you know some famous faces who were born right in the heart of this musical city.

So whether this is your first trip saying "Yes, take me to Memphis, I can't wait!" or maybe you have lived in the city your entire life but you never really explored and wonder "What is there is to do near me in Memphis?", then keep reading because we have the top 9 things to do in Memphis with kids...and so much more!

Image Credit: Craig Thompson

The story of Memphis begins with those indigenous people who lived along the mighty Mississippi River, before Mississippian culture made its mark in the first millenium.

It was first the Spanish, and then the French who encountered the region, before the European-American of Memphis was founded in 1819.

The city saw people from all walks of life pass through its streets, from cotton tycoons to enslaved people, solidifying its status as a major trading center for cotton.

Then, the 1950s saw soon-to-be legendary musicians play the first notes of songs that would go on to impact the world today, with the 1960s placing Memphis as the heart of civil rights marches and producing leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The history of Memphis is also the history of the USA, and it's for these reasons that when you visit a city such as Memphis you'll see how it ultimately inspired the world. 

Image Credit: Craig Thompson

Memphis is such an exciting city with so much history, adventure and plenty of family fun waiting to be enjoyed, and there are SO many attractions and things to do to help you make the most of your experience!

If you love wildlife, Memphis Zoo is the place to be! Yes, you can go from blues and BBQ to badgers and bears all in one day!

If it's the music that draws you in, then head to museums such as the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Museum, or take a tour of the iconic Sun Studio, or even Stax Museum of American Soul Museum - all amazing museums and tours that will really allow you to delve deep into the music's history.

For more history in your day, Memphis has some must-visit attractions including the National Civil Rights Museum, and Museum of Science and History. There are some incredibly important learning experiences for the family within these!

Then, you're in Memphis, so of course a visit to Graceland is on the cards! See where the King himself - Elvis - lived and died, and experience first hand the real man behind the music. 

With so many fun things to do in Memphis with the family, you'll soon have that itinerary filling up! The biggest question now is, what will you enjoy first?

Image Credit: Phillip Parker

From taxis to buses, and from trolleys to bikes, there are plenty of ways to get around Memphis without a car!

Strolling down the Memphis streets you won't be able to miss the vintage trolleys, and thanks to the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) these fun ways to get around cover three main routes in the downtown area, and along the way you'll pass must-visit destinations such as the South Main's Historic Art District, as well as Sun Studio, and iconic Beale Street. A one-way ticket is only $1 and $3.50 for an all-day pass. (You can also buy 3-day passes for $9)

The MATA citywide bus system is also another easy way to get nearly anywhere in the city. Covering over 300 square miles, the MATA bus offers 33 routes and thousands of bus-stops across town.

If you are interested in finding the best route visit the MATA Transit website

Did you know that Memphis was named America's Most Improved Bicycle City by Bicycling Magazine? Yep! So why not see the city on two wheels? Memphis Travel offers a free Map & Tourist Guide or you can just pick one up in your closest hotel lobby or visitors center.

Currently the most significant bike route is the Shelby Farms Greenline, which is a 7-mile paved trail running through the heart of Memphis.

Don't miss the tours and free shuttles too!

The Memphis Hop offers one low price and makes stops at ten Memphis attractions per hour, so spend as much time as you like at each attraction before boarding the next bus to continue your tour of Memphis! Adults are $22 and $17 for children. 

Running daily and almost every hour, the free Sun Studio Shuttle runs between three of Memphis' best music attractions - Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, Graceland and of course, Sun Studio. Seats are free on a first come, first served basis! 

You can also join a Backbeat Tour near Beale and Second Street to experience Memphis in a whole new light, taking you back to 1950s-era music and you even get a lead singer to sing those tunes!. Tours range from $13 - $49 for adults. 

More more information, head to Memphis Travel!

Memphis is known for many things, and one of those is BBQ. In fact, Memphis BBQ is considered some of the best in the world!

Memphis-style barbecue is actually one of the four main regional styles of BBQ found across the USA. (Kansas City, Texas and Carolina being the other three), and here you'll mostly find pork with ribs and shoulders being the preferred cuts. The rubs will be filled with salt, black pepper and brown sugar, then every talented Pitmaster will have their own secret herbs and spices they'll throw in there!

So make sure you visit Memphis on an empty stomach, because Memphis BBQ is something you will NOT want to miss!

Image Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Memphis

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Image Credit: Alex Shansky

Sun Studio is one of the most important places within music history, known worldwide as “The Birthplace of Rock’N’Roll”. Sun Studio is where musical legends were discovered and recorded, from B.B. King and Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis!

​During your Sun Studio Tour, you can stand in the very spot where Elvis first recorded, and you'll hear stories of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, & Roy Orbison who were all drawn to the new Sun Sound. You can also see priceless memorabilia from these musical legends who blended blues and country music resulting in the "big bang" of Rock'N'Roll!

Image Credit: Andrea Zucker

Get all shook up at Graceland - the very famous home of that singing legend, Elvis (we KNOW you've heard of him!)

Graceland is where Elvis lived, and a visit to this incredible piece of music history is really a must, whether you are a fan of his music or not. It's a trip through the life of one of the greatest singing icons that have ever lived and on your tour you can see how he lived, his cars, his outfits...and really gain an understanding of what drove and inspired this musical legend!

Image Credit: Dan Ball

Located on the former sight of Stax Records studio, Stax Museum of American Soul Music is the only museum in the world to tell the story of Stax Records and the iconic American soul legends who recorded there, and their infuence on the world.

Starting your journey in a circa-1906 Mississippi Delta church, you can see over 2,000 items of memorabila and artifects within the museum's collection (and even see Isaac Hayes actual Cadillac Eldorado!). It's a fascinating walk through the history of soul music not only in Memphis but throughout the entire USA, and well worth a visit on any trip to Memphis.

Image Credit: Memphis Riverboats

Get ready to experience Memphis from a whole new perspective with Memphis Riverboats! Memphis Riverboats offer the ultimate way to see the city skyline, with their authentic American Riverboat Cruises taking you along on the Mighty Mississippi, from sightseeing cruises, to dinner cruises and more!

The most popular cruise is the 90 minute sightseeing cruise, offered daily, where you can take to the waters and learn all about the city, the river and its history through the narration along the way. The dinner cruises not only let you try some of the tastiest local flavors, but you also get to enjoy entertainment by the local houseband too! All aboard!

Image Credit: Craig Thompson

The Edge Motor Museum is a fascinating museum with a focus on the preservation of automobiles that have both cultural and historical significance! The exhibits share the stories of the world’s most iconic cars, as well as the events that surrounded the cars popularity.

From Corvettes to Mustangs, and T-Birds, Avantis, Chevrolets, Sting Rays and even a T Runabout dating back to 1913, the Edge Motor Museum is also filled with actual historic automobiles from over the past 100 years that you can see up close and in person!

Image Credit: Jacob Geyer

The Children's Museum of Memphis is where kids can learn through play, and we love that! This creative, inspiring, fun and exciting museum in Tennessee gives those curious kids plenty of hands-on experience, experimentation and opportunitie to let those imaginations run wild.

With over 30 permanent exhibits, plus rotating ones, they certainly won't be short of learning from science based exhibits, to nature, health, music and so much more! As they say, "Kid-friendly environment. Brain-shaping results!"

Image Credit: Andrea Zucker

One of the most historically significant events to occur in Memphis was the 1955 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, an American Baptist minister but also one of the most prominent leaders within the Civil Rights Movement. It was at the Lorraine Motel that this tragic event took place, and it's here that you now find the National Civil Rights Museum.

Here, you can hear the "greatest civil rights story ever told", learning the stories of the people who lived through such a time - of their hopes and dreams, of their challenge and change. The museum tells the story of the history of the uprising that pushed national and international civil rights forward.

Image Credit: Andrea Zucker

Memphis Zoo dates all the way back in 1906, so you can just imagine all the family memories that have been created since then....and now it's YOUR turn to be part of it!

During your visit to the iconic Memphis Zoo, you'll meet over 3,500 creatures, that represent over 500 species from all over the world! Kids can come face to face with grand lions, see playful pengins and marvel at those tall giraffes! There is a LOT to be experienced, explored, and importantly - learned! Don't miss the feedings and talks they offer too plus additional experiences if you want to make your day even more special. A WILD day out in Memphis!

Image Credit: Memphis Music Hall of Fame

What began as a tribute to Memphis’ legendary musicians is now a fascinating museum featuring exhibits showcasing never-before-seen memorabilia, rare video performances and interviews, and much more! Kids, get ready to be inspired!

Kids can learn all about some of the greatest musicians of all time, and how they were each responsible for shaping modern music and changing the world forever - all from Memphis! You can also learn about the Memphis Music Hall of Fame inductees, and you never know kids, you might find yourselves on those very walls one day - because hearing these stories will make you realise you can achieve anything!

Famous Memphians!

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin was a legendary American gospel singer, also known as the "Queen of Soul" and considered one of the world's best-selling musical artists.

Her hits include R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Think and You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman

Image Credit: Public Domain

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman is an Academy-Award winning American actor, famous for his calm, deep, rich voice and a career spanning over 50 years. 

His most famous films include The Shawshank Redemption and Se7en

Image Credit: Public Domain

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5 Fun Memphis Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing Memphis knowledge!

  • Memphis was named after the Egyptian city on the Nile!
  • There are over 60 tourist attractions in the city!
  • Memphis is known as one of the best BBQ cities in the world!
  • Memphis is not only a musical city itself, but it's the most sung about place in history! Walking on Memphis....everybody!
  • Memphis lies so close to the border, you can actually walk to Arkansas from the city!

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Memphis

Stroll down Beale Street!

Stroll down Beale Street!

Image Credit: Dustin Williams

Running from the iconic Mississippi River to East Street, the legendary Beale Street spans a distance of about 1.8 miles in Downtown Memphis, and is not only the hub of music, lights and excitement, but it's also a significant location within the city's history and also the history of blues music. 

The street is three blocks of nightclubs, restaurants and shops in the heart of downtown Memphis, and is a melting pot of delta blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, R&B and gospel. It's a place you HAVE to visit during your time in Memphis!

Watch the Peabody Ducks!

Watch the Peabody Ducks!

One of the highlights in Memphis has to be the adorable parade of the world-famous Peabody Ducks, found right in the legendary Peabody Memphis!

The hotel's five resident Mallard ducks march daily through the Grand Lobby twice a day - at 11am as well as 5pm. Get those camera's out because you won't want to miss these amazing birds casually wandering through, the highlight of so many days! The hotel was built in 1869, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places so even just to see the building is worth the trip. If you do want to find out more about The Peabody Memphis, you can join the daily history tour for $10pp

Mud Island River Park

Mud Island River Park

Image Credit: Alex Shansky

Open year round from 6am - 7pm is Mud Island, found the heart of the Mississippi River and just a short walk from downtown Memphis. It's here you can see the new and very impressive 50-ft "MEMPHIS" sign, as well as a scale model of the Lower Mississippi River, AND you also get to enjoy fantastic views of the Memphis skyline. 

To really gain an understanding of the Mississippi River's role and influence over Memphis, don't miss the free Mud Island Riverwalk experience. The Riverwalk spans five city blocks and is marked with cities, bridges and historic markers to give visitors perspective on the river and its people. 

Movie Nights at Overton Square!

Movie Nights at Overton Square!

Overton Square is a great place that brings together people of all ages to shop, get fit, eat, stay, and be entertained - all in the heart of Midtown Memphis! Year round Overton Square has a host of events, music, shopping, plays and great deals on food and drink, but one of the highlights is their summer movie nights!

Just out of the main square, you just follow the tower to the open-air Chimes Square and it's here from April through June every Thursday evening at 8pm you can curl up in your blanket or chair, (for free!) and enjoy a great movie on the big, outdoor screen!   

Photo by Alex Litvin on Unsplash

Take Advantage of the

Take Advantage of the "Free Days" for Museums and Attractions!

Image Credit: Memphis Music Hall of Fame

One of the amazing things about Memphis is that across each week you can find days or time slots where attractions and museums offer FREE entry - so why not take advantage!? Memphis Zoo offers Tennessee residents free admission Tuesday afternoons, as does the National Civil Rights Museum just on Monday afternoons. 

You can even enjoy a piece of Graceland with free walk-ups to the Meditation Garden from 7:30am - 8:30am every morning. So get those diaries out and plan your week around these great deals!

Tour of Memphis BBQ!

A Fun Day Trip From Memphis!

Whilst our choice for a fun day trip from Memphis is actually in a neighboring state, it's very fitting with Memphis! Journey just over 100 miles from Memphis and you'll find yourself in Tupelo, Mississippi. You have probably heard of it, as it's famously the birthday place of a singer named Elvis Aaron Presley. 

Tupelo is the sixth largest city in Mississippi, and really is a drawcard for Elvis fans, as well as history buffs given past events such as the Battle of Tupelo, it's position across various Heritage Trails as well as close proximity to historic battlefields.

Image Credit: My Tupelo

Tupelo was incorporated as a city back in the late 1800s, but prior to European settlement the area was inhabited by Indigenous peoples, including the Chickasaw and Choctaw​​​​​

Following the European arrivals, the French and British formed alliances with the Indigenous peoples through trade, and the French also began establishing towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

During the Civil War, the Confederate and the Union forces fought in what became the Battle of Tupelo, and following the end of the war the cross-state railroad made it's way through the town, encouraging industry and growth. As a result of this expansion the town's name was changed to Tupelo (from "Gum Pond") and ultimately incorporated!

In 1934, Tupelo made history as the first city to receive power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, so if you hear the nickname "the First TVA City", now you know why!

In 1936, Tupelo was sadly ravaged by what is still considered to be one of the deadliest tornadoes in US history, but has since bounced back to be a truly charming destination to visit!

Here's another fun fact about Tupelo - music producer and DJ Diplo was born there too! Elvis, music, history....Tupelo is well worth a visit if you're a fan of any or all of the above!

Here’s our top 4 Tupelo things to see and do:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Lisa Downs Written by
Lisa Downs

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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