When it comes to culturally significant cities in the United States, Memphis, Tennessee is hard to top.
Visitors can explore the city’s musical heritage at iconic places like Sun Studio and Graceland, or learn about its place in civil rights history at the National Civil Rights Museum.
With world-class barbecue, a thriving arts scene, and a variety of outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone in Memphis.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, these are some of the best things to do in Memphis.
- Sun Studio
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- Memphis Zoo
- The Peabody Ducks
- Shelby Farms Park
- Beale Street
- Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
- Slave Haven
- Memphis Botanic Garden
- Crystal Shrine Grotto
- Big River Crossing
- Mud Island River Park
- The Children’s Museum of Memphis
- Museum of Science & History
- Metal Museum
- Full Gospel Tabernalcle
- Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art
- Statue of Elvis
- The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
- Tom Lee Park
- Blues Hall of Fame Museum
- Beale Street Landing
- Woodruff-Fontaine House
- Levitt Shell
- Dixon Gallery & Gardens
- Fire Museum of Memphis
- Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
- Riverside Drive Welcome Center
- Overton Park
- Lichterman Nature Center
- Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island
- Crosstown Concourse
- Memphis Pyramid
- Memphis Orpheum Theater
- Stax Records
- Mallory-Neely House
- Edge Motor Museum
- Cooper-Young Historic District
- Riverbluff Walkway
- Memphis Music Hall of Fame
Any trip to Memphis, Tennessee would be incomplete without a visit to Sun Studio.
This legendary recording studio was opened in 1950 by record producer Sam Phillips, and it played a central role in the development of rock and roll.
Over the years, Sun Studio has been visited by a who’s who of musical legends, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.
Today, the studio offers tours that provide an inside look at the history of rock and roll.
Visitors can see the original equipment used by Phillips and his team of engineers, as well as learn about the studio’s role in shaping the sound of popular music.
Graceland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Memphis, Tennessee.
More than 600,000 people visit Graceland each year, making it the second most-visited house in the United States (after the White House).
Elvis Presley bought the Graceland estate in 1957 for $102,500.
Today, it is a National Historic Landmark and a major tourist attraction. Visitors to Graceland can tour the mansion, see Elvis’s cars and airplanes, and visit his grave site.
The Graceland complex also includes a museum, an event center, and a hotel.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Memphis, Tennessee.
The museum chronicles the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, from the early days of slavery through the famous campaigns of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Visitors can learn about key moments in the struggle for equality, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Selma to Montgomery marches.
The museum also features iconic artifacts from the civil rights era, including a dress worn by Rosa Parks and lunch counter stools from Greensboro, North Carolina.
With its powerful exhibits and moving stories, the National Civil Rights Museum offers a rich and enlightening experience for all who visit.
Stax Museum of American Soul Music
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is dedicated to preserving the legacy of soul music and celebrating the artists who created it.
Visitors can learn about the history of soul music and see artifacts from famous musicians like Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes.
The museum also features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience the music for themselves.
The Memphis Zoo is world-renowned for its work in animal conservation and education.
Founded in 1906, the zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals from over 500 different species.
Visitors can see everything from lions and tigers to gorillas and elephants, and the zoo also offers a variety of educational programs and events.
The Peabody Ducks
One of the best things to do in Memphis, Tennessee is to visit The Peabody hotel and see the world-famous Peabody Ducks.
The story goes that in 1930, a group of hunters from Arkansas came to the city and stayed at The Peabody.
They brought their live duck decoys with them, and after a few too many drinks, decided to take a dip in the hotel’s marble fountain.
The next morning, the manager of the hotel found the ducks and was so amused that he decided to make it a daily tradition.
Every day since then, at 11am, a pair of ducks has been led through the lobby by the hotel’s Duckmaster and placed in the fountain.
At 5pm, they are again led through the lobby for their “duck march” back to their penthouse suite.
The tradition has become so popular that it now attracts visitors from all over the world. If you’re ever in Memphis, be sure to check it out!
Shelby Farms Park
Shelby Farms Park, at over 4,500 acres, it is one of the largest urban parks in the country.
The park offers a wide variety of activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking, and horseback riding.
There are also numerous events held throughout the year, such as concerts and festivals.
In addition to its many recreational opportunities, Shelby Farms Park is also home to a herd of bison and a variety of other wildlife.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour to learn about the park’s history and ecology.
Beale Street is a must-see when visiting Memphis, Tennessee.
The iconic street is known for its lively music scene, which features a mix of blues, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll.
Visitors can stroll down the street to take in the sights and sounds of musicians playing in the clubs, or they can stop to listen to a live performance.
There are also a number of shops and restaurants located on Beale Street, making it the perfect place to grab a bite or do some shopping.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy some good music or experience the culture of Memphis, Beale Street is the place to be.
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum chronicles the history of rock and soul music, from its roots in the city’s African-American community to its global influence.
Visitors can see artifacts such as Elvis Presley’s first guitar and learn about the significance of legendary studios like Sun Records.
The museum also features a variety of interactive exhibits, making it a fun and educational experience for all ages.
One of the best places to start is Mud Island River Park. This park is located on a man-made island in the Mississippi River, and it features a variety of attractions.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the Riverwalk, which tells the story of the river through art, sculptures, and plaques.
The park also has an amphitheater, where concerts and other events are held throughout the year.
In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, and picnicking.
Memphis Botanic Garden
Situated on 96 acres, the Memphis Botanic Garden features a diverse array of gardens, including a Japanese garden, a rose garden, and a children’s garden.
In addition to the gardens, Memphis Botanic Garden also features a playground, a picnic area, and a Loch Norman Scottish Highland cattle farm.
With something for everyone, Memphis Botanic Garden is the perfect place to spend a day in nature.
Located in the heart of Memphis, the garden is also conveniently located near other attractions, such as Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum.
Crystal Shrine Grotto
One of the most popular attractions is the Crystal Shrine Grotto, a man-made cave containing over 5,000 crystals.
The Grotto is open to the public and offers tours, making it a great place to learn about geology and geodes.
Many of the crystals in the Grotto are natural, but some have been enhanced or created by humans.
Either way, they are all incredibly beautiful. In addition to the crystals, the Grotto also contains a variety of sculptures and murals.
The overall effect is stunning, and it’s no wonder that the Crystal Shrine Grotto is one of Memphis’s most popular tourist destinations.
Big River Crossing
One of the best things to do in Memphis is to take a walk or bike ride across the Big River Crossing.
The crossing, which is located just west of downtown, spans the Mississippi River and offers stunning views of the city skyline.
In addition to being a beautiful spot for a photo, the crossing is also a great place to get some exercise.
Mud Island River Park
Mud Island River Park is a 50-acre park located on an island in the Mississippi River.
The park includes a riverwalk that provides stunning views of the river, as well as a museum, an amphitheater, and a playground.
The park is also home to the Mud Island River Park Zoo, which features over 100 animals from all over the world.
Visitors can take a ride on the island’s monorail or take a boat ride to see the sights from the water.
Regardless of how you choose to explore it, Mud Island River Park is sure to provide an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone.
The Children’s Museum of Memphis
The Children’s Museum of Memphis has three floors of interactive exhibits that are designed to educate and entertain kids of all ages.
Visitors can learn about science, art, history, and culture while having fun at the same time.
The museum also offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year, making it a great place to visit again and again.
Museum of Science & History
The Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tennessee is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the city.
The museum has a wide variety of exhibitions, ranging from the history of the city to the civil rights movement.
There is also a planetarium and an IMAX theater. The Museum of Science & History is a great place to take the family, as there are many activities for children.
The Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee is one of the best places to see unusual metalwork from around the world.
The museum has an extensive collection of art made from metal, ranging from traditional sculptures to modern abstract pieces.
Visitors can also watch blacksmiths and other metalworkers at work in the on-site forge, and see demonstrations of welding, casting, and other metalworking techniques.
The Metal Museum also offers classes for those who want to learn more about working with metal.
Full Gospel Tabernalcle
Among the most popular tourist destinations is the Full Gospel Tabernacle, also known as the Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel.
Built in 1956, the Chapel was where Elvis and his family worshiped during his childhood.
Today, it stands as a testament to Elvis’ legacy, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art
The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art houses a collection of over 2,500 objects from Asia and the Middle East, as well as a library and research center.
The museum’s galleries are arranged chronologically, so visitors can appreciate the development of different art styles over time.
Highlights of the collection include ancient Palestinian pottery, Japanese scrolls, and Chinese calligraphy.
The Belz Museum is also home to a beautiful garden, which features bamboo, plum trees, and a koi pond.
Visitors can stroll through the garden or sit and relax in the serene setting.
Statue of Elvis
No visit to Memphis is complete without paying tribute to the city’s most famous resident, Elvis Presley.
The best way to do this is by visiting the Elvis Presley Statue, which is located in downtown Memphis.
The statue was unveiled in 1980 and stands nearly 12 feet tall. It depicts Elvis in his iconic stance, with one leg raised and his arms outstretched.
Visitors are welcome to take photos with the statue, and there are also a number of nearby restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat.
Memphis is also home to a number of other Elvis-related attractions, including his former home, Graceland, and the Elvis Presley Museum.
Whether you’re an Elvis fan or not, a visit to Memphis isn’t complete without seeing the statue of the King himself.
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
There’s no better place to learn about the history of cotton than at The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange.
This world-famous attraction tells the story of how this staple crop has shaped the course of human history.
From its early origins in Africa to its impact on the American economy, the museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Visitors can see how cotton is processed and even try their hand at picking it.
The museum also houses a collection of rare and antique cotton garments, making it a must-see for anyone interested in fashion history.
Tom Lee Park
Tom Lee Park is a thirty-acre park located on the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee.
The park is named for Tom Lee, an African American man who saved thirty-two people from a riverboat accident in 1925.
Tom Lee Park is best known for its beautiful views of the river and the downtown Memphis skyline.
Visitors to the park can enjoy walking, picnicking, and playgrounds. The park also has a fishing pier and a boat launch.
In addition, Tom Lee Park hosts a number of events throughout the year, including concerts and festivals.
Blues Hall of Fame Museum
The Blues Hall of Fame Museum chronicles the history of the blues, from its roots in African-American culture to its present-day popularity.
Visitors can view artifacts, listen to audio recordings, and watch videos of classic performances.
The museum also houses a library and research center, making it an ideal resource for scholars and music lovers alike. In addition to its educational value, the Blues Hall of Fame Museum is also a fun and entertaining place to visit.
The museum hosts regular concerts and events, and its friendly staff is always happy to share their knowledge of this important musical genre.
Beale Street Landing
This riverfront park offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and the Memphis skyline.
Visitors can stroll along the riverbank, go for a swim in the pool, or take a ride on the paddle boats.
The park also has a playground, picnic areas, and a stage for live music.
This beautiful Victorian home is a must-see for any history buff or architecture enthusiast.
The house was built in 1870, and it is one of the few remaining examples of Italianate architecture in Memphis.
The house was originally built for two wealthy cotton merchants, and it remained in their family for generations.
Today, the house is open to the public for tours. Visitors can see original furnishings, paintings, and other artifacts that provide a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy families who once called this house home.
The Woodruff-Fontaine House is a National Historic Landmark, and it is one of the best places to learn about the history of Memphis.
Levitt Shell is a unique venue that offers free concerts from a variety of genres, making it a great place to enjoy live music.
The Levitt Shell is also a great place to relax and take in the beautiful scenery of Overton Park.
Visitors can bring their own picnic dinner and enjoy the sunset over the city. For those looking for a more active evening, the Levitt Shell hosts weekly dance lessons that are open to the public.
Dixon Gallery & Gardens
One of the best attractions is the Dixon Gallery & Gardens. This museum is home to an extensive collection of art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photographs and prints.
The gallery also features a beautiful garden, which is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
In addition to the artwork and gardens, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens also offers educational programs and events throughout the year.
Fire Museum of Memphis
The Fire Museum of Memphis is dedicated to preserving the history of the fire service in Memphis and the surrounding area.
Visitors can explore a variety of exhibits that highlight the brave men and women who have served as firefighters over the years.
The museum also features a unique collection of firefighting equipment, including an authentic fire engine that was used in the early 1900s.
In addition, the museum offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults. These programs provide an opportunity to learn about fire safety and the important role that firefighters play in our community.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to a large collection of art from around the world, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs.
One of the highlights of the museum is the Egyptian Gallery, which features an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Visitors can also see works by American artists such as Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper.
The museum also offers a variety of educational programs, events, and exhibitions throughout the year.
Riverside Drive Welcome Center
One of the best ways to get acquainted with the city is to visit the Riverside Drive Welcome Center.
Here, visitors can learn about the history of Memphis and pick up a map of the city.
The welcome center is also a great place to grab a bite to eat or shop for souvenirs.
Overton Park is home to a multitude of activities, including golfing, picnicking, hiking, and more.
Visitors can also enjoy the scenic views of the park from one of the many overlooks. In addition,
Overton Park is home to a number of historical landmarks, including the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Shell.
The park is also a great place to catch a glimpse of local wildlife, as there are numerous bird and animal species that call the park home.
Lichterman Nature Center
If you’re looking for a nature escape in the heart of the city, Lichterman Nature Center is the perfect spot.
This hidden gem is located in Overton Park and offers 65 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows to explore.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the grounds or participate in one of the many educational programs offered throughout the year.
The nature center is also home to an assortment of wildlife, including ducks, turtles, fish, and deer.
Lichterman Nature Center is a great place to connect with nature and learn about the local ecosystem.
Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island
One of the best places to learn about the city’s past is the Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island.
The museum tells the story of how the river has shaped Memphis over the years, and features interactive exhibits that bring the city’s history to life.
Visitors can also take a walk along the Riverwalk, which offers stunning views of the Mississippi River.
The museum is a great place to spend a few hours, and it’s sure to leave you with a greater appreciation for Memphis and its unique place in American history.
The Crosstown Concourse is a redeveloped urban neighborhood and is home to a variety of businesses, restaurants, retail shops, and artists’ studios.
There’s also a grocery store, a fitness center, and a charter school onsite.
Plus, the concourse itself is a work of art, with murals and sculptures throughout the space.
Best of all, Crosstown Concourse is easily accessible from downtown Memphis.
The Memphis Pyramid, also known as the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, is a shopping center and hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.
The 32-story pyramid-shaped structure was originally built as a sports arena and opened in 1991.
After sitting vacant for several years, it was transformed into a Bass Pro Shops store and opened to the public in 2015.
In addition to the massive outdoor retail store, the Memphis Pyramid houses a hotel, an indoor swamp, a restaurants, an archery range, and a bowling alley.
Visitors can also take advantage of the observation deck, which offers stunning views of the Mississippi River and the city of Memphis.
Memphis Orpheum Theater
If you’re looking for a truly unique theater experience, then you have to check out the Memphis Orpheum Theater.
This historic theater has been entertaining audiences since 1928, and it continues to be one of the best places to see a show in Memphis.
From musicals to comedy shows, there’s always something exciting going on at the Orpheum Theater.
And if you’re a fan of live music, then you’ll definitely want to catch a performance at this iconic venue.
With its world-class acoustics and stunning architecture, the Orpheum Theater is an unforgettable place to see a show.
Stax Records was founded in 1957. Stax was one of the most influential soul music labels of the 20th century.
The label’s roster included iconic artists such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T. & the MGs.
Today, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music tells the story of the label and its impact on popular culture.
Visitors can see iconic artifacts such as Isaac Hayes’ gold post records and Otis Redding’s stage costume.
The museum also features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience the recording process firsthand.
With its deep roots in Memphis’ musical history, a visit to Stax Records is a must for any music lover.
The Mallory-Neely House is a historic house that was built in 1852 and is a great example of Victorian architecture.
The house has been beautifully restored and contains original furnishings and artwork.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the house and learn about the history of the family who lived there.
The Mallory-Neely House is also home to a museum that contains rotating exhibits on various aspects of Memphis history.
This is a great place to learn about the city’s past and get a taste of what life was like in Victorian times.
Edge Motor Museum
If you’re a car lover, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Edge Motor Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.
The museum is home to an impressive collection of classic and rare cars, including a Shelby Mustang GT500 and a Ferrari 458 Italia.
In addition to the cars on display, the museum also offers a variety of interactive exhibits, such as a virtual reality racing simulator and a hands-on wrenching station.
Whether you’re a gearhead or just a casual fan of cars, the Edge Motor Museum is sure to have something that will ignite your passion.
Cooper-Young Historic District
Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012, Cooper-Young is one of the most iconic and vibrant neighborhoods in Memphis.
Home to an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars, Cooper-Young is the perfect place to spend a day (or two) exploring.
Be sure to check out some of the neighborhood’s signature sights, including the Murals at First Congregational Church, the T.O. Fuller State Park, and the Cooper-Young Farmer’s Market.
And don’t forget to enjoy a meal (or two) at one of Cooper-Young’s many excellent restaurants. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.
Stretching for over four miles along the Mississippi River, the walkway offers stunning views of the river and the city skyline.
It is also a great place to get some exercise, as there are plenty of opportunities for walking, running, and biking.
The walkway is also home to a number of public art installations, making it a great place to enjoy some culture as well.
Memphis Music Hall of Fame
The Memphis Music Hall of Fame pays tribute to the musicians who have made an impact on the city’s musical heritage.
Located in the historic district of downtown Memphis, the hall of fame features interactive exhibits that showcase the work of more than 200 inductees.
Visitors can learn about the history of Memphis music through audio and video presentations, and see artifacts such as stage costumes and instruments.
The hall of fame also hosts regular events, including live performances and film screenings.
Best Places to Eat in Memphis
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
One of the best places to get a meal in Memphis is Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. The restaurant has been serving up mouth-watering fried chicken since 1952, and it has become a local institution. The chicken is crispy and juicy, and the secret recipe seasoning gives it a unique flavor that is unlike any other fried chicken. In addition to the great food, Gus’s also has a lively atmosphere, with live music often playing in the background. It is no wonder that Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is one of the best places to eat in Memphis.
The Soul Fish Cafe Inc
There are few things more quintessentially Southern than a good plate of fried fish, and Soul Fish Cafe Inc in Memphis, Tennessee does it better than anyone else. This unassuming restaurant might not look like much from the outside, but inside you’ll find some of the best soul food in the city. The menu features all the comfort food classics, from catfish and grits to chicken and waffles. And everything is cooked to perfection – the fish is crispy and flaky, the grits are creamy and rich, and the waffles are fluffy and golden brown. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, Soul Fish Cafe is definitely worth a visit.
B.B. King’s Blues Club
There’s no shortage of great places to eat in Memphis, Tennessee. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, then you can’t go wrong with B.B. King’s Blues Club. This iconic restaurant is known for its delicious soul food and live music. The menu features all of your Southern favorites, like fried chicken and collard greens. And when it comes to live music, there’s no better place in town than B.B. King’s Blues Club. The club features some of the best blues musicians in the country, and there’s always a great show to enjoy. So if you’re looking for a truly unforgettable dining experience, be sure to check out B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis, Tennessee.
BBQ is a Memphis staple, and there’s no better place to get it than Central BBQ.
The pork shoulder sandwiches are legendary, and the ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender.
The sides are just as good as the main event, so be sure to try the mac and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a cold beer. Central BBQ is the perfect place to eat your way through Memphis.
Best Accommodations in Memphis
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there anything cool in Memphis?
There are definitely some cool places to check out in Memphis! A few of our favorites include the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, Beale Street Landing, and the Woodruff-Fontaine House.
Is Memphis TN worth visiting?
Absolutely! Memphis is a great city to visit for its rich history, culture, and food. Plus, there’s always something going on – whether it’s a music festival or a sporting event.
What is Memphis TN best known for?
There are a few things that Memphis is best known for, including being the birth place of rock ‘n’ roll and the home of Elvis Presley. The city is also well-known for its barbecue and soul food.
Memphis is best known for its rich musical history, as the home of blues and rock ‘n’ roll. The city is also known for its barbecue, as well as being the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
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