Looking for things to do in Memphis? We’ve got you covered with some of the best things to do in Memphis. The birthplace of rock & roll is home to many fantastic attractions that are sure to please anyone. Whether you are a Memphis native or a first-time tourist, these places to go in Memphis are sure to be the highlight of your day.
15 Best Things to do in Memphis TN That You Shouldn’t Miss
Visiting the former home of Elvis Presley is one of the most iconic things to do in Tennessee. As one of the largest recording artists of all time, Elvis lived the opulent life of a mega-celebrity. By stepping into his former home and surrounding property, you are able to get a first-hand look at the eccentric life of The King of Rock and Roll.
Perched on top of a hill, the home itself is full of wonders. With many different themed rooms, including jungle and mirror rooms, it is no wonder that Graceland is the second most visited home in the US. The house is also Elvis memorabilia, as well as other rock & roll artifacts, making it a staple on any music enthusiast’s bucket list.
The land surrounding the home is equally as beautiful. Beautiful gardens surround the property, and it is clear to see that Elvis’ extended far beyond the walls of the home. Boasting a huge collection of vintage cars, there is even a plane on the property that Elvis used to use! Make sure to put this place on your Weekend In Memphis Itinerary!
National Civil Rights Museum
Memphis is a city with close ties to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. that took place in Memphis, the city made a conscious effort to embrace its history in an effort to teach others. This noble goal gave us one of the most informative and powerful things to do in Memphis.
One of the best repositories for Civil Rights history, the National Civil Rights Museum contains a story that takes hours to finish. Featuring first-hand accounts of the painful struggle for Civil Rights, this museum will challenge the way you think. However, experiences like this are important in understanding the impact this history has.
The National Civil Rights Museum does an amazing job of immersing you in history. Full of life-size replicas, you can really comprehend the weight of these issues during your time at this museum. Going through this museum will also change the way you look at the Civil Rights Movement long after you have left the exhibits.
Beale Street is another iconic Memphis spot with ties to black history. One of the most interesting black history sites in the south, this historic district was built by the black community in the years following the Civil War. By walking through Beale Street, you can experience some amazing history.
The blues and Beale Street go hand-in-hand. As the black community in Memphis created blues music out of slave hymns, this area was used as a home base for the music. Now, Beale Street is one of the best places in the world to immerse yourself in the rich history of the music.
You can do more than learn about blues at Beale Street! There are many fantastic venues to catch a live performance. Along with the blues Beale Street hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, one of the best Memphis tourist attractions for anyone who loves barbecue.
Stax Museum of American Soul
Memphis is not just about blues and rock & roll. Soul music is an integral part of the city, and the Stax Museum of American Soul allows you to explore the past, present, and future of this proud genre.
The Stax Museum was started by Stax Records, a former division of Atlantic Records. Many star musicians worked with Stax Records, but none more famous than Otis Redding. The King of Soul was signed by Stax in 1962, and they worked together to produce all of the late musician’s hits.
The Stax Museum is home to many interactive exhibits that put you right in the heart of soul music. The Listening Station at the museum is the perfect place to throw on your favorite soul tracks or discover something new. Spending a day at the Stax Museum of American Soul provides some of the best entertainment in Memphis.
Mud Island River Park
Mud Island River Park is one of the best things to do in Memphis for kids. While the actual Mississippi River is more than 1,000 miles long, Mud Island River Park condenses it into one short walk. With every inch equating to one real mile, you can walk all across the Mississippi in a single day.
The walk is also littered with historical facts and markers. At Mud Island River Park, you can learn all about the significance the Mississippi River had on American history. This park blends a leisurely stroll down a river with all kinds of fantastic history facts.
Just like the real thing, Mud Island River Park dumps off into the Gulf of Mexico. However, this river ends in a 1.3-million-gallon enclosure where you can enjoy lunch while gazing across the Memphis skyline or rent a pedal boat to traverse the “Gulf.”
The Peabody Hotel
The Peabody Hotel is one of the best hotels in the south. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, this hotel puts you central to all of the best attractions in Memphis. After a long day of exploring Memphis, you can come back and relax in this ultra-luxury hotel.
However, the highlight of this hotel is the ducks. The lobby of the Peabody Hotel features a giant fountain with live ducks, and these ducks live the life of celebrities. Every day, at 11am and 5pm, these ducks waddle down the lobby of the hotel.
The residents of the Peabody Hotel cannot get enough of these ducks. People from all over will stop what they are doing to watch these ducks take their regal march. With many guests swarming these ducks with cameras, it is easy to see why they are the most famous fowl in Memphis.
Let your inner artist out at Sun Studio. Known as the birthplace of rock & roll, you are immediately greeted by a giant guitar jutting out of the building. This is just the start of an amazing experience, and one of the best things to do in Memphis for adults that love rock & roll.
If you love memorabilia, you’ll love Sun Studio. Sun Studio has it all, from one of the first microphone Elvis used at 18, to the recording studio B.B. King made some of his greatest hits in. Take a piece of rock history home with you at Sun Studio’s eclectic gift shop.
Sun Studio is also still a fully functioning recording studio. Once the exhibits close at 7pm, the booths open to anyone with money to spend and a song to sing. While the studio may be pricy, you can always claim to have recorded a song in the same building as rock legends like Elvis.
Memphis Gong Chamber
Feel the vibrations at one of the strangest shops in Memphis. The world-famous Memphis Drum Shop features a back room with 250 different gongs, ranging in size from 20 to 80 inches. You are able to book a “Sound Journey” where the people at the Memphis Drum Shop will take you to the back and let you experience the amazing sounds these gongs produce.
The gong produces vibrations that have an almost spiritual impact on those who listen. While they have always had a large impact on the spiritual community, people come from all over for the one-of-a-kind experience of the Memphis Gong Chamber.
Gong sounds are hard to come across. The largest gong, an 80-inch behemoth, runs well over $28,000. If that figure isn’t exactly in your price range, the Memphis Gong Chamber is the perfect place to get a taste of that gong lifestyle.
Who knew the 7th largest pyramid in the world is located right here in Memphis? The 300-foot-tall Memphis Pyramid started out as a concert venue but has now morphed into a mall/tourist destination. Be prepared to spend all day in this amazing spot.
The Memphis Pyramid has everything you need for a vacation. There are your typical mall stores, but you can also stay in a hotel, try your hand at archery, or visit an alligator swamp all within the confines of this pyramid. With so many things to do in a central location, the Memphis Pyramid is one of the best things to do in Memphis with kids.
The only problem with the Memphis Pyramid is leaving! The labyrinth-like structure of the pyramid is so full of things to do it will feel like you have never explored all of. This is definitely one of the coolest things Memphis has to offer.
The Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
Memphis played a large role in black history in the US. Aside from its role in the Civil Rights Movement, Memphis was an important part of the underground railroad. Here at The Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, you can explore this chapter of Memphis history.
The Underground Railroad was a network of freed slaves and abolitionists who took escaped slaves and transported them to the north where they could be free. This was an extremely perilous journey, and this museum highlights the danger that faced all that rode the Underground Railroad.
Built in a former stop along the Underground Railroad, this museum is full of history. There are many historical artifacts that help paint the full picture of the Underground Railroad. If you are looking to learn something during your trip to Memphis, look no further than The Slave Haven Underground Railroad.
Shelby Farms is one of the most scenic places to go in Memphis. With beautiful countryside as far as the eye can see, this is the perfect spot for all nature lovers. Shelby farms is a staple in any Memphis bucket list.
There are things to do for everyone in Shelby Farms. With an on-property lake, hiking spots all over, and a golf course, you will never be bored at Shelby Farms. There is even a BMX course, where you can spectate an actual BMX competition.
The best thing about Shelby Farms is that there is no admission fee. While rentals do cost money, there is no charge to enjoy the beautiful property. This makes Shelby Farms one of the best free things to do in Memphis.
Take a trip back in time at the Orpheum Theatre. One of the longest running theatres in the US, the Orpheum still puts on shows! This is the perfect spot to catch a Broadway show, jazz performance, or ballet recital.
Located in the heart of Memphis, the Orpheum Theatre transports you to a different time. With its giant illuminating sign that has not been changed in years, attending this theatre makes you feel like you are in a different era.
Be warned, the Orpheum Theatre is haunted! A 1920s-era girl watches over the grounds and anyone who steps in. Don’t worry, though, she is a friendly ghost. Be sure to be on the lookout for a friendly little ghost while you are catching a show at the Orpheum Theatre.
Crystal Shrine Grotto
One of the most bizarre places to go in Memphis, it is hard to know what to make of Crystal Shrine Grotto. Artist Dionicio Rodriguez carved this cave into a hill in Memorial Park Cemetery and decorated it with fantastical carvings and religious imagery.
Stepping into Crystal Shrine Grotto transports you to a different world. The walls are covered in biblical scenes that are enhanced with life-size sculptures created to amaze. Add in a little harp music for effect, and you are located squarely in one of the strangest places Memphis has to offer.
Aside from the religious imagery, Crystal Shrine Grotto is naturally beautiful. The rock formations in the man-made cave are stunning. The cave is also full of fake cracks that were created to let in just enough sunlight to enhance the experience.
South Main Arts District
The South Main Arts District is a Memphis staple. With its beautiful old brick buildings, this is one of the most beautiful places in the city. It has even been featured in numerous movies, from Walk the Line to Elizabethtown.
While in the South Main Arts District, be sure to catch the trolley. An eye-catching bright red trolley runs through the area and is the perfect way to get around. There are sights to see all over the area, and you will need to ride the trolley to get everything done.
As an arts district, South Main is littered with beautiful murals. These spots are perfect for an Instagram-worthy photo. There are also a ton of cool local shops to pick up a souvenir or grab a bite to eat.
Memphis Botanic Garden
The Memphis Botanic Garden is a sight to see. It is the perfect place to escape the bustle of the city and grab some much-needed serenity. If you need a break, check out one of the most serene Memphis tourist attractions out there.
There are all kinds of fantastic plants in the Memphis Botanic Garden. That is because Memphis Botanic Garden is actually multiple gardens. There is a Zen Garden, butterfly garden, and many other choices that will bring any mind to ease.
If you are looking for things to do, Memphis Botanic Garden has that too. With weekend activities like egg hunts, daffodil races, and educational walks, there are always things to do here. They also serve a delicious brunch for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the Memphis Botanic Garden with a mimosa in hand.
There are so many things to do in Memphis. This amazing city provides attractions for every type of tourist. Whether you like history, nature, shopping, or anything else, Memphis is the perfect city for your next vacation.