My husband and I have visited Memphis, Tennessee as teenagers and adults, but we never really considered it a family destination. We were recently invited as a family to visit the city best known for blues, brews, and barbecue. We left with a new perspective on the town. My family is proof that you shouldn’t judge a book, or in this case a city, by its cover.
Memphis, Tennessee is about a 4 and a half hour drive from my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Like my beloved Birmingham, Memphis is a city continually working toward improving its community for the better. When the Memphis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau invited us to visit, my husband and I wondered if there would actually be anything for our kids to do in Memphis. We were pleasantly surprised to find out just how incorrect were our assumptions. We discovered plenty of family friendly activities, and I am happy to share our 5 Family Fun Spots in Memphis, Tennessee:
1. The Children’s Museum of Memphis
Children’s Museum of Memphis (CMOM) is located in the heart of downtown Memphis on Central Avenue, near the Liberty Bowl stadium. Several hands-on exhibits and outdoor attractions provide perfect entertainment for preschool and elementary aged children. My twins split their time between the “grocery store” and the “Fed-Ex Delivery plane” simulator.
We also ventured outside to their expansive playground complete with slides and a zip line. The weather during our early April visit was too chilly to experience their splash pad area, but a quick glance over the fence confirmed how much fun that would’ve been.
Traveling Mom tip: Check with your local museum membership to see if CMOM is a reciprocal member. If they’re on the list, you can get 50% off admission prices for up to 6 people.
2. The Peabody Hotel
The Peabody Hotel is a historical junkie’s dream come true. From the architecture to the décor, adults will be entranced by the beauty of this Memphis landmark. The entire family will be delighted with the traditional March of the Peabody Ducks that takes place every day at 11am and 5pm. The ducks, who live in the fountain of the hotel and have a cozy space on the roof, “march” down in the elevator every day. The procession includes an official “Duckmaster” of ceremonies and a red carpet. Your family won’t soon forget this truly unique Memphis tradition.
Traveling Mom tip: Arrive at least 20 minutes early to ensure a great viewing area. Many hotel guests claim the lobby space well before the festivities begin, so if you are not a guest of the Peabody you may have to watch the ceremony from the balcony (but it’s still a great view!).
3. The Memphis Zoo
My twins love a good zoo, and Memphis certainly has one. Be forewarned: the Memphis Zoo is expansive. If we weren’t trying to squeeze in as many Memphis things to do in one weekend, we could have spent our entire day at the zoo. From pandas to polar bears to a new hippo exhibit, I have no doubt you will be able to find your child’s favorite animal at this zoo.
Another bonus? Their café serves delicious food, and it’s right next to the main playground. Parents can take a breather and kids can run off all the mystery energy they seem to conjure up whenever a playground is sighted!
Traveling Mom tip: The Memphis Zoo is a member of the American Zoological Association (AZA). If your local zoo is also a member, you can get up to 50% off of your admission to The Memphis Zoo. Never hurts to save a little money, does it?
4. Shelby Farms Park
A relatively new concept to Memphis, Shelby Farms Park is 4,500 acres of lush green space with 6.5 miles of urban trails and has huge potential for future projects. My family visited their Woodland Discovery Playground. Not only is it great for several ages and skill sets, but it is also ADA accessible so children of all abilities are able to enjoy the playground. Six “nests” include giant tree houses, slides, innovative swinging structures, and an open grassy area for free play. My twins loved the big slides and swings the most. If you need a place for the kids to burn off some steam, this is definitely the spot for you.
5. Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid
If you’re unfamiliar with Bass Pro Shops, it is a southern chain of giant retail stores for hunters, fishermen, hikers, and the general southern “outdoorsman.” Basically, the exact opposite of our family’s interests. However, being the good parents that we are, we know better than to pass up an opportunity to entertain the masses, so we usually stop into the store for a visit if there is one in the area.
Almost all Bass Pro Shops have a “Shootin’ Gallery.” Take the kids there to practice marksmanship with arcade-style guns, visit their general store full of candy, popcorn, and taffy, and stop for a look at ponds and aquarium tanks full of wildlife.
Even if you’ve just returned from The Memphis Zoo, you’ll be surprised at how fascinated your kids will be with the catfish and giant koi circling your feet. Whether or not you actually make a purchase in the store, the Bass Pro Shop in Memphis is worth the visit simply because of its impressive size (it is the largest Bass Pro Shop in the world, after all).
Have you ever been to Memphis with your family? I’d love to hear your favorite spots and see if I missed any!