Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss in the Home of the Blues? Our guide to the best things to do in Memphis is just what you need!
The “Home of the Blues” and the “Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Memphis, Tennessee is a great travel destination spot for music, food, art, and history lovers.
Notorious for its official barbecue cuisine, Memphis is a hot spot filled with worldwide favorite BBQ spots, including some joints like Bar-B-Q Shop and The Rendezvous.
Walk down the world-famous Beale Street, one of the most iconic streets in America, for a night filled with music, including jazz, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll.
The historic location is highlighted not only by its ties to music and famous artists that have gotten their start in Memphis but because of the city’s ties to African American history.
Spots like the National Civil Rights Museum are dedicated to preserving the history of African American history and continue to educate future generations on the lessons preserved through the past.
Music-wise, Memphis has seen top artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Rufus Thomas, B. B. King, and Otis Redding. And to this day, the city’s history with these local and world legends has been passed on through dedicated spots like The Blues Hall Of Fame Museum.
In this article, we’ve created a top list of what to do in Memphis, Tennessee, during your stay in one of the top travel destinations in the world!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things To Do In Memphis
- 1) Walk Through History At The National Civil Rights Museum
- 2) Stroll Through The Historic Victorian Village
- 3) Explore Downtown Memphis
- 4) Stroll The Impressive Memphis Botanic Garden
- 5) Buy Tickets To An Event At Mud Island Park
- 6) Walk The World-Famous Beale Street
- 7) Check Out The Extensive Collection At The Memphis Museum Of Science & History
- 8) Tour The Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- 9) Visit The Memphis Music Hall Of Fame
- 10) Soak In The Birthplace Of Rock ‘N’ Rock At The Sun Studio
- 11) Sink Into The Beauty Of Art At The Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art
- 12) Step Into The Wild At The Memphis Zoo
- 13) Hit Up The BallPark At The AutoZone Park
- 14) Get A Taste Of Memphis On A Food Tour
- 15) Walk The Halls Of The Blues Hall Of Fame Museum
- 16) Go On An Adventure At Shelby Farms Park
- 17) Join The Crowd At The Memphis Pyramid
- 18) Stop By For A Performance At The Memphis Orpheum Theater
- 19) Bask In The Iconic Views Of The Mississippi River At Tom Lee Park
- 20) Bring The Family To The Children’s Museum Of Memphis
- 21) Step Back In Time At The Peabody Hotel
- Where to Stay in Memphis, Tennessee
The Best Things To Do In Memphis
There are plenty of unique things to do in Memphis to explore during your stay. From strolling through the historic Victorian Village to walking the Blues Hall Of Fame Museum halls, there is a range of fun and unique Memphis attractions waiting to be experienced.
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1) Walk Through History At The National Civil Rights Museum
At the National Civil Rights Museum, visitors can trace the history of the civil rights movement dating back from the 17th century to the present day through educational exhibits.
Established in 1991, the museum is one of the nation’s premier heritage and cultural museums. Dedicated to sharing the history and lessons explored from the American Civil Rights Movement, guests can explore the former Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Walk through history at the National Civil Rights Museum, honing historical collections, interactive exhibits, and powerful speakers hosted during special events to learn of the emphatic history that inspired change.
- Address: 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, Tennessee 38103
- Hours: 9am – 5pm (closed Tuesdays)
- Cost: $18
2) Stroll Through The Historic Victorian Village
Famously nicknamed Millionaire’s Row, the impressive line of mansions that stretch down Adams Avenue near downtown Memphis is now known as Victorian Village.
This famous Memphis landmark grew in popularity during the late 1800s during a boom of wealth that encouraged wealthy Memphians to build in the area.
However, it wasn’t until the end of World War II that many of the mansions were abandoned from the backlash of the war.
In the present day, Victorian Village is home to the remaining mansions from this period, along with a cocktail lounge, a local favorite breakfast and lunch spot, and a historic bed and breakfast.
Two impressive homes to visit in Victorian Village include the Mallory-Neely House, one of the oldest houses in Memphis to retain its furnishings, and the Woodruff-Fontaine House Museum said to host the ghost of Mollie Fontaine. Both of these homes offer free public tours.
3) Explore Downtown Memphis
A glorious hub spot to experience blues clubs and retro jazz halls firsthand, downtown Memphis is filled with unique Memphis attractions waiting to be explored!
Packed with fun activities, downtown hosts the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, a music museum telling the story of musical pioneers, and the bustling world-famous Beale Street, which played a significant role in the history of blues music.
So bask in live soulful music as you embark on a journey down the streets of downtown where civil rights stories are told through museums and historical landmarks.
Downtown welcomes all with many accessible and inspiring attractions—and let’s not forget some of the best restaurants featuring mouthwatering barbecue!
You can also book a Memphis city tour if you want to explore downtown with a guide.
Book your Memphis city tour on Get Your Guide!
4) Stroll The Impressive Memphis Botanic Garden
Spanning 96 acres, the Memphis Botanic Garden is the perfect place for a relaxing stroll surrounded by fresh air and fragrant flowers.
Dedicated to personifying a rich horticulture environment, the Memphis Botanic Garden’s success has enticed over 225,000 guests to visit annually.
The commitment to spreading appreciation of the environment is shown through the garden’s 30 specialty gardens and the Level 4 Arboretum, a botanical collection composed exclusively of trees.
This is one of the best things to do in Memphis on a beautiful sunny day.
- Address: 750 Cherry Rd, Memphis, TN 38117
- Hours: 9am – 6pm
- Cost: $12
5) Buy Tickets To An Event At Mud Island Park
A small peninsula in the heart of the Mississippi River, Mud Island Park boasts the brand new 50-foot Memphis sign and iconic views of the Memphis skyline.
Only a short walk from downtown Memphis, many come to explore what Mud Island Park has to offer. The 5,000-seat concert venue is a popular spot for performances and events. In addition, the 18-gallery Mississippi River Museum is an excellent family-friend activity that can serve curious minds of all ages.
Admission to Mud Island Park is free. The Mississippi River Museum is accessible to visitors only from Thursday to Sunday. Tickets on other days will cost a fee for entry.
Check the website to see what events and outdoor concerts are on when you’re in Memphis Tennessee!
Read Next: When planning your time in the Volunteer State, be sure to check out our guide on all the best things to do in Tennessee.
6) Walk The World-Famous Beale Street
A world-famous historic street in downtown Memphis, Beale Street presents a large part of not only the city’s history but the history of blues music.
Beale Street is a great attraction to explore if you like food, music, and history, featuring three blocks of favorite local restaurants, indie shops, and boisterous nightclubs. Gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, delta blues, and R&B are belted in a magnificent display through the many restaurants, clubs, and bars dotted down the street.
This entertainment district is one of the most iconic streets in America. Labeled as a National Historic Landmark, Beale Street hosts the Beale Street Music Festival every May to feature major headliners like Snoop Dogg, The Killers, and Neil Young.
To experience America’s most iconic street, join this guided walking tour to learn about the “Home of the Blues.”
7) Check Out The Extensive Collection At The Memphis Museum Of Science & History
The Memphis Museum Of Science and History is a powerful learning center dedicated to history and science attractions displayed through various interactive exhibits along with the planetarium and IMAX theater.
From prehistoric fossils to Victorian architecture, this museum is filled with fun educational exhibits to explore. At the planetarium, guests can star gaze as they witness an awe-inspiring meteor shower.
Then, dive into the museum’s collection of rocks, gems, crystals, and minerals, or scour the impressive wall-to-wall history of the Pink Palace Mansion, home to the extensive Memphis and Midsouth history.
- Address: 3050 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38111
- Hours: 10:30am – 5pm (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)
- Cost: $15
8) Tour The Stax Museum of American Soul Music
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving and promoting the extensive history and greatness of Stax Records and American soul music.
The museum continues the legacy of Stax Records, one of the world’s top soul music record labels. With an impressive record, the record label launched the careers of top names like Otis Redding, Booker T., and Isaac Hayes.
Established at the original site of the Stax Records studio, the museum is committed to paying tribute to significant artists and legends in the field of soul music. This is done through interactive exhibits and other displays, including records, films, and the extensive collection of over 2,000 memorabilia.
As one of the top music museums in the world, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Memphis.
- Address: 926 E McLemore Ave, Memphis, TN 38126
- Hours: 10am – 5pm (Closed Mondays)
- Cost: $13
9) Visit The Memphis Music Hall Of Fame
Honoring the achievements of famous Memphis musicians, the Memphis Music Hall Of Fame holds an induction ceremony and concert every year to continue the legacy!
Since its establishment in 2012, more than 45 individuals and groups have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Each inductee has been responsible for helping shape modern music, impacting Memphis and the world forever.
The Memphis Music Hall Of Fame uses fun and educational exhibitions like rare video performances, exclusive memorabilia, interviews, and other interactive exhibits for guests to explore the magic of music and music history.
To learn about icons like Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Otis Reading, and more, the Memphis Music Hall Of Fame is a worthwhile stop to take!
- Address: 126 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103
- Hours: 10am – 5pm
- Cost: $8
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10) Soak In The Birthplace Of Rock ‘N’ Rock At The Sun Studio
Another one of the best things to do in Memphis for music lovers is visit Sun Studio!
The birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, Sun Studio was the career backbone for big names like B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash. Now a National Historic Landmark, the studio started a movement of music that has gone down in history.
On this guided tour, guests can tour where rock ‘n’ roll and some of the biggest names in the industry got their start!
Throughout the Sun Studio tour, guests will explore the Sun Studio and visit other famous music-related landmarks of Memphis, with a professional musician handing out fun facts on the history of music in Memphis.
- Address: 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38103
- Hours: 10am – 5:15pm (Closes at 6:15pm on Fri/Sat)
- Cost: $15
11) Sink Into The Beauty Of Art At The Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art
Founded in 1916, the Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art is the largest and oldest museum in Tennessee.
Showing an extensive collection that expands through exhibitions, programs, and collections, the museum is renowned for its visual arts display and temporary and permanent exhibitions.
Throughout the year, over 12,000 children participate in the accommodating free school tours that include hands-on activities to encourage connections between the artist and the artist’s creation.
Fit for all ages are programs that bring forth lecturers, dance performances, family events, film series, and concerts.
The Memphis Brooks Museum Of Art offers 29 galleries, a research library, a print study room, two art classrooms, a cafe, public and private meeting places, and a professional auditorium waiting to be explored.
- Address: 1934 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
- Hours: Wednesday 10am – 8pm, Thurs/Fri 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 11am – 5pm
- Cost: $10
12) Step Into The Wild At The Memphis Zoo
Running since 1906, the Memphis Zoo has played a significant role in Overton Park and Memphis for over a century.
Home to over 4,500 animals and 500 species, this unique zoo is a passport to wildlife spanning the globe.
Visitors can witness a range of stunning species. At this magical destination, visit a sea lion feeding or stargaze at the magical sea life in the aquarium. The Memphis Zoo has an adventure of wildlife waiting for you!
- Address: 2000 Prentiss Pl, Memphis, TN 38112
- Hours: 9am – 6pm
- Cost: $21
13) Hit Up The BallPark At The AutoZone Park
AutoZone Park is one of the top tourist attractions in Memphis, Tennessee.
Home to the Memphis Redbirds of the International League and Memphis 901 FC of the USL Championship, the Minor League Baseball stadium was named Minor League Ballpark of the Year in 2009 and has received yearly awards.
With over 14,000 seats in the 11-acre facility, AutoZone Park is a great activity option to explore. Buy tickets to a game or simply tour the stadium for a fun, eventful sporty activity. Check the website to browse tickets!
As the finest ballpark in the minor leagues, bring the family to a game to grab a picture with Rocky the Redbird, traverse the 24-foot climbing wall, and grab a bite of the barbecue nachos.
- Address: 200 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103
14) Get A Taste Of Memphis On A Food Tour
To sample the best eats in town, joining a downtown Memphis food tour is a necessity!
Known for its reputable official cuisine, Memphis offers the best barbecue in all of America. And it doesn’t end there! Memphis is full of mouthwatering, savory, decadent cuisine that every food needs to experience for themselves.
From restaurants like King’s Palace Cafe and Front Street Deli, there are plenty of options available in terms of food, but on a walking food tour, those visiting Memphis can experience the best of Memphis with the help of a local!
Tastin Round Town is one of the best local food tour companies to try out.
15) Walk The Halls Of The Blues Hall Of Fame Museum
Dedicated to celebrating the heritage of the blues, the Blues Hall Of Fame Museum spreads awareness of the blues by preserving the uniquely American art form.
Functioning for over 40 years through the Blues Foundation, the museum was founded as “The Home of the Blues” in 1980. Though the museum initially started exclusively inducting individuals, writings, and achievements annually in 2015, the Hall of Fame widened its range to host an impactful artifact collection.
Walk through the impactful museum when you visit Memphis to eye exclusive photographs of young Mick Jagger, the signed guitar of B.B. King, and other unique artifacts and memorabilia.
- Address: 421 S Main St, Memphis, Tennessee 38103
- Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, Sunday 1pm – 5pm
- Cost: $10
16) Go On An Adventure At Shelby Farms Park
One of the biggest urban parks in the world, Shelby Farms Park spans 4,500 acres to cover over five times Central Park in New York City.
Open from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year, the park offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails to explore.
The trails are popular with locals and tourists to hike, bike, run, or walk, and include the Shelby Farms Greenline, an incredibly popular 10.65-mile paved pedestrian and cycling trail designed to connect to the heart of Memphis and Cordova.
Shelby Farms Park is home to a herd of buffalo, unique park residents, and 20 bodies of water that draw in fishers from all over the world.
More adventures to explore in the park include treetop adventures, laser tag, paintball, horseback riding, the Woodland Discovery Playground, named “16 Coolest Playgrounds In The World”, and the many events hosted at the park.
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17) Join The Crowd At The Memphis Pyramid
Formerly known as the Great American Pyramid and the Pyramid Arena, the Memphis Pyramid stands as one of the largest pyramids in the world, at 321 feet from base to apex.
Centered in downtown Memphis, on the banks of the Mississippi River, this Memphis attraction is a staple landmark that is incredibly popular with locals and tourists.
Over three million people visited the Memphis Pyramid in the first year of its opening in 2015. It features Bass Pro Shops, a few restaurants, an aquarium, a gun range, a lodge, and much more!
18) Stop By For A Performance At The Memphis Orpheum Theater
The Orpheum Theatre is a historic 2.308-seat venue located at the intersection of the world-famous Beale Street and South Main.
Orpheum Theatre has been the home of touring Broadway productions since 1977. The theatre also hosts Ballet Memphis performances, concerts, and other events.
Having first opened in 1928, the Orpheum Theatre was one of the first buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Memphis. And since then, the building has undergone over $15 million in renovations to make it the world-class performing arts facility it is today.
It is a celebrated piece of Memphis history, and seeing some live music here is one of the best things to do in Memphis. Visit the website to book a show!
- Address: 203 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103
19) Bask In The Iconic Views Of The Mississippi River At Tom Lee Park
Overlooking the scenic Mississippi River, Tom Lee Park stretches across 30 acres. After a century of dedicated planning, Memphis is ready to renovate the area to create an iconic riverfront space with Tom Lee Park at the center.
The park was named after Tom Lee, who rescued 32 people from a capsized boat. Tom Lee quickly became a hero of Memphis and, once word spread, was honored by Calvin Coolidge at the White House.
Stop by Tom Lee Park for unforgettable views of the river while soaking in the iconic historic statue memorializing Tom Lee’s valiant efforts.
20) Bring The Family To The Children’s Museum Of Memphis
A great family-friend Memphis activity, the Children’s Museum Of Memphis commits its foundation to a memorable learning experience through programs and interactive exhibits.
Prepared to feed growing minds with endless possibilities, the museum encourages child development through an educational experience to enrich early learning. Identified as the key to school readiness and success by the United States Department of Education, the Children’s Museum Of Memphis has been shown to personify education through a fun interactive environment.
Some unique interactive exhibits include a skyscraper, a 1909 Dentzel grand carousel named to the National Register of Historic Places, a tornado, and a splash park!
- Address: 2525 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
- Hours: 9am – 5pm (Closed Mondays)
- Cost: $15
21) Step Back In Time At The Peabody Hotel
The historic Peabody Hotel of Memphis, originally known as the “South’s Grand Hotel,” is a trip back in time to one of the grandest hotels in downtown Memphis.
Dating back to 1869, this historic hotel transformed into a business and social hub in Memphis.
Since then, the hotel has been reinvented and established as a hotel and resort to provide a long-standing tradition and unique experience for all that step through its doors.
The elegant and grand design of the hotel extends to its visitors in a grand welcome. Inquiring minds can join a one-hour tour of the historic hotel with the Peabody Duckmaster for an exceptionally unique tour of the Peabody Hotel’s halls.
- Address: 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103
- Cost: Tours cost $10, make a reservation on the website
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Where to Stay in Memphis, Tennessee
Now that we know the top things to do in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s time to figure out where to stay!
Best Hostel in Memphis
More than just a bed and place to stay, Hostel Memphis offers a vibrant community in a hip and artistic neighborhood community. Surrounded by century-old buildings, the community provides a range of characteristics ranging from casual to cosmopolitan, along with restaurants and popular hangouts.
A nonprofit, all proceeds of the hostel’s net revenue go to local causes ranging from food justice ministry and social justice issues.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Memphis
Offering free private parking and a 24-hour front desk, the Hampton Inn & Suites Memphis Germantown also offers its guests an American breakfast or buffet. Only about 15 minutes from all of the hot spot attractions in Memphis, this stunning hotel has been rated a 9.5 for solo travelers.
Best Luxury Hotel in Memphis
Featuring world-class service and celebrity treatment to its guests, the River Inn of Harbor Town offers a stunning view of the Mississippi River.
Guests are accommodated with daily breakfast from one of the three restaurants available at the hotel. The Terrace is a popular spot to sit with food and drink in hand while soaking in panoramic views at this ideal hotel.
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