Home of the Blues: Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee, is a city rich in history and culture, from its days as a key stop on the Mississippi River to its role in the civil rights movement. Visitors can explore this heritage at iconic landmarks like the National Civil Rights Museum and the Memphis Zoo. Check out Beale Street, home to dozens of blues and jazz clubs, for a taste of the local music scene. And no trip to Memphis would be complete without sampling some of the city’s famous barbecue. Here are a few things to do in Memphis when visiting this vibrant city.

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1. Beale Street

Beale Street is one of the most famous streets in America, and for good reason. Located in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, Beale Street is home to music venues, restaurants, and shops. 

You can enjoy live jazz in clubs like B.B. King’s Blues Club or rock out to live blues at places like Alfred’s on Beale. There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy authentic southern cooking, with spots like Central BBQ and The Rendezvous serving mouth-watering ribs and barbecue chicken. And, of course, no trip to Beale Street would be complete without a bit of shopping. 

2. Graceland

Graceland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Memphis, Tennessee. Located on Elvis Presley’s former estate, Graceland is now a museum dedicated to the life and work of the King of Rock and Roll. 

You can tour the mansion, preserved to look exactly as it did when Elvis lived there, or explore the nearby jungle room and pool house. The grounds also feature a memorial garden where Elvis is buried and a museum that houses his cars, stage costumes, and other memorabilia. For fans of Elvis Presley, Graceland is a must-see destination.

3. Memphis City Tour

There’s no better way to see all that Memphis offers than by taking a city tour. You’ll get an up-close look at iconic landmarks like Graceland and the Memphis Pyramid and learn about the city’s rich history and culture. You’ll also get to sample local cuisine, including barbecue and Mississippi Delta blues. Whether you’re a tourist or a native Memphian, a city tour is a great way to taste all that this vibrant city has to offer.

4. Memphis BBQ

If you’re planning a trip to Memphis, add some of the city’s famous BBQ joints to your list of things to do. You won’t be disappointed by the mouth-watering ribs, pulled pork, and other mouthwatering dishes. And if you’re looking for the best of the best, here are some of Memphis’ most popular BBQ restaurants: The Bar-B-Q Shop, Payne’s Bar-B-Q, and Central BBQ.

5. Memphis Food Tour

A food tour is a great way to get an overview of the local cuisine. You’ll visit different restaurants and food vendors, sampling various dishes. Food tours are typically led by experienced guides who know all the best spots. They’ll take you to places you might not find alone and ensure you have a great time.

If you’re looking for things to do in Memphis, a food tour is a great way to sample some of the city’s best cuisine. You’ll have the opportunity to try a variety of dishes, from traditional Southern favorites to more modern fare.

Memphis Pyramid

The Memphis Pyramid, now called the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, is one of the most popular things to do in Memphis. The massive structure, once home to the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, now houses various shops and attractions, including a hotel, an aquarium, and a ropes course. Visitors can also enjoy views of the Mississippi River from the top of the pyramid. While the Bass Pro Shops are the main attraction, there is also a food court and a stage that hosts regular events. 

Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1928 as a movie palace and vaudeville theatre. The layout of an Egyptian tomb inspired the design, featuring a state-of-the-art sound system and a seven-story tall organ. In the 1970s, the theatre was saved from demolition by a group of citizens who raised funds to restore it to its former glory. Today, the Orpheum Theatre is once again a premier destination for live entertainment. It hosts Broadway shows, concerts, and special events throughout the year. 

Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city for families. Home to over 3,500 animals, the zoo offers visitors the chance to see a wide variety of wildlife up close. In addition to the standard zoo animals such as lions, tigers, and bears, the Memphis Zoo also features rare and exotic creatures such as Komodo dragons and Sumatran rhinos. You can also participate in educational programs like behind-the-scenes tours and keeper talks. 

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is one of Memphis, Tennessee’s most popular tourist attractions. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and legacy of soul music and features a wide range of exhibits and artifacts. You can learn about the origins of soul music and its impact on American culture. 

The museum also features interactive exhibits, including a recording studio where guests can try making their own soul music. With its mix of education and entertainment, the Stax Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history of American music.

Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum

Memphis is a city with a rich musical history, and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is a must-visit for any music lover. The museum tells the story of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and its impact on the world. You can see artifacts from some of the most famous musicians in history, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King. From listening booths to instrument demonstrations, the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is a fun and educational way to spend a day in Memphis.

National Civil Rights Museum

The National Civil Rights Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Memphis. The museum chronicles the history of the civil rights movement, from the early days of slavery to the modern fight for equality. You can see firsthand how far the country has come and learn about today’s challenges.

Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum

If you’re looking for things to do in Memphis, the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum should be on your list. The museum is located in a historic house once used as a station on the Underground Railroad. The house has been preserved just as it was during that time, and it’s filled with artifacts and information about the Underground Railroad and slavery in general. The museum also offers tours of the surrounding area, which includes other historic sites related to the Underground Railroad.

Children’s Museum of Memphis

Looking for things to do in Memphis with kids? Look no further than the Children’s Museum of Memphis! This highly interactive museum is designed for children ages birth to eight and features dozens of exhibits and programs. Kids can explore a 19th-century Mississippi River town replica, dig for fossils in an archaeological site, or play guitar in a recording studio. The museum offers educational programs, including art classes, story times, and scientific demonstrations. 

Memphis Museum of Science & History

The Memphis Museum of Science & History is an excellent option for families and groups of all ages. The museum has interactive exhibits on topics including Earth sciences, space exploration, and the history of the city of Memphis. In addition, the museum offers a planetarium show, tours of the historic Pharaoh’s tomb replica, and a hands-on Discovery Room for children. There is also a cafe on-site, making it easy to spend an entire day at the museum. 

Memphis Botanic Garden

The Memphis Botanic Garden is one of the most popular things to do in Memphis, Tennessee. This 96-acre park features a variety of gardens, including a Japanese garden, a rose garden, and an herb garden. The Garden also has a children’s playground and a picnic area. In addition, the Memphis Botanic Garden hosts events throughout the year, such as the Fall Festival and the garden concert series. 

Dixon Gallery & Gardens

If you find yourself in Memphis with some time to kill, check out the Dixon Gallery & Gardens. The gallery features an impressive collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings and a beautiful sculpture garden. The gardens are a perfect place to stroll on a sunny day, and the gallery is worth visiting.

Shelby Farms Park

Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. You can hike or bike on one of the many trails, paddle a canoe or kayak on lakes and streams, or even take a horse out for a ride. There are also plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, including deer, bald eagles, and wild turkeys. In addition to its natural beauty, Shelby Farms Park hosts events throughout the year, from concerts and festivals to farmers markets and 5K races. 

Final Thoughts

Although its larger neighbor, Nashville, often overshadows it, Memphis has much to offer tourists. From its world-famous barbecue to its rich musical history, there is something for everyone in Memphis. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder Memphis is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Home of the Blues: Things to Do in Memphis, Tennessee

Alexandrea Sumuel Groves is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.