There are so many things to do in Memphis. It’s just one amazing city to explore, especially if it’s your first ever visits.
Memphis is just one of those cities that just always seems so familiar even if you’ve ever visited. It’s so synonymous if not for the way it constantly pops up in lyrics everywhere or for the fantastic music scene in the city but for arguably its most famous past resident of Graceland.
Thoughts of the city invoke images of long, warm evening spend listening to music while devouring some of the most delicious Southern food you’ve ever tasted. It’s just one of those places that just fascinates and has people wanting to visit.
Alas for us based in the U.K. (or at least from London), there are no direct flights so it’s not necessarily a place we tend to think of visiting straight away (this could change soon… however, it’s also the perfect excuse for a multi-city break so it’s not the worst thing in the world).
If you do decide to pop over, here are some of the best things to do in Memphis. Oh, and some will involve a little signing! 🎤
People tend to arrive to Memphis expecting to do something Elvis related and seeing as Graceland is Elvis Presley’s former mansion turned museum, it makes sense that this would be your first stop of things to do in Memphis.
The 14-acre estate attracts visitors from around the world take a peek into the life of “the King”. Walk through the Jungle Room, observe the collection of memorabilia, and pay respect at Elvis’s final resting place.
2.) National Civil Rights Museum
The history of Memphis is not without some struggle so in between all the music and good food, make some time to find out more about the city’s (more turbulent) past at the National Civil Rights Museum. Making it on the must-see list of things to do in Memphis.
The museum is a complex of historic buildings and smaller museums that highlight the movement from the 17th century to the present. The exhibits and real buildings help you step back in time to envision key moments in the Civil Rights movement.
3.) Sun Studio
If you aren’t a musician, it may seem a bit weird to visit Sun Studio. Don’t be fooled!
This historic recording studio is where Elvis and Johnny Cash first recorded it is well worth the trip! Grab a tour guide and learn about the history of the studio and the incredible music it has supported!
4) Peabody Hotel and Ducks
Do you know anyone with traditions involving ducks?
If you didn’t you certainly will after visiting the Peabody Hotel! Located on Union Street in downtown, this hotel is home to a group of famous ducks. Every day, the ducks walk from the rooftop and ceremoniously enter the fountain the lobby.
This seemingly simple tradition can feel more like a red carpet event as people line up to watch the ducks! It is a quirky and fun thing to see while you are in the city! It’s one of the things to do in Memphis, after all.
5.) Beale Street
This 1.8-mile historic district is located in downtown Memphis. It is deemed the “heart” of Memphis music and entertainment and is recognized as the home of blues music. So y’know, you now know where to head for a good night out. 🤗
Take a walk during the day to enjoy the history, or grab a drink and start your night properly here. Also, a must do: try the famous BBQ! I mean, no list of things to do in Memphis is complete without a good night out.
6.) Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum
Located on the famous Beale Street, the Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum is a must-see for history and music lovers! Known for its collection of Elvis memorabilia and interactive exhibits, the museum highlights a variety of artists who pioneered movements in music.
7.) Pink Palace Museum
This eclectic museum has a lot to see, ranging from natural history to a shrunken head. Explore this museum to learn things you never thought you needed to know! And some you probably didn’t need to know. 😄
8.) Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum
Explore a building that was once part of the Underground Railroad (the Underground Railroad is “a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early-to-mid 19th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states and Canada ” – full deets are on Wikipedia). This 19th-century home turned museum has artefacts from the era, as well as tunnels and trap doors to help you envision how it functioned.
9.) Mississippi River Boat Tour
The Mississippi River plays a big role in the landscape and history of Memphis. Book a tour on a historic boat and listen to the narration of just how the river has shaped the city.
It is perfect for a relaxing afternoon/evening and for and enjoying Memphis from a very different viewpoint! Possible one of the quaintest things to do in Memphis.
10.) John F. Kennedy Park
Pack a picnic and venture out to John F. Kennedy Park! Not far from the city, the park has a variety of trails to walk through, bike on and hike. I think I’ll just stick to the picnic in the park – preferably with lots of sunshine. 😁
11.) Lichterman Nature Center
Looking to step away from the city? Located on the eastern side of the city, this nature centre and arboretum has stuff indoors and outdoors to enjoy the nature on a sunny or rainy day (doesn’t matter what kinda weather you’re having – just switch indoors or outdoors depending on the weather).