Famously known for being the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll” and the BBQ capital of the county, Memphis is full of fun for kids and their parents with a wide array of attractions, parks and activities. With top things to see like Graceland, the Memphis Zoo, the Children’s Museum of Memphis, and the Metal Museum, you won’t be hard-pressed to fill a day of fun for the children.
Hailed as the most famous rock ‘n’ roll residence in the world, Graceland is the estate and mansion that was once owned by Elvis Presley. Set on a 13.8-acre in the Whitehaven community of Memphis, Tennessee, Graceland is a museum dedicated to the life and career of the famous musician. The museum takes visitors on an unforgettable journey through the rock-and-roll legend’s home and delves into the personal side of Elvis Presley and how his unique sound and revolutionary style changed the face of the pop music and culture forever. Graceland has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is open to the public daily.
Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116
2.The Children’s Museum of Memphis
© The Children’s Museum of Memphis
The Children’s Museum of Memphis is a hands-on, interactive museum for children that encourages touching, feeling and exploring. The museum features a variety of themed exhibits that inspire learning through play with topics such as health and well-being, house construction and recycling, waterworks, transportation, and money. There is also an outdoor play space featuring a bank-shot basketball area, a dinosaur dig, a hot air balloon and motion simulator, and a mini-van that kids can pretend to drive and repair. The Children’s Museum of Memphis has a casual café and brown bag area for hungry museum-goers who need a snack, and a gift shop that sells books, educational toys, trinkets and souvenirs.
2525 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104, Phone: 901-458-2678
3.Stax Museum of American Soul Music
© Stax Museum of American Soul Music
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is dedicated to soul music and celebrates the legacy of Stax Records and its famous artists. Located on East McLemore Avenue, the former home of Stax Records, the museum is operated by Soulsville USA, which also operates the adjacent Stax Music Academy. The museum showcases the legacy of Stax Records and its artists such as Albert King, Booker T, & the MGs, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, and Johnnie Taylor, among others. Visitors can enjoy vintage video footage of other world-renowned soul artists like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, The Jackson Five, James Brown, and Tina Turner. The Stax Music Academy is a state-of-the-art facility which offers music-focused educational programs for music-loving students and houses the musically rich Soulsville Charter School where students study language arts, math, science, social studies, and orchestra.
926 E McLemore Ave, Memphis, TN 38126, Phone: 901-261-6338
4.National Ornamental Metal Museum
© National Ornamental Metal Museum
Located just south of downtown Memphis with breathtaking views of the Mississippi River and the Harahan Bridge, the National Ornamental Metal Museum is dedicated exclusively to the art and craft of fine metalwork and offers unique activities, such as tours of the Museum, metalwork demonstrations and more. The museum boasts over 3,000 items in its permanent collection that represent a broad spectrum of metalwork created by artist metalsmiths, including studio jewelry, sculpture, and contemporary hollowware, as well as historical objects dating back to the Renaissance. There is also an archive of over 36,000 architectural drawings, photographs and slides and a resource library of over 6,000 books and folios. The National Ornamental Metal Museum also offers educational opportunities such as artist residencies and apprenticeships, internship opportunities, classes, and conservation.
374 Metal Museum Drive, Memphis, TN 38106, Phone: 901-774-6380
5.National Civil Rights Museum
© National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is a complex of museums and historic buildings that document the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. Built around the former Lorraine Motel, the infamous site where civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, the museum features an array of multi-media and interactive exhibits, including photographs, short movies, storyboards, and several historic vehicles such as James Earl Ray's Ford Mustang, and a replica of the burnt-out Freedom Riders Greyhound bus. The museum complex also includes Canipe's Amusement Store, the house where the murder weapon with James Earl Ray's fingerprints was found, and the brushy lot that stood between the rooming house and the motel.
450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-521-9699
6.Fire Museum of Memphis
© Fire Museum of Memphis
Located in the legendary Fire Engine House No. 1, which was built in 1910, the Fire Museum of Memphis is an interactive fire museum that offers visitors a chance to experience the work of a firehouse and the fire-fighters that all it home. Hands-on exhibits include vintage equipment dating from the early 1900s, a 1910 horse-drawn steam engine and 1897 Hale Water Tower, true-life effects of past fires and disasters, a pictorial history of the city's first African American firefighters, and interactive exhibits that educate about fire safety and emergency services. Feel the heat as firefighters tackle huge flames in the state-of-the-art Fire Room, learn how to react in a real-life emergency in the Fire Safety House and visit the magnificent 22-foot-high sculpted Memorial Wall that honors firefighters killed in the line of duty in Memphis since 1880.
118 Adams Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-636-5650
7.Memphis Rock ’n Soul Museum
© Memphis Rock ’n Soul Museum
The Memphis Rock ’n Soul Museum is dedicated to the musical pioneers who used music to overcome racial and socio-economic obstacles to change the cultural complexion of the world. Located inside of the FedExForum sports and entertainment complex on Beale Street, the museum began as one of the Smithsonian Institution’s research projects and grew into the moving, seven gallery museum it is today. Visitors can enjoy a comprehensive Memphis music experience with an array of outstanding exhibits that journey through the ages from the rural field hollers of the 1930s to the heyday soul music in the 1960s and 1970s. An MP3 audio guide features a wealth of information and over 100 songs from the 1930-70s that were recorded in Memphis, and more than 30 instruments and 40 costumes are on display in seven galleries.
191 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-205-2533
8.Center for Southern Folklore
The Center for Southern Folklore is dedicated to documenting the culture of the Delta and preserving and promoting the arts, culture, and music of the South. Founded in 1972 by William Ferris and Judy Peiser, the center features a gallery that displays regional folk art, artifacts and contemporary and historical photographs, and a large archive of audio recordings, films, slides, and videos. The Center for Southern Folklore also boasts a café where live performances by local blues, folk, Latin, and jazz musicians are hosted and a folklore gift store selling music, posters, photographs, and art by Memphis-area musicians. The Center also sponsors the annual Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, which is held each Labor Day weekend.
119 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-525-3655
9.The C.H. Nash Museum at the Prehistoric Chucalissa Archaeological Site
© The C.H. Nash Museum at the Prehistoric Chucalissa Archaeological Site
The C.H. Nash Museum at the Prehistoric Chucalissa Archaeological Site explores the culture of the prehistoric people who built the Chucalissa earthwork complex. The 15th-century mound and archaeological site are a National Historic Landmark that gives visitors the chance to learn more about Southeastern Indian cultures and the early history of the Mid-South. The museum features archaeology laboratory exhibits of artifacts and objects excavated from the mound, as well as interactive displays and videos about the African American community of Southwest Memphis.
1987 Indian Drive, Memphis, TN 38109, Phone: 901-785-3160
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10.Bass Pro Shop
© Bass Pro Shop
The Bass Pro Shop is a premier outdoor retailer with stores across America and Canada that specializes in fishing and boating equipment, as well as equipment and gear for other outdoor activities such as hunting and camping. In addition to a vast assortment of outdoor and fishing gear, the expansive 535,000-square-foot megastore in Memphis also features a cypress swamp with 100-foot-tall trees, ponds, alligator pools, and duck aviaries; 10 aquariums with more than 1,800 fish; and an interactive National Waterfowling Heritage Center. There is also a grand 104-room hotel with tree-house cabins and spa, a nautical-themed restaurant with a saltwater aquarium called Uncle Buck's Fishbowl and Grill, a 13-lane bowling alley amid under-water scenery and ball returns that resemble alligators and sharks, and entertainment areas including an arcade, billiard room, and pistol and archery ranges. The Lookout Restaurant and bar boasts a massive aquarium and striking glass-floored cantilevering observation deck situated at the apex of the 32-story steel Pyramid, 300 feet above the Mississippi River.
1 Bass Pro Drive, Memphis, TN 38105, Phone: 901-291-8200
11.Beale Street Landing
Located at the foot of Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, the Beale Street Landing is an urban space with open areas for picnicking, areas for table games, plenty of space for leisure activities, a splash pad and playground area, and a welcoming pad for all those traveling by river. The landing is also home to the American Queen Steamboat Company, which offers cruises on the Mississippi River. The Beale Street Landing is connected to Tom Lee Park, which has grassy lawns and shady areas for relaxing, and seating areas where people can sit and watch riverboats and barges cruising on the river.
251 Riverside Drive, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-312-9190
12.Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium
© Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium
The Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium is a science and history museum that boasts a collection of historical, educational, and technological attractions in the city of Memphis. One of the several museums that make up the Pink Palace Family of Museums, the Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium is based in a Georgian mansion made of pink marble and features variety of exhibits relating to Memphis history, such as the first self-service grocery store known as the Piggly Wiggly store, a moving model circus, and artifacts like pre-Columbian objects, 15th century Native American pottery, fossils and dinosaurs, and a living room decorated from the 1920s.
3050 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111, Phone: 901-636-2362
13.Lichterman Nature Center
© Lichterman Nature Center
Located in the heart of metropolitan Memphis, the Lichterman Nature Center is a beautifully maintained natural environment made up of 65 acres of meadows of native wildflowers, forests and a lake that is home to a wealth of fauna and flora. One of the city’s top environmental and educational centers, Lichterman Nature Center is a certified arboretum with exhibits that focus on metamorphosis and change in lake, meadow and forest habitats. The center is also home to the Backyard Wildlife Center, which offers discoveries, hands-on explorations, live animals, a two-story-high boardwalk, and underwater viewing areas. There are also three miles of trails that meander their way through the Midsouth habitats of the center with convenient rest stops with benches. Visitors can also enjoy nature walks, wildlife activities, and special events throughout the year, and there is complimentary wireless Internet around the center.
5992 Quince Road, Memphis, TN 38119, Phone: 901-636-2211
14.Coon Creek Science Center
© Coon Creek Science Center
Part of the Pink Palace Family of Museums, the Coon Creek Science Center is a science center and fossil finding site and home to one of the most important fossil sites in North America. The 232-acre property boasts the geologic Coon Creek Formation, a sedimentary sandy marl deposit that dates back to the Late Cretaceous Age, making it about 73 million years old. The formation features many fossils, including marine shells, crabs and snails, and like vertebrate fossils like sharks and offers visitors the chance to dig for their own fossils and take them home. In addition to fossil digging, the Coon Creek Science Center provides a variety of other activities such as hiking, wildlife watching at one of five ponds, star-gazing, environmental camps, and special tours.
2983 Hardin Graveyard Rd, Adamsville, TN 38310, Phone: 901-636-2362
15.The Autozone Dome at the Sharpe Planetarium
© Andrey ZH/stock.adobe.com
Based at the Sharpe Planetarium, a 130 seat theater-in-the-round, the AutoZone Dome offers cosmic voyages through the universe and journeys to distant galaxies. A range of planetarium programs is hosted in the vast dome, which spans 50 feet in diameter and reaches a height of 32.5 feet off-of-floor. The screen within the dome is 3, 925 square feet and the dome uses state-of-the-art technology to project star fields, visual images and patterns on the ceiling along with superb surround sound. The 145 seat theater at the Sharpe Planetarium immerses visitors in high-quality levels of sight, sound, and comfort with reclining chairs and an air-conditioned environment. The Sharpe Planetarium is part of the Pink Palace Family of Museums, which is maintained by the City of Memphis, Tennessee and Memphis Museums, Inc.
3050 Central Avenue, Pink Palace Museum, Memphis, TN 38111, Phone: 901-636-2362
16.Crew Training International 3D Giant Theater (CTI 3D Giant Theater)
Part of the Pink Palace Museums, the Crew Training International 3D Giant Theater (CTI 3D Giant Theater) features a 40-foot-tall screen that takes visitors on a sensory journey through history and the natural world. One of three theaters in the world with a movable screen and the only large format theater in the Mid-South, the CTI 3D Giant Theater is based beneath the front lawn of the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and is accessed through the lower level of the museum. The theater only presents educational films, special holiday screenings., and one retrospective festival per year, and can be used for meetings, lectures, and other large-scale presentations.
3050 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111, Phone: 901-636-2362
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17.The Arcade Restaurant
© The Arcade Restaurant
The Arcade is the oldest restaurant in Memphis and a nostalgic diner that serves hearty breakfasts and lunches in a 1950s-style setting. The family-owned and operated restaurant was opened in 1919 and has been offering delicious home cooked food in a family-friendly atmosphere ever since. Located in the South Main Arts District on the trolley line, the restaurant serves a menu of generous portions of southern-style breakfast including breakfast casserole, biscuits and gravy, and country fried steak with eggs. The lunch menu boasts fresh salads and sandwiches, handcrafted pizza, and two daily specials, and don’t miss the famous fried peanut butter and banana sandwich which can be eaten in the eatery’s renowned Elvis' booth. The restaurant is closed in the evenings for private functions, except for the last Friday of the month, which is known as Trolley Night and serves dinner until 11:00 pm.
540 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103, Phone: 901-526-5757
18.The 901 Scoop
© The 901 Scoop
The 901 Scoop is a casual café and creamery that serves unique hand-rolled ice cream, along with espresso drinks, locally brewed J. Brooks coffee, snow cones, fresh pastries, and other treats. Owned and operated by Bahji Hakimi, the 901 Scoop specializes in rolled ice-cream, which is the same as fried ice cream from Thailand and is made with an unusual process which is just as fun to watch as it is to eat. A base liquid is mixed with other sweet flavors and poured onto an ice cold metal slab where freezes into creamy ice cream. The ice cream is then rolled up, placed vertically in a cup, and topped with fresh fruit, chocolate, candy, chopped nuts, and other toppings.
3536 Walker Ave, Memphis, TN 38111, Phone: 901-421-5519
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19.Frost Bake Shop
© Frost Bake Shop
The Frost Bake Shop is one several bakeries that sell a variety of all-American sweets and candy. With two locations in Memphis, the decadent bakery sells cupcakes, cookies, cheesecakes, homemade pies, fresh pastries, and special occasion cakes. The traditional bakery makes and serves a delicious array of handmade desserts and treats using high-quality raw ingredients and prepared from scratch. Locally owned and operated by the Kloos Family, the bakery also makes wedding cakes of every kind and custom made cakes for various celebrations, and is open Monday through Sunday.
394 S. Grove Park - Memphis, TN 38117 / 1016 W. Poplar Ave. - Collierville, TN 38017, Bake Shop: 901-682-4545 | Wedding Cakes: 901-652-8815
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20.New Day Children's Theatre
© andrys lukowski/stock.adobe.com
Located in Carriage Crossing in Collierville, the New Day Children’s Theatre presents a calendar of plays and performance for children, as well as provide expose youth of all experience levels to the theater and the performing arts. Established in 2006, the children’s theatre offers a nurturing environment in which children can express their creativity, build relationships and develop character through teamwork. Children are not only exposed to acting and on-stage activities – but the New Day also teaches children about what happens behind the scenes, and encourages them to partake in all aspects of theater. The New Day Children’s Theatre also offers a variety of educational programs for youth of all ages and experience levels.
4670 Merchants Park Cir #626, Collierville, TN 38017, Phone: 901-853-9669
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Overton Park is a 342-acre public park that features several family-friendly attractions, including Rainbow Lake, nine-hole golf course, a 126-acre Old Forest State Natural Area with a network of hiking and biking trails, two picnic and play areas, an off-leash dog park, and a Veterans Plaza. Located in the heart of Memphis, the public space is also home to several of Memphis' top cultural attractions, such as the Memphis Zoo, the Memphis College of Art, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and Levitt Shell. The Rainbow Lake Playground is an adventure playground that is popular with children of all ages and offers a creative space with two large climbing structures, an old-fashioned merry-go-round, two noise-making sculptures, a hollow tree tunnel, slide, and sandpit, chess tables, swings, and a do-it-yourself building area. There are plenty of large trees and shaded picnic tables and benches for lunching and relaxing.
1914 Poplar Avenue, STE. 202, Memphis, TN 38104, Phone: 901-214-5450
22.Shelby Farms Park
Shelby Farms Park is a 4,500-acre public park that features a variety of habitats, including natural forests, lakes, and wetlands that provide an ecosystem for a wealth of fauna and flora, including a herd of American bison. One of the largest parks in the country, Shelby Farms Park was once a privately owned property in the 19th century that still features the remains of a settlement from that time. The park was used as a penal settlement in the mid-1900s before being converted into a park for leisure activities. The park features a seven-mile biking and hiking trail connecting Shelby Farms to the heart of Midtown with access points in several locations en-route. There are also trails for horseback riding, skating, mountain biking, and running, along with playgrounds, and plenty of space to fly kites.
500 N. Pine Lake Drive, Memphis, TN 38134, Phone: 901-222-7275
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23.Dixon Gallery & Gardens: Art Museum
© Dixon Gallery & Gardens: Art Museum
Established in 1976, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens is an art museum surrounded by 17 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on Park Avenue in Memphis. The fine art museum focuses on French and American impressionism and features works by world-renowned artists such as Degas, Monet, Renoir, Marc Chagall, Auguste Rodin, and Henri Matisse, and Edvard Munch. The museum also houses an extensive collection of 18th-century German porcelain of more than 600 pieces of tableware and figures. The museum is surrounded by four beautifully manicured sculpture gardens, landscaped in the English Garden style and filled with Greco-Roman sculptures and intimate formal spaces.
4339 Park Ave, Memphis, TN 38117, Phone: 901-761-5250
24.The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
© The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange is a historic space dedicated to sharing the story of cotton and reflects the southern charm and unique history of Memphis. Located at the corner of Union Avenue and Front Street, the historic landmark was built in 1922 and is home to the floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange, which features 3,200 square feet of space with 30-foot ceilings, magnificent arched windows, and intricate architectural details from the 1920s period. The mission of the museum is to document the cotton industry and how it influenced the development of the mid-South region. Visitors can explore interpretive exhibits, educational programs, and research archives that follow the cotton business from crop to fabric.
65 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38103, Phone: 901-531-7826
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25.Memphis Public Library
© Memphis Public Library
Memphis Public Library is part of the Memphis Public Libraries system that serves Shelby County. The system has 18 branches throughout the city of Memphis, a yearly circulation of 250,000 items, and offers up to 3,400 programs to the public each year. Serving more than 400,000 visitors annually, the library has an extensive multimedia collection that includes thousands of books, magazines, and multimedia services such as public computers with internet access, remote online services, reading groups, children's programs, film screenings, monthly book sales, seasonal lecture series and more.
1192 Vollintine Ave, Memphis, TN 38107, Phone: 901-415-2775
25 Best Things to Do in Memphis with Kids of All Ages
- Graceland, Photo: white_bcgrd/stock.adobe.com
- The Children’s Museum of Memphis, Photo: The Children’s Museum of Memphis
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Photo: Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- National Ornamental Metal Museum, Photo: National Ornamental Metal Museum
- National Civil Rights Museum, Photo: National Civil Rights Museum
- Fire Museum of Memphis, Photo: Fire Museum of Memphis
- Memphis Rock ’n Soul Museum, Photo: Memphis Rock ’n Soul Museum
- Center for Southern Folklore, Photo: fotoatelie/stock.adobe.com
- The C.H. Nash Museum at the Prehistoric Chucalissa Archaeological Site, Photo: The C.H. Nash Museum at the Prehistoric Chucalissa Archaeological Site
- Bass Pro Shop, Photo: Bass Pro Shop
- Beale Street Landing, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, Photo: Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium
- Lichterman Nature Center, Photo: Lichterman Nature Center
- Coon Creek Science Center, Photo: Coon Creek Science Center
- The Autozone Dome at the Sharpe Planetarium, Photo: Andrey ZH/stock.adobe.com
- Crew Training International 3D Giant Theater (CTI 3D Giant Theater), Photo: lapandr/stock.adobe.com
- The Arcade Restaurant, Photo: The Arcade Restaurant
- The 901 Scoop, Photo: The 901 Scoop
- Frost Bake Shop, Photo: Frost Bake Shop
- New Day Children's Theatre, Photo: andrys lukowski/stock.adobe.com
- Overton Park, Photo: Georges/stock.adobe.com
- Shelby Farms Park, Photo: fotofabrika/stock.adobe.com
- Dixon Gallery & Gardens: Art Museum, Photo: Dixon Gallery & Gardens: Art Museum
- The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange, Photo: The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange
- Memphis Public Library, Photo: Memphis Public Library
- Cover Photo: Henryk Sadura/stock.adobe.com