Memphis sits on the shores of the Mississippi River. This grand, Southern city envelopes your senses with sights, sounds, and tastes. The wide variety of festivals here including Delta Fair & Music Festival and Juneteenth all the more add to its charm. Prominent for its contribution to American soul music, Memphis has a rich musical background as well. Around every corner, there is something new to see or try. And interesting accommodations abound here - from the best-themed hotels to Airbnbs in Memphis that are in the heart of the city. With so many popular attractions to explore, how do you pick just one or two? This handy list will help you narrow down your options. Keep reading for the top things to do in Memphis, Tennessee.
One of the top places to visit in Memphis is Graceland, which opened its doors to music fans as a museum in 1982. This spacious estate was once home to music great, Elvis Presley, for over 20 years. His birthday is a big annual event where thousands of music aficionados visit Graceland to remember and mourn the King of Rock ‘N Roll.
While touring the estate you will get to see Elvis Presley’s more personal side and his greatest memorabilia on display. Stop by the wall of fan photos and leave one of your own while you are there. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop and pick up a piece of Elvis memorabilia to take home with you.
Address: Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116
Phone Number: +1 (901) 332-3322
Hours of Operation: Monday - Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Sunday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Ticket Price: Start at 38.75 USD for Adults, 17.00 USD for Kids 7 - 12
2. Memphis Mojo Music Bus Tour
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Memphis that involve music, a musical history tour might interest you. The Memphis Mojo Music Bus Tour offers up to 90 minutes of music, comedy, history, and sightseeing. You will see many of the famous places in the history of Memphis aboard the only music bus in the country. All of the guides are local musicians and will regale you with tales of the music giants and their respective music careers.
Some of the notable places you will see along the way include Beale Street, Sun Studio, Overton Park, and the homes of B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash. Tours sell out quickly so make sure you call ahead of time to check availability.
Memphis Mojo Music Bus Tour
Address: 143 Beale St. Memphis, TN 38103
Phone Number: +1 (901) 527-9415
Hours of Operation: Sunday - Friday 1:30 PM, Saturday 11:30 AM & 2:30 PM
Ticket Prices: 28 USD for Adults, 15 USD Kids 7 - 12
Website:Memphis Mojo Music Bus Tour
The Memphis Coach Tour gives a true picture of the city. For a minimal admission fee, you will learn about the city’s role in music history and more. You’ll visit historical landmarks such as National Civil Rights Museum, which is a network of museum exhibits highlighting the civil rights movement in the United States. Enjoy the famous Duck March, one of the city’s finest hotels, The Peabody Memphis.
During the tour, you will stop at one of the best barbecue restaurants to enjoy a tasty lunch. The tour concludes at the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, where you will get to learn about some of the legendary musicians in Memphis’ history.
Memphis Discovery Tour including Rock and Soul Museum
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
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Get a little exercise as you see Beale Street on this 45-minute guided tour. Your guide will keep you interested in stories of the musicians, music clubs, heroes, and crooks who made Beale Street what it is today. Along the tour, you will see the clothing store where Elvis used to shop, Lanky Brothers. Other sights include the Coyote Ugly Saloon, Handy Park, and some great barbecue restaurants, where you can grab a bite to eat after working up an appetite on the tour.
Downtown Memphis Beale Street Historical Walking Tour
Duration: 1 hour
For fun things to do in Memphis, try this guided food tour. You will be shown around five popular eateries, where you will get to talk to the chef, sample the food and get in some photo ops. Along the tour, your local guide will point out interesting art along the street and tell you tales of what it is like to be a local. Your tour will take you past the Orpheum Theater and the National Civil Rights Museum and of course, it does include some Memphis-style barbecue.
Downtown Memphis Food Tour
Address: 706 Union Ave., Downtown Memphis
Phone Number: +1 (888) 651-9785
Hours of Operation: Call to check tour time availability
Ticket Prices: 55 USD for Adults
Travel through downtown Memphis and take in the sights along Beale Street. See the homes of Elvis Presley and B.B. King, along with other beautiful estates in Victorian Village. The tour begins at your hotel, where your guide will pick you up. It includes a stop at The Peabody Memphis, a historic hotel where you will see the famous inaugural march of five North American mallard ducks in the hotel lobby.
After your tour of the city, board the Island Queen. The three-deck steamboat cruises down the bodies of water. Enjoy the many tales the captain will share with you, while you grab a drink and a bite at the snack bar on board. At the end of the 6-hour tour, you will be dropped off back at your hotel.
Memphis City Tour and Riverboat Cruise
Phone Number: +1 (888) 651-9785
Hours of Operation: Tours available daily
Ticket Prices: 72 USD for Adults
If you’re interested in unique Memphis activities, then go for this Memphis Ghosts Walking Tour. Learn about the darker history of Memphis, on this guided walking tour. Your guide will tell you tales of voodoo, lost souls, and ghosts, as you explore some of the haunted places in the city. The tour begins on Beale Street and takes you to the Orpheum Theater, where you might see Mary, she has been haunting the theater, since 1921.
You will visit other spooky places along the way, with your final stop being the infamous Ernestine & Hazel’s. This bar used to be a brothel and is considered one of the most haunted locations in all of Memphis. They even have a haunted jukebox.
Memphis Ghost Tour
Duration: 2 hours
8. Memphis Zoo
One of the best ways to spend time with your kids in Memphis is to visit Memphis Zoo. Located in Overton Park, this popular attraction is more than a hundred years old and houses a large variety of animals from across the world. See pandas, tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, birds, bears, hippos, and more. Besides Memphis zoo’s live animals, visitors can also check out the popular dinosaur exhibit where lifesize models of dinosaurs and educational programs await.
After your time in the zoo, you can extend the sightseeing within Overton Square with more park activities such as visiting Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Rainbow Lake, and Overton Park Shell.
Address: 2000 Prentiss Pl, Memphis, TN 38112, United States
Website: Memphis Zoo
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 18 USD
Experience the countryside without leaving the city by embarking on a horseback riding activity at Shelby Farms Park/Stables. In a massive urban park brimming with lots of green space in the middle of the city, enjoy an hour-long trail ride by horseback. After some training and being paired up with a suitable horse, you can explore the various nature trails of the park while taking in majestic views and enjoying sightings of various animals. This horseback trail ride is suitable for riders of all experience levels.
On your way back to the main downtown area, you might want to do a worthwhile side trip to Memphis Botanic Garden where you can stroll through various gardens and amazing landscape sculptures with intricate details on display.
Memphis Horseback Trail Ride Tour
Duration: 1 hour
10. Brooks Museum
Art lovers will rejoice in visiting the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. As the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Tenessee, this museum offers visitors a wide array of interactive exhibits relating to various art forms. Take your time to browse through the extensive collection of paintings, photographs, sculptures, murals, art objects, and more. Visitors will also enjoy walking the grounds of the museum where a variety of outdoor sculptures are on display. A cafe and a gift shop are also available here.
Address: 1934 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38104, United States
Website: Brooks Museum
Opening hours: Wed: 10am - 8pm; Thu - Fri: 10am - 4pm; Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: 7 USD
11. Bass Pro Observation Deck
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
For panoramic views of the beautiful city of Memphis, make your way to Bass Pro Observation Deck. Located in Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid, this outdoor attraction stands 300 feet (91 meters) above the ground and can only be accessed via a 28-floor elevator with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Admission costs only 10 USD per guest. The deck is made of glass and offers majestic views of the city. A restaurant is also located in the observation deck, where you can dine on scrumptious delicacies while taking in the views.
Bass Pro Observation Deck
Address: 1 Bass Pro Dr, Memphis, TN 38105, United States
Website: Bass Pro Observation Deck
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - 10pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm
Price: 10 USD
Walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest artists who ever lived. Sun Studio is considered the birthplace of rock ‘n roll. Entertainment legends and famous musicians such as Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, all began their music careers here. During the 45-minute tour, you will see memorabilia and have an immersive music experience about the history that makes this place relevant up to this day.
Sun Studio is still operating as a recording studio at night and a history museum during the day.
Sun Studio Guided Tour GENERAL ADMISSION Ticket **PLEASE PRINT**
Duration: 40 minutes
While in the city, pay a visit to The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange. Here, you can learn about the city’s association with the cotton trade. Explore various well-appointed permanent exhibits at a leisurely pace and understand the city’s contribution to the worldwide cotton business. Afterward, you can also go on a self-guided audio tour of the Cotton Row District.
And if you still have more time to spare, you can catch a special event at the stunning arena of Memphis Pyramid or head over to the nearby attractions such as AutoZone Park, Memphis Heritage Trail, and Mud Island River Park for more sightseeing pursuits.
Memphis Cotton Museum Admission Ticket
Duration: 2 hours
Music, museums, food, and more
No matter what interests you, you will find it in Memphis. This urban, Southern city offers up some of the tastiest cuisines, its greatest contribution to the music industry, unique history lessons and well-rounded attractions, and even some spine-tingling tales of ghosts and voodoo queens. You are sure to find one, or more, tours on this list that will help you to see Memphis in a whole new light.
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