Community > Play > Museums & Attractions
Exploring Memphis’ museums always turns up a surprise. From mummys and the Lorraine Motel to Post-Impressionist paintings and a half-mile scale model of the Mississippi River, Memphis has a multitude of museums celebrating the historic, the cosmopolitan, and the mind-blowing.
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750 Cherry, East Memphis
From tennis and golf to playgrounds, Audubon offers a variety of fun for everyone. A soccer field, picnic tables, and jogging trails also create plenty of opportunities for days of outdoor activities. Audubon is also home to the W.C. Paul Arboretum and the beautiful sights of the Memphis Botanic Garden.
With the truest blues, the historical feel, the best Southern food, and the strongest drinks around, it’s no wonder Beale has such a longstanding popularity. For a weekly listing of the best bands and the hottest activities on Beale, pick up a free copy of the Memphis Flyer available all around town.
119 S. Main, (901) 523-2787 belz.com/museum
With one of the largest collections from the Q’ing dynasty, the Belz Museum has amazing artifacts, ranging from a imperial cinnabar throne to ivory masks. The museum has an extensive collection of Judaic art and occasionally presents demonstrations of traditional Chinese music, martial arts, and calligraphy.
140 E. Mulberry, Collierville, (901) 854-1578 biblical-museum.org
In the Historic Town Square of Collierville you’ll fi nd the Biblical Resource Center, which displays ancient artifacts and replicas of important archaeological fi nds. The museum also has the interactive exhibit “How We Got the Bible” and a gift shop.
119 S. Main, Downtown, (901) 525-3655 southernfolklore.com
Dedicated to the continuing preservation of Southern culture and heritage, the Center features a unique combination of educational displays, Southern food, live music, and a gallery full of local art and oddities. The Center’s Folklore Store offers even more art, books, music, and pieces of the South you can take home.
2525 Central, Midtown, (901) 458-2678 cmom.com
With plenty of interactive, kid-friendly exhibits, the Children’s Museum is a great way to spend time with your youngsters and help them become hands-on with math, art, and science. A mini grocery store also gives the little ones a place to feel like big kids.
1987 Indian Village Dr., South Memphis, (901)785-3160 memphis.edu/chucalissa
The C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa is a prehistoric American Indian archaeological site dating back to the 15th century. The site features a Mississippian mound complex, nature trail and arboretum, hands-on archeology lab, and exhibits that explore the history and life-ways of Native Americans of the historic and prehistoric southeastern United States.
Intersection of Cooper & Young, Midtown
As the most eclectic, artistic neighborhood in the city, Cooper-Young has some of the best food and culture around. Between Café Olé’s margaritas, Young Avenue Deli’s fantastic live music, and Do’s sushi, you may never leave Cooper-Young. And if you have a hankering for a cult movie or a foreign flick, check out Black Lodge Video, voted the best video store in the Memphis Flyer's 2010 Best of Memphis poll.
65 Union, Downtown, (901) 531-7826 memphiscottonmuseum.org
As the driving force behind the city’s economy back in the day, cotton has a special place in Memphis’ heart. Created in the old Memphis Cotton Exchange building, museum visitors have the opportunity to learn the lingo, history, and social impact of cotton on Memphis.
9336 Davies Plantation, near Bartlett, (901) 386-0715 daviesmanorplantation.org
In 1807, an Indian chief built a log cabin in Shelby County, which was expanded into a farmhouse by the Davies family in 1851. Today, that log cabin is the oldest log house in the county, with deer and other wildlife roaming over the 2,000 acres that are still devoted to the plantation. You can tour the property between April and December.
4339 Park, (901) 761-5250 dixon.org
The Dixon Gallery offers a variety of touring exhibitions, but the gallery has its own brag worthy collection in permanent residence, with works from Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Cezanne. The beautiful Georgian-style home and gardens also offers open-air concerts periodically.
191 Beale, Downtown, (901) 205-2525 fedexforum.com
Known for being one of the finest facilities in the NBA, FedExForum is home to Memphis’ Grizzlies and Tigers basketball teams. Besides the Tigers and the Grizzlies, FedEx Forum houses some of the most popular concerts and events of the year, with everybody from the Rolling Stones to Celtic Woman having played to packed houses previously.
118 Adams, Downtown, (901) 320-5650 firemuseum.com
A great place for kids and anyone who loves a bright-red fire truck, the Fire Museum showcases an old 1910 steam-powered fire engine along with many other artifacts, stories, and photographs from some of Memphis’ most memorable fires. There are also interactive games for the little ones.
5484 Summer, Near Bartlett, (901) 386-2992
The 40 acres at this complex includes Putt-Putt golf, a driving range, a pro shop, batting cages, bumper boats, kiddie rides, an arcade, and much more. The park also has a virtual roller coaster and laser games. The popular park also includes fully furnished pavilions — perfect for family gatherings — with a play area for the itty-bitty ones.
3734 Elvis Presley Blvd., Whitehaven, (901) 332-3322 or (800) 238-2000 elvis.com/graceland
Graceland is the grand home of a kinda famous singer you may have heard of. Much of Graceland looks the same as it did when Elvis lived there, including the Jungle Room, gold records, and a “Sincerely Elvis” museum that displays photos and homemovies of The King.
824 S. Dudley, Midtown, (901) 774-3212 elmwoodcemetery.org
The cemetery has been around since 1852 and is the final resting place of 17 Civil War generals, two Tennessee governors, three U.S. senators, and 22 Memphis mayors. And watch out for the crazed ghost of the elms!
5992 Quince, East Memphis, (901) 767-7322 memphismuseum.org/lichterman-overview/
With a lovely lake surrounded by a winding boardwalk and a 16,000-square-foot visitors’ center, Lichterman is a great place to spend the day. Native plants, birds, butterflies, and other critters live throughout the area. A wildlife center with living exhibits and interactive learning activities give kids something to participate in.
13 miles north of Memphis near Millington, off Hwy. 51, (901) 876-5215 state.tn.us/environment/parks/MeemanShelby
With hiking trails, campgrounds, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, Meeman-Shelby has some of the most gorgeous green areas in the area. Shelby Forest offers fishing and boating through the Poplar Tree Lake, which spans over 125 acres. The nature center contains natural history exhibits and activities for kids. Park staffers also provide guided tours.
750 Cherry, East Memphis, (901) 576-4100 memphisbotanicgarden.com
One of the reigning centers of horticulture, Memphis Botanic Garden showcases the most beautiful plants and flowers in the Mid-South. The garden is open year-round, and exhibits native wild flowers as well as more than 23 unique gardens. The Botanic Garden also features special events, educational programs, and art exhibits. The Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series is another great event at the Botanic Garden.
Overton Park, (901) 544-6200 brooksmuseum.org
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of more than 3,000 works of art, ranging through French Impressionism, Flemish and Italian Renaissance, and the Baroque eras. Also, the museum hosts social and entertainment events that take place on the first Wednesday of every month.
(901) 382-2622 mgal.org
The Memphis/Germantown Art League covers Tennessee and three neighboring states. The purpose of the nonprofit organization is to aid member artists in their professional growth and in the development of their skills by providing them opportunity for exhibitions, workshops, and demonstrations.
6560 Poplar, (901) 761-0810 jccmemphis.org
Since 1949, the Memphis Jewish Community Center has been a multi-purpose sports, activity, and cultural complex, serving more than 6,000 members around the Memphis area.
3050 Central, Midtown, (901) 320-6320 memphismuseums.org
This museum features a unique, in-depth showcase of local history, music, culture, and science. The Pink Palace also has a shimmering planetarium and a popular IMAX theatre, which has featured movies on subjects ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the deep sea.
45 Riverside, Downtown, (901) 527-BOAT or (800) 221-6197 www.memphisriverboats.net/
A Memphis Riverboat cruise offers guests a relaxing, scenic visit on the Mississippi River. Memphis Riverboats provides a variety of touring and special-event cruises.
191 Beale, Plaza at FedEx Forum, Downtown, (901) 205-2533 memphisrocknsoul.org
A must-see visit for all music fans, the Memphis Rock ’n’ Soul Museum allows visitors a self-guided tour with headphones. The recordings offer guests a course of Memphis Music 101, showcasing a history of some of the greatest music in the world.
2000 Prentiss Place, Midtown, (901) 276-WILD memphiszoo.org
Offering a home to more than 3,500 animals, including 500 species, the Memphis Zoo is one of the top tourist attractions around and one of the best zoos anywhere. Exhibits include Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Once Upon a Farm, China — home to Le Le and Ya Ya, the famous giant pandas — and the Northwest Passage — where the polar bears roam.
125 N. Front, Downtown, (901) 576-7241 or (800) 507-6507 mudisland.com
Mud Island is the $63 million park built atop the long sandbar on the Mississippi River. Mud Island’s attractions include the River Walk and a 5,000-seat amphitheatre, where worldrenowned artists such as the Beach Boys and the Allman Brothers have performed; last summer, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss took the stage and enthralled their audience.
450 Mulberry, Downtown, (901) 521-9699 civilrightsmuseum.org
The National Civil Rights Museum offers plenty of interactive and informative exhibits on one of the most significant times in American history. With audio-visual displays bringing these events to life, the National Civil Rights Museum is a must-visit place for children and adults.
374 Metal Museum Dr., (901) 774-6380 or (877) 881-2326 metalmuseum.org
The National Ornamental Museum celebrated its 32nd birthday this year. The non-profit museum relies on private funding and tuition from the classes and workshops it offers. Exhibits at the museum change every two to three months.
1928 Poplar, Midtown, (901) 725-9905
Overton Park is an oasis in the center of the Midtown metropolitan area, with plenty of jogging trails, bike paths, picnic areas, and playgrounds. In Overton Park are Rainbow Lake, the Levitt Shell, and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Golfers are also given the opportunity to enjoy the public course on the south side of the park. Softball teams also practice here on the field near the pavilion.
Madison and Cooper, Midtown
With a variety of restaurants, including Boscos Squared, Bayou Bar & Grill, Le Chardonnay, Side Street Grill, Memphis Pizza Café, and Paulette’s, this three-block concentration of culture is a highlight of Memphis. Overton also two top-notch theatres — Playhouse on the Square and TheatreWorks — as well as movielovers haven Studio on the Square.
149 Union, Downtown, (901) 529-4000 peabodymemphis.com
The Peabody Hotel opened its doors Downtown in 1925. Today, Memphis tourists and locals enjoy the classy lobby, with live piano, a bar, and one of the best restaurants in town, Chez Philippe. The hotel also hosts parties in its ballrooms and dances on the famous Plantation Roof. One of the other famous features of the hotel is the twice-daily duck march that attracts visitors from all over the world.
150 Peabody Place, Downtown, (901) 261-PLAY
Peabody Place has a little something for whatever you’re in the mood for. Prime Time Sports bar offers fun with bowling and other games. Retail shopping includes Victoria Secrets and Coco & Lily. Food and drink options abound, from rich chocolate covered delights at the Rocky Mountian Chocolate Factory to the food panoply at Texas de Brazil.
On either side of Walnut Grove in between Humphreys Blvd. and N. Germantown Pkwy., Near Cordova shelbyfarmspark.org/sfpc/front (901) 767-PARK
The 4,500 acres that makes up Shelby Farms Park appeals to nature lovers, sports lovers, and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. Shelby Farms Park, which is the second largest county park in the nation, is home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, deer, and other wildlife — including bison, which roam free on the farm’s animal range. Patriot Lake is the largest of a battery of beautiful waters, and the Lucius Burch Jr. Natural Area and horse stables are other standouts on the park map.
826 N. Second, Downtown, (901) 527-3427
Slave Haven is known as a former station on the Underground Railroad. Tour guides show secret cellars and trap doors that were used as escape routes for runaway slaves.
926 McLemore, South Memphis, (901) 946-2535 soulsvilleusa.com
The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a celebration of Memphis music and the culture behind it. Music made famous by stars like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, and others. While touring the museum, make sure to catch WATTSTAX, a depiction of the development of the music label and the people who created it.
Downtown, South Main and G.E. Patterson, (901) 578-7262 southmainmemphis.net
As the center of the Memphis arts scene, South Main has unique retail shops, including great boutiques and antique shops. The area also includes some great food spots, such as Spindini, Onyx, and the Arcade Restaurant, as well as some fun and eclectic coffee shops. The 13 art galleries in the area are all within walking distance of one another, and on the last Friday of each month, hundreds fl ock to the Art Trolley for a tour of the local galleries.
1550 Ingram, West Memphis, Arkansas, (870) 735-3670 or (800) 476-6182 southlandgreyhound.com
The world’s largest greyhound racing facility lies in West Memphis at Southland Park, just over the Mississippi River and the bridges that connects Arkansas to Downtown Memphis. Here, guests can watch the canine action trackside or at grandstand levels, play the slots and other games, listen to sizzling live music, and eat fine food.
706 Union, Downtown, (521) 0664 or (800) 441-6249 sunstudio.com
Visit the historic site where rock-and-roll was born — the famous Sun Studio. Walk in the footsteps of greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Howlin’ Wolf, and many others. One of the best parts about visiting the studio is that you can make your own record and take it home.
Riverside and Beale, Downtown, (901) 312-9190
One of the most popular parks in Memphis, Tom Lee Park is a home for joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, and kite-fl yers. You can gaze at the Mississippi River and the boats that fl oat by on it. The park is also the site of the famous Memphis In May activities, including the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest.
Tunica is located a mere 30 miles away from Memphis by Highway 61 and is a hub for Mid- South gaming. With exciting casinos, gorgeous hotels, restaurants, gift shops, championship golf courses, dance pavilions, and big-name entertainers, Tunica is one of the best entertainment areas in the Mid-South.
680 Adams, Downtown, (901) 526-1469 woodruf-fontaine.com
Built in the 1870s on what was known as Millionaires’ Row, this French-Victorian mansion has lavish architectural details such as winding staircases and ceiling medallions. As the home to two prominent Memphis families, the Woodruff-Fontaine House is a part of Victorian Village, where several nineteenth-century Memphis homes have been preserved and restored.
(901) 678-2224 memphis.edu/amum/
The gallery at U of M is home to two permanent collections: “Egyptian Antiques” and “The Spirit of Africa”. A wide range of temporary exhibits make their way through as well, including contemporary art. Admission is free and guided tours are offered for groups of 60.
1930 Poplar Ave, Memphis, 901-272-5200 mca.edu
The college doubles as an art and design institution with a gallery presenting various changing exhibitions. The gallery often showcases the work of the students and faculty throughout the course of the year.
650 East Parkway South, (901) 321-3432 cbu.edu/library/gallery
Located at CBU’s Plough Library, the gallery is a venue for temporary exhibitions that display the work of the students at the school and a variety of guest artists that come to the college throughout the year.
2000 North Parkway, (901) 843-3000 rhodes.edu
The Clough-Hansen Gallery offers a combination of contemporary student art, Asian woodcut prints, porcelains, fabrics, and other objects that form the backbone of the permanent collection.