Entertain the whole Family

For families, Memphis offers true Southern hospitality as well as all-out fun.
 
Explore the city’s wild side at the Memphis Zoo, named by TripAdvisor as one of the country’s best animal kingdoms. The easy-to-navigate park includes a Yellowstone ecosystem, polar bears and wolves from the great Northwest, and pandas from China. Some of the city’s most famous animals, however, don’t live at the zoo. They call the fountain inside the Peabody Hotel home. The Peabody ducks splash in the fountain during the day, then head to their swanky rooftop accommodations promptly at 5 p.m. with much fanfare – a red carpet, music, a duck master and hundreds of curious onlookers. Be sure to arrive early to get a good spot for photos – and a chance to be honorary leader of the pack. 

At the Children’s Museum of Memphis, kids can navigate a FedEx airplane, explore the Mighty Mississippi and put on a stage show – all under the same roof. At the nearby Pink Palace Museum (a huge mansion made of pink marble) the city’s history is showcased, along with a stunning collection of oddities collected from around the globe. There’s also a CTI 3D Gitant Theater and planetarium on site.

Stingrays at Memphis Zoo: iStock

Mississippi River history, Memphis’ reign as a cotton capitol and early riverboat days are all explored on Mud Island at the Mississippi River Museum, where a tram ride (made famous in the Tom Cruise film The Firm) whisks visitors to the island and its flowing scale model of the mighty Mississippi. Nearby, the Fire Museum of Memphis captures the history of firefighting in Memphis – and on the river – in vivid detail, giving kids the chance to try on firefighter gear and learn important fire-safety tips.

For sports lovers, the big game in town is, well, any game. With the always-in-the-hunt University of Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team, the ferocious Grizzlies of the NBA and the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds, a chance to catch some of the country’s top athletes is always close by. At AutoZone Park, home of the Redbirds, single game tickets start at just $5 and kids can enjoy a vast array of carnival-style rides and games in the midway between innings.

There’s plenty of green space in Memphis for families to roam, too. At Shelby Farms, huge playgrounds and park space are perfect for picnicking or enjoying warm days, and families can hop onto a paddleboat at the park’s Patriot Lake or saddle up at the stables to explore. And the always-expanding Greenline offers the chance to explore other ways – on foot, bike or stroller – through some of the city’s prettiest neighborhoods on former railroad tracks dedicated for pedestrian and bicycle use.