Memphis is More than You Think: The Great Outdoors

Walking in Memphis is more than a song - it’s a way of life. Thousands of acres of public parks are home to dense forests, open fields, fish-filled lakes and winding rivers giving just about every major neighborhood in Memphis access to a park or trail. 

Go ahead, indulge in Memphis barbecue - you can easily walk it off on the Shelby Farms Greenline. This former 7-mile railroad line connects the heart of Midtown to Shelby Farms (one of the largest urban green spaces in the U.S.). The flat, smooth, quiet and mostly shaded route is perfect for walkers, bikers and skaters. The trail is open from sunrise to sunset.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Shelby Farms Park also offers horseback riding, 20 lakes for fishing and paddle-boating, a disc-golf course, picnic pavilions, awesome playgrounds, an off-leash dog park, bicycle and walking trails, and even a herd of American bison. 

Located in Millington, about 13 miles north of Downtown Memphis along the Mississippi River, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is more than 13,000 acres of hardwood forests. This state park boasts outdoor amenities like two fishing lakes, one of the largest disc golf courses in the Southeast, a nature center, miles of biking, hiking and horse trails along with ranger-led canoe programs. Staying overnight? Consider park cabins or the new online camping reservation system. And you’ll definitely want to stop by the Shelby Forest General Store for a soda pop and one of their famous cheeseburgers. 

Home to the Memphis Zoo and Old Forest Arboretum (many trees in this area are over 300 years old), Overton Park is 184 acres of public parkland including a nine-hole golf course, two play areas, a dog park and a 2.5 mile winding and paved shared use path. Put the pedal to the pavement, enjoy the shaded paths and have lunch in the park. In Overton Park you’ll also find an outdoor Levitt Shell Theater where Elvis Presley gave his first performance.

Scheduled for completion in 2015, the $30 million Harahan Bridge Project is one of the region’s most ambitious and impressive bike projects to date. Connecting Downtown Memphis, with West Memphis, Ark., it will soon be possible for bikers to cross the Mississippi River over the 100-yr old Harahan Bridge. For more information about the Harahan Bridge Project, follow their progress online

Need more biking options in the cradle of the Blues? Check out this big map of Memphis bike lanes, shared use roads and bike trails

The Memphis Botanic Garden definitely welcomes busy little bodies. Part playground, part children’s museum, part outdoor art gallery, you can only imagine the fun you can having playing in this kid’s backyard - My Big Backyard. With outdoor areas named Playhouse Lane, Critter Creek, Wormvill and Treetop Adventure, My Big Backyard is great for running, digging, splashing and discovering the great outdoors. 

And about the rivers – navigating the Mississippi or Wolf through city and wilds is an adventure for the books. Mud Island River Park and area outfitters will gear you with canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards – and guides, should you want one

Now that you’ve got the jist of all that Memphis has to offer in terms of outdoor amenities, start planning your trip by visiting MemphisTravel.com to search for attractions, find the perfect restaurant and scope events that are just right for you and your crew.

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