kids playing in fountain in memphis

20 Kid-Friendly Things To Do In Memphis This Summer

Holly Whitfield

Looking for ways to fill your summer with Memphis fun? Look no further.

By the way, most of the activities listed here cost less than $10 per person (and most are fun for adults, too).

1. Have milkshakes at A. Schwab, Beale Street’s oldest business (circa 1876). After your trip to the soda fountain, venture upstairs to try on outlandish hats in the photo booth or check out retro toys downstairs.

2. Explore the Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park. With rope webs for climbing, super-long slides and nest swings, this playground earns consistent praise from kids and design critics alike.

3. See a movie at the CTI 3D Giant Theater inside the Pink Palace, a 1920s-era mansion-turned-museum. Then, roam around to view exhibits including an elaborate (understatement) miniature circus.  

4. Immerse yourselves in essential history at the National Civil Rights Museum (free most Monday afternoons for Tennessee residents). The museum is located at the Lorraine Motel, site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and a critical stop on any civil rights itinerary.

5. Watch the march of the Peabody Ducks. The Peabody Memphis hotel has observed this tradition since the 1930s. A “Duckmaster” rolls out a red carpet, and all the fanfare, as the ducks march to and from the fountain in the hotel lobby twice daily.  

6. Try the “Lemonade of the Day” at LUNCHBOX Eats. Chef Kaia Brewer infuses the beverage with a changing lineup of summer fruits. Also: this downtown eatery is stocked with board games, making it especially fun for families.

7. Play in My Big Backyard at Memphis Botanic Garden. Kids can run, crawl, climb, hula-hoop and play make-believe in this outdoor wonderland. Playhouses, rope webs, slides and outdoor instruments are just a few of the features.

8. Splash, and then some:

  • Beale Street Landing: a pocket-sized splash park located downtown with an epic view of the Mississippi River and Memphis skyline

  • Peabody Park: a neighborhood splash park with easy access to the restaurants and shops of the “historically hip” Cooper Young district

  • Children’s Museum of Memphis: a colorful splash pad with musical instruments, flowers and insects that squirt water, plus comfy seating for parents. Admission can be combined with entrance to the Children’s Museum (featuring a firetruck, police motorcycle, FedEx jet, kid-sized kitchen and more). Don’t miss the museum’s newest addition, the Grand Carousel, a Memphis icon restored to its 1920s-era grandeur.

  • Dip your toes into the Riverwalk at Mud Island River Park, a scale replica of the Lower Mississippi River that empties into a “Gulf of Mexico” pool—sized just right for pedal-boating.

  • Shelby Farms Park: This 4,500-acre oasis features a splash area steps from the park’s main lake and surrounding trail, making it an ideal place to cool off after making the loop.

  • After viewing the wild and varied residents of Memphis Zoo, run through the artificial geyser in the zoo’s Teton Trek area.   

9. Take your picture at all of the I Love Memphis murals. (For even more murals and public art around town, check out Memphis Art Project.) With kids who like to MAKE art, spend a couple of hours at The Art Project in Overton Square. This creative playspace stocks all the art supplies and guided projects young artists desire.

10. Grab a bite while the kids play. Railgarten and Loflin Yard offer adult atmosphere with lots of open outdoor spaces and lawn games for kids to play. Or head to The Rec Room where you can challenge the kids to vintage arcade games, ping pong, foosball or old school nintendo on giant 20-foot screens. 

My Big Backyard memphis
AutoZone Park Memphis Redbirds game
Jerrys Sno Cones
memphis playground

11. Pick something sweet at Jones Orchard. This orchard just outside of Memphis in Millington regularly shares what’s ready for harvest. Check the list before you go so you know what goodness you’re in for: peaches, blackberries, blueberries and more.

12. Take advantage of Wacky Wednesdays at the Brooks Museum of Art. This Wednesday morning program is a creative and free way for families to experience Memphis’ first art museum, established more than a century ago.

13. Visit a local bookstore:

  • Burke’s Books: One of the country’s oldest independent bookstores is located in the buzz-y Cooper-Young neighborhood.

  • South Main Book Juggler: Browse books here before exploring the surrounding South Main Historic Arts District.

  • Novel: This local-favorite indie bookstore in East Memphis has its own restaurant and storytimes so you can stay awhile.

14. See how Memphis does snow cones (hint: make yours a supreme) at Jerry’s Sno Cones.

15. Try a change of scenery: If you’re in the ‘burbs or East Memphis, go to Germantown Municipal Park for some fishing or a picnic. If you’re downtown or Midtown, try Tom Lee Park. The views of the river are gorgeous here and you might join a pickup game of volleyball or test your strength on the park’s Riverfit stations. Bonus: From Tom Lee Park, the bridge you see to the southwest is Big River Crossing. Running from downtown Memphis all the way to Arkansas, it’s the longest pedestrian and bike crossing over the Lower Mississippi River.

16. Take a trip to Summer Avenue’s Golf & Games Family Park for putt-putt, go-karts, bumper boats and more.

17. Find a food truck for lunch or dinner.

18. Go to a Memphis Redbirds game at AutoZone Park. Watch the schedule for days when kids can run the bases and fireworks follow the games.

19. Check out the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum to learn the whole Memphis music story. Costumes, instruments and an irresistible soundtrack guide the way.

20. Go to Sky Zone Trampoline Park for some air-conditioned, bouncy fun.