COVID-19 has changed travel, but in Memphis, it’s inspired us to create new ways to enjoy the city—and put innovative spins on some of our favorite activities. Here are 12 ideas to plan for when you're ready to visit. While the information in this piece is current as of Sept. 1, 2020, it is always a good idea to confirm hours of operation and safety protocols with any activity or attraction before you enjoy.
1. Get a Sneak Peek at The Grove at GPAC
Grab a lawn chair and head to The Grove at Germantown Performing Arts Center, an all-new outdoor facility that is just beginning to host its first events, including a concert series and movie nights. The Grove will feature a full bar and snacks from local food trucks will be available for purchase. Seating will be limited to observe COVID-19 safety precautions.
2. Post Up at New Patios
Memphians love their patios, and now we have two new places to post up. Mississippi Terrace at Bass Pro Shops and the patio at Eight & Sand are two of the newest (and most talked about) spots in town. At Mississippi Terrace, sip on your favorite cocktail and dig into tasty small-plate appetizers like bacon guacamole and fried gator and creole catfish fingers. Then, grab a seat around one of the fire pits, listen to live music and enjoy scenic views of downtown Memphis. You and your furry friend can enjoy the Memphis weather at Eight & Sand’s newly opened patio. This new outdoor space at The Central Station music room offers craft cocktails in a socially distanced setting.
3. Take a Memphis Tour
There are a handful of Memphis tours that are open and taking extra measures to keep you and your crew safe.
A Tour of Possibilities is offering a new Memphis Caravan Tour. Guests can follow the ATOP van around Memphis and learn the city’s history from an African American perspective. As a guest, you will receive a link on your cell phone to hear the guide through your own vehicle’s speakers.
You can also explore Memphis with Backbeat Tours. This tour company is offering three tours that all feature a different look at our city while maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols. Ghost tours feature some of Memphis’ legendary haunted locations and ghost stories. Historic Memphis walking tours give guests a look at Memphis’ storied past and the iconic figures who still influence the city today. Backbeat's Memphis Bike Tours partner with Explore Bike Share to show guests different attractions and city highlights in downtown Memphis. Masks are required and social distancing measures will be in effect.
Take a private tour of Memphis in a classic convertible Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner with Rock ‘n’ Ride Tours. Musician Brad Birkedahl will guide you around Memphis, showing off famous landmarks and hidden gems (and sharing the stories behind them). Customers must wear masks and tours are limited to two guests.
Souvenir potential: Putting a twist on her signature culinary walking tours, Cristina McCarter of City Tasting Tours is offering a City Tasting Box. Packed with locally made goodies from Chef Tam's seasoning to Makeda's butter cookies, the boxes ship directly to your home so you can get a taste of Memphis without leaving your own kitchen.
4. Enjoy New Dining Experiences
Responding to the new normal, restaurants around Memphis are focused on bringing you safe, even innovative, dining experiences. Make a reservation at Cooper-Young staple Tsunami. Their new patio features limited seating and a menu that changes daily (check their website for updates). Bar DKDC and its sister restaurant The Beauty Shop are serving guests on a brand new "Back Dō Oasis Patio" behind The Beauty Shop. Imagine enjoying dinner (Monday – Saturday) or brunch (Saturdays and Sundays) in your own private bubble-like “igloo.” Reservations are required. Another suggestion? Soak up the downtown Main Street vibe at Cocozza, a new pop-up Italian café. The Majestic Grille has transformed its patio into this take-out and patio-dining experience featuring comforting Italian dishes. Find more patio dining options here.
5. Go for Trivia & a Movie at the Drive-In
Head to Malco’s Summer Quartet Drive In for Tuesday night trivia and a double feature. Trivia is included with the price of admission and starts an hour before sundown. Check the theater's website for a list of movie showings.
6. Cheer On Memphis 901 FC
Catch a match featuring Memphis 901 FC, the local professional soccer club, at AutoZone Park. With only a handful of games left and limited seating to honor social distancing protocols, get your tickets today!
7. Rock Out to a Virtual Concert
Live music is back in Memphis, but many of our favorite local musicians continue to deliver concerts from local venues or their homes to yours. Check out our virtual events calendar for more information, and listen up for beloved annual live music events, such as the Levitt Shell Concert Series, that have moved online.
8. Visit a Garden or Flower Field
Memphis features beautiful flower fields and gardens that provide a perfect excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors. The sunflower fields at Agricenter International are a popular photo op for locals. Access to the fields is free, but the Agricenter asks that you don’t pick any blooms so the rest of the community can enjoy them as well. To reach the sunflower fields, enter from Walnut Bend Road and park in the lot.
Explore the public garden and certified arboretum at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens. The 17-acre site includes beautiful formal gardens and a tranquil, two-acre woodland garden.
At Memphis Botanic Gardens, you’ll find 31 specialty gardens spread across 96 acres. Each garden has a different theme (think: Japanese Garden, Delta Heritage Garden, Azalea Trail and more).
9. Ride a Bike
Whether you bring your own or rent with Explore Bike Share, Memphis is even more fun when you explore by bike. The Shelby Farms Greenline is a popular path, a 10.65-mile urban trail connecting midtown to Shelby Farms Park and beyond. Memphis River Parks and Beale Street Landing are also popular biking areas (and with Riverside Drive closed to vehicle traffic on the weekends, you can expect a chill ride as you soak up views of the mighty Mississippi). While you're downtown, bike across the Mississippi River to Arkansas on Big River Crossing, the longest pedestrian bridge over the river.
10. Picnic in a Park
Support local restaurants by grabbing takeout, then head to one of Memphis’ spectacular city parks. From Memphis River Parks on the banks of the Mississippi to midtown's Overton Park and East Memphis' Shelby Farms Park (one of the largest urban parks in the country), you'll find a beautiful setting for your meal. Need help deciding which delicious local cuisine you'll enjoy on your picnic? Check out our blog post on some of the best takeout options in town.
11. Catch a Flick at Tiger Lane
901 Sunset Cinema is an all new drive-in experience in town. Pull up to Tiger Lane near the historic Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and watch some of your favorite movies, from classics to blockbusters. Of course, no movie-going experience is complete without popcorn and candy. Concession packages are available for purchase here, and if you’re really hungry, Aldo’s Pizza Pies are on-site too. Tickets are $25 per car (cars of 6 people or less).
12. Shop Local Goods at The Pink Palace
Looking to shop local? Try the Crafts Fair Pop Up Shop at The Pink Palace. From home décor and artwork to jewelry and other handcrafted goods, you can shop from some of the best local artisans all in one place. The pop up shop will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December.