Sea animals at Memphis Zoo

Family-Friendly Trip Ideas

The Bluff City is known for its family friendly activities and attractions. So, pack up the fam, gas up the wagon, and come play around in our backyard. Here is our three-day itinerary to help you get the most of your Memphis stay.

Day 1:

There’s Museums – and then there’s Memphis Museums

If the mere mention of a museum makes your family unite in protest, then they haven’t been to Memphis. We don’t use our inside voices – we actually run, splash, put out fires and sing karaoke.

Explore the Children’s Museum of Memphis where kids are encouraged to experience a flight simulator, real airplane cockpit, 50-foot model of the Mississippi River, two live honeybee colonies, and much more!

For every child that ever dreamed of being a fireman, the Fire Museum of Memphis is a must-see. This unique museum lets children become rookie firemen for the day. Interactive exhibits and play stations teach fire safety in a safe and non-threatening environment. Imagine climbing aboard the hydraulic lift, manning the hose, and extinguishing a simulated fire. You can at this one-of-a-kind museum.

Surprise your teens with life-like dinosaurs and a spooky, shrunken head at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. While there, take in one of the features on the VERY big screen at the CTI 3D Giant Theatre.

Stop in Overton Square for lunch and then head over to the Art Project where the parents can take a break and the kids can get creative. A drop-in art studio dedicated to art-making and free creative experimentation for children, where parents and care-givers are encouraged to participate or sit-back and relax while the kids are hard at work.

What started as a joke has now become a time-honored tradition. Catch the Peabody Ducks make their way from their penthouse suite atop the South’s Grand Hotel, the Peabody Memphis, to the ornate fountain in the hotel’s lobby each day at 11 a.m. If you miss it, don’t worry. You can catch the reverse at 5 p.m. when they return to their lofty home for the night.

After a day of activities, grab a box of popcorn and unwind with a classic movie at The Orpheum Theatre, Playhouse on the Square or Hattiloo Theater.  Past shows at the Orpheum have included The Wizard of Oz, Swiss Family Robinson and other kid-friendly flicks.

Day 2:

Experience the Great Outdoors – Memphis Style

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Whether it is standing face-to-face with a grizzly bear or cruising the Mississippi River, there is an adventure waiting for you in Memphis.

The Memphis Zoo is rated the #1 zoo by TripAdvisor and for good reason. Where else can you get up close and personal with a polar bear, monkey around with an orangutan, or play in a Yellowstone geyser? The fun doesn’t end there, hop the tram and see everything from exotic giant pandas, gibbons, and Bengal tigers to the more gentle creatures at the petting zoo such as ponies and ducks. Better plan to stay at least half a day with all there is to see and do.

All students read about Huckleberry Finn’s adventures on the Mississippi River, but in Memphis, they can hop aboard an authentic paddlewheeler at Memphis Riverboats and actually experience it for themselves. Indulge yourself in a lazy ride up the Mississippi as the captain tells you about life and times on Ol’ Man River. Take in the breathtaking sunsets on the river and the skyline views of the neon of downtown Memphis.

The Memphis Botanic Garden definitely welcomes busy little bodies. With outdoor areas named Playhouse Lane, Critter Creek, Wormville, and Treetop Adventure, you can only imagine the fun you can have playing in this Children’s Garden - My Big Backyard. And to give you another reason to smile, admission is only $8 for adults and $5 for children 2-12 years of age. Under 2 are admitted free.

See nature up close and personal at this 65-acre Lichterman Nature Center complex in the heart of Memphis. It is home to a wide variety of plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, as well as a meadow, a three-story-high forest boardwalk and lake with an underwater viewing area. They also offer guided tours with advance reservations.

Antique Main Street Trolleys loop around downtown Memphis and offer scenic views of the Mississippi River, the Pinch District and South Main Arts District. A three day pass for $8 will enable you to hop on and off at the various stops and enjoy all that downtown has to offer.

​If lounging outdoors is more your speed, Memphis has two indoor/outdoor hangout spaces that are perfect for the whole family.  At Loflin Yard, which is located in downtown's South Main Arts District, parents can sit back and sip on their favorite beverage, while the kids play outdoor games like bag toss and ladder ball. Guests can also expect live music weekly. Midtown's Railgarten features a sand volleyball court, a kid's playground area, an ice-cream parlor and tons of ping pong tables, as well as indoor and outdoor stages for live music.

Children's Museum Zipline
Fire Museum of Memphis
Paddlewheel Riverboat Memphis
Kayaking at Shelby Farms Memphis

DAY 3: 

Action-Packed Adventures

Upon arrival, check into the hotel, stow the luggage, and head outdoors. Memphis gives you many ways to “stretch your legs.” Don’t forget to pack your tennis shoes!

Don’t be alarmed, but Memphis is swarming with Grizzlies – the NBA variety. Basketball is alive and well at FedExForum each October – April. Your family will enjoy the fast-paced action of Tony Allen's hustle, Zack (Z-Bo) Randolph’s rebounds and Mike Conley’s 3-pointers. You’ll be glued to your seats during breaks in the game with the featured entertainment: the world-famous Beale Street Flippers, local live music or other spectacular guests.

Squirming bodies may need a day at Golf and Games Family Park. Open daily year round, the park features a mini-golf course, driving range, batting cage, go-kart super track and a large video arcade.

For anyone bursting with energy, try horseback riding and hiking at Shelby Farms Park or take a run, walk or bike ride on the Greenline, the seven-mile trail that runs from Shelby Farms into the heart of Midtown.

The fun continues with kayaking and wading in the riverwalk at Mud Island River Park.  When the lights go down, the campfires come to life on Mud Island. Enjoy camping on the Mississippi River where all you need to bring is yourself. Everything else is provided – right down to the s’mores.

Want to adventure indoors? Test your wits to solve puzzles and riddles at Memphis Escape Rooms. With two locations Downtown and East Memphis, the whole family will have an unforgettable time working together to beat the clock to solve the mystery and escape the room.  

Pack your bags, take a break, and come see us. As you can see, Memphis was made for families and offers more than enough things to do for a 3-day trip.