Music aficionados, history buffs, foodies and nature lovers can each indulge in the plethora of attractions and events Memphis, T.N. offers. But did you know there are attractions for exciting family travel, too? Find below those adventures that your kids will enjoy and remember for months to come. Don’t let the rain or cold weather stop you; this collection of fun will work in any kind of weather.
Start your journey at the Children’s Museum of Memphis. They open at 9 a.m.; plan to spend two hours exploring the exhibits. Be sure to see the FedEx airplane where kids can load packages on a real plane, the CMOM-TV room where they can boogie to Elvis against a green screen, and the Skyscraper where children can climb through a series of tunnels to the top of the museum.
Take a short ride to Huey’s Restaurant (Midtown) for lunch. This eatery boasts 'Best Burgers', 'Best Fry' and 'Best for Kids' by Memphis Flyer and Memphis Parent Magazine readers' polls, and several others. Don't miss the onion rings: huge, hand dipped and made from red onions. It’s fun for the kids and affordable for the family.
About two blocks from Huey’s Midtown is the Memphis Zoo. Plan to spend about three hours enjoying this zoo ranked No.1 by TripAdvisor. There are animal encounters regularly throughout the day, and you can affordably take a tram ride around the park for a whirlwind tour. Children’s rides and trams close in winter, and the zoo closes an hour earlier in the cold months. However, tourists are at a minimum and the animals show themselves more in winter months, so there are advantages to bundling up for an animal excursion.
After the Zoo, take a breather and head to your hotel. The Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown has exceptional staff and the hotel is kid-friendly. Another plus is their downtown shuttle – the only free one in town.
You will want to use this shuttle to head to the famous Peabody Hotel to see the Peabody Ducks. They march the red carpet at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Don’t park at the Peabody (unless you are staying there), as the price is very steep, but the hotel shuttle or downtown trolley will save you the cost.
Eat dinner back at the Crowne Plaza. The Jambalaya is delicious and the kids' meals include juice, fruit and ice cream. You will want an early start in the morning.
Gibson Donuts in East Memphis bakes delicious breakfast treats that you can’t miss. Sure, there are glazed donuts and cake donuts here, but you can also indulge in decadent red-velvet cupcake donuts, scrumptious bacon-covered maple donuts, or dunk-worthy Oreo-sprinkled vanilla donuts.
After breakfast, take a ride to the Crystal Shrine Grotto. This peaceful oasis-in-the-city is located in Memorial Park Cemetery. Kids are encouraged to roam around, explore the cave, climb the walls and feed the fish.
Drive back into the city to the Pink Palace Museum, a repository of Memphis antiquity, and cultural and natural history. Kids will enjoy the life-size dinosaur, the multitude of animal skeletons, the replica Piggly Wiggly, and much more. Plan to spend at least an hour, plus additional time for an IMAX movie and/or a planetarium show.
You can’t leave Memphis without eating BBQ. Central BBQ is arguably the best place to get your pulled pork sandwich or ribs. There are multiple locations, but don’t cheat yourself; go to the original location on Central Avenue in Midtown.
After lunch, head back into the city. Park downtown near the courthouse (this will cost you under $10). A short walk will get you to the Fire Museum of Memphis. Kids will enjoy seeing the collection of fire truck toys, climbing on replica fire trucks and playing a fire-safety game in a makeshift miniature house. Plan to stay about an hour.
After a five-minute walk from the Fire Museum of Memphis you can catch the Memphis Trolley. Bring cash. Let your kids feed the money into the cash machine on the trolley; it is cased in glass and kids love watching it “eat” the money. Take the Riverfront line in its entirety, ending at the same location you started. It is a temperature-controlled means of seeing the city, and the novelty will not be lost on your kids.
It’s about time to pack the car and go home. Before you head out of Memphis, stop at Wiles-Smith Drug Store for a special treat. This eatery has been in business almost 70 years and is the last remaining ice cream soda fountain in the city. The locals know that this is the best milkshake in town. It’s the perfect end to a great vacation.