Hook, Line and Sinker: Bass Pro Opens at Memphis' Pyramid

Large Memphis attraction lures the world

By Sally Walker Davies,

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is the world's largest retail shop — Photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

It was probably the most anticipated opening of a store in Memphis. Ever.

The 190 million-dollar-plus Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid – former home to the NBA's Grizzlies – opened in late April, 2015, welcoming 35,000 customers on its first day alone.

Opening day at Bass Pro in Memphis brought in an estimated 20,000 visitors — Photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

The massive retail space combines a giant-sized version of a Bass Pro shop with a a giant cypress swamp filled with fish and alligators; a 13-lane bowling alley; a 28-story freestanding glass elevator; a 105-room hotel that resembles a swanky lodge; an observation deck at the tip of the Pyramid; and all manner of boats, ATVs, and more to explore.

Oh, and a gun range, an archery range, a shooting gallery and a hotel spa.

So, let's just call it Disney for outdoorsy types – or anyone who wants to marvel at the marriage of a pyramid and a hunting lodge. Weirdly, it just works.

The Big Cypress Lodge inside the Bass Pro Shops features 105 rustic-chic rooms — Photo courtesy of Memphis CVB

The 105-room hotel – Big Cypress Lodge – is perhaps the most innovative use of space in a former arena; the architects and designers at Bass Pro managed to create an authentic, if upscale, lodge in the midst of the massive space that is the Pyramid.

There are log walls, cozy lodge bedding, warm colors and rocking chairs; some rooms are made to evoke a tree house feel, while others are like cozy duck hunting camps, featuring artwork from Ducks Unlimited (headquartered in Memphis).

The view out your window or your screened porch includes the retail space, but also the waterfowl habitat and the 100-foot faux cypress tress.

There's a restaurant – Uncle Buck's Fish Bowl and Grill – that includes a saltwater aquarium and a decidedly casual atmosphere. It's kind of like if a great beach bar met a bowling alley.

The interior of Bass Pro includes multiple retail and recreation areas — Photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

The 13-lane bowling is a huge hit with locals, so scoring a lane might be a little difficult for visitors. With so much to do throughout the area, however, waiting for a lane is pretty painless.

One of the best features of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is the observation deck, set 32 stories above the city, with sweeping views of the Mississippi River, the city of Memphis and the Arkansas and Mississippi deltas.

Some have grumbled about the $10 per person charge for a ride to the observation deck, but when you compare it with other fee-based rides to the top of an iconic building, it's a pretty fair price. (The Empire State Building observation deck is about $43, the Rockefeller Center's is $27 and Seattle's Space Needle is $18.)

The ocean-themed bowling alley is a hit with locals — Photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops