Memphis' Best Attractions and Activities: From Music Museums to the Zoo

Narrowing down the list of attractions to only 10 is difficult in any city, but especially Memphis, where music, history, the arts and outdoors are all a lure.

Planning a long weekend or a week-long vacation should start with the thing that is uniquely Memphis: American music. The blues found its first wide audience at the clubs on Beale Street, and Elvis Presley brought the world a new sound from the tiny Sun Recording Service. Graceland, of course, is one of the most-visited historic homes in the United States, and truly a frozen-in-time experience that draws longtime fans of the King, as well as new ones who weren’t even alive when he died. Stax, known as Soulsville USA, brought the sound of soul to the world – and is an excellent interactive museum, as is the National Civil Rights Museum.

The retail extravaganza that is the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid is a can't miss, even if you have zero interest in the outdoors. With a bowling alley, aquarium, and pyramid peak observation deck, it's a delight to experience. With its setting on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, nature is an integral part of Memphis, and exploring nature can involve everything from a simple walk along the Mighty Mississippi, to exploring the Mighty Mississippi at Mud Island Riverpark.

Memphis is a casual town that’s easy to explore and navigate by car – and our guide to the city’s best attractions is just the start of a Memphis adventure.



It was the most anticipated opening of a store in Memphis, ever. The $190-million plus Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid - former home to the NBA's Grizzlies - opened in late April welcoming 35,000 customers its first DAY. The massive retail space...  Read More



Sun Studio is a tiny spot - but really, really big events in the history of music happened here. The most famous of all, of course, was Elvis Presley recording 'That's Alright, Mama' in 1954; within a year, he was a superstar and the Sun...  Read More

Dixon Gallery and Gardens
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Since 1976, this museum has housed a spectacular Impressionist collection including Degas, Monet and Pisarro, and the collection of art is rivaled only by the gorgeous gardens surrounding what was once one of Memphis' finest estates. The...  Read More



Taking advantage of an island that sprang up in the Mississippi in the early 20th century, this park offers a variety of attractions. Among them are the Mississippi River Museum which tracks both the river's development and the culture and towns...  Read More



Once the center of black-owned businesses and nightclubs, Beale became the home of the blues at the turn of the 20th century - a waypoint along the trail from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago. W.C. Handy lived - and performed - here, and...  Read More



Decorative metalwork is a hallmark of the design and architecture of the American South, and the Metal Museum is dedicated to the art of fine metalwork, as well as its history. Exhibits range from an examination of piercing to antique...  Read More

Graceland Area


Graceland is the second most visited historic home in the United States, hosting more than 600,000 visitors who come to pay homage to the King. How long one spends at Graceland really depends on one's level of interest in Elvis " you can make...  Read More



The Memphis Zoo is consistently rated one of the top zoos in the country, both for its breadth of exhibits in an easy-to-navigate layout, and for the sheer fact that one can get pretty close to the animals in almost every habitat. With giant...  Read More

National Civil Rights Museum


The National Civil Rights Museum underwent a year-long, multi-million dollar rebirth, re-opening the full museum in 2014 with more interactivity, deeper exhibits, and an even better telling of the stories of the American civil rights...  Read More



The lesser known of Memphis' major musical attractions, Stax is still one of the richest experiences in the city for music lovers. Home to what became known as the Memphis Sound, Stax is where Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Otis Redding, Aretha...  Read More


Meet Sally Walker Davies

Sally Walker Davies is enchanted by Memphis' music, history, and characters. From the artsy South Main Historic District to the grittiness of her favorite live music clubs to the sophisticated...  More About Sally