Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel

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As a music nerd, I found lots of fascinating things to do in Memphis with kids. That said, there is much more to this amazing town than famous studios and the home of the King.

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Memphis children's museum guitars

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel graceland bb king beale street mud island collage

Memphis with Kids

Growing up in the American South, I knew Memphis for its connections to civil rights, the blues, and rock n’ roll. For example, I knew that BB King and Elvis called Memphis home and that Martin Luther King Jr. was tragically assassinated there. This history is important and it was a vital component of our time in Memphis, but take the time to find more in this amazing town.

Now that I visit Memphis with my own kids, I find lots of new opportunities to learn and play. Below I list up our recommended things to do in Memphis with kids. Some of my recommendations you might expect, but my favorite may surprise you.

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Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Sun studios with Kids PIN 1

I’ve held off on writing about most America destinations on this blog so far, but no longer. Our last big road trip across the US has been on my mind lately, and I’ve been on an old-school music binge with the kids.

As I’ve played music over dinner, I’ve realized so many albums I love were recorded in Memphis. Albums by people like Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, BB King, Booker T, Major Lance, the Bar-Kays, and dozens more.

Things to do in Memphis: Non-Music Related

Below you’ll find our favorite things to do in Memphis with kids. I’ve divided them into “music-related” and “non-music related.” What have I missed? Tell me in the comments, or contact me directly.

The Children’s Museum of Memphis

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Memphis children's museum

Interactive museums for kids come in all shapes and sizes, but the one in Memphis is very large and very impressive. There are lots of science and occupation-related exhibits inside, and they’re all hands-on and engaging. Outside you have a great playground, creative basketball hoops and plenty of spraying water in the summertime.

The National Civil Rights Museum

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Martin Luther King civil rights museum

Built around the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, the National Civil Rights Museum can be an important but sobering experience. Only you know if your kids are up for it. If they are, then remember that you can also visit the nearby building where the assassin James Earl Ray stalked MLK. Information in the museum annex also goes into the manhunt that followed.

The museum is more than this one event, of course. You could spend an hour or half a day here, depending on how deep you want to go into our country’s complicated and shameful history of bigotry.

Mud Island River Park

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Mud Island Park

The Mississippi River plays a crucial part of the American story. No lesson in the country’s history is complete without it. The country’s early expansion, the wars that followed, the slave trade and the evolution of blues, jazz, rock and other musical forms — they all are indebted to its waters.

The Mud Island River Park tells the Mississippi’s story in an interactive way. Kids will also enjoy how you get there, too: on an above-ground tram.

The Memphis Zoo

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel zoo polar bear

Constantly rated one of the best zoos in the country, the Memphis Zoo is noted for large enclosures and active wildlife.

The Pink Palace Museum

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel pink palace

Part of a family of worthwhile museums, the Pink Palace is hard to pin down into one category or another. Dinosaur skeletons? Check. Memphis’s role in the Civil War and the slave trade? Check. How about an authentic walk-through of one of the original Piggly Wiggly shops, circa 1890? You bet.

My Big Back Yard

Part of the Memphis Botanical Garden, this place really does feel like the coolest backyard you’ve ever been in. There are tree houses, outdoor art, and other fun stuff to play in, around and on. Don’t forget to feed the fish!

Metal Museum

This unique place is a repository of the history and future of metalwork. If you can watch someone at work, it’s an amazing craft to behold.

The Memphis Metal Museum has regularly scheduled demonstrations. Call ahead or check their website and Facebook page to time your visit then.

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel stax live music

Things to do in Memphis: Music-Related

When it comes to modern music, Memphis has its fingerprints all over it. Memphis is where blues, gospel, and country-western fused to become rock n’ roll and R&B. It was in Memphis that Rock and R&B split to evolve in different paths. Here are a few places that help document these changes.

Graceland

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Graceland trophy room

Let’s just get the 800-pound gorilla out of the way, shall we? Yes, Graceland is still cool and yes you should totally go. Keiko and I first went in 1996. Aside from using iPads as the guides now, not much has changed on the property. However, we still enjoyed bringing the kids there.

Now that pop stars brag about their homes on TV all the time, Elvis’s pad was less impressive to our kids as it was back in the day, but the halls of gold records still make an impact.

Sun Studios

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Sun studios microphone

This may be much smaller than you’re expecting, but a visit to Sun Studios is a great thing to do in Memphis with kids. The guided tour takes about an hour.

Tip: Our tour ended in the studio itself. Want to see inside the recording booth? Wait around until most of the crowd has left and then ask your guide. It helps if you have paid attention and asked/answered questions along the way, too.

Beale Street

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Beale Street

This is possibly the most well-known road in Memphis. Beale Street has plenty of restaurants and nightclubs along this strip. Sure it’s a touristy, but it can be hopping on a warm evening after the sun goes down.

The Memphis Rock & Soul Museum

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Memphis Rock n Soul Museum

If you’re looking for a good a primer on American music, then the Memphis Rock & Soul Museum is a good choice. Audio guides are available (and recommended). The tour starts with a movie that can hep younger kids put the artists they’ll see into the right context.

Tip: Tickets here last for 24 hours, so you can see it briefly and return later if you want to.

Gibson Guitar Factory Tour

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Gibson guitar 1

If you and the kids are music fans and like seeing how things are made, then touring the Gibson Guitar factory is for you. The tour takes about an hour and goes from hunks of wood and metal to the finished product.

Some guides have been accused of being too technical or unenthusiastic, but it varies. Order tickets online before you arrive. Otherwise, it might be sold out.

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music [Jason’s Favorite]

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel stax museum walls of records

This place, people. This. Is. The. Place. The Stax Museum was on my radar, but I had no idea it would affect me the way it did.

Like the Rock & Soul Museum, the tour starts with a short movie. Watch this, as it’s useful to put Stax, its artists and the historical context into place.

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel Stax Museum

The first exhibit room is a reconstructed church, where the gospel element of soul music came from. Another favorite spot was the studio room, where the “exhibit” was a 5-piece band playing live. The vocalist must have weighed 400 pounds, and had the voice of an angel. The girl and I had to be pulled onto the other rooms where we saw a lot of the Otis Redding’s clothes and Isaac Haye’s car.

Keiko had to make me leave this place.

Know Other Things to Do in Memphis with Kids?

Things to do in Memphis with Kids — America Family Travel graceland elvis buckle

Tell us your recommendations! Where did you go? What did you do in Memphis with kids? Where did you eat? We’re in the American Southeast usually once a year, at least, and plan to return to Tennessee many more times.

Atlanta is my hometown, so it’s not too far away for me. Tell us your tips in the comments, or contact me directly!

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

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