What could be better than nature combined with music and entertainment? Enjoy the outdoors and live music in Overton Park, a small shell theater where Elvis once played that hosts concerts in the summer. Listen to jazz, classical or blues music while you gaze at the stars. Occasionally, old films are shown and live performances are hosted here. This is a great place to take children, since there is lots of room for them to play and use their imaginations.
The Dixons were a childless couple who collected art, both fine and decorative and left it all to the city when they died. The travelling exhibits, are often spectacular and have included Faberge eggs, glassworks by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly, and an explosion of color from Raoul Dufy. The 17-acre (7-hectare) garden is usually open for strolling, except during outdoor concerts, picnics, or theater productions. The museum shop often has items from Memphis' Great Wonders exhibits! The museum is free for everyone on every Saturday between 10 am to noon.
Memphis' main museum is housed in a marble building completed in 1916. The architecturally beautiful rooms house an outstanding collection of medieval art and a small but worthwhile collection of Impressionist works. One room is dedicated to a "touch" exhibit for vision-impaired visitors. Temporary exhibits include a patriotic show held during the Memphis in May Festival. The restaurant, the Brushmark, is a fine place to lunch, especially when the outside patio is open, which looks out on Overton Park.
Memphis Botanic Garden is a collection of gardens that covers over 96 acres (39 hectares) in East Memphis. The lovely Japanese garden, with its bridges, ponds and goldfish is a favorite with visitors, who come for the candlelight evening tours in the summer. In the spring, the Ketchum Iris Garden glows with a myriad of colors, while the Municipal Rose Garden is at its best in May, June, and September. There is even a Sensory Garden that is designed to appeal to all five senses.
This tiny house stands as a reminder of both a dark period in American history and the efforts of many to remedy the wrongs of slavery. A merchant named Jacob Burkle, who ran a stockyard before the American Civil War, provided a haven for many runaway slaves on their journey through the Underground Railroad. Here you can see where they waited for the instructions that helped them find their way across the Mississippi River to freedom.
Highlights of the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum's permanent collection include several Elvis costumes, B.B. King's guitar (affectionately called "Lucille" by the legendary musician), and Dick Clark's American Bandstand podium. The museum also offers special temporary exhibits. The museum is available for private parties and events.
The Fire Museum is located in the first firehouse in Memphis. Kids will love the video games and interactive videos that simulate firefighting, while parents will appreciate the exhibit of unusual firefighting equipment from the last two centuries. If you take the restored trolley from Union or Beale, you can disembark at the museum, then walk up the street to the National Civil Rights Museum, in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
For an educational outing and a dose of local culture, visit the Mississippi River Museum. The exhibits here cover 10,000 years of history of the Lower Mississippi River, making for a unique mix of exhibits. Artifacts shown range from Native American tools and pottery to Victorian furniture and 20th Century instruments. It's a great field trip destination and a place that visitors to Memphis must go to in order to learn about the rich heritage of the area.
Located in downtown Memphis, The Cotton Museum explores an integral part of the South's history. It is located on what used to be the trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange. There are interactive exhibits to keep kids interested as well as archives for research purposes. The exhibits in the museum cover a broad range of topics, including the economic, social, and cultural impacts of the cotton industry.
Peabody Place is part of an ambitious downtown renewal effort that includes complexes of restaurants, shops and apartments. Developer Jack Belz and his wife Marilyn have put their private collection of Chinese art on display for the public in a 7500 square-foot (232 square-meter) gallery. Some of the ivory and jade pieces date back to the Manchu Dynasty of the 17th Century. Stroll around Peabody Place and see what is attracting new residents to the downtown area.
Center for Southern Folklore is worth the visit if you want to sit and hear some blues or have a beer and learn about Southern culture. This private, non-profit organization is dedicated to informing people about Southern history with an emphasis on music and art. The interior, decorated by local artists, is eclectic and includes a gift shop and coffee bar. The gift shop is a great place to get books or albums featuring Memphis and Memphis artists. They also have live music Friday and Saturday evenings.
This is a place you can't miss out on if you happen to a music fan where artists of all genres, races, and cultures are recognized for their contributions to the field of music. Their wall of fame features some of the biggest names of rock n' roll, blues, and pop such as Justin Timberlake, B.B King, Elvis Presley and John Cash who have visited this place while being inducted into the hall of fame. The building also includes a museum that features a large collection of records that were made by some of the inductees.