While speaking on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. You can relive history here by visiting the balcony and Dr. King's room, restored as it was when he was here to support the sanitation workers' strike. Through interactive multimedia exhibits you participate in the civil rights movement and learn its history from the 1600s through Rosa Parks and the freedom riders until today.
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.
The 2800 animals from over 400 species here have cared for in environments as close to their native habitats as possible. From African veldt to Asian temple ruins, Peruvian rain forests or Jamaican caverns, the animals roam free. Young children will enjoy the "Once Upon a Farm" exhibit and the amusement rides. The whole family will love watching the apes and monkeys in Primate Canyon. Do not miss the lions and tigers in Cat Country. Trams make getting around the park easy; wheelchairs and strollers can be rented.
Get your fishing pole ready and head to Herb Parsons Lake. This 177-acre (72-hectare) reservoir lake has a fishing pier, rental boats, and bait and tackle available for outdoor enthusiasts to use. Even if you don't fish, you can spend the day hiking around the lake or enjoying a picnic. Fish species that can be found here include the redear sunfish, yellow bass, and largemouth bass.
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.
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.
Court Square is a historic park that has existed at least since 1876, when the statue of Hebe was dedicated here. This small oasis in the middle of downtown office buildings also features a delightful gazebo and a bronze fountain. Court Square appeared in the movie The Firm as a backdrop for a meeting between Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman, and in real life serves as a relaxing spot for local office workers and visitors alike, who enjoy watching the restored antique cars of the Main Street Trolley go by.
This 12,000-seat stadium is the home of the AAA baseball team, the Redbirds. Sponsored by AutoZone, a locally founded and headquartered car parts business, the stadium features 1500 club seats and 44 luxury suites with waiters, a lounge, and a bar for the high-rollers. The attached children's playground is an inspired touch, which will be much appreciated by families with restless youngsters. The architecture of the stadium has won awards, although there has been some criticism on the lack of parking provided for those attending games here.
At Mud Island, see the twists and turns of the Mississippi River following the River Walk. Learn about the shipping of cotton on the river and the musical history made in cities along the river, from New Orleans jazz to Memphis blues. See the Memphis Belle, a historic WWII airplane. The Mud Island Amphitheatre on the island hosts concerts in the summer. To get there, ride the monorail.
WC Handy Park Pepsi Pavilion is a venue in Memphis known for hosting great blues acts and other prominent musicians. Past shows have included The Flaming Lips and George Clinton. It's named after W.C. Handy, a composer and musician also known as the "Father of the Blues." Experience great music in a beautiful outdoor setting at this venue. The park also hosts the Sessions in the Park Indie Music Showcase. Free and open to to all, this music venue is an integral part of Memphis's thriving music culture and offers great performances at little to no cost!
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.