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Overton Park is the home of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis College of Art, and the Overton Park Municipal Golf Course. The park by itself is a lovely place to visit. There are trails for hiking and biking, tennis courts, a playground, picnic area, and huge, shady trees to relax under.The rainbow-painted amphitheater, once the location of concerts by Elvis Presley and ZZ Top, is now seldom used, but still a good place to sit and ponder the glories of music gone by.
Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest in the country, spanning 4500 acres (1821 hectares). Come here to experience tranquility mingled with awe as you explore the great outdoors. The park is home to a herd of bison and many other species of animals. Though once a working farm, now it serves as a favorite recreational spot to many. So go ahead and ride, bike, hike, fish or row!
Having been slowly restored over the past several years, the Orpheum is now an astonishing architectural treasure from the 1920s, with its statues, carved woodwork, velvet curtains, and an opulent lobby. It hosts shows of touring Broadway companies and is a must visit for the culturally inclined. It is also the venue for traveling Broadway musicals. In the summer, the Orpheum shows classic movies like Casablanca and hosts trivia contests and sing-alongs - fun for the whole family.
Tom Lee was an African-American living in Memphis who became a hero when he saved 32 people from a sinking steamboat in 1925. Even though he could not swim, he rowed a small boat into the strong currents of the Mississippi River to rescue the victims. Tommy Lee Park, stretches for a mile and half along the banks of the river, is dedicated to this hero and contains a monument to him. This is the site of several events throughout the year, including the Barbecue Contest, the Sunset Symphony concert at the end of May, and a Jazz Festival.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not so much a museum as an educational indoor playground, this place is full of interactive activities for kids. Youngsters can climb a skyscraper, explore a fire engine or "ride" a police motorcycle. Children especially love the miniature grocery store, where they can push their own carts and "shop" for staples, and the playing bank, where they can write checks. Special exhibits and activities are also offered every month, including puppet shows and live music.
Raccoons wander freely around this nature preserve and educational facility. The Lichterman family after whom the center is named willed their land to the city years ago, and portions of the block have since been developed into a shopping center, St. Francis Hospital and an apartment building. However, this 65-acre park still provides sanctuary for local wildlife. Children can see here how injured animals are treated and prepared for return to the wild. While the original Lichterman home that housed exhibits and administrative offices burned down a few years ago, most of the facility has been restored.
Head down to Billy Hardwick's All Star Lanes for an enjoyable game of bowling with friends and family. This 40-lane bowling alley boasts a plethora of fascinating features, including fluorescent-lit lanes, late night cosmic bowling and little kids sized bowling balls. Bowl to your heart's content on these pristine lanes, and when you're tired head to one of the food and drink stalls to regain your energy. The scores are computerized, so you don't have to worry about keeping track of your progress.
Get some fresh air and battle it out with friends, family, or coworkers at Battlefront Lasertag & Paintball. Play paintball with top-of-the-line equipment, running through the woods to capture the opposing team's flag. If the thought of paintball welts is too much for you, opt for a game of laser tag, which offers the same excitement as paintball, without the pain of getting hit. It's a great spot to host your next birthday party or a team building outing.