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.
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.
Stax Museum of American Soul Music is located on the site of Stax Records which is known to have much significance in the music industry. The company is known to have launched the careers of many successful musicians. There are around 2000 exhibits that include videos, artifacts, films, photographs, and more. Apart from the exhibits, the museum regularly plays host to events like live concerts, educational programs, and fundraisers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.