A Local’s Love: Essential Tips for Exploring Memphis With Young Children
Masterful musicians, beautiful art, stunning surroundings, delectable barbecue, moderate weather, and rich history are just a few of the things traveling families have in store for them when they venture to Memphis. Known as both the birthplace of rock ‘n roll and the BBQ capital of the world, Memphis is an affordable destination sure to offer excitement for every member of your family. For little ones, Memphis and its southern charm feel more like a big town – people are caring, the weather is sweet, and downtown is like home – than an intimidating concrete jungle.
Access by Air
Memphis International Airport might sound like an intimidating title but MEM, as they call it, is actually a small, charming airport with great features like free WiFi and a meditation room. Unlike other regional hubs, MEM is both easy to navigate and usually free of big lines – TSA checkpoints move quickly here. But it’s important to note that MEM is a central location for FedEx, so it’s wise to have earplugs, earmuffs, or noise-canceling headphones on hand for you and your baby’s sensitive ears. When heading for local accommodations, you will find that rental car agencies and taxies alike are easy to locate via airport signage. MEM also features on-demand UBER service 24/7, 365 days a year.
Despite Being a Fedex Hub MEM is Easy on Travelers
For those who prefer to rent a car to get around, Memphis is chock-full of beautiful streets and offers plenty of parking spaces. It’s important to note that driving anywhere in the Memphis Metro area during rush hour is cumbersome. There is lots of infrastructure work being done on the interstates, so traveling can be difficult during non-rush hour periods as well. It’s often in the best interest of visitors to avoid driving if your family is just traveling around Memphis proper. The Downtown Trolley Shuttle system is a great alternate mode for getting around. Each trip is $1 and with their historical early 19th century interiors, trolleys are a great way to relax and get a tour of the city sights. Plus, in recent years the city of Memphis has made great efforts to add bike lanes and walking paths to renders its streets quite pleasant for its many bikers and walkers. Don’t forget to rent a high-quality stroller from a local baby gear company, because once you start walking around Memphis it will be hard to stop!
The Natural Interior of a Memphis Trolley
Weather in Memphis is consistent and fair, rarely going under 40 degrees or over 90. As can be expected in most eastern US cities, summer is the warmest season when the climate is hot and humid, while winters are colder but rarely pose anything other than a mild chill – Memphis may get a bit of light snow, but nothing that can cause difficulty for those traveling via car. However, the city does tend to overreact when there’s snowfall. Even if snow does not stick, it’s common for the whole city to shut down, which is an even better reason to ditch a car and opt for some winter jackets and a durable stroller instead.
Woodland Discovery Playground is Massive!
If you’re up for some outdoor activities Memphis has you covered. One must-see outdoor spot is the Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park. Shelby Farms Park has many great activities for kids and parents like horseback riding, zip lining, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, laser tag, an off-leash dog park, and much more. If that doesn’t sound rugged enough, try the Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo, TN. It’s a small trek to Alamo – 1.5 hours by car – but it’s all worth it when you find yourself hand-feeding bison, zebras, and giraffes, and getting a close-up look at all the other animals in the park – monkeys, cranes, tapirs and much more. Entrance is $8 for children and $12 for adults.
You Can Feed Llamas and Other Animals From Your Car!
This is where Memphis excels, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Memphis is home to a range of excellent cuisines, but if you’re in town you have to wet your whistle on some BBQ. There’s no better place to start off than the chart-topping Central BBQ restaurant in Midtown. We recommend the BBQ nachos for the youngins, and make sure to share a rack of ribs around the table, but remember: things will get messy! Bring some wipes and a camera because when you’re done here you and your kid’s faces will make for quite the scene.
Central BBQ Serves Up Monster Portions
If you’re looking for a cheap lunch and a great atmosphere try Huey’s, which has several locations around Memphis, most notably a spot in Midtown. At Huey’s the kids’ menu is extensive and all items are priced under $6. If you’re in the mood for one of the many varieties of burgers you’re in for a deal and a treat. Our favorite is the Western Burger for $7.25 which is topped with Guacamole and Monterey jack cheese, but all the burgers are just as creative and well-priced. Kids love Huey’s because there’s more to it than sitting at a table and ordering food – Huey’s encourages practicing the art of graffiti on its walls and shooting toothpicks up into the restaurant ceiling.
Memphis is one of those cities that has something special to do for every part of year, but one month reigns supreme: May. Every fifth month, Memphis celebrates “Memphis in May.” During this month visitors can experience several special events like the Beale Street Music Festival – May 5th to May 7th – which welcomes well-known and up and coming artists from a multitude of genres, the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest from the 17th to the 20th, the 901Fest music festival on the 27th, and the Great American River Run 5k and half marathon on the 28th. Another prime time to be in Memphis is August 11 through the 19th, when residents and visitors from all over the world celebrate Elvis Presley during Elvis Week.
The Memphis in May Festival is Right on the River
The kids will love checking out the Duck March at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. Twice a day at 11am Peabody Duckmaster marches a squad of ducks down a red carpet to a waddle around in a huge fountain until 5pm when they return home to rest up for the next day of entertaining the Peabody’s guests. Another amazing Memphis attraction is the Memphis Zoo, which boasts the American’s #1 Zoo rating on TripAdvisor.com. Children under 2 get in for free and adults for $15. The park hosts 3,500+ animals and over 500 different species! This all makes for a great learning experience too as it has educational sessions all day, including exhibits like a hippo chat, penguin and giraffe feeding, living with venomous snakes, and much more.
The Ducks March Like Royalty at the Peabody
A visit to Memphis is an ideal chance to go face-to-face with some of America’s richest history. First, check out Elvis’ old home at Graceland. There’s a small, free curbside parking area right in front of the mansion wall, and you can park and peek over at the house and grounds, and take pictures every morning from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. All day on Tuesdays in the winter (except major holidays), you can walk up the driveway for free and visit the gravesites of Elvis and his family members. A tour of Graceland is free for children under 6 and $38.75 for adults. Another incredible historical Memphis attraction is the National Civil Rights Museum which was constructed around the Lorraine Hotel where MLK was assassinated. Children under 3 get in for free and adults pay $15.
Graceland is a Historical Landmark
If your family is looking for pure fun, bring your kids to the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum where, among other awesome exhibits, there is a Thomas the Tank Engine exhibit, a railroad tools exhibit, a freight tunnel exhibit, and a Mississippi river bridge exhibit. Kids below 3 get in for free and adults only pay $3. Another great option for families is the Pink Palace Museum which has dinosaur skeletons, fossils, and natural history exhibits. Last, but certainly not least, is the Sharpe Planetarium where you can watch a survey of the solar system in the Autozone Dome. It’s out of this world!
Float Through Space at the Sharpe Planatarium
With so much to do and so much to see in Memphis, it’s a no-brainer to mosey on down to western Tennessee. The pleasant weather, beautiful nature, and wide streets make Memphis one of America’s most walkable cities so don’t forget to arrange for a durable stroller when you arrive.
Your Liable to See Views Like This Walking in Memphis
If you decide to rent a crib for your stay, double check with your hotel to see if they have one. There are many stories of travelers arriving in Memphis expecting to have a crib waiting in their room, only to find that this was not the case. Also be aware that many car rental agencies in the Memphis Metro Area do not rent car seats, so make sure to reserve a car seat rental before you arrive. Many rental companies can even deliver to you at the airport or car rental lot.
Heather Munro is a Babierge Independent Trusted Partner, renting baby gear to traveling families out of Memphis, Tennessee. Heather has the scoop on what to see, what to eat and where it’s at in Memphis. Find her at: http://www.babierge.com/heather1 or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BabiergeMemphis.