There are so many fun and unique kid activities in Memphis, TN, from historic locations of the civil rights movement to cultural museums, botanical gardens, and beautiful public parks. Memphis kid activities also include lively spots like Beale Street and Graceland and riverboat tours down the Mississippi River. You’ll also find zoos and other fun animal attractions, perfect for animal lovers in the family. Learn about some of the best kid attractions in Memphis, TN, for family fun and great memories.
1. Explore interactive exhibits at the National Civil Rights Museum
One of the important kid activities in Memphis is visiting the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. Centered around the historic site of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s final hours and assassination, the museum examines the history of the American civil rights movement and the ongoing struggle for human rights. You’ll find powerful interactive exhibits, artifacts and historic collections, films, oral histories, and hands-on media. Walk through history from the student sit-ins of the 1960s to the Montgomery bus boycott and Rosa Parks experience, the Freedom Rides, and other important milestone events.
2. Enjoy Memphis family fun at Shelby Farms Park
There are so many kid activities in Memphis’ Shelby Farms Park, with 2 large lakes, family activities, kids' play areas, and plenty of space to run around. Equipment rentals include bikes, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, and you'll find family-friendly options like kids bikes and add-on bike trailers as well as 2- and 4-seater paddleboats. Activity centers in the park include zip lines, treetop ropes courses, ax throwing, horseback riding, and laser tag. The park also has a children's woodland discovery playground, a water playground and splash pad, a general store, and a dog park.
3. Stand inside a tornado generator at Children’s Museum of Memphis
Children’s Museum of Memphis provides memorable learning through play spaces targeted at kids 10 and younger. Interactive exhibits include a real airplane cockpit to explore and a firehouse where kids can respond to a pretend fire alarm and hop in a firetruck to save the day. Step inside a tornado generator to get a sample of tornadic air currents or go fishing in a model of the Mississippi River. You’ll also find a kid-size grocery store, dinosaur dig, rock climbing, and a sizable outdoor splash park.
4. Learn through play in My Big Backyard at Memphis Botanic Garden
Great Memphis kids’ activities include the Memphis Botanic Garden, home to lush themed gardens and plenty of kid-specific attractions. In My Big Backyard, you’ll find a family garden with over a dozen unique areas for learning through play, with imaginative spaces including a treetop adventure and leaping lawn. The park also houses over 30 different specialty gardens, ranging from a sculpture garden and sensory garden to a rose garden, Japanese garden, and fragrance garden. You’ll also find a café and gift shop on-site.
5. Monkey around at the Memphis Zoo
A popular Memphis, TN, attraction for kids is the Memphis Zoo, home to a wide array of animals, including birds, mammals, and marine life. A children’s area modeled after a 19th-century farm includes old-fashioned buildings to explore, a mini-train ride, and animals ranging from goats and sheep to miniature donkeys and Caspian horses. The zoo’s diverse animal exhibits include hippo and crocodiles, okapi, giant pandas, komodo dragon, and elephants. You’ll also find aquarium and herpetarium exhibits, birdhouses, and a lively Penguin Rock exhibit, plus children’s rides, kid-specific events, and programs.
6. Picnic in Overton Park
Overton Park is a sprawling public park in Midtown Memphis with plenty of activities and space for kids to run around and burn off some energy. Winding nature trails are great for walking and biking, and you can also explore the Formal Gardens and Veterans Plaza or play miniature golf. Two different playgrounds offer different play styles and equipment, plus shady tables and benches for a picnic in the park. The park also houses Memphis Zoo, so you have plenty of entertainment options in one place.
7. Learn about Memphis’ history at the Museum of Science and History Pink Palace
The Museum of Science & History (MoSH) is a collection of museums and attractions that include the Pink Palace Mansion, a planetarium, a nature center, a 3D giant-screen theater, and historic houses. The centerpiece of the complex is the Pink Palace, a lavish historic mansion that was converted into a museum focusing on Memphis’s colorful regional history. Within the museum complex, you’ll find interactive, family-friendly collections including STEAM exhibits, complete dinosaur skeletons, fossils, and hands-on activities.
8. Visit a historic church and Civil Rights location, the Clayborn Temple
The historic Clayborn Temple is a church in the Romanesque Revival architectural style and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church has a long and dedicated history to the civil rights movement and is being preserved for its legacy. In addition to being a beautiful and historic site to visit, Clayborn Temple also hosts regular artistic events, educational performances, and other activities, from concerts and moving musical performances to powerful dramas and historical reenactments.
9. Pretend to be a firefighter at the Memphis Fire Museum
The Memphis Fire Museum, focused on fire safety and the heritage of the local fire services, is a great spot to visit when you’re looking for family things to do in Memphis. Housed in the historic Old Fire Station #1, the museum includes exhibits like helmets and gear, gas masks, vintage fire truck toys, a memorial wall, a safety theater, and an animatronic horse. Full-size fire trucks and horse-drawn wagons are on display, as well as pumps and equipment. Interactive exhibits include riding in a snorkel basket simulator, kid-size firefighter turnouts, and trucks to play in.
10. See the famous Memphis Peabody Ducks
One of the unique kid-friendly things to do in Memphis is see the famed Peabody Duck March at the Peabody Memphis hotel. Following a tradition started in 1940, the ducks march through the lobby twice daily, at 11 am and 5 pm, down their own VIP red carpet to the lobby fountain. When they aren’t marching through the lobby, you can visit the celebrity mallards on the Peabody Rooftop in their lavish Royal Duck Palace home.
11. Visit Memphis’ museums and attractions on Beale Street
Beale Street is an iconic spot for Memphis family fun, a vibrant historic district known as the “Official Home of the Blues.” Family-friendly destinations include restaurants like B.B. King’s Blues Club and Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, Dyers Burger, and Silky O'Sullivan's. Kid-friendly attractions range from the Memphis Music Hall of Fame and the Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum to shows at the Orpheum Theater and watching the famous Beale Street Flippers perform on the street. Visit with kids during the day or in the early evening, as some locations shift to 21+ age requirements in the later evening hours.
12. Explore the home of The King of Rock and Roll, Graceland
If you’re looking for family things to do in Memphis, Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, is one of the most iconic places you can visit. In addition to touring Graceland Mansion, you can also explore a museum covering the singer’s career, his automobile and airplane collections, discovery exhibits, and tons of hands-on and interactive experiences. The complex also houses restaurants and shops and hosts regular events.
13. Cruise on a Memphis riverboat tour on the Mississippi River
A Memphis riverboat tour on the Mississippi River is a great way for families to sightsee, relax, and learn about the region’s history. Lots of companies offer kid-friendly, authentic riverboat cruises, ranging from 90-minute sightseeing tours and dinner cruises to multiday luxury cruises down the Mississippi.
14. Watch the Mighty Lights show at Big River Crossing
Big River Crossing includes a pedestrian and biking bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting Memphis to West Memphis. You can stroll or bike across and enjoy beautiful views. Every evening, the bridge is spectacularly lit in a multicolor light show that runs at the top and middle of every hour from sundown until a grand finale at 10:30 pm. The show is visible from the entire Memphis riverfront, or you can watch the show from the bridge itself for a unique experience. The pedestrian path and light show are free, and the bridge is open daily from sunrise to 10 pm.
15. Journey down a scale model of the Mississippi River at Mud Island Park
Memphis, TN, attractions for kids include Mud Island Park, a riverfront park that houses the kid-friendly Mississippi River Museum. Walk the skybridge or take the Mud Island Monorail to get to the park, where you’ll find a fascinating scale model of the Lower Mississippi River on the river walking path. It’s a unique way to learn about the river and its geography, with a floor scale map of cities and towns along the Mississippi. You’ll enjoy fantastic views over the river and bridge, along with downtown Memphis, finally arriving at the photo-worthy 50-foot MEMPHIS sign.
16. See artwork and sculptures at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art houses diverse art collections ranging from paintings and drawings to sculpture and decorative arts, as well as African, Pre-Columbian, and ancient artworks. The museum has a focus on increasing access to and exhibits of art created by women, African Americans, self-taught artists, and regional artists, striving to reverse patterns of marginalization and exclusion. You’ll find free interactive family guides at the visitor’s desk to explore the museum in an engaging way with kids.