Top Ten Summer Activities for Families in Memphis

Published: June 5, 2014

School is out for summer! Soon the excitement will die down and the cry of the young will become "I'm bored." This list of family-friendly activities in the Memphis area will help you plan your summer outings without breaking the bank. To be included in this list, the activity must be enjoyable by a broad age range and reasonably priced.

  1. Memphis Zoo

    Lions, tigers, and bears....oh my! A long time favorite for Memphis residents, the Memphis Zoo offers high quality exhibits in a peaceful urban setting. Situated in Overton Park in the midtown area, the Memphis Zoo is known for its open space Cat Country and the exquisite habitat provided for our loveable pandas. Pack a picnic lunch to share in the park and you have the formula for a great, inexpensive outing. Currently, admission to the zoo is $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12.  On Tuesday afternoons, the zoo offers free admission to Tennessee residents beginning at 2pm.  Check out the zoo's website for more details.

  2. Pink Palace Museum

    Nestled among the beautiful homes of Central Avenue is the Pink Palace Museum. Housing lots of interesting exhibits, the museum presents science and history in a fun way for their young visitors. The museum is also home to the local IMAX theater and the planetarium. This is definitely a spot not to miss! Prices vary depending upon which features you plan to enjoy, but children's admission begins at $6.25. Visit the museum's website and consider the many packages available

    (Personally, I recommend combining the museum and an IMAX movie in a single visit. There simply isn't enough time to include the planetarium as well.  That just means you'll need to make a return visit!)

  3. Sun Studios

    Everyone knows that Memphis is all about music! While a trip to the King of Rock and Roll's mansion can be very pricey, guests can get an introduction to the many sounds of Memphis by visiting Sun Studios. Located on Union Avenue, the museum tour tells the story of the Million Dollar Quartet and the birth of rock and roll. With free parking behind the studio and free admission for children 5-11, this is a real deal! Unfortunately, due to the nature of the tour, children under 5 are not permitted.

  4. Children's Museum of Memphis

    Want to check out the interior of a jet? Fascinated with soda shops and grocery stores from a bygone day? Experience these things and many more through the hands on exhibits at the Children's Museum. Built with kids in mind, there are lots of hands on activities that are meant to spark a child's imagination and love for learning. Make sure to check out the museum's website for schedules of water features and workshops during the summer.

  5. Kids' Summer Film Fest

    Every summer, Malco theater sponsers a summer film festival for kids. Movies are presented on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10am; admission is only $2! The best part of the admission is that a portion of each ticket price benefits a children's charity in the greater Mid-South area. What a great way to teach kids about giving while having a great time.

  6. Playhouse on the Square

    Generally we don't associate kids with live theater. However, summer is a great time to expand a child's horizons by introducing them to a play or musical. Playhouse on the Square, Memphis' resident professional theater, tends to program family-friendly shows during the summer months. There are also a number of outstanding community theaters in the city, such as Theatre Memphis, Harrell Theater, and Bartlett Community Theater, that are worth checking out.

    In the summer of 2014, three productions look particularly promising for families. Theatre Memphis will present The Music Man June 6-29.  Playhouse on the Square has two shows that students will love this summer.  Hairspray will run June 20 - July 13.  The new season at Playhouse will begin on August 15 with their production of the beloved Mary Poppins. The magical nanny will continue her reign on the Memphis stage through September 7.  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!

  7. Fire Museum

    What little boy hasn't dreamed of being a fireman? Let your youngster experience the fantasy at the Fire Museum of Memphis. They will enjoy exploring the fire truck and ambulance as they learn important safety lessons that might save a life. Located in a renovated firehouse in downtown Memphis, the Fire Museum offers extended summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day). They are open Monday through Saturday 9am - 6pm Monday through Saturday and from 1pm to 6pm on Sunday.  Admission is very reasonable at $6 for adults and $5 for children.  On Tuesdays, two are admitted for the price of one. Additionally, a special family rate (4 members) of $20 is available; additional family members are admitted at the cost of $4 each.  See the website for details and directions.

  8. Autozone Park

    Summer is the time to enjoy the national past time. Memphis' minor league baseball team, the Redbirds, call Autozone Park home. Whether you choose to seat in the stands or bring a blanket and lounge on the grassy hill just beyond the outfield wall, you're certain to have a great time! Bring a little extra cash'll need it to enjoy the BBQ nachos!

  9. National Civil Rights Museum

    Memphis was a major center of the American civil rights era. On the site of the Lorraine Motel, the place of Dr. Martin Luther King's untimely assassination, the museum tells the story of the nation's struggle for racial equality and reminds us that there is still much work to do. The newly-redesigned facility includes many interactive activities that are entertaining while passionately telling a story that must be passed to another generation.

    Before planning a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum, be aware that the exhibits include sensitive material necessary to accurately depicting the African-American's struggle against discrimination  that may be troubling or frightening to young children.  The museum recommends that visitors allow at least 2 hours for their experience.  Closed on Tuesdays, admission is $15 for adults and $12 for children ages 4-17.  The museum is free for children under the age of 4.  For hours and directions, visit the National Civil Rights Museum's website.

  10. Tom Lee Park

    Grab the kids, a frisbee, and your snacks and head to the river! Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, Tom Lee Park features walking trails and lots of space to roam. It's a perfect place for a relaxing day lounging around while enjoying the beauty of nature. Each year, Tom Lee Park is the site of the annual Memphis in May BBQ festival. 

Summer is a time for family, friends, fun, and festivities! Whatever your situation, grab your kids and get out of the house. Explore Memphis as a family and discover new adventures while making memories together. Don't wait too long though. Before you know it, the calendar will once again signal end of summer and we will again be greeted by the jarring ringing of the school bell each morning. Don't let this summer pass without making the most of every moment....because your children are worth the investment of your time.