16 Free Things to Do in Memphis, TN

Free Things to Do in Memphis, TN

Here are the 16 free things to do in Memphis, Tennessee:

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Ada Raposa, Charles Lambert, Florentina Estes, Joseph Smitherman, Bruce Bowles, Eduardo Henderson and Alayah Hooper.

Explore the Tranquil Shelby Farms Park

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I've always felt pride in Shelby Farms Park, my city's little haven of tranquility.

There's something enchanting about this sprawling 4,500-acre park that keeps me coming back for more.

Unlike most city parks, it has a unique blend of diverse activities that cater to everyone, from athletes and adventure seekers to nature lovers.

I'm an avid cyclist, and the park's separate bike trails are perfect for my morning rides.

If you're anything like me, nothing beats the exhilaration of cycling in the fresh morning air, surrounded by lush green landscapes.

Bicycle ride along Shelby Farms Park
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The trails are well-maintained and accommodate both bikes and people on foot; this allows everyone to enjoy the park in their way without any chances of collisions or interruptions.

Shelby Farms Park is also a paradise for water enthusiasts.

Hyde Lake, a beautiful body of water that sits within the park, is the perfect spot for some summer fun.

Last year, I had an absolute blast kayaking on the lake.

The staff at the boathouse was incredibly helpful, assisting us with our lifejackets and launching our kayaks.

Lounge chairs at Shelby Farms Park
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What’s better than a lazy Sunday afternoon, basking in the beauty of nature intertwined with strokes of artistic brilliance?

Nothing, if you ask me! And that's exactly what I get to enjoy at Dixon Gallery & Gardens.

The moment you step into the gallery, your eyes are graced with a palette of colors in the form of Sally Hughes Smith's post-impressionist paintings.

The adrenaline rush that you get from gazing at these works of art is inexplicable!

The cozy coffee shop inside the gallery is a perfect spot for art lovers like me, who love to sit back and contemplate the marvels of art, with a cup of coffee in hand.

And if you feel like stepping out, there's outdoor seating with umbrellas at the entrance.

The permanent collection at Dixon Gallery houses works of great impressionist painters like Monet, Degas, Pissarro, and more.

It's like having a piece of the Louvre right in our backyard!

Besides, the traveling exhibit showcases the calming watercolors by Zao-Wou-Ki and some of his porcelain paintings.

People walking along Dixon Gallery & Gardens
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The gallery also boasts a large collection of porcelain donated by Warda Stevens Stouts.

Looking at these pieces, I feel grateful for the legacy left behind by Margaret and Hugo Dixon.

They've gifted us a space where art, nature, and beauty coexist.

The gardens, spread across six acres, are a sight to behold, with fountains, sculptures, and even an outdoor library!

However, be prepared for the occasional mosquito buzzing in your ear.

The gardens are also home to various events and parties, making this place the heart of our community.

One of the standout programs at Dixon Gallery is the Art Camp, a free summer program for students from Memphis Shelby County Schools.

It's heartwarming to see young minds being introduced to art and horticulture in such an engaging manner.

Every now and then, my friends and I walk down Beale Street and stop at Withers Collection Museum & Gallery.

Here, we immerse ourselves in a world of black history and civil rights told through the lens of Dr. Winters.

We take a break from our smartphones and gadgets, as they don't allow photos inside the gallery, but trust me, the experience is worth every bit of it.

The museum is home to some of the most powerful images from the Civil Rights era, stunning shots from the music world of rock and blues, and unforgettable scenes from sports history.

Each visit feels like we're stepping into a time machine, taking us back to some of the most significant moments of the past.

The staff here are quite knowledgeable.

They go above and beyond in sharing the stories behind the pictures.

Even though admission is free, we always make sure to leave a donation to support their hard work in preserving these important pieces of history.

Stroll Down Memory Lane at Elmwood Cemetery

Memorial at Elmwood Cemetery
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Sometimes, a Sunday afternoon in Memphis can be a bit more introspective than rocking out to the beat of live music or chowing down on delicious barbecue.

On such days, I find myself cradled in the serene beauty of the Elmwood Cemetery.

This place is not just a cemetery, but a rich tapestry of history dating back to 1852, where every monument and mature tree has a story to whisper.

It's a vast expanse, one that you can drive through, but I prefer to walk.

There's something about strolling through the picturesque grounds at my own pace, breathing in the calm, and soaking up the stories that each gravestone has to tell.

Headstones at Elmwood Cemetery
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Each one a silent testament to the good, the bad, and everything in between of this city’s past.

As a photography enthusiast, Elmwood holds a special place in my heart.

The statuary here is a unique form of art, a kind we're unlikely to see again.

It's a visual treat to capture these monumental beauties standing still against the backdrop of time.

Stroll Through Martyrs Park

View of a bridge from Martyrs Park
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Every time I need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, I find myself drawn to Martyrs Park, a picturesque waterfront oasis.

This beautiful and well-maintained park is more than just a spot to unwind.

Its historical significance has always fascinated me.

Named after the brave souls who helped others during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic, it's a place that holds a significant place in the heart of Memphis.

My favorite activity there is a nice, long walk along the trail.

The view of the Mississippi River from the park is truly a sight to behold.

Whether it's a bright sunny afternoon or a cool evening, the view never fails to take my breath away.

In addition to the trail, there's a large, grassy area that's perfect for picnics, yoga, or even photo shoots.

I remember one time when I saw a group of people doing a yoga session there.

It was such a peaceful sight amidst the greenery and the gentle flowing river.

Spend a Fantastic Afternoon at Greenbelt Park

Greenbelt Park Memphis
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There's nothing quite like a lazy afternoon spent in the heart of nature right here in Greenbelt Park.

This serene, riverside green space is my retreat, where I immerse myself in the calmness of nature and escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

The park is a popular spot for walking, biking, picnics, and my personal favorite - watching sunsets.

The sight of the sun dipping below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange and red while reflecting off the Mississippi River, is a spectacle I never tire of.

If you're into outdoor activities, the park has much to offer.

You'll often find me with my family, friends, and even my dog, enjoying a frisbee game or tucking into a picnic on the lush green grass.

A couple watching the sunset at Greenbelt Park
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Sometimes, I bring along a hammock, settling down with a good book as I sway gently with the breeze.

One of the highlights of Greenbelt Park is the people.

Whether it's friendly joggers, enthusiastic bikers, fellow dog walkers, or couples stealing a quiet moment, there's a sense of shared joy and community that fills the air.

There are those special days when I manage to capture the park in its full glory - the Mississippi River's gentle flow, the infinite sky meeting the river at the horizon, and the tranquil green space teeming with life and joy.

It's a sight that makes me fall in love with my city all over again every single time.

Pay a Visit to Old Forest State Natural Area

It's hard to believe such a tranquil refuge exists in the heart of a bustling urban landscape.

A stroll through the Old Forest State Natural Area is like a breath of fresh air, an opportunity to escape the clamor of city life and immerse yourself in nature's serene beauty.

It's a typical morning, and I'm walking along the soft stone paths lined with towering trees that provide a cool shade from the sun.

If you're an active person like me, you'll appreciate the well-maintained jogging paths.

I often find myself jogging here in the early morning or late evening, the scenic surroundings providing a refreshing backdrop.

Not to miss out on the fun, my faithful canine companion is bounding along beside me, free to roam and play in the expansive dog park.

It's a great place to meet fellow dog lovers and let your furry friends socialize.

If your dog prefers a more relaxed pace, you can take them on a leash through the walking park.

On any given day, you'll see families picnicking, kids playing on the playground, and couples strolling beside the pond, stopping occasionally to watch the turtles paddling in the water.

On lucky days, you might even come across a shaved ice truck, providing a sweet treat to beat the summer heat.

Beyond its natural beauty, Old Forest is a cultural hub, hosting the Memphis Zoo and an Art Center, offering a diverse range of experiences for all visitors.

There are plenty of open spaces for concerts and music festivals, where the community comes together to enjoy performances under the stars.

Explore the Wonders of Overton Park

Overton Park Memphis
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There's nothing quite like the feeling of fresh air in your lungs and the crunch of leaves underfoot as you walk through the 126-acre forest of Overton Park.

As someone who frequents the park, I can vouch for its endless entertainment and serenity.

One of my favorite pastimes is taking a leisurely stroll down the paved road that winds its way through the towering trees.

Whether in rain or shine, the beauty of nature never fails to impress.

However, remember to pack your boots!

The trails can be a bit muddy after a shower.

The park is not just about enjoying quiet moments in nature; it's also a hub of activity with a 9-hole golf course.

A pond at Overton Park
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The thwack of golf balls and the occasional cheer echoing through the trees create a vibrant atmosphere.

Moreover, the two playgrounds are fantastic spots if you have children.

My little ones could spend hours there without a break.

Weekends in the park are a real treat.

I usually make a day of it, packing a picnic and spending the afternoon exploring the zoo or getting lost in the art museum.

The Memphis Zoo, situated within the park, is particularly captivating with its vast array of animals.

The kangaroo exhibit is a must-see!

Unwind at Tom Lee Park

Tom Lee Park Memphis
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There's nothing quite like starting my day with a stroll along the river at Tom Lee Park.

The Riverside walking path is my favorite, giving me a front-row seat to the majestic Mississippi River flowing by.

It's a delight watching the river, the boats, and the sun casting its golden rays on the rippling water - a sight that will leave you in awe.

The park is a perfect mix of recreational and relaxation spaces.

The volleyball courts are where my friends and I often burn off the weekend calories, while the kid's play area keeps the little ones entertained.

I've seen families picnic or run after Frisbees, couples holding hands on benches, and tourists marveling at the memorial monument.

For sports enthusiasts, the park offers basketball courts and a walking track.

The feeling of dribbling the ball on the huge court with the river in the backdrop is something every basketball lover should experience at least once.

Revisit History at Chickasaw Heritage Park

I can't help but find myself drawn to the tranquility of Chickasaw Heritage Park.

It's a small, beautifully kept oasis in the heart of Memphis, a spot of green tucked away amid the urban landscape.

The park might be small, but it offers a richly shaded walking trail, thanks to the grand hardwood trees that stand tall and proud, providing a cool respite on those hot summer days.

I find it fascinating to think that the same view of the river I see from the park is the one Hernando De Soto first laid eyes on back in 1541.

I love to take a moment to appreciate that historical significance as I stand there, looking out at the vast expanse of water.

It's humbling, to think of the centuries that have passed since that moment.

On my walks, I often take time out to read the interesting facts scattered throughout the park.

Each fact offers a new nugget of knowledge, a deeper insight into the history and heritage of the area.

Explore the Mississippi River Park

Aerial view of Mississippi River Park
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There's nothing quite like a visit to the Mississippi River Park to feel the pulse of Memphis.

This place captures the city's spirit, from the serenity of the sunset views to the laughter ringing out from the play areas.

You can't help but notice the transformations taking place.

Sure, some parts are still a work in progress amidst their final touches, but this doesn't take away from the overall experience.

You'll find sections of the riverfront that remain untouched, offering a raw, authentic charm that's hard to resist.

One of my favorite experiences is the family picnics.

The park is well-equipped with picnic tables and fire pits, making it an ideal spot for an outing.

Trail at Mississippi River Park
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There's something so relaxing about sharing a meal as you overlook the majestic Mississippi River.

And let's not forget the kids! They can't seem to get enough of the play areas.

For adults, it's an easy day out.

You can keep an eye on the little ones while soaking in the peaceful riverfront ambiance.

No visit to the Mississippi River Park would be complete without a stroll along the scenic paths.

The views are simply breathtaking, and it's always impeccably clean, a testament to the local pride in our public spaces.

You'll even find super clean bathrooms inside the visitor center, a detail that's much appreciated after a day of park fun.

Experience the Heartbeat of Memphis at Beale Street Entertainment District

Orpheum theatre at Beale Street Entertainment District
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Every time I set foot on Beale Street, I feel the pulsating energy of Memphis coursing through its veins.

It's not just a street, but the heart of the city, filled to the brim with the rich blues-music history that has shaped our culture over the years.

With a variety of music venues, bars, clubs, and shops, Beale Street never fails to keep me entertained.

Walking down the street, the vibrant atmosphere is always infectious.

The sound of music flows from every corner, a beautiful blend of old and new.

I often find myself drawn to the street artists, their performances imbued with raw, pure talent that never fails to impress passersby.

Come early afternoon, I usually grab a bite from one of the many restaurants dotting the street.

Whether you're in the mood for a fancy dinner or a quick snack, the culinary delights here will satiate your hunger.

Nighy scene at Beale Street Entertainment District
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I can't resist the allure of local food spots, their dishes a tantalizing mix of flavors that scream 'Memphis'.

Besides being a go-to spot for food and music, Beale Street is also a treasure-trove for shopping.

It's fun to hunt for unique gifts and souvenirs, and I often end up buying something that catches my eye.

The local artwork on sale is a beautiful representation of our city's creativity, and some of my favorite pieces have been found here.

At night, the street transforms, the mood shifting to a more relaxed, party-like atmosphere.

The bars come alive, each with its own unique vibe, and it's always a pleasure to explore them.

I also appreciate the frequent presence of law enforcement, ensuring that everyone can enjoy their time without worry.

See the Charm of the Memphis Bicentennial Sign

Daytime view of the Memphis Bicentennial Sign
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If you're in Memphis and want to experience a piece of our city's history, you simply must visit the Memphis Bicentennial Sign.

You'll find it at the end of a picturesque walk along the Mississippi river, nestled behind a small bathroom building.

Just a heads up, though: you might want to use the restroom before heading out, as the facilities near the sign have been closed for a while now.

I remember talking to a cleaner there who said they'd been shuttered for over a month and he had no clue when they'd be back in business.

Visiting at the crack of dawn, you'll find the area peaceful and uncrowded, perfect for a quiet moment of reflection or a great photo opportunity.

As you meander down the path, with the mighty Mississippi on your right, take a moment to appreciate the quiet beauty of Mud Island River Park.

Spend an Evening at Handy Park

I've spent countless evenings lazing around on the lawn at Handy Park, a much-loved public gathering spot in our city.

A blanket, a good book, and the electricity in the air – it's my recipe for a perfect weekend.

What adds to the charm of this place, are the live musical performances on the two stages.

The park transforms into a lively concert venue, with music lovers getting drawn to it like bees to honey.

There was this one time, when we had the Get Loud concert kick-off, the whole park came alive.

I remember the day clearly - the sun was shining, the weather was sweet.

I brought my lawn chairs and blankets, settling in for an evening of music and fun.

The cheers, the laughter, the sheer joy of being a part of something so dynamic - it was a sight to behold!

I can't wait for the next free concert.

But Handy Park is more than just concerts. It's a testament to our local history.

I often find myself reading plaques and signs about the 'Father of the Blues'.

It's a humbling reminder of the rich cultural heritage that this park stands for.

Wander Around Fourth Bluff Park

Landscape of Fourth Bluff Park
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Can I tell you about my favorite spot in the city? It's none other than Fourth Bluff Park.

You haven't truly experienced Memphis until you've taken an evening stroll here, especially during the #MemphisGrizz Season.

The park is simply breathtaking at night.

As the twilight sky deepens into night, the Memphis bridge comes to life with a spectacular light show.

The sight of the illuminated bridge curving over the tranquil Mississippi river is a sight to behold.

The view is so mesmerizing, you'd want to bottle it up, to keep it with you forever.

And it's not just about the views.

The Fourth Bluff Park is where the city's heart beats.

Major festivals, city events, you name it, and the park is likely to be buzzing with activity.

I’ve had some of the most fun times of my life here, surrounded by friends, family, and good food.

Speaking of food, do watch out for The Utopia Deli.

Their sandwiches are legendary and make for the perfect park picnic meal.

The park is nestled right in the heart of downtown Memphis, a stone's throw away from the vibrant riverfront.

The gentle clanging of the trolleys running along their lines below adds a unique charm to the space.

The city's life seems to flow around and through the park, making it feel like a microcosm of Memphis itself.

Explore History at Robert R. Church Park

Structures at Robert R. Church Park
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One of my favorite weekend retreats in my hometown has to be the Robert R. Church Park.

It's this little piece of history nestled right in the heart of downtown Memphis.

Each visit to this park is like a trip back in time.

You can feel a sense of the struggles and triumphs of past generations around every corner.

The centerpiece of it all is the imposing statue of Ida B. Wells.

Standing tall, her hands on her hips, she symbolizes bravery and persistence in the face of injustice.

Looking at it, you cannot help but feel a surge of inspiration and admiration for this fierce civil rights activist.

Walking around the park, you can't miss the First Baptist Beale Street Church.

One look at its beautiful hand-made bricks and you instantly know, the church isn't just a place of worship; it's an artistic masterpiece.

The bricks were meticulously handcrafted by enslaved people years ago, each brick a testament to their resilience and skill.

Some weekends, the park comes alive with color and energy during the MIDSOUTH PRIDE.

Seeing everyone come together to celebrate love and acceptance always fills my heart with joy.

Final Thoughts

From the serenity of Shelby Farms Park to the historical Echoes at Elmwood Cemetery, there's truly something for everyone in Memphis.

Indeed, it’s a city rich in culture, art, music, and natural beauty.

There's always something to do, and it's all right here waiting for you.

So whether you're a longtime resident or a first-time visitor, I urge you to take time to explore these gems.

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