Downtown Memphis - Memphis Sign on Mud Island

Things To Do With Family in Downtown Memphis

Summer is coming, and hopefully, that means we will be able to travel again soon! Because our family travels so much for sports, performances, and work we always make time to see more than just the track, the stage, and the conference room. So when I attended a conference in Memphis I made sure to visit the places I want to bring my family to see as well. Here’s a list of things to do with your family in Downtown Memphis. 

Family Activities in Downtown Memphis

Eat and Drink in Downtown Memphis

When you’re in Memphis barbecue is what you eat. And Downtown Memphis has a few restaurants that make the city famous. Blues City Cafe sits right on the corner of Beale Street across from BB King’s. I suggest you order “The Best Meal on Beale Combination Platter” to share. For less than $20 you get a half rack of ribs, a generous catfish filet, and all the sides and fixings to go with it. But call ahead and pick up your order or make a reservation because they fill up fast. 

Downtown Memphis - central barbecue

Walk a few blocks down Second Street and you can also try Central Barbecue. Known for their slow-smoked barbecue plates and smoked hot wings, Central has something for every taste. Choose from ribs, brisket, chicken, turkey, bologna, or sausage. Y’all, they’ve even got a smoked portabella mushroom sandwich. You can’t go wrong.

Downtown Memphis - Makedas Cookies

Top off your meal with dessert from Makeda’s Cookies one block from Central Barbecue. I was intrigued because I have a friend named Makeda, and I am so glad I went! The fresh homemade cookies were sizeable, delicious, and affordable. They are known for the butter cookies and the chocolate chip, which were good. But my favorite was the iced oatmeal. They were so good I ate them all before I could take a picture.  Makeda’s offers other desserts in addition to their cookies, but what they bake for the day is what they bake. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

Experience the History of Memphis

Memphis is deeply connected to the course of American history. Well known as the location where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated, the Lorraine Motel is now the National Civil Rights Museum.  The museum follows the history of African Americans in the United States with a special focus on the Civil Rights Era.  The tour ends shortly after you see the room where Dr. King stayed when he was killed. Cross the street and stand in the alledged spot from which Dr. King was shot. With a guided tour while you will hear the many theories of who killed him and why.

Downtown Memphis - NCRM

Old Dominick’s Distillery isn’t the place you take your family to drink, but the facility tour is full of  Memphis and Tennesse whiskey history. The family brand was revitalized in 2013 after being sold in 2010. Learn the history, the process, and the special blend that makes Old Dominick unique. Created by the Canale family in the 1840s it’s a Memphis treasure. And take a bottle home for mom and dad. 

Visit the Iconic Landmarks

You can’t go to Memphis and not visit Beale Street. And if you go during the day it’s completely kid-friendly. visit the BB King Company Store on one end and the W.C. Handy House Museum on the other. And don’t forget to grab your lunch at Blues City Cafe. 

Downtown Memphis - Beale Street

When I was a child my mother traveled for work. One time she came home and told me all about the ducks that lived in the hotel where she was staying. It sounded like a made-up story to me, ducks in a hotel lobby? Well, it is not made up and the Peabody Hotel duck parade happens every day at 11 AM and 5 PM. Get there early to secure a seat on the walkway or head to the second floor and watch it from the Mezzanine. Just be mindful that you can’t ride the elevator with them. They don’t like that.

Downtown Memphis - Peabody Duck March
Photo: The Peabody Memphis

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Take in a Ball Game

Aerial View of Downtown Memphis and AutoZone Park
Photo: Jack Kenner

We are a family of sports lovers – except Olivia whose only sport is dance. If you love sports like we do be sure to take in a ballgame when you visit Downtown Memphis. Catch the Memphis Grizzlies in action at the FedEx Forum and few blocks from Beale Street or the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park a few blocks up B.B. King Boulevard.

Enjoy the Riverfront in Memphis

Like many cities that border bodies of water the riverfront in Downtown Memphis offers plenty of activities that your whole family can enjoy. Cruise the Mississippi on a Memphis Riverboat site seeing or dinner tour at the Beale Street Landing. Cross the river into Arkansas with a bike rental at Big River Crossing. View a concert in the Amphitheater, visit the Mississippi River Museum, and take a picture with the Memphis sign at Mud Island.

American Queen landing at Beale Street Landing (2)
Photo: Andrea Zucker

What activities do you enjoy when you visit a new city? What would you like to see or do in Memphis?


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