Great activities to enjoy in Memphis without breaking the bank...
Beating the Blue Suede Budget
With Wall Street in uproar, gas prices on the rise, and salaries spiraling downward as the cost of living creeps upward, it is a good time to perfect the fine art of budget travel. Thankfully, this year’s convention city offers visitors great low-cost options.
Travel the Trolley
Perhaps the most visible Memphis attractions are the trolleys. The vintage cars offer a nostalgic trip through downtown’s most memorable attractions and provide a breathtaking view of the mighty Mississippi.
The Main Street Trolley stops at Cook Convention Center, Civic Center Plaza, Court Square, Peabody Place, Beale Street, National Civil Rights Museum, FedExForum, and the Historic Arts District while the Riverfront Loop trolley provides access to the Tennessee Welcome Center and the Mud Island monorail and museum.
From brass seat accents and glass transom windows to hand-carved mahogany and antique lighting fixtures, every detail has been faithfully restored. Passengers may board at any stop, but exact fare is required.
At only a dollar per ride, the trolley is certainly tops when it comes to low-budget entertainment in Memphis. Learn more: www.mata.com
Meet the Monorail
Experience great views of downtown and the Mighty Mississippi as a Swiss-made monorail whisks you across the harbor to Mud Island River Park. While at the park, take in the River Museum with 18 galleries showcasing the history of the Mississippi River Valley, from early Native Americans to modern-day modes of transportation. The museum contains more than 5,000 artifacts, including two full-size boats to board and explore. Wander the grounds and gardens or saunter along the river walk beside the busy river.
Take advantage of a $10 price package (less for children and seniors) including museum admission, round-trip fare for the monorail, and a guided tour of museum and gardens. For more details, visit www.mudisland.com.
TripAdvisor.com has named the Memphis Zoo tops in the United States for good reason. Get up close and personal with a polar bear, play in a geyser, visit a petting zoo, or hop a tram for an unforgettable look at the exotic animals. Plan a minimum stay of half a day, or you might not have time to enjoy ice-skating. Yes! Ice skating in Memphis in the middle of the summer—it’s a popular break from the heat.
The zoo is open seven days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and costs $15 for adults, $10 for children. While the price may push the boundaries of a low budget, the zoo is well worth the cost. Tennessee residents enjoy free admission on Tuesdays from 2:00 p.m. to closing. (And if you’re not from Tennessee, avoid this crowded time slot.) Visit www.MemphisZoo.org for more details.
The Memphis Botanic Garden welcomes everybody—especially little bodies. With outdoor areas such as Playhouse Lane, Critter Creek, Wormville, and Treetop Adventure, you can only imagine the fun your kids will have in the popular children’s garden aptly named My Big Backyard. Admission is $8, $5 for children (and free for seniors and infants). The park is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday and Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. Visit www.MemphisBotanicGarden.com.
Surprise the kids with dinosaurs and a shrunken head at the Pink Palace Museum. While you’re there, take in and educational feature at the IMAX theater or visit a distant star system at Sharpe Planetarium. Learn more at www.MemphisMuseums.org.
If you still have energy to spare, enjoy horseback riding, hiking, or paddleboating at Shelby Farms Park or run, walk, or ride the seven-mile trail from the farm to the heart of Midtown: www.ShelbyFarmsPark.org.
Beat the Heat
Get out of the Memphis summer heat and humidity (before you begin to resemble the city’s famous barbeque) as you visit a number of museums in the Greater Memphis area.
Visit the free Museum of Biblical History in nearby Collierville, where you will find replicas and artifacts from the pages of biblical history. The museum includes exhibits, learning lab, and a large reference library. A $3 donation is suggested.
Learn more about the significant moments of the Civil Rights Movement—both struggles and victories—at the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum, named a top ten attraction in the nation by USA Today, is housed in the renovated Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The Museum is located at South Main and Huling Streets, and is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Admission is $13 (less for children and seniors) and Tennessee residents enjoy free admission on Mondays after 3:00 p.m.
A. Schwab’s Dry Goods Store is the only remaining original business on Beale Street in the heart of Memphis. Opened in 1876, the three-story building is filled with powders, handcuffs, clerical collars, saucepans, and the largest collection of hats in town. Open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. While visiting the store, walk down Beale Street, one of the most famous locations in America, known as the Birthplace of the Blues.
Kids will delight in the Children’s Museum of Memphis where they are encouraged to experience a flight simulator, sit in a real airplane cockpit, explore a 50-foot model of the Mississippi River, and many other activities.
Still need more low cost options to beat the blue suede budget? You might need to stay an extra week! Download the free Memphis Travel app for Apple or Android to learn more about the sights, sounds, and attractions of Memphis.