Free for all...It’s free!...freebies!, is the music to ears of parents on a budget looking for fun things to do with their children. From viewing Memphis, to connecting with nature, to listening to music, to visiting the animals in the zoo, there are free activities in nearly every category of Family FunSpots!, in every season, in every part of the city and suburbs. The lions roar just as loudly, the art and sculpture still captivate, the flowers smell just as sweet, and the rhythms still sooth; it’s only the cost that’s missing.
Memphis can be viewed free on foot and above the ground from bridges for those families who like to walk.
Bringing books to life for a child is as simple and cost free as a visit to your public library. Some bookstores also offer free storytimes that enchant young children. Festivals of books have the added bonus of characters from storybooks dressed in costume walking around.
Picnics downtown along the river or at your area park are all free memory-makers for Memphis-area families.
As a final note, don’t forget the free days at major attractions. The crowds maybe a little larger and lines a little longer, but the exhibits and sightseeing are the same.
Details on these plus more free activities can be found in this section and throughout the guidebook. We took special care to find as many as possible. The economy may be tight, but that’s no reason to curtail family adventures. In fact, it’s something of an adventure planning fun and free things to do!
Connect with Nature!
Lichterman Nature Center
5992 Quince Road
Memphis, TN 38119
Have you visited Lichterman Nature Center Located in the heart of metropolitan Memphis, the Center features exciting new exhibits, lush gardens featuring native wildflowers and trees, and a tradition of excellence. Admission is free to the public on Tuesdays from 1:00 until closing.
It’s Curtain Call!
Playhouse on the Square
51 South Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104
PAY WHAT YOU CAN
Pay What You Can Night allows people who would not normally be able to afford the regular ticket prices to "pay what they can afford." Our goal is to make our productions available to everyone regardless of their financial situation. There is one Pay What You Can performance for each production.
Tickets go on sale one week before the performance. Tickets must be purchased in person, cash or check only. Limit of 4 tickets per person.
Go Window Shopping!
163 Beale Street, Memphis, TN 38103
A. Schwab's Dry Goods Store, operating in the family since 1876, is a historic mainstay as the only remaining original business on Beale Street. This store loads three floors with voodoo powders, handcuffs, clerical collars, saucepans and the largest collection of hats in town. They operate by the motto, “If you can’t find it at Schwab’s you’re better off without it.”
Hours: Mon. - Sat. 9 am - 5 pm
7777 Walnut Grove Road, Memphis, TN 38120
Agricenter International, which displays advances in farming technology, is a self-sustaining, not-for-profit organization. It provides educational programs, as well as recreational opportunities.
Visit http://www.agricenter.org for more information.
Art Museum, U of M
CFA Room 142
3750 Norriswood, Memphis, TN 38152
The Art Museum of the University of Memphis permanently maintains Egyptian antiquities display. The Museum also features changing exhibits of contemporary art.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm. Closed University holidays and between exhibits. Free admission.
Metered parking located in Central Ave. parking lot. Parking is also available in the Fogelman Garage at $1 per hour. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more people. Please call (901) 678-2224 to schedule group tours.
Sightsee on the Avenue!
4674 Merchants Park Circle, Suite 432, Collierville, TN 38017
Collierville is home to The Avenue Carriage Crossing, which has a great "Main Street inspired" ambiance with a strong historical inspiration. The Avenue, one of the first open-air centers of its kind, has amazing architectural features, including fountains and sculptures. For your shopping pleasure, discover the many specialty stores and restaurants in an attractive open-air setting!
Cyclists can now enjoy 60+ miles of city streets for on-road, shared roadway bike route tours. There are five "neighborhood" route tours and one longer "Memphis" route tour. These routes are intended for recreation as well as commuter use and link neighborhoods, commercial areas and many city attractions. Destinations include downtown, Memphis riverfront, city parks, museums, gardens, nature center and the Memphis zoo.. http://www.cityofmemphis.org
Learn about Southern Folklore!
119 S. Main, Memphis, TN 38103
The Center for Southern Folklore & Cafe is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, defend and protect the music, culture, arts and rhythms of the South. Just head downtown to enjoy exhibits and photographs on the arts, music and culture of the area.
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-6 pm. No charge for entrance into museum.
Visit the Hall of Fame!
65 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
Cotton was king, and in this impressive Cotton Museum’s Hall of Fame at The Memphis Cotton Exchange, it retains its royal splendor. The Cotton Museum is located in the Memphis Cotton Exchange, founded in 1873, and still a viable member organization. Although there is a charge for the museum, The Cotton Museum Hall of Fame, located in the lobby, is free to the public.
Learn the History of St. Jude!
Danny Thomas - ALSAC Pavilion St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
332 N. Lauderdale, Memphis, TN 38105
St. Jude is a unique place - unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility in the world. Discoveries made at St. Jude have completely changed the treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases worldwide. Learn the history of St. Jude hospital and its founder through a self-guided tour.
All tours must be scheduled in advance. For more information or to schedule a tour, please call (800) 877-5833, Ext. 2041 or (901) 578-2041
Visitors must be 16 years of age or older to participate in a hospital tour. Younger children may visit the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion located on the hospital campus. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Tours are typically available Monday - Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Tours are not available on Saturday or Sunday or holidays.
Enjoy the Art of it All!
4339 Park Avenue, Memphis, TN 38117
The Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a fine art museum, specializing in French
and American Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. The museum is
surrounded by 17-acres of beautiful gardens, consisting of formal and
informal gardens, open vistas, and woodland areas. Every Saturday from 10am to 12pm guests receive FREE admission. Tuesdays 10 a.m. - 4 p.m; Pay-What-You-Can
Have a Grave Experience!
824 S. Dudley, (901) 774-3212
The historic Elmwood Cemetery was founded in 1852, this is the final resting place for some of the city's most celebrated citizens including Robert Church, Mayor "Boss" Crump, and victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic. Grounds open daily, 8am-4:30pm. The cottage is open Mon-Fri, 8am-4:30pm and Sat from 8am-12pm. Admission is free.
Take a Step Back in Time!
198 Adams Ave., Memphis, TN 38103
The Magevney House is the oldest middle-class residence still standing in Memphis. Eugene Magevney was an educator and local political leader. This house was also the site of Memphis' first Catholic Mass, wedding and christening. Noted on the National Register of Historic Places, the house is furnished in 1850s style. This historic home is closed due to city budget reductions. Call (901)320-6320 for more information.
Free admission, donations accepted.
Be Stunned! Martyrs Park
With a majestic view of the Mississippi River, the park is home to a stunning statue commemorating the suffering and courage of citizens who tended the sick and dying during the epidemics that devastated the city in the 1870s.
Explore it Yourself! Discover the Memphis Botanical Gardens
750 Cherry Road, Memphis, TN 38117
A delight for plant lovers, this 96 acre garden is open year-round and offers natural areas with native wildflowers as well as over 23 formal gardens, including the renowned Japanese Garden of Tranquility and the Little Garden Club Sensory Garden. Located in the heart of East Memphis in Audubon Park on Cherry Rd, west of Perkins Rd. and north of Park Ave. Don’t forget to feed the fish!
Experience the Wonders of Art at Brooks!
1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is the oldest fine arts museum in the state of Tennessee, the Brooks is housed in an original Beaux Arts-style building, which is registered as a U.S. National Landmark. The Museum's permanent collection contains over 8,000 works ranging from ancient to contemporary. PAY WHAT YOU CAN WEDNESDAYS! On Wednesdays, you set your own admission fee! From a penny to any dollar amount, you decide what you pay.
Eat a delicious Peach! Well, the peach will cost you; but not much. And a juicy farm-fresh Tennessee peach hand selected at the Memphis Farmers' Market in the heat of the summer is well worth the pocket change! Open Every Saturday, 7am to 1pm from Mid-April through October, in the South Main District at the Central Station Pavilion. Parking is FREE on market days! Visithttp://www.memphisfarmersmarket.org
or call (901) 575-0580 for more information.
Think Pink! Pink Palace Museum & Mansion
3050 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111
The Memphis Pink Palace Museum, with its renovated Mansion, is the most visited museum in the Southeast. Walk through a replica of the world’s first self-service grocery store or trace Memphis' history from the time of Mississippian Indians and Spanish explorers through the
Civil War and yellow fever epidemics. Also, view award-winning medical exhibits and see how dinosaurs and fossils dramatically chronicle our planet. The Clyde Parke Miniature Circus is always a favorite. The Mansion contains a permanent exhibit on life in the early 20th century.
Museum exhibits are free on Tuesday from 1pm until closing. Enchanted Forest, IMAX and Planetarium shows are not included. Admission: Adult $8.75, Child $6.25, Senior $8.25. Group rates are available, call (901) 320-6362 for information.
Check it Out!
You can read it for free at Memphis Public Library & Information Center
Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library
3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111
The Memphis Public Library & Information Center, 19 locations and three mobile units offer a variety of services to our community. A wide array of programs for library users of all ages is available throughout the year, including storytimes for preschoolers and toddlers. The 330,000 square foot Central Library features state-of-the-art technology and traditional library services in a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment.
Want to dig deep into our music history There's no better place than our new public library. The Memphis Music collection is comprehensive, well-organized and easily accessed by anyone, regardless of race, creed, religion or musical taste. Check out CDs, tapes, books and more.
Try visiting local bookstores and libraries during their storytimes. They provide great opportunities for learning and expose children to creative activities.
With a Moo Moo here! and Hiss Hiss there!
Stop by and visit the animals at the Memphis Zoo
2000 Prentiss Place, Memphis, TN 38112
The Memphis Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 species. Free admission on Tues from 2pm-5pm for Tennessee residents only. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas.
Downtown beautiful Sunsets!
There's nothing as relaxing as a sunset on the Mighty Mississippi as the riverboats go by.
See Civil Rights History Up Close!
450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103
The National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the historic Lorraine Motel— site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is the first of its kind in the country to chronicle the history of the Civil Rights Movement from the earliest days of slavery to the 21st century. Through interpretive exhibits and audio-visual displays, the Museum brings to life the most significant periods in modern American history. Free admission Mondays from 3pm until closing for Tennessee residents with state issued identification. Not applicable for tour operators.
Visit the Peabody Ducks!
149 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103
All you’ll need is your camera for this free fun. The Peabody Hotel Ducks have become a world-famous part of the history of the Peabody Hotel. The Ducks spend part of the day swimming in the Grand Lobby Fountain at the Peabody Hotel. Visitors can watch as the ducks parade through the lobby on a red carpet twice daily. The march of the famous Peabody ducks is free and takes place daily at 11am and 5pm. Afterwards, ride the elevator to the roof to see the ducks' habitat and the fantastic views of Memphis.
Take a Hike! or How about a Picnic
7161 Mullins Station, Memphis, TN 38134
Shelby Farms Park with more than 4,500 acres of land, is the largest urban park in the United States. The Park is home to a herd of American Bison and includes more than 20 lakes and ponds. Activities include mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, rollerblading, hiking, running, picnicking and much more. Picnic shelters and visitor center facilities are availing for rental. For more information call,(901) 767-PARK or visit http://www.shelbyfarmspark.org.
Ride the Trolley!
The South Main Arts District located along the trolley line on South Main Street in downtown Memphis, this culturally rich neighborhood offers a diverse array of art galleries, trendy restaurants, open markets and popular shops.
The last Friday of every month, galleries on Main Street are open for this unique event from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. The FREE Trolley stops at all galleries, shops, and restaurants between the Orpheum and Central Station. For more information,
Go on a Statue Tour!
From W.C. Handy at Handy Park and Elvis Presley on Beale Street to B.B. King in the Riverside Drive Visitor Center, statues help tell the story of Memphis' rich history.
Stroll down Beale Street to W.C. Handy Park! See free concerts, traveling musicians, and more:
- Beale Street Flippers
Watch as members of the Beale Street Flippers turn upside down and backwards - sometimes using only one hand!
- Beale Street Historic District
One of America's most famous streets, it is where W.C. Handy penned the first Blues song. Contains restaurants, nightclubs, parks, museums and shopping.
- Beale Street Walk of Fame
Between 2nd and 3rd, musical notes embedded in the concrete mark the Walk of Fame, where some of Memphis' finest musicians are honored.
For more information. log onto http://www.bealestreet.com.
Don’t forget the Greyhounds!
Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option
1550 N. Ingram Blvd
West Memphis, AR 72301
An independent adoption program in West Memphis, Arkansas promoting retired racing greyhound adoption. The adoption kennel is always open to the public so that you may meet the dogs even if there’s no interested in adopting. They have quite a few pre-schools and day cares come through and visit. And the greyhounds have gone to schools and have even visited retirement homes. For more information, visit http://www.midsouthgreyhound.com
Get eye to eye with the Fish!
5719 Quince Rd., Memphis, TN 38119
Explore MemFish without leaving Memphis! A complete line of Freshwater and Saltwater Fish, Corals, Inverts, Plants, and Supplies. Special orders and custom aquariums available. Hours: Monday - Friday: 10am - 6pm, Saturday: 10am-7pm Sunday: 12pm-5pm. If planning a group visit, please call ahead. Although there is no admission fee, you just might buy what meets the eye!