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Looking for a retreat from the hustle of the city? Thankfully, Memphis offers much more than just vibrant urban life. Next time you feel the need to take in some fresh air and get your blood pumping, look to these five destinations in and around the city for some quality time in the great outdoors!

Canoe the Wolf River

Nestled in the small tucks of the protected Wolf River Wildlife Management Area are the Ghost River Canoe Trail and Ghost River State Natural Area. This spot has abundant wildlife and foliage to enjoy. A trail and boardwalk, complete with informative signs about the area, wind close to the bank, both tranquil and adventurous.

A man canoeing on a river
Canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle through the scenic Wolf River! Image: Ghost River Rentals

The 8.5-mile canoe trail, less than an hour from downtown Memphis, embraces Southern serenity and outdoor paradise. Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards are available to rent daily, and the entire Ghost River section takes three to six hours to paddle. Lessons, tours, and hourly rentals are also available. Whether you are a true adventurist or simply looking for a beautiful view, the Ghost River area will exceed expectations.

For more information, visit

Rock Climbing Excursions

High Point Climbing and Fitness offers options for all skill levels, whether you’re new to rock climbing or a seasoned climber. The East Memphis facility boasts an outdoor climbing wall for an easily accessible outdoor climbing option, but their team also offers guided rock climbing excursions. Scheduling is flexible, and your certified American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) instructor will work with you to plan a location appropriate for your experience level. Half-day and full-day excursions are available to offer you a taste of the country’s best sandstone formations, prime for climbing.

For more information, visit

rock climber on side of rock formation
High Point Climbing offers half-day and full-day climbing excursions for all skill levels. Image: High Point Climbing Memphis

Mississippi River Cruises

A riverboat cruise is the perfect expedition for those searching for something a little closer to town and a bit less rustic. It’s a trip down Memphis’s memory lane for a few miles. Full of history and beauty, these cruises offer compelling commentary on past and present river life, plus dinner and dancing. The house band plays a variety of classics, jazz, and, appropriately, blues.

A riverboat on the river at dusk.
A Mississippi River cruise is a fabulous way to take in some fresh air, beautiful scenery, and the area’s rich history — without breaking a sweat. Image: Memphis Riverboats

The Memphis Riverboats company offers 90-minute cruises, evening dinner and music cruises, and special events cruises, while American Queen offers cruises between port cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis. These trips take passengers along farmland, paddling past antebellum plantations and riverfront towns. This is a chance to see Memphis with new eyes and understand our city’s rich legacy from the unique perspective of the Mississippi River.

Visit for more information.

Shelby Farms Park Trails

Whether you are searching for unpaved, cross-country, or paved trails, Shelby Farms Park has extensive options for anyone from the experienced hiker to the casual jogger. The nearly six-mile Tour de Wolf Trail winds past hidden lakes and wildlife viewing areas and is perfect for hiking, running, and mountain biking. For other unpaved options, the Wolf River Trails offer various routes that parallel the water and can be used for nearly all outdoor activities. In addition, they offer access to the river for canoes and kayaks.

lakeside paved trail at sunset
Shelby Farms Park offers various trails for walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, and even skating! Image: Facebook

Shelby Farms Park also offers less-rugged paved trails, such as a 6.5-mile stretch of the Greenline, which currently runs from the corner of Tillman Street and Walnut Grove all the way to Farm Road in Shelby Farms Park. The shorter Chickasaw Trail weaves past three lakes, as well as beautiful pine and hardwood forests. The South Trail and Connector Trail also offer paved routes, lake views, and easy access points for family and friends to walk, run, bike, or even skate.

Visit to learn more.

Fishing at Herb Parsons Lake

Boating, fishing, and picnicking are all activities to enjoy every weekend at Herb Parsons Lake. Located in Fayette County, Herb Parsons Lake is stocked with crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and catfish. The beautiful landscape covering 177 acres close to the city is perfect for a day’s escape, and available activities include playgrounds for the little ones and fishing piers for everyone. Bait and tackle, rental boats, concessions, and fish attractors won’t let any angler — novice or experienced — get away without a catch. (Don’t forget the sunscreen!)

For more information, visit

Herb Parsons Lake
Herb Parsons Lake is a local favorite for fishing and floating. Image:

Happy exploring!


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About the Author
Julia Devincenzo