With the weather warming up, there are plenty of activities to get you out of winter hibernation and to start exploring our city with friends and family. The best part? You don’t have to let your budget stop you, because there are plenty of fun free things to do in Memphis!
Our Favorite Free Things to Do in Memphis
Have a Picnic at Beale Street Landing
Beale Street Landing is connected to Tom Lee Park and continues the look and feel of the park. It provides a great vantage point for gazing at the Mississippi River. It has a grass roof, open areas for picnicking and leisure activities, areas for table games, a splash pad and even a playground area. There is no better way to appreciate the nicer weather by sitting down in a breezy place and watching the day go by. Beale Street Landing is open from 10 a.m. to sunset.
RELATED: The 2020 Memphis Summer Camp Guide
Ride Your Bike on Big River Crossing
Hop on your bike or grab your running shoes and move across the Mighty Mississippi by way of Big River Crossing. This pedestrian bridge is the longest of its kind along the entire river, and it connects Memphis to West Memphis and provides access to multiple other trails. It also provides a one-of-a-kind view of the Memphis skyline. This pedestrian bridge is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Center for Southern Folklore
119 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 525-3655
The Center for Southern Folklore celebrates the diverse array of cultural heritages of the South, including the art and music born from them — and fittingly, this rich cultural hub is right in the heart of the cultural nexus that is Memphis. They offer tours, shows, films and exhibits, all for free (and sometimes with a suggested donation). They also put on many live events and festivals. Go soak up some culture while you are out soaking up the sun. They are open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Times for tours and special programs can be booked in advance.
Walk Through Elmwood Cemetery
824 S. Dudley St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 774-3212
Encounter more than 100 years of Memphis history for free at Elmwood Cemetery. Underneath the canopy of the all the old trees lies the remains of some of the people who helped shaped Memphis. There is no charge to visit, but it does cost if you want a docent-led tour. Either way, it is a fun and interesting way to spend a nice afternoon. The cemetery is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Enjoy Concerts at Levitt Shell
Built during the 1930s and acknowledged as the location of Elvis Presley’s first professional rock ‘n’ roll show, the Levitt Shell is an iconic outdoor performing arts pavilion located in Overton Park. Every summer and fall, the Shell hosts more than 50 free concerts (yes, all free!) with blues, gospel, country and rock being the typical genres of the shows. So as the weather gets warmer, keep this live music venue on your radar. There is no better way to spend an evening than outside listening to live music. Dates and times of shows are available are on their website.
See the Meditation Garden at Graceland
3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116 • (901) 332-3322
Graceland offers free walk-up visits to the Meditation Garden. Here, you can see the graves of Elvis and his family up close. You can also get a look at the mansion’s exterior, too, while walking to the garden. This is only available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. daily. On the other hand, going down to the Graceland’s gates and taking a photo is always free.
Explore The Art Museum at University of Memphis
The University of Memphis offers a free exhibit of contemporary art along with permanent exhibits of Egyptian and West African relics. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and there are guides available. It is also free to register for group tours. They have free admission Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call ahead to check for dates they are open, though, because the museum closes for university holidays and in between exhibits.
Explore the Memorial Park Crystal Shrine Grotto
Artist Dionicio Rodriguez built this man-made cavern using a style of concrete construction called Faux Bois, which is now the Memorial Park Crystal Shrine Grotto. Everything here is made to look real, but is actually made from concrete, apart from the religious dioramas depicting the life of Jesus Christ. It is truly a wonder to behold. This is hidden gem captures the quirky local flavor of Memphis. The grotto is open along with the cemetery from dawn to dusk every day.
Take a Hike at Overton Park’s Old Forest State Natural Area
On the Old Forest State Natural Area, you’ll find old-growth trees, plants and wildlife and miles of both paved and unpaved trails in an ecosystem dating back more than 10,000 years — it is a rare glimpse into what downtown Memphis would have looked like long ago. You can take a guided hike of the Old Forest State Natural Area on the second Saturday and last Sunday of each month at 10 a.m. This State Natural Area is free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset each day.
Watch the Peabody Ducks March
Every day at both 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., “pomp and circumstance” is for the birds in the grand lobby of the Peabody Hotel. At these times, The Peabody Ducks, five North American mallards, arrive and leave the hotel fountain in a grand procession complete with a red carpet, official introduction and visiting paparazzi. This custom is an integral part of The Peabody’s legendary traditions. It is a short yet memorable experience. The Peabody Duck March is free and open to the public.
Go for a Run at Wolf River Greenway
The Wolf River Greenway is spread throughout the city of Memphis and extends from Mud Island, all the way to Kennedy Park. This 26-mile trail can be walked, biked, or ran. Take advantage of the warmer days and spend time with those who love to be outside!
Spend a Day at Shelby Farms Park
The quintessential free destination in Memphis is Shelby Farms Park. This park offers so much for absolutely no charge. With 4,500 acres of trails, playgrounds, fishing spots and more, there is plenty to do here to take up a spare afternoon. Shelby Farms is a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The park is open from sunrise to sunset every day.
Free Places on Certain Days
Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum
Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum offers free admission for Shelby County, TN residences on Tuesdays. Proof of residency is required. At the corner of Beale Street and B.B. King Avenue, this museum is known for its location and amazing delicacies located inside.
Lichterman Nature Center
Just down the street from the Pink Palace Museum is the Lichterman Nature Center with 65 acres of beautiful scenery with exhibits and hands-on activities. Admission to Lichterman Nature Center is free to the public Tuesdays from 1 p.m. until closing.
Dixon Gallery & Gardens
Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a fine art museum and public garden that features a permanent collection of over 2,000 objects, including French and American Impressionist paintings and significant holdings of German and English porcelain. Their seventeen acre campus includes formal spaces, woodland tracts and cutting gardens. On Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, there’s free entrance to the museum and the gardens.
Lions, tigers and bears oh my! On Tuesday afternoons, The Memphis Zoo offers free admission with a photo ID, proof of Tennessee residence and over the age of 17. Enjoy the views of animals like giraffes, elephants and pandas.
Now, grab your sneaks, leave your purse at home, and venture forth to enjoy some free Memphis adventures!
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