School’s out, and summer weather has settled in for the season. What better time to take advantage of all the incredible FREE activities available around Memphis? From outdoor adventure to cultural explorations, take a look at some of our favorite ways to spend a day off in Memphis. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Have a Picnic at Beale Street Landing
251 Riverside Dr., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 312-9190
Connected to Tom Lee Park, Beale Street Landing is an extension of the same look and feel, and it provides a great vantage point for views of the Mississippi River. The landing features a grass roof, open areas for picnicking and leisure activities, tables, a splash pad, and even a playground area. There is no better way to appreciate a day of great weather than by pulling up a seat in a breezy place to watch the day go by.
Ride Your Bike on Big River Crossing
Channel 3 Drive & Virginia Avenue West, Memphis, TN 38103
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 diversity of the cultural heritage of the South, including the art and music born from Southern communities. 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 (but sometimes with a suggested donation). They also produce many live events and festivals! The center is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 2 p.m. to 11 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 a canopy of mature Southern trees, you’ll pass the remains of some of the people who helped shape Memphis. There is no charge to visit, but if you want a docent-led tour, there is a fee. 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 Overton Park Shell
1928 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 300-3011
Built during the 1930s and acknowledged as the location of Elvis Presley’s first professional rock ‘n’ roll show, the Overton Park Shell (formerly known as 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 artists across multiple genres, including blues, gospel, country, and rock. So as the season progresses, keep this live music venue on your radar. You can even bring your dogs along to enjoy the Puppy Bar — the new designated area for dogs and their humans. Dates and showtimes are available 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 good look at the mansion’s exterior while walking to the garden! This particular experience is only available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. daily, but visiting Graceland’s gates and taking a photo is always free.
Explore The Art Museum at the University of Memphis
3750 Norriswood Ave., Memphis, TN 38152 • (901) 678-2224
The University of Memphis offers a free contemporary art exhibit along with permanent exhibits of Egyptian and West African relics. The tour takes about 45 minutes, and there are guides available. It’s even free to register for group tours! The museum offers free admission Monday through Saturday, 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
5668 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38120 • (901) 302-9980
Now known as the Memorial Park Crystal Shrine Grotto, artist Dionicio Rodriguez built this man-made cavern using a style of concrete construction called Faux Bois. Everything here is made to look real, but is actually made from concrete — apart from the religious dioramas depicting the life of Jesus Christ. This hidden gem captures the quirky local flavor of Memphis and is truly a wonder to behold. 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
1914 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104
In the Old Forest State Natural Area, you’ll find old-growth trees, wildlife, and miles of both paved and unpaved trails in an ecosystem dating back more than 10,000 years — this protected area offers a rare glimpse into what downtown Memphis would have looked like long ago. This State Natural Area is free and open to the public from sunrise to sunset each day, but you can take a guided hike at 10 a.m. on the second Saturday and last Sunday of each month!
Watch the Peabody Ducks March
149 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 529-4000
Every day at 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, an official introduction, and a crowd of onlookers. A short yet memorable experience, this custom is an integral part of The Peabody’s legendary traditions. The Peabody Duck March is free and open to the public.
Take in The Mighty Lights
Big City Crossing: Channel 3 Drive & Virginia Avenue West, Memphis, TN 38103
Hernando de Soto Bridge: I-40, Memphis, TN 38103
Are you ready to experience the biggest light show on the Mississippi River? Visit the Mighty Lights Show at the Big River Crossing or Hernando de Soto Bridge at sundown for a spectacular view. This one-of-a-kind light show takes place daily, every hour from sundown until 10:30 p.m., with a finale worth watching. You can even dedicate one of the shining lights to a loved one to watch during the show. The daily show is free and open to the public!
Stroll Through Dixon Gallery & Gardens
4339 Park Ave., Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 761-5250
Dixon Gallery & 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. The 17-acre campus includes formal spaces, woodland tracts, and cutting gardens. Entry to the gallery and gardens is FREE through the end of 2024!
Go for a Run at Wolf River Greenway
Mud Island: 1320 North Mud Island Road, Memphis, TN 38103
Kennedy Park: 4332 Raleigh Lagrange Road, Memphis, TN 38128
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 is great for walking, running, or biking — a great way to enjoy the outdoors, whatever your pace.
Spend a Day at Shelby Farms Park
6903 Great View Dr. N., Memphis, TN 38134 • (901) 222-7275
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 occupy a spare afternoon. Open from sunrise to sunset every day, Shelby Farms is a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Grab a Book from a Memphis Library
View all locations HERE
Head to a Memphis Library and grab a library card to access their eCollection, public computers, and of course, their vast physical book collection. Cards are free for any Shelby County resident with identification. Be sure to check out the variety of free events offered on their website — there’s a little something for every age group!
FREE ON CERTAIN DAYS:
Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum
191 Beale St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 205-2533
Memphis Rock ‘N Soul Museum offers free admission for Shelby County, TN, residents 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.
2000 Prentiss Pl., Memphis, TN 38112 • (901) 333-6500
Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! On Tuesday afternoons after 2 p.m., the Memphis Zoo offers free admission to visitors over the age of 17 with a photo ID and proof of Tennessee residency. Enjoy views of animals like giraffes, elephants, pandas, and more!
Now, grab your comfiest shoes, leave your purse at home, and venture out to enjoy these free adventures to be had around Memphis!
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