The Best Outdoor Activities in Memphis

Here's where to be in the sunshine in Memphis

Shelby Farms Park Dog Park
Photo courtesy of Shelby Farms Park

Memphis is a city that enjoys warm springs and falls, sunny summers, and fairly mild winters. This means that the weather is often perfect for heading outdoors. If you're looking for something to do outside in Memphis, here is a list of some of the best outdoor activities and destinations in the area. They are the recipe for a memorable day for the entire family. 

01 of 09

Mississippi River

Memphis sits on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. In fact, Memphis is known as the Bluff City due to the high bluffs along the riverside. With such a magnificent river in our midst, it's no wonder so many Memphians enjoy recreation along or in the river. Take a picnic to one of the parks bordering the river or enjoy a stroll along the cobblestones at the river's edge. If you are feeling adventurous, head over to Big River Crossing where you can walk across the river from downtown Memphis to West Memphis, Arkansas. 

02 of 09

The Memphis Greenline

© Allen Elliote, used under Creative Commons License

The Shelby Farms Greenline (often referred to as the Memphis Greenline) is a 6.7 mile trail that runs from Shelby Farms to Midtown. The trail was developed over a portion of abandoned railway that had become an eyesore of weeds and broken tracks. Now, though, it is a beautiful trail on which to walk, run, or bike. The Greenline offers nine access points throughout the city, making it easy to get on and off the trail as needed. There are also places to stop along the way for food and drink. 

03 of 09

Mud Island

Photo by flickr.com user mulmatsherm, licensed under Creative Commons

This unique park is located on an "island on the river". Admission to the park is free and includes a scale model of the Mississippi River to wade in--perfect for those hot summer days. To get to the park, you must cross a 1/3 mile pedestrian bridge or pay to ride on the bridge's monorail, adding an extra bit of fun to the trip. Once you get there you will learn tales of the Mississippi River including seeing old river boats. It's educational and adventurous. 

04 of 09

Memphis Zoo

Photo Courtesy of Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Memphis Zoo has been one of the city's most popular attractions since its beginnings in 1906. With over 3,500 animals housed on its 70 acres, the Zoo offers hours of entertainment and education for kids and adults alike. As an added bonus, the Zoo is located in Overton Park, a nice place for the kids to run off some energy or to enjoy a picnic lunch. One of the highlights of the zoo is the two giant pandas Ya Ya and Le Le. It's one of the only four zoos in the country that has pandas from China. 

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05 of 09

Botanic Gardens

Photo courtesy of the Memphis Botanic Garden

The Memphis Botanic Garden features 23 specialty gardens on 96 acres in east Memphis. From roses to irises, cacti to herbs, there are botanicals to stimulate all of your senses. Got kids? One of the Memphis Botanic Gardens' newest gardens, My Big Backyard, is an engaging place for children to explore and play. The garden also hosts regular concerts and events in the summer. Check out the schedule for more information. 

06 of 09

Herb Parsons Lake

Photo by Teresa R. Simpson, Licensed to About.com

Herb Parsons Lake is the destination for local fisherman as it offers a plentiful supply of crappie, largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and catfish. It is also a great place to go boating or to enjoy a picnic. Every weekend, families, couples, and individuals can all be found enjoying the lake and its surrounding area.

07 of 09

Outdoor Concerts

Levitt Shell Overton Park Memphis
Holly Whitfield

Thanks to Memphis' reasonably pleasant climate, there is a nice variety of outdoor concerts that take place throughout the year. Concerts can be found in nearly every genre and in varied locations across the Memphis area. To make it even sweeter, some of the concerts are absolutely free. Some of the major concert series are at the Levitt Shell (in the spring and fall), the River Series at Harbor Town Amphitheater, Live at the Garden, and Railgarten's outdoor venue. 

08 of 09

Charity Walks/Runs

Photo by stock.xchng

Participating in a charity walk or run is a great way to help an organization raise money. Participants usually pay a registration fee and/or collect pledges or donations for the cause. Taking part in a walk or run can be a great activity for family or friends to do together. Many people use the opportunity to achieve a personal goal, such as completing a 5K run. 

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09 of 09

Shelby Farms Park

Memphis, Tennessee. Bison at Shelby Farms Park
Thomas R Machnitzki/ Wikipedia Commons   

Memphis' Shelby Farms Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. At a size of 4,500 acres it is five times the size of Central Park in New York City.  The park has something for everybody. There are trails for hiking, running, biking, even horseback riding (you can rent them at the equestrian center.) There are elaborate playgrounds for children, water parks for toddlers, and dog parks for the furry members of your family. You can try your luck on a zipline or rent paddle boats for the lake. The park even has its own bison herd that roam around a gigantic fenced off area. Try to find them during your visit!

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