Memphis, in my opinion, is one of the more overlooked cities in the United States. Nashville often overshadows it, but visiting Memphis is one of my favorite things to do in Tennessee! Why? Because there are so many free things to do in Memphis! One could visit the city over and over again and hardly ever have to pay!
21 Can't Miss Free Things to Do in Memphis TN – (Including Graceland!)
We LOVED visiting Memphis. While we only had two days in town since we had to be in Texas, we visited Graceland and then made the trip out to Dyess Arkansas to visit Johnny Cash's Boyhood home and the history of the Dyess Arkansas colony. My husband is a HUGE Johnny Cash fan so visiting Johnny Cash's boyhood home and then Graceland (since Johnny and Elvis were friends) was a big thing on his bucket list!
A few tips for your time in Memphis:
Check Groupon for deals on local attractions. This is one of my favorite ways to save money on the non-free things to do around the city!
Make sure you have some good old fashion Memphis BBQ! I recommend Central BBQ, but there are so many great places in town!
Free Things to do in Memphis TN
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art – If art is your thing, you’ll love this one! Every Wednesday from 10 am – 8 pm, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is a pay what you can day. This means that if you can only afford free, you only pay “free!” They have over 9,000 works in all media from artists all around the world!
Dixon Gallery and Gardens – The Dixon Gallery and Gardens is free on Saturday from 10 am – noon and Tuesday from 10 am – 5 pm is pay what you wish. It's such a peaceful and great place to visit.
Mud Island River Park – There is a lot of free things to do at the park, including a wading pool, a scale model of the Mississippi River, and more. Some items like the museum do have an admission fee.
Tour the Pyramid Vodka Distillery – This is Memphis's first small batch brewery. You can take the tour for free, but it is for ages 21 and up only.
Chrystal Shrine Grotto – Head to the Memorial Park Cemetery, yes the cemetery. This is a man-made formation made by a Mexican artist and is free to visit while the cemetery is open.
Graceland – If you’re feeling the need for a “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love,” make Graceland one of your first stops in Memphis. It is always free to stop and snap a photo at the gates, plus, the Meditation Garden is free from 7:30-8:30 am daily. It might be early, but it’s still a great free thing to do in Memphis if you happen to already be out and about. This is the area where you can see Elvis's grave site.
Center for Southern Folklore – Memphis is all about great music, great food and great fun which makes the Center for Southern Folklore one of my favorite things on my list of free things to do in Memphis! The center is dedicated to “celebrating the arts, music, and heritage of the South from the cultural crossroads of Memphis” which means they often have live music, storytelling and of course, soul-food! Even better? They’re always open for free!
Wolf River Greenway -Take this science drive to take in the sites along the Wolf River. There are several stops along the way worth checking out as well. This makes a great drive any time of year but especially in the fall when the leaves start to change colors.
Mud Island Riverwalk – If you’ve got the kids with you, you’ll want to swing by and enjoy the Mud Island Riverwalk experience. It teaches how important the role of the Mississippi River is over the course of 5 city blocks! You’ll find historical markers and more that tell the story of the history of the river and the people who live(d) on it. The Riverwalk is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.
Beale Street Historic District – The historic street of blues. Walk down this famous street and take in the shops and the history, catch street entertainers, and more. There is so much to take in for free!
Orpheum Theatre Sidewalk of Stars – Talk a walk down to the historic corners of South Main and Beale Street Streets in Memphis to see the Sidewalk of Stars. With stars dating back 80 years and from greats such as George Burns, Harry Houdini and more, the whole family will enjoy this free outing in Memphis!
Historic Collierville Town Square – Dating back to 1867, Collierville Town Square is a retreat within the city! Browse the stores, take in live music or shop one of the historic shops! After damage from the Civil War, Collierville Town Square is the only town square still standing in Shelby County, TN.
Levitt Shell Concerts – If music is what you’re looking for, make sure to check out the Levitt Shell Concerts in Overton Park! Each year they put on more than 50 free concerts and events! You’ll find music in multiple genres including blues, rock and roll, country and gospel.
Downtown Memphis Commission Sidewalk Stories – Head to downtown Memphis and talk a walk! The Downtown Memphis Commission Sidewalk Stories tell the stories of the history of Memphis over the course of more than 50 historical plaques.
South Main Trolley Nights – Head to the South Main Historic District on Friday nights from 6 – 9 pm to grab a free trolley ride through the South Main Arts District. You’ll be able to eat, enjoy art and more!
March of the Peabody Ducks – This is something that has been on my list for years! Watch the ducks march from the rooftop, down the elevator, and into the indoor fountain in the lobby each day. You can also watch them march back up to the rooftop each evening. The marches happen at 11 am and 5 pm daily.
Blues Tuesdays – Head down to the Tower Courtyard at Overton Square to take in a blues concert in the summers. They are free, and you can't miss one in the home of blues!
Memphis Zoo – If you’re a Tennessee resident, head over to the Memphis Zoo on Tuesdays after 2 pm to get in free!
Shelby Farms Park – If your kids need to blow off some steam or you’re just looking for a great day out, head out to the 4500-acre Shelby Farms Park in Memphis! The park is full of fun things to do such as horseback riding, kite flying, hiking and more! The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset.
Memorial Park Crystal Shrine Grotto – Located in Memorial Park Cemetery, the Memorial Park Crystal Shrine Grotto is one of the more interesting free things to do in Memphis. Created by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez in the 1930’s, it is a manmade underground cavern filled with crystals, rock formations and more!
Pink Palace Museum – Every Tuesday from 1 pm to close this museum is free. This museum got its name from the pink marble mansion that it is housed in. This is the house of Clarence Saunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggle grocery store chain. The museum has many of Clarence's personal collections and many local exhibits as well.
This list is by far all-inclusive. In fact, there are so many free things to do in Memphis that I could never hope to add them all! The next time you’re down south, remember to include Memphis on your list of places to stop. You won’t be sorry!