Our family of 5 went on a spontaneous road trip from Nashville to Memphis over the holiday break and it turned out to be one of our favorite road trips ever. It was a quick trip, but jam packed full of some famous Memphis sights. So queue up “Graceland” by Paul Simon and read on for our favorite family-friendly Memphis hot spots – and I bet you “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with Memphis too:
Our first stop in Memphis was for food, of course. Memphis is notorious for BBQ and Central BBQ did not disappoint. They claim this is where all of the locals go. The line was long when we arrived, but it moved quickly and the menu has several kid-friendly options including a kids BBQ sandwich, hotdog and grilled cheese.
Our next stop was Graceland – Elvis Presley’s home. I grew up in East Tennessee and have family in Memphis and I had NEVER been to Graceland! I was admittedly a little nervous about how my kids would handle this tour – and even created a quick scavenger hunt in the car based on some unique items in the mansion – but I was pleasantly surprised and we didn’t even need to pull out the make-shift scavenger hunt. The house tour is less than two hours, the girls each received their own ipads and headphones for an audio tour and the home is full of fun things to see and learn from a kids perspective (i.e. The Jungle Room, Lisa Marie’s playground set, a stairwell covered in mirrors, etc.). My kids loved the tour, the music and the entire experience of learning about this musical icon.
The Peabody Hotel (and Ducks)
The Peabody Hotel is nestled in the center of Memphis and it was the PERFECT place for our family to stay. We found a great deal on a room online (they often have online room deals). The best part of the Peabody Hotel – for kids at least – is the ducks! Every day at 11am and 5pm in the main lobby, The Peabody Hotel presents the famous Duck March. In the morning, the Duckmaster shares the story of the ducks, announces an honorary duckmaster to join in the march and then they go to the roof of the hotel to retrieve the ducks, bring them down the elevator, across the fancy red carpet and into the fountain where they stay all day until 5pm when the duckmaster repeats the ceremony and brings the ducks back to the roof. This ceremony draws a huge crowd, but my girls were enchanted by the whole thing – luckily we caught it twice!
You can also take the elevator to the rooftop of the Peabody where you can visit the Royal Duck Palace. This is where the ducks live when they are off-duty and not swimming in the lobby fountain. The amazing structure is made of marble and glass and features its own fountain with a bronze duck spitting water. It also includes a small house – a replica of the hotel – where the ducks can nest with a soft, grassy “front yard.” Pretty fancy digs for those hard-working ducks! (Here are some more fun facts about the Peabody Ducks). The rooftop also has amazing views of the Memphis skyline.
At the Peabody, my girls also loved the stunning (& heated) indoor swimming pool, the view of the Mississippi river from our room, the duck-themed gift shop and all of the duck appearances – from the embroidered ducks on our bedroom pillow shams, to the duck shaped soap in our bathroom, to the duck footprints in the parking garage. They quacked us up!
The Blue Plate Cafe
For breakfast, we took a recommendation from the concierge and walked down the street from the hotel to the Blue Plate Cafe where we enjoyed a typical southern breakfast with biscuits, eggs, pancakes and waffles.
The Memphis Zoo
After breakfast, we made our way to The Memphis Zoo (we utilized our Nashville Zoo membership for a great discount on admission) and spent the morning checking out the giant pandas, penguins and giraffes, just to name a few. It was a cloudy morning, so no crowds at all, and the girls loved seeing some animals that we don’t have at our zoo at home.
Finally, we stopped at Belly Acres for some burgers before heading out of town (to Oxford, Mississippi – stay tuned for more about that adventure too). Belly Acres is a great family-friendly lunch spot where everything is farm fresh, the kids meals came out on frisbees and on Wednesdays kids eat free!
In the end, no “Memphis Blues” from our crew – we LOVED our adventures and can’t wait to return! Have you been to Memphis with your kids? Anything we missed? Please share your favorite spots in the comments!