11 Ways to Stay Cool in Memphis This Summer

Posted by Holly Whitfield | June 15th 2010 1880 0

It’s no secret that Memphis is hot in the summer. The weather ranges from kind of warm and sticky to full-on unpleasant from June through mid-September.

The good news is that there are some easy ways to get through the summer without staying indoors until October.

1. Run through a fountain.

Government Plaza, Memphis, Tenn.

Government Plaza, Memphis, Tenn.

The fountain at Government Plaza (right in front of City Hall downtown) is the perfect fountain to take a quick jog through. It’s on all the time. Pro-tips: don’t drink the water (it’s recycled), wear shoes, bring a towel and a change of clothes. If you’re doing it on your lunch break, change before you get back to the office, lest you make everyone jealous.

2. Bike at midnight

The annual Midnight Classic bike ride is a casual, non-competitive bike tour through East Memphis and Midtown that starts at 10 p.m and ends at 3 a.m. This year’s event is on August 28th, and you can register online until August 27th (though, there’s an earlybird discount for anyone that registers by July 4th).

3. Canoe the Ghost River (Or, just tour the Ghost River Brewery)

If you’re the outdoorsy type, rent a canoe or kayak and plop it into the Ghost section of the Wolf River early in the morning. Pack some snacks and drinks and spend the day being lazy on the river. If you’d rather stay on dry land, take a free tour of the Ghost River Brewery. Tours are on Saturday afternoons and they’re free as long as you let them know you’re coming.

4. Spend some time at the public library

Cossitt Public Library, Memphis, Tenn.

Cossitt Public Library, Memphis, Tenn.

I know, I know, it sounds really dorky to spend the summer indoors at the library. But as my cohort Bob pointed out yesterday, the air conditioners at Memphis’ public libraries work incredibly well. The library has some summer programs for kids that are a great way to keep them involved with books while school’s out.

5. Find a hidden patio

Several midtown bars have stealthy back patios that are perfect for people looking for a cold one and some conversation. I won’t tell you which ones I’m thinking of (that would ruin the surprise), but I will tell you how to find them. Either a) ask the bartender, or b) if the door at the back of the bar doesn’t say “employees only” or “emergency exit”, open it.

6. Get cultured

All of the city’s museums are air conditioned, and many have discounted or free admission at some point during the week. Check out new exhibits “Consumo Ergo Sum” and “Who Shot Rock’n’Roll” at the Brooks Museum of Art. See an IMAX movie and learn about Memphis’ unique history at the Pink Palace Museum. The Dixon Gallery and Gardens has three new exhibits for summer.

7. Hang out on a rooftop

Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tenn.

Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tenn.

Downtown residents know what a good roof can do. Make a friend with access to a private rooftop downtown. If you don’t have any of those, check out the rooftop parties at the Peabody Hotel every Thursday night. Have a drink on the rooftop terrace at the River Inn in Harbor Town.

8. Drink.

Seriously. Fluids are important, even when the air seems like it’s loaded with water. Fill up a glass with some of Memphis’ incredible tap water, lemonade, or a smoothie. If you’re looking for something a bit harder, try the popsicle martinis at Automatic Slim’s, the margaritas at Cafe Ole, or the mojitos at the Majestic Grille.

9. Go out after dark

When it’s really hot out, it’s best to hang out inside during the day and head out at night. A ton of Memphis restaurants and clubs are open well into the night and there are plenty of events that start in the evening. Check out the concerts at the Levitt Shell or the Memphis Botanic Gardens, the Thursday night happenings at the Brooks Museum, Cooper Young Night Out (the first Thursday of the month) and South Main Trolley Tour (the last Friday of the month).

10. Get wet

Get your swim suit on and pack some floaties – there are 15 public parks in Memphis with either public pools or splash parks. There are splash parks that are super kid-friendly at Peabody Park in Midtown and a spray park in Collierville. Kick your shoes off and walk the Riverwalk on Mud Island. Look into day passes at local clubs and community centers.

11. Leave town without actually leaving

Old Forest, Overton Park, Memphis, Tenn.

Old Forest, Overton Park, Memphis, Tenn.

There are some great campsites in and around Memphis. Rent a cabin at Meeman-Shelby State Forest and spend the day boating, swimming, hiking or fishing. Bring your family to T.O. Fuller State Park in South Memphis for hiking, swimming, and plenty of wide open spaces. Wander around Lichterman Nature Center, an urban arboretum and wildlife refuge or stroll through the Old Forest at Overton Park.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Victoria says:

    Lovely list, lovely photos. Makes me homesick!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Won’t you tell us the secret Midtown patios???

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