Shelby Farms Park Just Got More Awesome

Shelby Farms Park Just Got More Awesome

This coming Thursday September 1 is a big day in Memphis! Not only is it the day of the huge 901 Day event at AutoZone Park (fun, food, entertainment, fireworks, free!) it's also the grand opening of the "Heart of the Park" new stuff at Shelby Farms Park.

I took a tour of the new and improved areas of the park this week. Here are some photos. Don't forget to check out the schedule of events that Shelby Farms will host for 30 days straight in September.

The old visitor center was torn down (building materials were recycled, reused, or donated to Habitat For Humanity's ReStore wherever possible). Here's the shiny new one:

Shelby Farms Visitor Center - Leah Gafni Photo by Leah Gafni

The porch has huge, quiet fans in the ceiling. Inside, there are restrooms, water fountains, a gift shop and the Kitchenette (coffee, snacks, etc.).

Shelby Farms Visitor Center Porch Shelby Farms Gift Shop Mugs With New Logo Shelby Farms Visitor Center Interior


Photo by Leah Gafni Photo by Leah Gafni

Down the hill from the Visitor Center is a brand-new splash pad for kids. It will have limited hours in September. This thing is awesome.

Shelby Farms Splash Pad 1 Shelby Farms Splash Pad 5 Shelby Farms Splash Pad 2

In the newly expanded Patriot Lake, you'll be able to kayak and canoe and paddleboard (which is totally new for Shelby Farms). There's also a boat house where you can bring your own boats.

You'll still be able to paddle boat (not to be confused with paddleboard) at the other lake, Pine Lake.

Shelby Farms Artificial Wetland And Boat House

This muddy area is an artificially created (but naturally sustainable) wetland/marsh area. It's expected to attract waterfowl and native plants and wildlife.

There's also a neat walkway. There's a deck area with some sweet lounge chairs that you can't see in this picture.

Photo by Jeff Hulett Photo by Jeff Hulett

The walkway that connects the Visitors Center/Patriot lakeside to the new Event Stage.

Shelby Farms Visitor Center Lawn

Three words: Dog. Water. Fountain. (Also, bike racks.)

Shelby Farms Water Fountain

The new stage! It faces both ways, so performers can either face the lawn or face the water ... you'll be able to "pull up" in your boat to watch a show if you want.

Shelby Farms Event Stage

Keep going along this path, and you'll get to the FedEx Event Center/The Kitchen Bistro restaurant. Don't get confused: the two spaces share a roof, but there are separate entrances. If you enter through The Kitchen, you can't sneak into the Event Center and vice versa.

Shelby Farms FedEx Event Center And Kitchen Patrito Lake

You'll be able to rent out the Event Center. I imagine there are going to be a lot of weddings there. It's got a great view and plenty of space.

Shelby Farms Event Center

The Kitchen Bistro will tentatively open to the public on August 31. I'll have more details and hours and everything soon. I know they're going to open for dinner first, then shortly thereafter will add lunch and brunch service.

The patio at The Kitchen:

Shelby Farms Kitchen Patio

As for their menu, I saw some photos of chicken skins and pork chops from a soft opening earlier this week. Here's the dinner menu for the Chicago location (entrees there are $27 - $45).

Shelby Farms The Kitchen

There's an open kitchen. They'll have wine and later, maybe cocktails on tap. There's a private dining room for renting out, too.

Shelby Farms The Kitchen Interior - Jeff Hulett Photo by Jeff Hulett

Try to stay calm, but they're going to have brunch soon.

Shelby Farms Blues Brunch - Leaf Gafni Photo by Leah Gafni

This is the view from in front of The Kitchen/event center. That "beach" (no swimming, please) doubles as canoe parking. Because that's a thing now!

Shelby Farms Canoe Parking

If you're a numbers/list person, here's this:

  • increased Patriot Lake from 52 to 80 acres
  • added 55 acres of meadow including 3,000 new trees
  • built a new First Tennessee Foundation Visitor Center/ gift shop / Kitchenette
  • built a new FedEx Event Center / Kitchen Bistro restaurant
  • installed new biking and walking trails
  • built a SMART charging station
  • added new restrooms, benches, swings, picnic pavilions, boat/bike rental pavilions
  • built an outdoor event stage


What do you think about the improvements at Shelby Farms?

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I think for 27-42 an entree Ill go to real restaurant long before shelby farms..
August 27, 2016 12:59pm
Holly Whitfield
Ken, I feel you. I really do. But, a few thoughts/additional comments. First, those prices are from the Chicago location, so we might expect some lower ones here in Memphis. Not sure. They'll have lunch and brunch which are traditionally less. Second - and I didn't go into this in this post because I'll dedicate a full post to The Kitchen Bistro after I actually eat there - but this is most definitely a "real" restaurant, at least in any commonly used definition. It's a concept founded by Kimbal Musk (brother of the Tesla guy) who has dedicated his restaurants to making high-quality, farm-fresh food. It's not being operated by Shelby Farms so it's not the Shelby Farms Restaurant, it's another location of The Kitchen Bistro run by professional restaurant folks including trained chefs, cooks, etc. The facilities are beyond lovely, the view of the lake is unique in Memphis, and the staff I interacted with during the tour were professional. Anyways, that price point is high for someone like me to eat at on a regular basis and I'm not defending it, but I do think it will be on par with other local eateries at that price point. Stay tuned!
August 27, 2016 1:51pm
Now if they could just extend the right turn lane on Farm Road back the curve (where the old main gate used to be), so that traffic can actually move through there with sitting and idling forever... :)
August 27, 2016 2:39pm
It's been a favorite restaurant of mine in Chicago and I was astonished/psyched when I saw it was coming to Memphis.
August 28, 2016 6:29am
It's been a favorite restaurant of mine in Chicago and I was astonished/psyched when I saw it was coming to Memphis.
August 28, 2016 6:29am
rita ellis
great looking destination! Hope to visit soon!!
August 28, 2016 8:46am
The water in that lake looks like a mutant buffalo-alligator-hybrid is about to crawl out of it!
August 28, 2016 12:51pm
Monica Costict
I think this is all very exciting and I can't wait to see it for myself.
August 28, 2016 3:03pm
Michele Mallory
Free yoga on Saturdays as well :) Starting on the 3rd, 9:30 am followed by 11:00 am session for kids & families. Yoga teachers provided by Elements Yoga Lounge. I'll be teaching both sessions on Sep 10. YAYYOGA!
August 29, 2016 10:31am
Bobby Shaker
Great article - got me pumped for next month!
August 30, 2016 3:53pm
This is wonderful! Thanks for this post :P
June 24, 2017 10:17am