13 Ways To Enjoy The Outdoors In Memphis

Posted by Holly Whitfield | July 20th 2020 28801 0

You’ve seen everything on Netflix and scrolling through Instagram gets old face. If you’re as sick of staying inside as I am, grab your sunscreen, mask, and a water bottle and hit the great outdoors.

Ed Note: Some of these photos were taken pre-covid, so imagine that everyone is masked up and more than six feet apart from others. 

Shelby Farms Park

Here are thirteen things to do to outside in Memphis:

1. Go On A Bike Ride

Memphis has 60+ miles of bike trails and lanes, including multiple protected greenways—meaning they’re paved and separate from streets. There are Explore Bike Share stations all around town if you don’t have your own bike.

Craig Thompson

Some of our favorite places to bike in Memphis:

2. Go To The Park

Memphis and its suburbs have great parks to stretch your legs, soak up the sun, and let the kids run around. The best known parks are Overton Park in midtown, Shelby Farms in East Memphis/Cordova, Audubon Park in East Memphis, and Tom Lee Park downtown, but there are many more.

A few others to check out:

Hyde Lake at Shelby Farms Park

3. Sit On A Patio

It’s basically a religion in Memphis. Check out the guide to more than 100 patios in Memphis, downtown, Germantown, East Memphis, and more. Keep in mind that hours, capacity, and dining policies are changing constantly in 2020—call ahead before going out.

Please wear a mask when not eating or drinking and tip to your servers. Even better, consider getting food to-go instead, and then making your own patio dining experience at home or at one of the parks listed above.

4. Conquer the Obstacles at GoApe Treetop Adventure Course

Aren’t afraid of heights? Want to get in some exercise in the treetops…like, way up in the treetops? GoApe Treetop Adventure at Shelby Farms is open, though they require face coverings and full-finger gloves.

Read about my GoApe experience in Must Love Heights. GoApe also offers axe throwing, with masks and gloves. Both activities are for folks 10 and up.

Allen Gillespie. This man should be wearing a mask and gloves.

5. Watch The Sunset and Mighty Lights

Catch a beautiful, colorful sunset in Memphis on the banks of the Mississippi River. Take your pick of downtown riverside parks, especially Tom Lee Park, the River Garden at Mississippi River Park, or anywhere along the Bluff.

If you’re downtown, be sure to stick around to watch the Mighty Lights on the bridges. Another place to spot the sunset in Memphis is at Shelby Farms Park on Hyde Lake.

Andrea Zucker

6. Visit Shelby Forest

Meeman Shelby Forest State Park is just a few minutes north of downtown and has plenty to do outdoors, from hiking to biking to canoeing. If you’re being active, be sure to hydrate and bring bug spray and water. Read the guide to Shelby Forest and don’t forget to grab a cheeseburger to-go at the Shelby Forest General Store.

Alex Shansky

7. See The Bison At Shelby Farms

Bison or buffalo? Which is correct? Discuss with your friends after you see them in person at Shelby Farms. There’s a 50-acre habitat in the middle of the park with about 15 buffalo/bison. Each spring, you can see baby bison, too.

Baxter Buck

8. Go to a farmer’s market

Memphis and the Mid-South have plenty of outdoor farmers markets; some are seasonal and some are year-round. Check out the 2020 Memphis Farmers Market Guide.

Be sure to follow all market guidelines, including physical distancing and mask-wearing, no contact payment options and “traffic” flow through the markets vendors.

Pretend the adult is wearing a mask.

9. Visit The Dixon or the Memphis Botanic Garden

See what’s in bloom this season and take advantage of the creative gardens we have in Memphis. The Dixon Gallery & Gardens has 17 acres of gardens and several shady, picturesque paths. While it’s a beautiful place year-round, April brings the annual tulip bloom.

The Memphis Botanic Garden features 96 acres of lush flowers, plants, trees, water features, and more. You can truly spend a few hours exploring the grounds. I discover something new each time. Some areas, like the Japanese bridge and My Big Backyard children’s play area are closed due to COVID.

Follow all posted guidelines for safety and physical distancing during your visits.

Memphis Botanic Garden. Andrea Zucker

10. Take A Public Art or Mural Tour

Memphis is full of bright murals, interesting sculptures, and plenty of public art that you can check out. You could even try to find all the I Love Memphis murals (and post a photo on social media with the #ILoveMemphis hashtag!) Here are a couple of handy mural and public art guides:

Craig Thompson

11. Take A South Main Walking Tour

South Main has a walking tour collection of street art, historic architecture, and fun facts. You can download a printable copy of this tour on the GoSouthMain website, and you can also access it on a smartphone at GoSouthMain.com/Tour.

Bring your mask even if you don’t plan on going inside—if you’re near others or have to run in somewhere, you’ll be prepared.

Historic 409 S. Main in downtown Memphis. Alex Shansky

12. Walk or bike across the Big River Crossing

Make your way across the Mississippi River for unparalleled views. Get details here.

13. Canoe or Kayak on the Mississippi or the Ghost

On the Mississippi? What?! Yes, y’all! I know it’s important to have a healthy respect for the Big Muddy, but we have a downright phobia in this town. Put on a life vest and let the pros help you overcome the fear by kayaking the in the inlet by Mud Island River Park; there’s a launch from the River Garden.

Several outfitters will guide you on tours on the Mississippi and the absolutely gorgeous, underrated Wolf River, too. The latter has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do, ever. Read the full guide to kayaking here.

Alan Spearman


I know there are probably 50 more ideas for enjoying the outdoors in Memphis. Which ones would you add? How many of these have you done?


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Comments

  1. […] 6. Visit Shelby Forest Meeman Shelby Forest State Park is just a few minutes north of downtown and has plenty to do outdoors. here and do …read more […]

  2. Hannah says:

    The mounds of Chucalissa also have great trails!

  3. Amy B says:

    Mountain bike around Stanky Creek (Nesbit Park) in Bartlett or Herb Parson lake.

  4. Aaron Shafer says:

    Even though it’s outside of Memphis, I would add taking a canoe/kayak trip down the Ghost River. Our family did the trip this past weekend and it’s one of the best outdoor experiences that our family has had-EVER! And that’s saying a lot, having grown up exploring the beaches and mountains of California and Colorado. It’s an outdoor jewel in our backyards! Check it out, the experience warrants its own write-up.

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