13 Ways To Enjoy The Outdoors In Memphis
You’ve seen everything on Netflix and scrolling through Instagram gets old fast.
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.
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.
Some of our favorite places to bike in Memphis:
- Shelby Farms Greenline, a 10.65 mile protected path from East Memphis to Shelby Farms/Cordova.
- Shelby Farms Park has several multi-use trails; they also offer bike rentals.
- Big River Crossing, back and forth across the Mississippi River.
- Wolf River Greenway, a series of protected paths in multiple locations in the city—see the open sections on the website. The Wolf River Greenway will eventually be a 26-mile connected path from Mud Island to Germantown.
- Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park has multiple trails.
- Collierville Greenbelt System has multiple trails.
- Stanky Creek Trail (for mountain biking).
- The City of Memphis has list of additional bike routes, too.
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:
- full networks of Memphis River Parks on their website.
- Chickasaw Heritage Park downtown
- T.O. Fuller State Park south of downtown
- Cameron Brown Park in Germantown
- Greenbelt Park on Mud Island
- MLK Park in South Memphis
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Guide To The I Love Memphis Murals
- 7 Memphis Murals You Have to See
- 6 Downtown Murals: The Artery Alley Project
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.
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.
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?