If you are planning on visiting Memphis, chances are high that you will want to check out at least some of the city’s iconic music-related offerings like Elvis Presley’s Graceland and blues-worthy Beale Street. I have dug through them all over the course of two posts. They can be found here and here.
However, not everything about Memphis is related to the music. In fact, the city boasts some compelling museums that have nothing to do with the music at all. So, here are the three museums that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on for things to do in Memphis, TN.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is located on Mulberry Street in the southern part of downtown Memphis. This museum is most notable for being the site where the American civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated. He was assassinated there in 1968. This museum used to be a motel called Lorraine Motel which was where MLK Jr. stayed overnight during his Memphis visit.
This museum covers about five centuries worth of the civil rights movement, starting with the resistance to slavery in 1619 – long before the United States became an independent country. There are currently fifteen exhibits available at the museum for you to explore. By far the most notable exhibit is called King’s Last Hours.
This is where you can visit the iconic motel rooms where MLK Jr. and his aides stayed just before his assassination. This is where you can learn about what happened during MLK Jr.’s last hours. In the exhibit, The Children Shall Lead Them, you will get to visit the jail cell where MLK Jr. was locked up in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.
This is where you can learn about the key moments and speeches during MLK Jr.’s civil rights campaign and how it had received intense media attention worldwide. You can also read the text from his iconic Letter from a Birmingham Jail on the wall of his jail cell. Another of the museum’s exhibits is called A Culture of Resistance.
There, you can learn about more than two centuries worth of slavery and the impact that it had on America and the world. You can learn about the capture of slaves, the goods that they produced, and the wealth that slave owners and traders amassed off of them. These are just a few of the exhibits you can explore at the museum.
The admission fees for the museum are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and college students, and $14 for children aged from 5 to 17. Those who are under the age of 5 will get free admission. You can head here to buy your tickets. Also, if you are curious about what other civil rights attractions you can visit in America, I would suggest that you read up on the attractions that you can check out in the US state of Alabama.
Pink Palace Museum
The Pink Palace Museum is located on Central Avenue in the Chickasaw Gardens area of Memphis which is near the University of Memphis campus. It is about six miles east of downtown. The Pink Palace is so-called because it is covered in pink Georgian marble. This breathtaking building used to be the mansion that belonged to Clarence Saunders who was the founder of the grocery store chain, Piggly Wiggly.
The museum now takes up residence inside the former mansion. It is dedicated to both the natural and cultural history of Memphis. Located in the museum’s original entrance lobby is a three-panel mural commemorating the discovery of the Mississippi River near the site of today’s Memphis.
The natural history aspect of the museum is notable for its showcase of dinosaur fossils, human and animal skeletons and skulls, and rock and mineral specimens. The cultural history aspect focuses on the evolution of Memphis throughout its history. Some notable showcases include a log cabin, a Victorian music room, a battle diorama of the American Civil War, and horse-drawn carriages.
The prices of admission to the museum are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $10 for children aged from 3 to 12. Those who are aged under 3 will enter for free. Metro Eats is the museum’s onsite restaurant. Those of you who are into souvenirs can check out the Museum Store.
Children’s Museum of Memphis
If you happen to have little ones with you when visiting Memphis, you shouldn’t miss out on the Children’s Museum of Memphis is located at the intersection of Central Avenue and South Hollywood Street just a couple miles west of the Pink Palace Museum. The museum houses nearly thirty hands-on exhibits designed specifically to allow your children’s imaginations to run wild.
I will go over some examples. The first exhibit is called Going Places. This is where children can enter the cockpit of a FedEx cargo plane in order to take control and deliver the cargos to a number of places including Paris, the White House, and the North Pole.
The Bankshot Basketball exhibit will give the little ones the opportunity to test their basketball skills by navigating their way through a course of nineteen unconventionally configured backboards. In the Light Bright exhibit, children can get creative with giant LightBrights of different colors in order to create spectacular light displays by placing them into holes on the wall.
For the little ones who want to dance, they can head to the Time Square exhibit. It is brimming with flashing lights and mirrors. In the midst of it all, they can dance and sing to the tune of popular songs. The price for the museum for everyone aged 1 and above is $15. Those who are aged under 1 will enter for free.
These three museums should be at the top of your to-do list for things to do in Memphis, TN. Also, if you would prefer something at least a bit outdoorsy, how about visiting a few beautiful parks in the city? You can go here to learn more.
If you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight during your visit to Memphis, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book your stay with.
Comfort Suites West Memphis I-40 I-55
This hotel is located on Stephen Boulevard near the Arkansas 191 interchange with Interstates 40 and 55 in West Memphis, Arkansas which is just across the Mississippi River from Memphis. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Sicily’s, Cracker Barrel, and Kelley’s Kickin Chicken. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and fitness center.
All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi and kitchenettes with microwaves and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $87 to $149. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham West Memphis
This hotel is located on North Sixth Street just south of Interstates 40 and 55 in West Memphis. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. For the hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Cracker Barrel, Kelley’s Kickin Chicken, and Sicily’s. There is an indoor swimming pool as well as a fitness center at the hotel.
All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $87 to $181. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these three museums in Memphis before? Feel free to drop a comment below.