Unique Things to Do in Memphis

Memphis City Skyline with Storm Clouds rolling in

Memphis is a unique city, historically known for being the home of the Blues, birthplace of Rock & Roll and now the place to get great BBQ. Actually, 117 places to find great BBQ in Memphis. But, there is more to Memphis besides music and food. I recently spent a fabulous week exploring Memphis with a big thank you to the Peabody Hotel, Mediavine, and Memphis CVB who partially hosted me at Bloghouse Memphis. For those who have gotten their fill of BBQ and excellent music, there are quite a few unique things to do in Memphis.

Here are my top 3 Unique Things to Do in Memphis:

Big River Crossing

Big River Crossing pedestrian bridgeBig River Crossing is the largest pedestrian bridge crossing the Mississippi River. To get there from downtown you can walk along Riverside Drive or stroll along Beale Street Landing which is what I did. It is about a 2-mile easy walk from the Peabody Hotel. Beale Street Landing is a great walkway along the river where the Steamboats are docked. And you can get great views of the city and both bridges, Big River Crossing and Hernando de Soto. Along with this path, there is a splash park for kids, workout exercise stations and a great photo op with the Hernando de Soto bridge perfectly centered in a larger than life wood frame.

beale street landing picture frame of Hernando de Soto Bridge - unique things to do in Memphis

The Big River Crossing is a mile long. You will encounter tons of people jogging, walking, and biking across the bridge at all times of the day. It seems really safe, and I even saw a police car/man stationed at the entrance of the bridge who waved at me. Everybody on the bridge that passed me smiled and said Hi. They are so friendly here in the south (totally different from Michigan where everyone is so focused on themselves). It was a nice refreshing change! Plus, don’t forget to get your photo of you standing on both sides of the state line!Big River Crossing bridge - Unique things to do in MemphisMemphis skyline from the State Line on Big River Crossing bridge

Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Auguste Rodin's The Three Shades in front of Dixon Art Gallery - unique thing to do in MemphisThe Dixon Gallery and Gardens is a surprising find in Memphis, located across from the Memphis Botanic Gardens and should be on your list of things to do in Memphis. I found out about this art gallery after doing some research and finding out they had an Impressionist painting exhibit. Impressionism is my favorite art time period. But, it also has an amazing garden of 17-acres of woodland paths and tons of flowers throughout. This garden has to look amazing in the spring with all the tulips in bloom. The best time to go is first thing in the morning when they open at 10 am. I had the place to myself wandering through the gardens. 

Backyard of Dixon Gallery and Gardens - unique things to do in Memphis

The inside of the Dixon Gallery is just as impressive as the outside gardens. The exhibit “Contemplating Character-Portrait Drawings & Oil Sketches from Jaques Louis David to Lucian Freud” is a fascinating look at how artists see themselves. 

And don’t forget the Impressionist paintings that are ever present in this gallery. View from the artist's studio - Camille Pissarro oil paining

But, the most fantastic thing is that this art gallery has drawing stations throughout the gallery. People can spend some time and draw to their hearts intent and leave a little piece of their history in the Dixon Gallery. Whoever was in here last is a truly gifted artist!Drawing table at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens - unique things to do in Memphis

Memphis Walking Ghost Tour

Another unique thing to do in Memphis is The Memphis Walking Ghost Tour which is put on by Backbeat Tours. Our tour guide Suzy did a great job and made the haunted history of Memphis come to life for us. This is a walking tour so, make sure you have good shoes on. We started the sordid history of Memphis in Dead Man’s Alley. This is where the Yellow Feaver victims of the late 1870s were carried from the river to the mortuaries until they couldn’t hold them anymore. Then they started stacking them in this alley which was a straight shot from the Mississippi River.Dead Man's Alley on the Memphis Walking Ghost Tour - unique thing to do in Memphis On this tour, you get to see how Memphis revitalized the city and keept its old world charm. Many of the brick buildings still have the original facades. Original facade for Memphis revitalization

Orpheum Theater

Our next stop is the Orpheum theater, the home of three ghosts. This theater has been on numerous paranormal hunting shows including Ghost Hunters. Mary, a 12-year-old ghost, happens to love haunting the Orpheum and causing mischief. Her seat is C5 and supposedly she loves watching all the shows performed here. But, be careful she loves to take and hide things.Haunted Orpheum on the Memphis Walking Ghost Tour

Green Beetle

The next stop is at the Green Beetle, which is one of the oldest taverns still running in Memphis. This bar has tons of stories including one about Machine Gun Kelly. The Green Beetle back in the day was known for Gin, Gambling, and Girls. Plus, a shootout that George Kelly Barnes did, he is known for shooting K’s in the wall when he robbed banks and there is supposedly a little thing of some missing money around the Green Beetle.

The other big story involved two sailors & cousins that got into a fight in over a girl at the Green Beetle and ended up killing themselves in the store next to the tavern. We stopped here for a quick drink and bathroom break and while we were hanging out in the chairs outside, a couple of locals commented on how they always wanted to go on this ghost tour. Even the locals have heard how good this tour is.The haunted Green Beetle on Memphis Walking Ghost Tour - unique thing to do in Memphis

 Earnestine and Hazel’s

Haunted Ernestine and Hazel's on Memphis Walking Ghost Tour

Last stop is at Earnestine and Hazel’s. The history here is very sordid and the whole atmosphere upstairs lends itself to this feeling. Our guide reminds us that Earnestine and Hazel’s was not a brothel but, there were a few enterprising ladies living upstairs back then. There are so many haunted stories in this place. From the white lady that can be seen at night from the outside 3rd window which is 12ft off the ground. To the room where the red-haired lady met an untimely and horrible death from a “friend”. Her room in the back gives me the heebie-jeebies and I did not set foot in there. But, that didn’t stop me from taking photos and videos. You decide if you can see anything in this one.Haunted red haired ladies room at Ernestine and Hazel's on Memphis Walking Ghost Tour - unique things to do in Memphis

As you can see there is definitely some unique things to do in Memphis. Of course, if you are visiting Memphis for a weekend or a week you should experience all the sites that this city has to offer. Check out Memphis Tourism for all things to do in Memphis including the unique things I mentioned. Have you experienced any unique things to do in Memphis that I need to add to my list?

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