Want to spend 2 days in Memphis?

Whether you’re planning a stop in Memphis during a road trip through the American South, or hoping to take an entire weekend trip to Memphis, I’ve got you covered.

Memphis was the place I took my very first solo trip, so it holds a special place in my heart.

I hope you have as much fun there as I did.

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How To Spend 2 Days in Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

I’ve arranged each activity in order of the most logical way to complete them, in relation to their geographic proximity to each other and operating hours.

One thing to note is that the National Civil Rights Museum is closed on TUESDAYS, so if day 2 of your 2 days in Memphis is going to be on a Tuesday, you can flip the 2 days around.

Day 1 in Memphis

Graceland

Address: 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116 (parking lot address) 

Admission: Varies. Adult tickets from $39.75  – $169. See my recommendation below. $10 for parking, if needed. 

Hours: Vary greatly depending on the season, but usually fall between 9:00AM and 5:00PM.

Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

Graceland is only about a 5 minute drive from Memphis International Airport, so it makes sense to visit it first thing if you fly in. The only minor logistics thing here is luggage. If you rent a car (which you don’t technically need to see the main Memphis attractions), then you can just leave your bags in the car as you explore Graceland.

If you use ride sharing, then you have two options: go to your hotel first, drop off your bags, then head back to Graceland (this wasn’t an option for me since I travel on a shoestring) OR just bring a small bag and store it in the lockers at Guest Services which are 12inches wide x 22inches long x 27inches deep.

I spent about 4 hours at Graceland and purchased the equivalent of the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour. It was $96.50 and would have been $101.50 if I had included a visit to Elvis’ airplanes.

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

It included the following things:

  • Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
  • Self-guided tour of Presley Motors Automobile Museum
  • Self-guided tour of Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
  • Self-guided tours of Elvis Discovery Exhibits
  • Self-guided tour of Exclusive VIP Exhibit

PLUS

  • Front-of-the-Line Mansion Access
  • Keepsake Backstage Pass

Is Graceland worth the trip?

Yes, but I didn’t feel like this level of ticket was worth it because I wasn’t an Elvis super fan. Elvis Presley died 15 years, 364 days before I was born, so I grew up seeing him as a cultural moment, rather than a musician to invest time and interest in.

So, while I was excited to learn more about his brand of rock n’ roll and the impact he had on a generation, the 4 hours I spent in his home were a little overwhelming and felt too long.

Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

So, if you are just there for the history and fun, and not like the man from Alabama that I asked to take a photo of me in front of the mansion who visits every year and tears up when he talks about Elvis, you should opt for the Elvis Experience Tour for $59, which includes the following things:

  • Graceland Mansion Audio-Guided Tour with New Orientation Film
  • Self-guided tour of Presley Motors Automobile Museum
  • Self-guided tour of Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
  • Self-guided tours of Elvis Discovery Exhibits

This way, you get to see the wonder that is the shag carpet inside of Graceland, Elvis’ cool car collection, and learn a little bit about his life, but not be bombarded by nostalgia that you can’t really feel.

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Sun Studios

Address: 706 Union Avenue Memphis, TN 38103 at the corner of Marshall and Union

Admission: Adults $14 / Military, Students, & AAA  $12 / Kids 5 -11 FREE / Kids under 5 not permitted. 

Hours: Sun Studio is open 7 days a week from 10AM – 6:15PM. Tours begin at the bottom half of every hour from 10:30AM – 5:30PM.

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

There is a free shuttle from Graceland to Sun Studio, so if you time your visit right, you won’t have to pay for a ride share. The Shuttle picks up and drops off every hour at the top of the hour, from 10:00AM – 6:00PM. You can find the shuttle at the cab stand at Graceland’s entrance.

Sun Studio is known worldwide as “The Birthplace of Rock’n’roll.” Legends like B.B. King, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis have recorded at Sun Studio. In fact, it’s the place where Elvis recorded his first ever song.

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

And you can hold the microphone that made it happen!

My tour lasted 45 minutes and was definitly a can’t miss Memphis attraction.

Beale Street

Your 2 days in Memphis wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Beale Street.

Beale Street is filled with bars, restaurants, and interestedly enough, ice cream shops. I don’t like going to bars alone, as I don’t really drink and frankly find the humming energy that they contain overwhelming without a familiar presence nearby, so I chose to visit

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

A. Schwab Trading Co

 163 Beale Street, Memphis, TN 38103

Monday – Wednesday, 8:00AM – 5:00PM, Thursday 12:00PM- 6:00PM

Friday – Saturday, 12:00PM – 8:00PM, Sunday 11:AM – 5:00PM

to sit at the counter of its old fashion soda shop, chat with the nice man who gave me extra whipped cream on my milkshake, and later explore the store with all its oddities. If you find Beale Street too touristy, or prefer a more intimate vibe, try

Mollie Fontaine Lounge

679 Adams Ave, Memphis, TN 38105

Wednesday – Saturday, 5:00PM – ’til the spirits go to sleep

Closed Sunday – Tuesday

An antiques-filled Victorian house lounge which serves martinis & tapas and features local bands. I didn’t make it to Mollie’s, but my Airbnb host couldn’t stop raving about it. Next time!

Day 2 in Memphis

The National Civil Rights Museum

Address: 450 Mulberry St, Memphis, TN 38103 

Admission: Adults $16 / Seniors & Students with ID $14 / Kids 5-17 $13 / Members, Active Military, Kids under 4 FREE

Hours: Wednesday – Monday, 9:00am – 5:00pm, CLOSED EVERY TUESDAY 

the national civil rights museum loraine motel mlk

This is the most powerful and insightful museum that I’ve ever been to. It follows the journey of African Americans from the transatlantic slave trade all the way to #BlackLivesMatter, explaining in accessible detail things that were continually glossed over during my formal education.

As I made my way through the exhibits, I thought about the people whose first thought is “he was reaching!” when a young father is murdered by the police, or “she’s playing the race card” when a public figure comes forward about racist harassment.

“If they would just come here,” I thought. “If they could just see!” The deep, institutional roots that racism has in America have never been as clear as when I was in the National Civil Rights Museum.

Please, make visiting this museum a priority, even if you only have 2 days in Memphis. I left feeling embarrassed of how much I didn’t know, convicted by what I learned, and inspired to do better.

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Stroll along the Mighty Mississippi at Tom Lee Park

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

Tom Lee Park is only about a 5 minute walk from the National Civil Rights Museum and a relaxing place to stroll, sit, or sunbathe. It offers great views of the Mighty Mississippi, the Memphis Skyline, and even Arkansas across the river.

As I sat on a bench in Tom Lee Park, the peacefulness, the feeling of community, and the natural wonder of the river made me feel like I wouldn’t mind calling Memphis home. I left wanting to spend way more than 2 days in Memphis.

Redneck Heaven: The Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis

Address: 1 Bass Pro Dr, Memphis, TN 38105

Admission: free. $10 for the elevator ride to the lookout deck. 

Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8:00AM – 10:00PM, Sunday 8:00AM – 7:00PM.

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

Visiting the Bass Pro Pyramid directly after the National Civil Rights Museum was definitly jarring, in terms of cultural contrast, but still enjoyable.

I’m from Texas, but was still overwhelmed by the overall southernness of the complex. If you’re a Yankee, or not American, it’s a great place to really get inside the mind of a good ‘ole country boy who likes huntin’,fishin’, and lovin’ everyday.

I think that the $10 to ride the elevator to the observation deck was worth it, as the view was amazing and the experience of riding a freestanding elevator was also fun. You could easily spend over an hour exploring the store.

Visit the Peabody Ducks

Address: 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38103

Admission: FREE

Hours: The Ducks arrive everyday at 11:00AM and retire for the evening at 5:00PM. 

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

My mom lived in Memphis when she was in Jr. High School and stayed at the Peabody Hotel at the beginning of her life there. She remembered being delighted by the Peabody Duck Parade, so I made it a priority to visit during my 2 days in Memphis.

I thought the ducks looked cute, swimming around in the fountain. I liked the ringmaster-esque costume of the Peabody Duckmaster. I thought the booming classical music that accompanies the duck march was fun. I’ve read that others think the Peabody Duck Parade is overhyped or not worth it, but I enjoyed it.

Maybe it was because of my sentimental attachment to the event, or maybe because it was a good excuse to wander around the ornate inside of the hotel, but I didn’t find it lame at all. I’d also recommend following the ducks up to their penthouse. It’s pretty cute.

The best viewing for the Peabody Duck Parade is on the second story, directly behind the fountain.

Have Dinner at Gus’ Fried Chicken

Address: 706 Union Avenue Memphis, TN 38103 at the corner of Marshall and Union

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11:00AM – 9:00PM, Friday – Saturday 11:00AM – 10:00PM

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

No 2 days in Memphis would be complete without some delicious Gus’ Fried Chicken.

Allergy note: if it’s fried at Gus’, it’s fried in peanut oil.

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I was so excited about touring Graceland.

In fact, it’s one of the reasons to visit Memphis that really drew me in.

My friend had given me a Buddy Pass on Southwest Airlines to visit her in Florida, but since she had a bundle of them that was expiring, I ended up with an extra that I needed to use within two weeks.

I thought to myself, “Where can I go alone that’s a direct flight from Houston?” When I thought of touring Graceland, the glorious home of Elvis Presley, as well as paying my respects at the National Civil Rights Museum, I knew I wanted to visit Memphis.

But when I arrived at Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116, I didn’t expect to feel so sad. But I did anyway. Here’s why:

Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

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Why Touring Graceland Made Me Sad

I’m not an Elvis super fan.

He died 15 years, 364 days before I was born, so I grew up seeing him as a cultural moment, rather than a musician to invest time and interest in. Sure, I like his songs and know his general story, but my parents were born a little too late to appreciate him, and my grandmothers didn’t have the time to be fangirls, so I didn’t know much more than Jail House Rock.

Before touring Graceland, I only knew of Elvis the phenomenon, not Elvis the person, so I was excited to learn more about his brand of rock n’ roll and the impact he had on a generation.

Seeing his home really shifted my perspective.

Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

From Phenom to Friend

Before visiting, I didn’t know Elvis’ life started in tragedy; that his twin brother Jessie Garon Presley was stillborn in a tiny shotgun home in Tupelo, Mississippi, an event that caused the Presley family to cling together and love each other more fiercely than before.

I knew vaguely of Elvis’ religious background, but the exhibits throughout Graceland painted the picture of a man of great faith with a heart for the nations.

I heard mention after mention of Elvis’ generosity towards his community and fellow man, coupled with his intense desire that his philanthropy be anonymous.

As much as Elvis was “the voice of a generation” or “the king of rock n’ roll,” it really just seemed like he was boy with a voice trying to do a little good. It made me sad to think he was ever portrayed otherwise.

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Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

Too Much Too Fast

It was the little things at Graceland that made the biggest impact.

Like when I learned that Elvis, nervous for his first day on set of his first motion picture, memorized everyone’s lines instead of just his own, just in case, indicating how naive about, and yet wholeheartedly committed to, Hollywood he was. Elvis went on to star in 27 films in the 1960’s. 27. And that’s in addition to all his singing.

It made me sad to hear that his non “teen beach movies” failed, as he wanted to do serious work. The public just didn’t want to buy “off brand Elvis,” so he had to stick to the formula…27 times.

His pompadoured black hair. His guitar. His bedazzled jumpsuits. Even his “thank ya, thank ya very much.” Those weren’t Elvis. Those were his brand; trademarks assigned to him, then taken from him, and exaggerated into something that would sell.

Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

When I went to Guest Services at Graceland to ask a question, there were two women ahead of me in line, both in their late 60s. They were little girls when Elvis was at the top of his game, but they still loooooved him. One of them was even wearing blue suede shoes.

Their enthusiasm was infectious and reminded me of how I speak about literally ever boyband member ever, but it also reminded me of the voyeuristic relationship that the public often has with our favorite celebrities.  We feel like we know them, but we only know their persona. It’s totally one-sided.

While we (the public) were giddy in love with Elvis, he was working himself to death, turning to substances in the process to comfort himself.

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Gone Too Soon

The Meditation Garden at Graceland is what really got to me.

I had to sit down for a moment I was so overwhelmed. Elvis is resting there, along with the family he loved so dearly. His parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, as well as his grandmother, Minnie Mae. There’s even a memorial for his twin brother, Aaron.

Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

I say resting emphatically, because while touring Graceland, I learned resting is something Elvis never really got to while living. 42 years. 27 movies. 19 albums. Countless concerts.

He was tired.

We, the public, took from Elvis. A once poor boy with an extraordinary voice and charismatic smile. A generous man who was overwhelmed by the needs of the world. We could never get enough of him. And eventually we took too much.

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Visiting Graceland Elvis Presley Home

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Looking for things to do in Western Mass?

I spent four years in the Pioneer Valley as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke College and consider the area to be my second home. I became an adult in Massachusetts and sneak back every chance I get, as half of my heart (and most of my friends) still live there.

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

Eric Carle Museum, October 2012.

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Things To Do in Western Mass

These were my favorite things to do in area when I was an undergraduate. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

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Emily Dickinson Museum

280 Main St, Amherst, MA 01002

Things To Do in Western Mass emily dickinson

Mural of Emily near the museum, October 2012.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is one of the main draws in the area and one of the most interesting things to do in Western Mass. Before visiting, I’d only heard snippets of Emily’s history while memorizing her poems in elementary school. Wasn’t she a reclusive spinster who wore a wedding dress for most of her life?

Absolutely not.

As it’s based in her former home, the museum does an excellent job of humanizing Emily’s eccentric story. You leave feeling like you knew her, often with her poems etched on your heart.

Mount Holyoke College Tour

50 College St, South Hadley, MA 01075

Things to do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

Back where I belong, February 2018.

I’ve only included this on the list because I’m an alumna and Mount Holyoke is the best thing that has ever happened to me. If you are looking for things to do in Western Mass, it’s likely you’re in the area for a college tour, so be sure not to miss the best of the bunch.

Emily Dickinson even attended for 10 months, so we can definitly claim her.

Wondering about other inspiring alums? Prepare to be amazed.

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Eric Carle Museum

125 W Bay Rd, Amherst, MA 01002

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

Eric Carle Museum, February 2018.

While time travel is still technically impossible, you can get pretty darn close to reliving your childhood with a visit to the Eric Carle Museum. My sister and I first visited while I was an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke in 2012. We started our tour in the museum’s screening room to watch Knuffle Bunny, an animated version of the children’s book by Mo Willems.

It’s about a girl named Trixie who travels to the Netherlands to visit her Grandparents and forgets her beloved bunny on the plane. Trixie learns important lessons about loss and maturity through her distress and my sister and I, thinking about our childhood lovies, sobbed.

Things To Do in Western Mass eric carle

My sister working on her masterpiece, October 2012. Peep mine as well. It’s still on the fridge.

The museum also has a craft studio you could spend hours in, a library brimming with the best in children’s literature, and galleries that are equal parts nostalgic and inspirational. I make it a point to visit each time I’m in the area.

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Yankee Candle Village

25 Greenfield Road South Deerfield, MA 01373

Things to do in Western Mass Yankee Candle

Big on puns. September 2014.

There are two bad things about Yankee Candle Village:

  • It smells like a bakery, flower shop, and your grandmother’s house all at once.
  • It’s much like a Target in that you go in for one thing and come out two hours later $50,000 in debt.

However, there are two good things about Yankee Candle Village:

  • It smells like a bakery, flower shop, and your grandmother’s house all at once.
  • It’s much like a Target in that you go in for one thing and come out two hours later $50,000 in debt.
Things to do in Western Mass Yankee Candle

Doin’ a line, February 2018.

My favorite part (besides smelling the candles and getting to write a letter to Santa) is the life-size Bavarian Village, where it’s Christmas all year round. Be sure to stick around for the snowfall!

Brunch in Northampton

Brunch in Northampton is one of the best things to do in Western Mass. When people say, “This is the future that Liberals want,” I honestly think they’re talking about the pancakes…

The best brunch spots in Northampton, Massachusetts are as follows:

  • Everywhere.

There you go. That’s my comprehensive list. Just go to Northampton for a meal and you’re all set with any choice.

But, if I had to choose, I would sent you for

Waffles at Sylvester’s 

111 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA 01060

7AM – 3PM, 7 days a week.

Things to do in Western Mass

In the morning, I’m making waffles, February 2018.

or maybe for some

Scrambles at the Green Bean

241 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060

7AM – 3PM, 7 days a week.

and finally a short drive to Hadley for

Salad at Esselon

99 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035

Hours vary.

Things to do in Western Mass

Lunch with friends, May 2017.

Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory

281 Greenfield Rd, South Deerfield, MA 01373

Things to do in Western Mass magic wings

Taking it all in, February 2018.

Magic Wings is what I imagine heaven to be like. And also the uncanny valley. As soon as you walk in, you’re surrounded by movement, even in your peripherals. But because the constant fluttering comes from butterflies, and not bats, bugs, or other beasts, it’s okay.

It’s probably the most peaceful place I’ve been and definite childhood fantasy fulfillment. The only downside was, despite wearing a bright orange shirt and floral perfume, none of the butterflies wanted anything to do with me.

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Skinner State Park

10 Skinner State Park Rd, Hadley, MA 01035

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Tom

Mountain Day, October 2012.

Mount Holyoke has this amazing tradition called Mountain Day. During the fall semester, sometime between Convocation and the start of October Break, our president wakes up early and declares Mountain Day with 100 chimes of the bell in the clock tower.

Classes and commitments before 5:00PM are cancelled and students are encouraged to climb the mountain in nearby Skinner State Park, where our President is waiting at the summit with ice cream and special Mountain Day hats.

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Tom

A casual photoshoot at Skinner State Park, May 2017.

Part of the fun of Mountain Day is almost dying on the steep hike to the summit, but if you are simply visiting the area, feel free to drive up to the top. There’s a parking lot and unmatched views of the entire Pioneer Valley.

Wistariahurst Museum

238 Cabot St, Holyoke, MA 01040

Things To Do in Western Mass Wistariahurst

My dad and sister cheesin’ in Wisty’s Music Room, May 2015.

Full disclosure: I interned at Wisty throughout my collegiate career. But really, this only means you should take my recommendation to visit even more seriously!

The museum is the former home of the Skinner Family, led by William Skinner (and later by his daughter, Belle), who made thier fortune in silk manufacturing, and is the embodiment of the area. It’s one of the best things to do in Western Mass because the beautiful home not only weaves the silken story of a family, but of a city. Of entrepreneurship and loss. Of new beginnings and old traditions. Of hope.

Wisty offers both historical tours of the building, as well as cultural events like lectures, concerts, and galas throughout the year.

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Basketball Hall of Fame

1000 Hall of Fame Ave, Springfield, MA 01105

Things to do in Western Mass

The joke here is that I hate basketball, so I never went inside; however, my friends like to tease me because one night, while riding with them on the Interstate 91 (totally sober!) I noticed a glowing orange orb through the clouds.

“Wow, the moon is so bright tonight! It’s so low! Y’all, look!”

Turns out, I made my friend slow down so that we could get a good look at the giant basketball that marks the entrance to the parking lot.

If you like sports, it’s a can’t miss (or so I hear).

Mass MoCa

1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

things to do in western mass mass moca

If you’re looking for something a little weird, a little cool, and fully awesome, then you should head to Mass MoCa, or the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The collection is breath-taking and is a real contender against the MFA in Boston.

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Bonus: Seasonal Leaf Peeping in Western Mass

Things To Do in Western Mass Mount Holyoke

The Mount Holyoke Campus, Fall 2014. I didn’t edit this at all.

If you’re looking for things to do in Western Mass in the fall, the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires have some of the best leaf-peeping spots in New England!

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Things to do in Western Mass

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The eternal question for those planning a trip to Tennessee: Memphis or Nashville? Which one to visit?

Both cities are jewels in the Volunteer State’s crown, brimming with fun things to do, places to go, and people to meet, but if you only have time for one, it can be hard to pick.

I’ve been to and loved both, so here’s a little information on the difference between Memphis and Nashville to help inform your choice.

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Memphis or Nashville? How To Pick:

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

The first thing you need to do when planning a Tennessee vacation is decide what “genre” your trip will be. Are you going on a buisness trip and looking for fun things to do on the side? A girls trip? A family vacation?

Within those genres, figure out what kinds of things your group is interested in. Boozy brunches? Museum crawls?

Then you’re ready to learn more about each city.

Memphis: Country Foundations and Civil Rights History

memphis attractions 2 days in memphis

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Memphis is a place for history lovers. Whether that’s civil rights history or the foundations of country music is up to you.

Highlights in Memphis include the following things:

  • Graceland 

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

The famous estate of the late and great Elvis Presley, now expanded into a small museum compound with exhibits exploring his life, his celebrity, and his impact on country music and the “rock ‘n’ roll” generation. When I went, there were women in their 50s and 60s who were at fangirl level 100000 and were literally wearing blue suede shoes.

It’s probably what I’ll be like when I visit Harry Styles’ house museum when I’m their age. Graceland is also a gateway to a cluster of other museums and recording studios in the city of Memphis that offer glimpses into how country music got rollin’.

  • National Civil Rights Museum

the national civil rights museum loraine motel mlk

The most poignant and thoughtful museum I’ve ever been to. It took me a good three hours to progress through the exhibits and I could’ve easily spent more time there.

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It lays out the journey of African Americans from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to #BlackLivesMatter and should be required viewing for all Americans, especially now. If you choose Memphis in the Memphis or Nashville debate, please, make every effort to visit.

  • Redneck Heaven at the Bass Pro Pyramid 

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

Y’all. Even as a native Texan, I was blown away by the southernness of the Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what it means to be a good ‘ole country boy who loves huntin’, fishin’, and lovin’ everyday, you gotta take it in. When I say that Memphis offers a glimpse into the foundations of “country,” I definitly don’t mean just the music.

Nashville: Concert Crawls and Modern Music

Nashville is for country music aficionados and people who love to party. It is Nashvegas after all.

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Highlights in Nashville include the following things:

  • Grand Ole’ Opry / Ryman Auditorium 

things to do in nashville with kids opry stage

The Show that Made Country Music Famous! Country lovers should jump at the chance to attend a show (or take a tour!) of this iconic southern stage. All the greats have graced it, including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and even Elvis himself. The show’s original home, the Ryman Auditorium, is also still operational for tours and shows.

If you visit Nashville during the winter, the Opry even does a stint there each year during this time, which is sure to be a treat.

  • Broadway

Memphis or Nashville? How To Plan Your Tennesse Vacation

Many people visit Nashville because they like to party. For those who live in NYC, Boston, and even Chicago, Vegas can be too long of a flight for a quick weekend trip, so Nashville is the sweet spot for a good time.

In the Memphis or Nashville debate, when it comes to nightlife, the match up is between Beale Street in Memphis and Broadway in Nashville, and because of it’s authenticity, Nashville comes out on top for people looking to live it up.

Final Thoughts: Memphis or Nashville

things to do in nashville with kids park

Both cities are easy to get to. Both cities are fun. Both cities have infinite things to do.

You honestly can’t go wrong. It just depends on what you are looking for.

If you’re looking to catch the concert of a lifetime and hit the town with your girls, then Nashville is the right choice for you. If you prefer a look into the history of country music and the American South, head to Memphis.

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Interested in Volunteering in Nashville? Music City is a great place to give back.

I spent a week in Nashville partnering with local organizations that serve the city’s vulnerable populations, which showed me that there are a lot of unmet needs in Nashville.

Working with folks on the ground who have volunteer “shift work” ready to go is an ethical and easy way to help out. They know what the needs are, but just need some extra pairs of hands — yours!

So, whether you’re just in town for the music or you’re ready to call it your home, here are three places that you can make a big impact!

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Nashville Rescue Mission

Volunteering in Nashville Nashville Rescue Mission

Some of my students making kool aid before we served lunch to the Mission’s clients.

Nashville Rescue Mission is one of the best places to do volunteering in Nashville simply because the scope of its impact. Its plan is to bring hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for eternity to the people of Nashville.

You can partner with the mission to provide a hot meal, clothing, and place to rest to Nashville residents, as well as invest in their brighter future.

The Mission says that, “we assess each individual’s situation and develop a plan specifically for them that will take them out of the situation they are now in and help them make plans for a better tomorrow.”

We worked at different organizations around Nashville for the week we were there, and my students literally begged me to assign them to a second shift at Nashville Rescue Mission. It’s a great place!

Women’s Campus

1716 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37208

Men’s Campus

639 Lafayette Street, Nashville, TN 37203

  • Notes:

The minimum volunteer age is 10 years old. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

To sign up for a shift, please click here. If you plan to bring a big group, you should email or call first. Here’s the info: volunteer@nashvillerescuemission.org | 615-312-1544

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Second Harvest Food Bank Middle Tennessee

Volunteering in Nashville Second Harvest Food Bank

The team at the food bank knows how to get things done! Instructions were very clear, so my team ran like a well-oiled machine after only 5 minutes of instructions.

Donating food, and assessing and sorting previous donations is a highly effective way of volunteering in Nashville. You can make a huge impact to stamp out hunger in Middle Tennessee in only a few hours.

There is always a need for more hands on deck, so you can look through the volunteering opportunities on the calendar here.

  • Notes:

Be sure to bring a jacket in case you are assigned to work in the 40-degree cooler.

You’ll need to create a Volunteer Hub account to register for your first shift.

The minimum age for volunteers is 12, except for Family Night on Thursday when the minimum age is 6. Volunteers under age 18 must have a youth volunteer waiver signed by a parent or legal guardian.

Habitat of Humanity of Greater Nashville

Volunteering in Nashville Habitat for Humanity

My team helped set up the “Restore” for its grand re-opening. We built the shelves you see behind us — rows and rows of them! I’ve never felt more handy.

There are so many opportunities to serve with Habitat for Humanity, so it’s one of the best places to go if you are interested in volunteering in Nashville.

If you live in the area and are confident with tools, registering here to help with a potential build is a great way to get involved. Habitat teams build 32-50 houses a year in Davidson, Wilson, Dickson, and Cheatham counties.

If you will be in Nashville for a short trip, or don’t feel comfortable on a construction site, then you can register to help in the “Restore” with opportunities to help customers, stock shelves, and sort donations Monday through Saturday, from 9AM – 5:30pM.

When I was there, the Restore had just moved into its awesome new location. My team and I had the opportunity to help set up and merchandise it. Over our three day stay, we were really able to see the impact every little bit of help makes, as the store went from an empty warehouse to a real store!

Sign up here!

  • Notes:

Restore Address 

414 Harding Place
Suite 110
Nashville, TN 37211

Three Tips for Volunteering in Nashville

Tattoos in nashville

The manager of the Restore honestly had the coolest tattoos known to man. And let us listen to classic rock while we worked! Win win.

  • Dress to work!

You should always wear closed-toed, sensible shoes when volunteering in Nashville (or anywhere!). The places I partnered with during my visit would not allow you to work if you were not dressed appropriately, due to safety concerns.

It’s also a good idea to bring a hat and jacket in case you need to work outside or keep your hair out of you face.

  • Be early. 

I can’t stress this enough. Even if you are giving your time for free to an organization, the work you came to do still deserves your respect. Show up 15 minutes early, ready to work and listen to instructions.

  • Publicize it! 

Did you have a great time partnering with your organization? Do you really believe in its mission and wish others knew about it, too? An easy way to get the word out is to post a quick video on your Instagram stories (during your break!) letting your followers know where you are and how to get involved, or run a fundraiser on your Facebook once you get home.

Both are easy, high-impact ways to spread the word. Just make sure that the work is the focus, not you!

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Volunteering in Nashville

 

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