We knew we wanted a reasonable drive and a variety of activities for a long weekend road trip — and Memphis delivered big. This trip would kick off Colt’s Spring Break this year, and we used our tried and true planning method of starting with his wish list and going from there. He chose Memphis in the first place because of the #1 item on his Wish List — The Peabody Ducks (full story here) — and while we never try to “do it all”, we had a great time hitting some of the best Memphis has to offer.
Never one to pass up an Egyptian exhibit or reference, Colt was excited to visit The Memphis Pyramid on our way into town.
It was a nice view of the river and the city, but it was crazy windy and both of us were more than ready to come back inside after a quick look.
Safely back inside we stopped for lunch in the restaurant at the top of the Pyramid. While we waited for our food, I decided to prep Colt for our next stop…
A ride back down America’s tallest freestanding elevator and we were off to our next adventure in Memphis.
I went to Graceland as a kid and I remember bits and pieces of the trip, and I knew it would be a great way to get the flavor of Memphis. Colt looked at all the options and decided on the mansion and the airplanes. And he’s never met an audio tour he didn’t like. I had to explain the humor of “Uncle Jesse” providing the voice of the audio tour and he was only half-impressed with The Jungle Room, but overall Graceland was a hit.
The planes and the cars were a great choice for us, but Colt doesn’t think we need our own pink Cadillac. I’ll keep working on him.
No details here. We were on Beale Street only long enough to snap this photo — it wasn’t our thing. But after catching a glimpse and taking a photo, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for Day 2.
Memphis is famous for its zoo and when we were doing our pre-trip homework — we discovered the zoo was hosting a traveling exhibit of LEGOS while we would be in town. Sold!
It didn’t take him more than a few minutes to determine our first stop — The Wings of Wonder Bird Show. They had some incredible birds — his fave — that swooped right over our heads as they flew from one corner of the amphitheater to the next. He was mesmerized.
Before long, Colt’s cousin John and his wife Maggie joined us for the afternoon! They live in Memphis and it was good to see them!
And the Legos! There were 15 different Legos sculptures throughout the zoo, but this was his favorite. A bird, naturally. This thing used almost 70,000 Legos!
This was the #1 reason we went to Memphis — the World Famous Peabody Ducks. Here’s a video of the experience and the whole story is here.
It’s one thing to SEE the river — it’s another to cross the river with your own two feet. Memphis has built an amazing pedestrian-friendly bridge across the river that we couldn’t resist. Though bridges are still not my favorite thing — this was pretty cool.
The Lorraine Motel
Colt and I have traveled together quite a bit over the last year and there have been several things we’ve saved for when he’s older and better able to understand the gravity and the context. We didn’t go to the 9/11 Memorial in NYC, we didn’t go to the Holocaust Museum or spend time at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. These places are hallowed and the lessons they offer are critical — but I knew he wasn’t ready. But when we put together our list for Memphis — we both knew we wanted to go the National Civil Rights Museum.
We were in town on a day the museum itself was closed, but we spent time at the site and with the memorials and information available outside the building.
It was a heavy stop and I know there are elements of the story he doesn’t understand, but I’m glad we went. I do want to go the museum when we visit Memphis again someday — he’ll be older and able to understand even more.
Children’s Museum of Memphis
We’ve done this in the last several cities we’ve visited and I don’t know why we wouldn’t keep doing it — seek out the local children’s museum. We have a great one in Northwest Arkansas and we’ve found similarities in several we’ve visited, but I also know this stage won’t last forever and while he still wants to run and play in the name of growing his brain — I’m all for it.
My favorite moment of the afternoon was watching him play in the grocery store section. He loaded up his cart and headed for the checkout and as he looked up at the sign, he yelled, “Mommy, look! Their Walmart is called Kroger!” What can I say, he’s a loyal Northwest Arkansan.
Colt gives the Children’s Museum of Memphis two thumbs up.
I’m convinced me and my favorite little travel buddy could have fun just about anywhere, but we really had a great time in Memphis. We got a taste of the local flavor and tried our best to get off the beaten path a bit — and that was the plan. I’m certain the itinerary would look pretty different for a true music lover or a couple or a BBQ-enthusiast — but for a curious 8 year old and his mama, this was the perfect weekend.