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Road Trips from Memphis

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Road Trips from Memphis

Memphis | Photo Credit – Luca Sartoni

Memphis the largest city in southwest Tennessee is known for its rich history, the famous Memphis Barbecue, and a really cool music scene. But from time to time, we all want a great getaway. And road trips are perfect for a therapeutic getaway. Beautiful views along with fresh air are quite refreshing. All you need is to fill up your gas tank, get your snacks ready, and hop in your car. Owing to its large area, Memphis makes a great base for road trips. Here is a carefully curated list of some of the best road trips from Memphis. Some of them are even mandatory to take once in your lifetime. So let’s get started.

1. Tupelo (MS)

Tupelo, MS | Photo Credit – thalling55

For Elvis Presley fans or music lovers in common, this is one of the best road trips destination from Memphis. The city is quite enthralling and offers a mix of art, culture, history, and picturesque natural beauty. The birthplace of the King of Rock’ n’ roll- is located here itself. The place is now transformed into a museum and can be found in Elvis Presley Park.

Located in Ballard Park, Oren Dunn City Museum displays the history of Tupelo city and its nearby regions. It permanently depicts the historic Battle of Tupelo, Chickasaw history, the destructive cyclone in 1936, and more. The Tupelo Veterans Museum featuring exhibits from the Civil War, Gulf War, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the World Wars is another interesting museum in the city.

If you need a break from all the historic places head to the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo. The zoo is home to over 250 animals which vary from buffaloes, camels, capuchin monkeys to African grey parrots, the Burmese python, and several more. You can get close to the animals and can even try petting and feeding the animals. Kids can also experience the fun pony rides.

For some fun activities like cycling, hiking, boating, picnicking, cycling, camping, and birding, Natchez Trace Parkway offers a wide range of outdoor activities along with ancient cemeteries, a reservoir overlook, charming creeks, mesmerizing waterfalls, and much more.

2. Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

Road Trips from Memphis
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park | Photo Credit – Melissa McMasters

If you want to escape city life, this is one of the best road trips from Memphis that you can opt for. Meeman-Shelby Forest sits along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. It offers a wide range of activities like bird watching, hiking, cycling, fishing, boating, mountain biking, camping, paddling, and horseback riding. The park is a paradise for birdwatchers as more than 100 species of birds can be spotted from here, including the rare Mississippi kites and bald eagles.

For some quiet, alone, relaxing time Eagle Lake is perfect. The area has no cell coverage, hence, no one to disturb you. If you want to explore it, Meeman-Shelby Forest offers guided paddling trips for a decent amount.

To stretch your legs, hiking trails are in abundance here. Pioneer Springs Hiking Trail is a four-mile, family-friendly, and less hilly trail. After around 1.5 miles into the trek, you can also spot Pioneer Springs (it’s working). The Horse Trail is 8.5 miles long and used by both horseback riders and hikers. If you get tired of all the activity, the Shelby Forest General Store is perfect to relax and to load up your snacks or get a juicy burger. 

For Disc golf enthusiasts, the two 18-hole courses at Meeman-Shelby Forest are famous for being both challenging as well as fun.

3. Tuscumbia, Alabama

Road Trips from Memphis
Spring Park Falls | Photo Credit – Kevin Stephenson

The city lies on the banks of the beautiful Tennessee River and is one of the oldest European settlements in the area. Tuscumbia is the birthplace of Helen Keller and is also home to world-famous recording studios, museums, and ancient sites.

Ivy Green was the birthplace and childhood home of Helen Keller. Here you can get a glimpse into Helen’s life, beginning from the well-pump where she learned to communicate, you can also see original furnishings and exhibits. Also, you can walk by the herb gardens and make sure to make the bookings in advance.

For picnics and some insta worthy pics, Spring Park is the ideal place. It’s also perfect for picnics or simply relaxation. For kids, there are several fun rides, a miniature train, and a splash pad.

For music lovers, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame is a fascinating place to visit. It exhibits studio owners, songwriters, producers, and recording artists, and even those who play an integral role behind the scenes of the music industry.

Being home to 15 miles of hiking trails, Cane Creek Canyon Nature Preserve is quite good for some scenic relaxing walks. These trails feature, rare plants, birds, fish, and wildlife including foxes and beavers, and beautiful landscapes with streams and canyons. You can also spot some stunning 60-foot high waterfalls and some of the best views across the valley and mountains.

4. Holly Springs, MS

Road Trips from Memphis
Holly Springs , Walter Place Pond | Photo Credit – Visit Mississippi

If you’re looking for a short but sweet escape, this is one of the best options you’ll get on road trips from Memphis. The city has several museums, parks, and landmarks.

Despite being small, the Marshall Country Historical Museum is full of history. It is home to a collection of artifacts that were retrieved from the Civil War era and also displays taxidermy animals that are native inhabitants of Mississippi along with items made by Native American Tribes of Mississippi.  Ida B Wells-Barnett Museum is another museum worth your time. Especially if you want to learn about African-American culture.

If you get tired of exploring all the history and want to relax in nature’s company, Strawberry Plains Audubon Center is full of the beauty of nature and diverse wildlife. Bird watching and hiking are two popular activities in this conservation center.  Another great option to be in nature’s company is  Wall Doxey, State Park. It’s a famous camping spot and offers developed campsites, primitive campsites, cabins or cottages. For day activities you can try,  nature trails, disc golf, water activities, playing field, and picnic fields.

For some relaxing water activities,  Chewalla Lake Recreation Area offers canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. You can also opt to simply lay at the beach or camp. To enjoy a trip fully, good food is a must, so don’t forget to check out Marshall Steakhouse and Annie’s Home Cooking.

5. Nashville, Tennessee

Road Trips from Memphis
Nashville skyline | Photo Credit – Ace Armstrong

For long road trips from Memphis,  ‘Home of Country Music’ is worth it. Being the capital of Tennessee, Nashville has a bold music and culture scene. It is also known as the “Athens of the South” and offers several great music-themed walks.

The city is home to the heart and soul of the nation’s music industry, Music Row. It is bliss for country fans, You’ll also find several memorabilia shops and museums devoted to music and musicians here. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum features a multi-media display of historical performances, costumes, instruments, gold records, and memorabilia. Johnny Cash Museum and Cafe and  Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum are some other must-visits for music enthusiasts.

Located in Centennial Park, The Nashville Parthenon is Nashville’s most iconic landmark. It is a full-scale replica of the original Greek temple and therefore worth a stop. On the inside, it is installed with the city’s impressive permanent art collection along with a 42-foot-high replica of the statue of the goddess Athena Parthenos covered with gold leaf.

The General Jackson Showboat offers a variety of cruises on the Cumberland River. It is a great night activity option because it offers a unique view of the cityscape from the water. It’s a must-do activity in the city.

6. Little Rock, AR

Road Trips from Memphis
Little Rock Statue | Photo Credit – Paul Sableman

For family-friendly road trips from Memphis, this is one of the best options. Little Rock provides an abundance of cultural and natural attractions and fun family activities.

William J Clinton Presidential Library and Museum display more than one million photos and gifts that Clinton received as the President. It’s fully equipped for self-guided experience but guided tours are also available throughout the day. The Old State House Museum is another museum worth your time. The building itself is one of the best examples of Doric architecture and within its walls, there is a beautiful display of dramatic history relating to the politics of the state along with decorative arts and inaugural gowns of governors’ wives.

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is a great place for those interested in the military history of the state. The Museum of Discovery is perfect for a family outing. The museum encourages both children and adults to participate in experiments. In the Tornado Alley Theater, you can experience the tornado that ripped through town back in January 1999.

For some outdoor fun, Pinnacle Mountain is the best in the area. It is home to two hiking trails which lead to unbeatable views. Other activities include interpretive programs, boat launches, and picnic spots. Another park to visit is Maumelle Park. It is also home to more than 100 campsites.

7.  Jackson, Mississippi

Road Trips from Memphis
Mississippi | Photo Credit – GPA Photo Archive

The capital of Mississippi is definitely worth a visit and hence makes for a cool option for road trips from Memphis. The city is home to several fantastic museums and historical places like the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, and The Oaks House Museum. On your way here you can stop at Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Hattiesburg.

Beginning with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, located inside LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. It teaches its visitors about the natural history of Mississippi through educational exhibits, specimen collections, and interactive habitats. It is home to 200 native species of aquatic life as well as a unique greenhouse named “The Swamp,” home to wetland flora. For some walking, you can enjoy the nature trails on the 300-acre grounds.

Mississippi Children’s Museum is a must for families with kids. It explores various topics to encourage curiosity and inspire children. Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Mississippi Museum of Art, Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum is also worth a visit.

To explore some more animals, head to The Jackson Zoo. More than 200 species of animals from five continents, including endangered species, reside here. Animals range from chimpanzees, ostriches, an African fat-tailed gecko, Sumatran tiger, Amur Leopard, the muscular anaconda to tropical birds like macaws. For some more fun, there is a carousel and train ride available for a nominal fee.

8. Oxford, Mississippi

Road Trips from Memphis
Oxford, MS | Photo Credit – Visit Mississippi

The historic city of Oxford is just an hour away from Memphis. Like its namesake in England, Oxford too became a University town and is home t the famous the University of Mississippi.

The University of Mississippi Museum displays the university’s past and its commitment to arts and culture. The collections here vary from fine art to scientific instruments. An impressive collection of American art is also housed here. If you’re a fan of Nobel laureate William Faulkner, you can pay homage to him at the Oxford Memorial Cemetery, and of course, also visit Rowan Oak. The place served as inspiration for much of his work for more than 40 years. It also serves as a museum and you can learn a lot about Faulkner’s works.

To learn about the lives and history of Oxford’s African-American residents, The Burns-Belfry Museum should be on your list. The Town Square includes restaurants, galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops and has a  charming, quintessential small-town vibe to it. It’s a great spot to spend some alone time or simply to relax at. Oxford is quite famous for its art galleries as a lot of them feature everything from fine art to folk art and much more. The Oxford Treehouse Gallery, Southside Gallery and Gallery 130 are some of our recommendations.

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