Memphis

20 Actually Fun Memphis Date Ideas

Ballet Memphis
Ballet Memphis
Ballet Memphis

It’s natural to stress about where to go and what to do for a date. After all, whatever you choose will set the tone for the night and say a lot about your character. So, you know, no pressure.

Luckily, there’s no shortage of things to do in Memphis, from immersing yourself in culture, to checking out our idiosyncratic culinary scene, to seeing just how robust our entertainment scene can be. With that, we present a few recommendations that will get you out of the house and away from defaulting to pizza and Netflix.

Brooks Museum
Brooks Museum
Brooks Museum

Get artsy at the Brooks Museum

Midtown
With more than 10,000 works of art in its permanent collection, Renaissance masterpieces, and a gorgeous architectural setting, the Brooks Museum in Overton Square is perfect for anyone hoping to impress with that freshman year Intro to Art History knowledge. Visit the cafe for pastries and coffee and admire the works that range from contemporary, to historic African art, and more.

Have a couple drinks at Libro

East Memphis
The city’s largest independent bookstore — which changed ownership last year and closed briefly — has reopened as Novel. Browse the shelves and discuss sweeping works of great literature, then cozy up in the space’s new cafe/restaurant, Libro. It’s helmed by Sabine Bachmann who grew up in Germany and brings a romantic European sensibility to the spot.

Play video games at Rec Room

Broad Avenue
Head over to Rec Room in the Broad Avenue Arts District where you can rent a couch, specify which game console you want, and play video games projected on a giant wall. There’s also some VR content to try, old-school arcade games in the space, and a bar. Impress your date and win XP. Or just grab a couple of drinks.

Get dolled up for a night at the opera

Germantown
Check out Opera Memphis’ performance in February of The Italian Girl in Algiers. There will be pirates, kidnappings, hoped-for marriages, and love triangles galore — all great date fodder — and at the very least it’s fun to get fancy for a change.

Take in Memphis music at a distillery

Downtown
Music fans should head to the new Old Dominick Distillery Downtown. The venue has launched a new listening room concept, with its Pure Memphis Music live series set to launch January 25. All of the artists who play at the venue as part of the regular series will be connected to Memphis in some way, either by being born here or by trekking here to make a record, so it’s got the makings of the perfect Memphis- and music-themed date night spot.

Shelby Farms Park
Shelby Farms Park
Shelby Farms Park

Spend a day at Shelby Farms

East Memphis
Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal brought his restaurant concept — The Kitchen — to Shelby Farms, Memphis’ giant urban park on the eastern side of the city. But if you’re not feeling a sit-down meal, there are expansive fields and opportunities for a picnic or walks around the lake.

Stroll along the river

Downtown
The Mississippi River is perfect for a couple strolling arm-in-arm and relaxing in the quietude and peacefulness of the scene — oh, hell who are we kidding! The point is it’s free. Plus, sunsets make for a particularly romantic tableau along the river.

Relax on the rooftop at the Peabody and Madison

Downtown
While we’re on the subject of taking in the sights, few are as memorable as Downtown from up high. The rooftops of the Peabody and Madison hotels afford sweeping river views, and be sure to indulge in cocktails at Madison’s Twilight Sky Terrace.

Take your date to the drive-in

East Memphis
Memphis still has a drive-in movie theater, which is open on the weekends after sunset. Pull up, park the car, and catch a double feature after the sun goes down. Plus, you can bring your own blanket, food, and drink, and you don’t have to worry about cell phones or your cousin Tevin whisper-talking through the final scene and distracting you.

Take a walking tour with historian Jimmy Ogle

Downtown
If you don’t mind a walk, throw on some sneaks and assemble for one of historian Jimmy Ogle’s regular walking tours. It’s a great way to soak up Memphis history, with the tours kicking off at the Cotton Museum and the corner of Front Street and Union Avenue.

Broad Ave Arts District
Broad Ave Arts District
Broad Ave Arts District

Explore Broad Avenue

Midtown
If you or your date has a sweet tooth, head down to the Broad Avenue Arts District on the first Friday in February for Sweet Street. From 5pm-9pm participating shops will be staying open for you to come by and sample sweet treats — including Wiseacre Brewing Co., City & State, and more.

Take an old-fashioned carriage ride

Downtown
Take your date Downtown for a romantic, old-timey carriage ride. Your carriage will convey the two of you past landmarks and picturesque Downtown sites while a knowledgeable guide regales you with stories about Memphis history and lore.

Make it a music-themed date night at a museum, preferably Rock ‚Äėn’ Soul or Stax

Downtown
Music junkies can combine an appreciation of local culture and the city’s musical heritage with a date to museums that offer a look at the tunes and songsmiths who’ve made Memphis a music town. Stax is a landmark: a monument to the soul legacy of Memphis’ Stax record label. The Rock ‚Äėn’ Soul Museum, adjacent to the FedExForum NBA arena, takes a broader look at blues, rock, and more.

Explore a southern pyramid

Downtown
Check out Memphis’ unmistakable, hard-to-miss Pyramid arena-turned-Bass Pro Shops superstore for a date filled with ton of things to do, all in one stop. You’ve got options for dining, bowling, shopping, hotels on the upper level — even a glass observation deck that gives you great views from up high, provided you don’t have a thing with heights.

Show your team spirit at a Grizzlies game

Downtown
Cheer on Memphis’ home team at FedExForum, where you can grab food from local vendors like Rock’n Dough and Memphis Burrito Co., as well as catch the infamous Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas Dance Team who performs at halftime. At the very least, you’ll leave with something to talk about if the Grizzlies brick it.

Ballet Memphis
Ballet Memphis
Ballet Memphis

Enjoy a night at the ballet

Midtown
Ballet Memphis opened its doors to brand-new headquarters at Overton Square. It’s a more inviting space in the heart of the city where you and a date can take in a show, like February’s upcoming “Small Places.” There will also be a collection of three world premieres to close out Ballet Memphis’ newest original series.

Explore the universe with a visit to the planetarium

East Memphis
For something a little different, you could always spend a night under the stars… by visiting the Sharpe Planetarium! It boasts a space that includes 145 fixed seats and a screen area of almost 4,000 square feet, which makes it the largest projection screen in the city.

Visit the old growth forest at Overton Park

Midtown
If you’re down for an easy hike, hit up the old growth forest at Overton Park. It’s got, among other things, four miles of unpaved walking paths, a limestone running trail, and over a mile of paved trails.

Take a stroll and window shop along South Main

Downtown
While you’re in a walking mood, start a block south of Beale Street and explore the picturesque Downtown neighborhood of South Main. It’s one square mile of locally owned shops, restaurants, arts enterprises, and more.

Enjoy a show at Lafayette’s Music Room

Overton Square
The Overton Square restaurant and performance venue Lafayette’s Music Room would be a great place to start or end a date — or even to serve as a midpoint, in case you and your date might want to explore the rest of Overton Square after. Be sure to hit up Lafayette’s — a reopened version of the old, shuttered Lafayette’s that had a part in elevating the careers of acts like Billy Joel and Big Star, among others — for some Southern comfort food and to catch a show.Sign up here for our daily Memphis email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Blues City.

Andy Meek lives in Memphis where he writes for the Memphis Daily News, as well as national outlets like Food & Wine. Follow him at @aemeek.

Memphis

The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Tennessee

Get some fresh air.

Michael Hicks/Flickr
Michael Hicks/Flickr
Michael Hicks/Flickr

As the late Charlie Daniels famously used to say, “Ain’t it good to be alive, and be in Tennessee!” That’s because Tennessee truly is a special state filled with beautiful places. If you’re of a mind to travel, here are some of the most breathtaking sites and sights across the state.

Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock
Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock
Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock

Big South Fork

Oneida
Named for the major tributary of the Cumberland River, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area covers almost 200 square miles along the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Boasting many natural bridge and arch formations, an extensive system of hiking trails, and five developed campgrounds, Big South Fork has something to offer for adventurers at any level of experience looking to get out into the wild.

Alisha Bube/Shutterstock
Alisha Bube/Shutterstock
Alisha Bube/Shutterstock

Fall Creek Falls

Spencer
The gorgeous cataract is the tallest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi. Beautiful from above, the 256-foot tall falls is even more impressive after taking the hike down to the pool at its base. It’s worth the hike back up to the parking lot afterward, we promise

Weidman Photography/Shutterstock
Weidman Photography/Shutterstock
Weidman Photography/Shutterstock

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Gatlinburg
The most-visited national park in the United States draws more than 10 million tourists a year to marvel at close to a thousand square miles of dense forests and mountain ranges that exhibit remarkable biodiversity. Drive or hike through the park to one of many scenic overlooks to spy the beautiful fog-shrouded peaks that give the ancient mountains their name.

Bluegrass Underground
Bluegrass Underground
Bluegrass Underground

The Caverns

Pelham
This cave complex outside the small town of Pelham just off of Interstate 24 is a dual threat. Not only does it host daily cave tours featuring a single room that’s longer than three football fields, giving the attraction its former name of Big Room Cave, but it’s also a premier performance venue. Currently, the spot has established a series of concerts in an above-ground amphitheater where music fans can purchase socially distanced pods of seats overlooking the sweeping vistas of Payne’s Cove below.

Oleg Shpyrko/Flickr
Oleg Shpyrko/Flickr
Oleg Shpyrko/Flickr

Cherohala Skyway

Tellico Plains
The Cherohala Skyway is a 43-mile stretch of elevated highway connecting Tennessee with North Carolina and features multiple overlooks offering views of the Unicoi Mountains and the two national forests through which it passes, the Cherokee and Nantahala forests that combine to give the skyway its name. A favorite of motorcyclists, the Cherohala is one of the greatest scenic drives in the region.

Michael Hicks/Flickr
Michael Hicks/Flickr
Michael Hicks/Flickr

Walls of Jericho

Belvidere
Once hidden away on private land, the Walls of Jericho is still rarely visited since it’s a pretty grueling hike in and out of the 8,900-acre wilderness area. Those that make the trek are rewarded with multiple waterfalls and rippling creeks along the way to their final destination, a dramatic natural amphitheater with 200-foot sheer rock walls that seep water from the Turkey Creek to create a dramatic water feature.

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Clingmans Dome

Bryson City
Visitors can literally look down on the state of Tennessee from this peak, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The observation tower is surrounded by a rare evergreen forest and affords a wraparound view that reaches 100 miles on a clear day. As a bonus, there aren’t many mountain tops where you can drive all the way to the apex and park your car a short walk along a paved trail to find breathtaking views like these.

Flickr/Guillaume Capron
Flickr/Guillaume Capron
Flickr/Guillaume Capron

Reelfoot Lake

Samburg
Tennessee’s only major natural lake (you can thank the TVA for all those great reservoirs), Reelfoot Lake was formed when a series of earthquakes along the New Madrid fault in 1811-12 actually caused the Mississippi River to run backwards and fill in the land in northwestern Tennessee that had subsided due to the tremors. Known for gorgeous bald cypress trees, Reelfoot is known as paradise for fishermen and duck hunters. Bird watchers can also spy numerous nesting pairs of bald eagles.

Flickr/Joel Kramer
Flickr/Joel Kramer
Flickr/Joel Kramer

The Lost Sea

Sweetwater
Tucked in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, The Lost Sea is the nation’s largest underground lake at almost five acres. Beautiful subterranean features such as stalactites, stalagmites, and delicate crystal anthodites are visible as part of glass-bottom boat tours called The Lost Sea Adventure. Wild cave tours are also available for more intrepid spelunkers who want to go even deeper into the cavern.

Wayne Silver
Wayne Silver
Wayne Silver

Townsend

Townsend
Known as “The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains,” Townsend is the least-crowded entrance into the national park. Even if you don’t ever actually cross into the park, the views from Townsend where the Cumberland Plateau meets the Tennessee Valley and the Smokies is breathtaking.

Flickr/HD_Vision
Flickr/HD_Vision
Flickr/HD_Vision

Twin Falls

Rock Island
Rock Island was created when the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Caney Fork River in the early 20th century to help provide hydroelectric power to Nashville. The resulting reservoir has steep wooded banks leading down to the lake with lots of generations-old vacation homes taking full advantage of floating boat docks and water activities. Twin Falls is a striking cascade near the powerhouse where water flows out of an underground cave before falling 80ft into a pool below.

Flickr/Matthew Paulson
Flickr/Matthew Paulson
Flickr/Matthew Paulson

Cades Cove
Cades Cove

Sometimes the valley can be just as beautiful as the mountains, and Cades Coves at the foothills of the Smokies is an excellent example. An 11-mile one-way loop circles the cove offering the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty and abundant wildlife of the verdant valley without ever leaving the comfort of your car. There are also some cool historical sites along the loop, including three churches, a working grist mill, and other restored centuries-old structures. Grab a self-guided tour booklet at the entrance and take a drive through history.

Flickr/L P
Flickr/L P
Flickr/L P

Crystal Shrine Grotto

Memphis
A true oddity, Crystal Shrine Grotto is the largest man-made crystal cavern in the world. Crafted in the 1930s by artist Dionicio Rodriguez (a self-taught sculptor from Mexico), Crystal Shrine is a sort-of-kitschy/sort-of-beautiful retelling of scenes from the Bible illustrated in sculptures made using rock quartz crystal and semiprecious stones. Once you pass through the hole in a large concrete stump, you’ll be entering into a magical world.

Flickr/J. P. Lu
Flickr/J. P. Lu
Flickr/J. P. Lu

Tellico Plains

Tellico Plains
Located where the Tellico River emerges from the Appalachian Mountains, Tellico Plains is a prototypical sleepy little mountain town with picturesque landscapes of rolling fields, ancient barns down below, and spectacular mountain views looming from above. With easy access to the Cherohala Skyway and the Cherokee National Forest nearby, Tellico Plains is a lovely home base for a weekend of outdoor adventures.

Flickr/Tim Moore
Flickr/Tim Moore
Flickr/Tim Moore

Natchez Trace Parkway

Fly
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile-long drive from Nashville to Natchez, MS. Although it’s slow going thanks to a 55 mph speed limit, it’s worth taking your time to enjoy the pastoral scenery and historical markers along the way that trace the history of the original inhabitants and settlers of the region. Particularly striking is the concrete double arch bridge across Highway 96 near Fly close to the northern terminus of the parkway. Acrophobics might want to close their eyes when crossing. (But not if you’re driving‚Ķ)

Flickr/Brent Moore
Flickr/Brent Moore
Flickr/Brent Moore

Falls Mill

Belvidere
Although the latest round of health regulations forced the 140-plus-year-old mill to cease commercial operations, the waterwheel is still turning at this historic facility near Belvidere. In addition to a bed and breakfast and a museum of antique, water-powered machinery and even a dog-powered butter churn, Falls Mill is worth a visit just to sit in the placid picnic grounds along the creek to listen to the stream cascading across the wheel and into the pool below. Spring foliage is particularly dramatic in the woods surrounding the mill.

Chris Chamberlain is a Nashville writer — follow him on Twitter at¬†@CeeElCee.

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