Memphis is a great city for families, with attractions that appeal to the kids as well as their parents.
The Memphis Zoo is continually rated as one of America's best, and for good reason. Two pandas are the centerpiece of the China exhibit, wolves and grizzly bears inhabit the Teton Trek area and plunging polar bears, seals and otters entertain in the Northwest Passage. Next to the zoo in Overton Park is the Levitt Shell, which offers more than 50 free concerts and performances a year – all of them family friendly. Food trucks and other snack vendors set up around the Shell, so it's easy to please everyone's palate and enjoy the show.
The other must-see animal attraction in Memphis is the march of ducks at The Peabody Hotel. Twice daily, at 11am and 5pm, the hotel's resident ducks parade down a red carpet, both on the way to the ornate fountain in the Lobby Bar in the morning and back upstairs to their posh rooftop penthouse at the end of the day.
A downtown trolley line allows for hassle-free exploration of many of the city's attractions, including the Civil Rights Museum – a must for older children – Mud Island and Tom Lee Park. A few blocks away from the trolley, you'll find the FedEx Forum and AutoZone Park, home respectively to the NBA Grizzlies and the St. Louis Cardinal's AAA baseball team, the Redbirds. Also nearby are the Fire Museum, the Cotton Museum and Beale Street, where you'll find the historic A. Schwab 5&10 with its old-fashioned soda fountain. For a different way to tour the city check out Segway Tours headquartered at The Peabody Hotel.
Kids can let off steam at Shelby Farms Park, where a spacious playground awaits, along with miles of trails, a lake with boat rentals and even a field of buffalo. Full of hands-on fun for the kids, the Children's Museum also has a splash park for cooling off in the summer.
Of all the local eateries, Huey's is a must for the little ones. With locations in Midtown, downtown and East Memphis, Huey's offers burgers, fries, corn dogs & chicken tenders – all the food kids love. But that's not the only reason to go - at Huey's, youngsters can write on the walls and shoot toothpicks through a straw at the ceiling in the hopes of making one stick (ask your server for toothpicks). This is the kind of activity that can entertain the kids for hours.
For sweet treats, hit Muddy's Bake Shop, where the ever-cool Kat Gordon reigns supreme as queen of the cupcake and other baked delicacies. YoLo is the local frozen-yogurt shop, and Dinstuhl's Fine Candies in East Memphis is where you can find an Elvis-themed bar of chocolate or a chocolate record to take home.
If you can swing the rate, a stay at The Peabody is worth it. The kids will delight in the duck-shaped soaps in the bathrooms and watching the historic hotel's real ducks swim in the lobby fountain. And it's a snap to explore downtown from the hotel. Alternatively there's the Residence Inn Memphis Downtown with two-bedroom suites available and a complimentary hot breakfast buffet including freshly made waffles.