Memphis with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Memphis with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Having a hard time trying to decide where to take your family filled with picky tweens on vacation? Take a visit to the home of the blues, rock 'n' roll and great southern barbecue: Memphis, Tennessee. With a rich history and tons of attractions Memphis, Tenn. is great for tweens and kids of all ages; your family is sure to have a great time here.


Start your day in Memphis by taking your tweens to breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant (540 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103; 901-526-5757). Memphis' oldest cafe, the Arcade has had two of their breakfast items featured on television shows: The sweet potato pancakes were on the Food Network and the Travel Channel loves their "eggs redneck."

After breakfast, you can visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music (926 East McLemore Ave., Memphis, TN 38106; 901-946-2535). If your kids are music lovers, they will truly enjoy seeing all that the 17,000 square feet of the Stax Museum has to offer. Besides exhibits, memorabilia, artifacts and video footage, Stax has a great gift shop where your kids can get clothes, books, DVDs, CDs and lots of other soul-music-related items. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for children 9 to 12 and free for children 8 and under. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10AM-5PM and 1PM-5PM on Sunday, April through October. During the late fall and winter months (November-March), the museum is open from 10AM-5PM Tuesday-Saturday and 1PM-5PM on Sunday.

Once you're ready to move on from the Stax Museum, head down to Beale Street to see A. Schwab's Dry Goods Store (163 Beale St., Memphis, TN 38103; 901-523-9782). This is the only business on Beale Street that is original to Beale. It's always fun to look around A. Schwab's, as they carry such a large variety of items, ranging from the practical (bar soap) to the more exotic and slightly unnecessary stuff (I once saw sombreros here). Their motto is "If you can't find it at A. Schwab's, you're probably better off without it!

A. Schwab's is a great place to stop for two reasons: It gives you the perfect opportunity to pick up some Memphis memorabilia and, at the same time, you can pick up any necessities that you may have left at home, such as shampoo.

For families with tween history buffs, there are other Memphis attractions that might be of interest. One is the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel (450 Mulberry St., Memphis, TN 38103; 901-521-9699). The Lorraine, the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, was turned into a museum in 1991 and highlights the major milestones in the fight for civil rights in the U.S. Admission is $13 for adults and $9.50 for children ages 4-17.

If your tweens are more into rock 'n' roll history, they will definitely want to see the legendary Sun Studio (706 Union Ave., Memphis, TN; 800-441-6249) which is known as the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. Located on Union Avenue, just a couple of minutes from Beale Street, you and your family can learn about all the artists who got their start at Sun. Admission for adults is $12/person, while kids 5 to 11 get in free. However, if you have children under five years of age, you might want to skip this stop, as they are not allowed at Sun. Sun Studios is open daily from 10AM-6PM but closed on some holidays.


From Sun Studio, you can hop onto a free shuttle to Graceland (3734 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis TN 38116; 901-332-3322). You may want to grab a bite before you tour the home of the one and only Elvis Presley. The 1950s-themed Rock & Roll Cafe (3717 Elvis Presley Boulevard #5, Memphis, TN 38116; 901-398-5692) is located just down the road from Graceland. Be sure to try one of their burgers and a southern specialty -- fried pickles.

If you aren't in the mood for a burger, you can go to Marlowe's restaurant (4381 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116; 901-332-4159 and get some good ole southern ribs. In fact, should you happen to be staying at the Heartbreak Hotel near Graceland [LINK] (3677 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116; 901-332-1000), you can get a free ride in a pink Cadillac limousine from your hotel room to Marlowe's. Not only do they have a great, quick service, but everything on the menu is absolutely delicious. In case you're new to the south, the proper etiquette for eating ribs is with your hands. No utensils required. This is something your kids are sure to love.

After lunch, head on to Graceland and see the home of the "King of Rock 'n' Roll," Elvis Presley. Even if you aren't an Elvis fan, it's still interesting to see how he lived, and learn about his life and achievements. Although the entire house isn't open to the public, you do get to see most of the downstairs, including the famous "jungle room." On the grounds, you can see Elvis' personal airplane, the Lisa Marie, and the Meditation Garden where you can visit his grave. There are three different ticket packages to Graceland starting with $30 for adults, $27 for kids 13-18 and $13 for children 7-12. Children six and under get in free.

When you're ready to get back outside and enjoy the Memphis air, take your tweens to visit the Memphis Botanic Garden (750 Cherry Rd., Memphis, TN 38117; 901-576-4100), which features 23 gardens over almost 100 acres of land. No matter what time of the year you visit, there will be many gorgeous plants and flowers in bloom. There is even an area that's part playground where the kids can play. Besides being one of the most absolutely beautiful areas of the city, the Memphis Botanic Garden is also one of the least expensive attractions: admission for adults is $5, while kids 2 to 12 get in at $3. You can visit the Botanic Garden Monday through Saturday from 9AM-6PM and Sundays 11AM-6PM.


Finally, to wind up your day in Memphis, take your tweens for dinner to Pete & Sam's (3886 Park Ave., Memphis, TN 38111; 901-458-0694), a Memphis tradition and a great Italian restaurant. They have a wonderful selection on their menu. There are the familiar kid-pleasing options, such as spaghetti, ravioli and pizza. For the adults in the family, there are choices like manicotti, cannelloni and veal parmigiano. Pretty much everything on the menu is good. Pete & Sam's is open for dinner Sunday through Thursdays from 4:30PM-9:30PM and 4:30PM-10:30PM Friday and Saturday.

Memphis has a lot to offer and plenty of attractions for people of all ages. While pleasing tweens can be difficult, Memphis makes it easy to take the family on a vacation that can be enjoyed by everyone.

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