memphis travel, travel with teens, things to do in Memphis

Traveling With Teens Guide: Memphis




DISCLAIMER: Thank you Memphis Zoo, Guesthouse at Graceland, Graceland, Celtic Crossing, and Sky Zone for hosting us during our visit. Although the above thanked hotel, attractions, and restaurant hosted us, all opinions are 100% my own.

The Ramones have this fantastic song “I Wanna Be Sedated” that most moms of teens can relate to.

Twenty, twenty, twenty four hours to go
I wanna be sedated.
Nothing to do, no where to go
I wanna be sedated

You would think just the idea of traveling alone with a 15 year old, I would be screaming “I wanna be sedated” from the mountain tops, but lucky for us, the kiddo and I had a fantastic trip to Memphis that was specifically customized for traveling with a teenager.

Memphis is about a five hour drive from Shreveport up I-49 N to I-30 E through Little Rock to I-40 into the city. It is best known for Beale St, the National Civil Rights Museum, and of course Graceland. Since this was our first time in the city, we decided to do what Memphis is known for and some extras. After it was all said and done, the kiddo proclaimed that he had a great time. If you are a parent of a teen, you know how profound his statement was. Our trip was a success!

So what did we do?

Here’s my guide on navigating Memphis with a teenager:

WHERE TO STAY:

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

The Guesthouse at Graceland
3600 Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN
800-238-2000

The Guest House at Graceland is a 450 room full service luxury hotel located a few steps from Graceland. I mean would Elvis settle for anything less than luxury? This property is absolutely gorgeous! You see the property before you even get to it because it is that massive.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

It houses a piano bar, full-service restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, sports themed restaurant, 464-seat theatre and more. In addition to the “standard” (We’re talking Elvis standard here) rooms, the property also features themed VIP suites with design supervised by Priscilla Presley.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel
memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Our room was absolutely beautiful and it faced the courtyard and pool area. The kiddo and I both enjoyed our stay although for different reasons. I loved the comfort of the space and he the fact that we could access Netflix from our TV. Because of that, we were able to binge watch Santa Clarita Diet, and even watched the Jungle Book. He also checked out the gym and let me know that it was pretty legit. The Guest House at Graceland is definitely where you want to stay with teens in Memphis.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

By now you all know that I travel to eat. My perfect trip includes eating, drinking, eating, a little shopping, and more eating. Although this trip was not that, we did find some pretty delicious eats in Memphis.

WHERE/WHAT TO EAT:

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Celtic Crossing Irish Pub and Restaurant
903 Cooper St
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 274-5151

On Saturday, we had brunch at Celtic Crossing Irish Pub and Restaurant in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis. Don’t let the idea of it being an Irish Pub fool you. Celtic Crossing is very teen/family friendly. A little over a year ago, the owners renovated the interior to go smoke-free and updated the food menu to make the pub geared toward families during the day.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Because the weather was nice, we sat outside on the spacious patio and had some incredible eats. I’m a bruncher. All day, everyday. For me to think their brunch was incredible means that they really had to bring it and they BROUGHT IT! They brought it so much that I honestly don’t know what my son had to eat because as I was visiting with the manager, my son had ordered his food and demolished it before I even made it to the table to look at the menu. THAT is how much he enjoyed it.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

After looking at the entire brunch menu, my stomach was growling and I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I was torn between the Beef Wellington and the Galway Shrimp and Grits. After discussing it over with my waitress, I decided to try the special of the day, Crab Cake Benedict with a side of grits and potato patties. Y’all! This meal was magical. It was special. It was AMAZING! The crab cakes were made with REAL CRAB! I needed to point that out to you all because we have all experiences those bread cakes that are being sold as crab cakes. These were loaded with real crab meat and very little filler. The eggs were poached to perfection and the hollandaise was extremely tasty. The potato patties were seasoned and delicious as well.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

The grits were “slap your momma” good. The only reason I ordered the side of grits was because my server told me how much she loved their grits. My mini bowl of goodness was cheesy, garlicky, buttery, and seasoned to perfection.

Although our meal was courtesy of the restaurant, nothing on the menu was over $11. There’s nothing like getting excellent food and service without breaking the bank.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Payne’s BBQ
1762 Lamar Ave
Memphis, TN 38114
(901) 272-1523

After getting some suggestions from a Memphis native on the best BBQ in the city, we ventured to Payne’s BBQ. Payne’s is one of those no frills places that puts their efforts into producing a great product versus dressing everything up. This is a cash only place that has a limited menu consisting of sandwiches, plates, ribs, and sides. The sandwiches available are chopped pork, sliced pork, ribs, bologna, smoked sausage, and beef hot dogs. The plates are chopped or sliced pork and ribs. You can get ribs by the half or full slab and the sides are beans, slaw, chips, and sodas. When I got to the window to order, I guess my tourist was hanging out so the cashier told me they are known for their chopped pork sandwiches, regular or jumbo sized so that’s what I ordered and a rib plate. I love ribs so why not.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

We took our eats back to the hotel and when I opened my container, I was so laser focused on the ribs that I almost overlooked the extremely yellow cole slaw. I’m not a huge coleslaw fan because I think most of the dressings are gross. This yellow coleslaw intrigued me so I tried it to discover that the dressing was a sweet mustard dressing. I’m not sure if it was exactly honey mustard, but think cabbage and honey mustard. That sounds so weird, but it was so good. I ate most of my coleslaw and even had a bite of my son’s chopped pork sandwich which had cole slaw on it. Payne’s is definitely making coleslaw right in my book. The meat was tasty as well. I prefer a more tender rib, but the flavor was good. The pulled pork was great and I could go for one of those sandwiches right now as I write this for you all.

Because the kiddo was with me, I couldn’t just eat, drink, and hang out at my hotel. We had to find some things to do that both he and I would enjoy and I do believe we were successful.

WHAT TO DO:

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Graceland
3765 Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN 38116
(901) 332-3322

Is any trip to Memphis complete without visiting Graceland? In my mind, we would go get our tickets and walk through a door or behind a wall and then be in actual Graceland. I was not prepared for what actually happened. We received our tickets and were instructed that the shuttle buses loaded outside. We went through a line of getting our tickets scanned, took a picture in front of a step and repeat, were given an iPad and headphones, and loaded on a bus to drive across the street to the actual property.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

The iPad provided a comprehensive walking tour (in multiple languages) of Graceland, room by room. Who was the host of the tour? John Stamos! I’m not sure why that was funny to me when he popped on my screen, but it was hilarious. The tour took us through the living room, kitchen, famous Jungle Room, Meditation Garden where Elvis is buried, and more. Several times during the tour, the kiddo left me and was taking selfies all over the place. He told me he learned a lot about Elvis and thought the house was cool.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Although Graceland has a trophy room, the tour was more personal and themed around Elvis’ family life. The new, $45 million, 200,000 square feet entertainment complex and visitor’s center, Elvis Presley’s Memphis is themed around his musical beginnings and how he became the pop icon he is today even after death. The facility was not open yet when we went to visit, but it includes two new restaurants, car museum, exhibit spaces and more. I think another visit to Memphis is in order to check that out and the kiddo agrees.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Memphis Zoo
2000 Prentiss Pl
Memphis, TN 38112
(901) 333-6500

The Memphis Zoo spans across over 70 acres and has over 3500 animals representing over 500 species. You name it, they have it including the new Zambezi River Hippo Camp! We saw lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my! We even feasted on the obligatory zoo snack, Dippin’ Dots. Don’t tell Sean Spicer that we ate some.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

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Because the weather was so great and the zoo was so beautiful, the kiddo took this opportunity to have a photo shoot. Insert eye roll and side eye here. LOL! We had a great time and the kiddo said he wants to go to the zoo in every city that we go to from now on.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Sky Slam at Sky Zone Trampoline Park
5355 Distriplex Farms Dr Ste 102
Memphis, TN 38141
(901) 322-3281

Sky Zone is the world’s first indoor trampoline park that has locations throughout the United States. What sets Sky Zone apart from some of its competitors is their programming that’s specifically geared towards teens. We were able to experience that up close and personal by attending SkyJam. SkyJam happens every Saturday night at Sky Zone from 9pm-11pm. It’s for ages 15+ only and jumpers have access to all that Sky Zone has to offer, including Ultimate Dodgeball, the Foam Zone, the SkySlam courts and Open Jump. Basically, this was THE night spot for teens and the kiddo loved every minute of it. As soon as we were given our passes and specialty socks, the kiddo put his shoes in a locker and he was off. He tried out everything, but the areas to be were the SkySlam court and Ultimate Dodgeball. While he was doing what he does, I was people watching. There were teen couples present, groups of friends, birthday parties, and even church groups in attendance.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

This was good clean fun in a very safe environment. When it was time to go, the kiddo was sweaty, stinky, exhausted, and happy. Since returning home, he has asked me several times if our local trampoline parks have a weekly, night event for teens. They don’t yet, but hopefully it’s coming.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel
450 Mulberry Street
Memphis, TN 38103
(901)521-9699

The most impactful aspect of our trip came during our last hours in Memphis. We visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. For those that are not familiar, the Lorraine Hotel is where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The hotel and the boarding house across the street have both been transformed into aspects of the museum and I believe that everyone needs to visit these sites. The kiddo was really looking forward to visiting the museums while I was a bit nervous. As a black woman who was reared and lives in the south, I have always been very emotional and passionate about civil rights. As a black woman rearing a 6’2, 220 pound 15 year old in this day and age, I am even more emotional and passionate about it all. After buying our tickets, we were led into a room that tackled slavery in America from 1619-1861.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Because of the time that we arrived, we had about 10 minutes to look around at the exhibition before being escorted into the theatre to watch a film. To some, 10 minutes may not be a long time. To me, when reading about how my ancestors were torn from their families, herded like cattle, and transferred like property, those ten minutes seemed like a lifetime. I got hot, my hands got clammy, and I felt like at any given moment, if someone said the wrong thing, I was liable to go off. The kiddo was walking around and reading pieces in the exhibit at his own pace so I decided to check on him. I knew how I was feeling so I needed to make sure he was ok. I found him in front of the above sign. After reading it, I asked him if he was ok. He had a sorrowful look on his face, but he shook his head and said he was ok. He then asked me if I knew the definition of stupid. I knew where he was going with this so I told him that I think ignorant was a more appropriate term for that scenario. Our ten minutes were up and we went into the theatre room to watch a film that took us from 1861 to 1896. After the video, the kiddo screen shot and texted me a picture of the definition of stupid, having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

From there we entered 1896-1954 with the Rise of Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws were local and state laws that enforced racial segregation from the late 1800s-1965. The exhibit included pictures, legal documents, and more to give a glimpse into what life under Jim Crow laws was like.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

Next we maneuvered our through several other exhibits all the way until King’s Last Hours in rooms 306 and 307. By this point of the tour, I couldn’t hold it back any more. I was in tears. When I realized that the kiddo had been completely silent for a while, I wiped my tears away and stood beside him. He had a look on his face that I can’t even begin to describe. He was hurting. He was confused. He was angry. I was hurting. I was confused. I was angry. I rubbed his back and hugged him to offer what little comfort I could.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

After that exhibit, we headed across the street to the Legacy Building, which was the boarding house where Dr. King’s assassin was allegedly located. The exhibits in the Legacy Building begin with a timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement and continue upstairs to the case against James Earl Ray including conspiracy theories, the Freedom Award Wall, and “We Want to be Free”, an eight-minute video presentation highlights the human rights movements of South Africa, China, Russia, and America. When we left the Lorraine, all the kiddo said for about 30 minutes was, “See mama. I told you those people were stupid and not ignorant.” I didn’t have any words.

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

memphis travel, things to do in memphis, teen travel

The National Civil Rights Museum made us think, it made us question, and it made us feel. With the racial and political climate we are in right now, I think that EVERYONE, especially teens need to see this exhibit. Hopefully it will put some real faces behind some travesties that happened not too long ago and hopefully it will serve as a reminder that we don’t want history repeating itself.

Overall our trip to Memphis was a success. Not only did I have a good time, but so did the kiddo. I didn’t need to be sedated. I didn’t want to be sedated. I was present and in the moment, enjoying every minute of the trip. Memphis has made a believer out of me that it is possible for everyone to be happy when traveling with a teen.

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Jada
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2 Comments

  • Leslie Heigh April 04, 2017 10.30 am

    Great post and tips Jada! Will keep in mind when my 5 yr old hits the teens. Some of the same travelling tips apply now actually =)

     
    • Jada April 04, 2017 10.32 am

      At this point in the game, I don’t think there’s any difference between 5 year olds and my 15 year old lol!

       

About Me

Hi I'm Jada! I'm a blogger and freelance writer. I love all things related to travel, food, and entertainment.

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