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Jimmy Ogle’s free guided tours of Memphis begin this month!

We’re coming off of three snow (and ice) days in Memphis, so you can bet spring sounds better than ever to half-thawed me. One of my favorite signs of spring is the call from my friend Jimmy Ogle that his seasonal tours are back.

Jimmy believes he has 20 hours of “material” on Memphis to share during the 200-some tours and talks he gives each year – some for private groups, some for passengers on board the American Queen, some for presentations at city landmarks like Elmwood Cemetery. I would argue that 20 hours is a humble understatement. It took us three hours to have lunch last month because I never tire of hearing his stories – an unspooling discourse that can revive a lost music studio, annotate the story behind any pithy historic marker and animate characters long-deceased – all within the same conversation thread. He’ll stitch in a head-spinning number of stats, too. Take any of his tours – they’re still free – and he’ll share what he knows with you.

Jimmy’s Bridge Walks Sundays at 2 p.m.: March 30, April 13, May 18

Meet in Crump Park under what Jimmy swears is the prettiest tree in downtown Memphis, a giant magnolia. After a 20-minute orientation, he’ll lead you across the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge, 100 feet above the Mississippi River, for a view like no other; plus the backstories to give it context.

I hear you: “Isn’t that I-55?” “Is that legal?” “Is that safe?” Yes, yes and yes. You’ll be using the legal sidewalk separated from traffic by concrete barriers.

Here's a visual for you, courtesy of Jimmy.

Here’s a visual for you.

Any physical or age requirements? You could walk all the way to Arkansas on this sidewalk. It’s approximately one mile. “But you have to walk back,” Jimmy will remind you. He usually ventures to the middle of the bridge (for the best view of the river channel) and back. You, however, can venture as far as you like. Cameras and kids are welcome.

Proof that it's okay to bring the kids.

Proof that it’s cool to bring the kids

You’ll especially like this if: You’re curious about the river and its economy; transportation (by river and rail) and history, ranging from the significance of the south bluffs to the Marine Hospital-turned-Metal Museum.

To access Crump Park, travel west on Crump Avenue (I-55 North) to Exit 12C/Metal Museum Drive.

Jimmy’s Tuesday Tours Tuesdays at 11:45 a.m.: April 1 through June 10

This is Jimmy’s seventh season guiding these 45-minute tours. I think they’re one of the freshest ways to spend a lunch hour (or work up an appetite). Every week focuses on a different segment of downtown.

Any physical or age requirements? Jimmy talks and walks fast. You would too if you had that much info crammed in your head, screaming to get out. The tours usually cover about four blocks over downtown sidewalks and streets.

He talks and walks fast, and he's known to jump up on things to address his crowds better.

He talks and walks fast, and he’s known to jump up on things to better address his crowds. On a different note, how beautiful is downtown Memphis in spring?

You’ll especially like this if: You love exploring downtowns; you’ve ever wondered how certain streets and squares got their names; you want to “meet” lesser-known districts; you’re fascinated by anything from public art to public works – Jimmy’s fabled Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour kicks off this season:

4/1: Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour (meet outside the Cotton Museum)

4/8: Beale Street Landing (meet at 251 Riverside Dr.)

4/15: South Main Street (meet at Hotel Chisca on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue)

4/22: Pinch District (meet at Westy’s, 346 N. Main St.)

4/29: Cobblestones (meet at Monroe Avenue and Riverside Drive)

5/6: Adams Avenue (meet at Front Street and Adams Avenue)

5/13: Madison Avenue (meet outside University of Memphis Law School at Front Street and Madison Avenue)

5/20: Monroe Avenue (meet outside Cossitt Library at Front Street and Monroe Avenue)

5/27: Court Square and surroundings (meet at the Hebe Fountain in Court Square)

6/3: South November 6th Street (meet on Beale Street between Second and Third Streets)

6/10: Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour reprise (meet outside Front Street Deli at Union Avenue and Front Street)

No registration is required for Jimmy’s Bridge Walks or Tuesday Tours and he usually walks in any weather, except strong rain. Visit his website or call 901-604-5002 for additional information.

Have you taken one of Jimmy Ogle’s tours, or another guided tour of Memphis? Tell us your favorite ways to tour Memphis in the comments section below.

Hi! I’m Samantha Crespo, and I am Floridian by birth, Tennessean by heart. Growing up, I vacationed in East Tennessee, so I...Read on

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