Discover the hidden gems and endless surprises in West Tennessee. Choose attractions and stops that are in line with your interests. Do you like hiking on trails or a strolling a quaint downtown? Mural hunting or browsing museums? Love a camping adventure or to lie down in the lap of luxury? Below are choices for each of these categories and more to help you plan your trip to this creative, historic and beautiful region.
Newly-opened The Paramount brings you classic charm and rich southern flavors. The rich wood accents, mood lighting and bright, eye-catching art blend for a unique experience in downtown Memphis. Enjoy one of the inventive cocktails on the menu like Clockwork Orange featuring local Old Dominick Distillery vodka, blood orange and lime. You’ll want to try to savory crab beignets, cornbread and andouille stuffed quail and the crowder and sides like hominy succotash and the honey miso glazed Brussel sprouts. Save room for dessert – the caramel & chocolate banana pie or the warm butterscotch shortcake are divine.
If you’re craving a no-frills dining experience, head to Hagy’s Catfish Hotel Restaurant in Shiloh for some of the best catfish you’ll ever eat. Since 1938, Hagy’s has enticed locals and visitors alike with their specialty catfish. Order it fried, seasoned with lemon pepper, Cajun seasoning or as fish tacos. Hagy’s also has fried shrimp, clams, frog legs, grilled salmon and more. If seafood isn’t your fancy, you can also order burgers, southern style pot roast, ribeye steak, chicken and baby back ribs.
Scenic Hike or Stroll Downtown
Breathe some fresh air and hike, fish or go birding at Johnsonville State Historic Park. Learn more about the Johnsonville Depot, the Battle of Johnsonville and the town that existed here from 1864-1944 prior to the formation of Kentucky Lake. Set off on the Historic Johnsonville Trail, eight miles of natural surface that offers great views, wildlife spotting and historic stopping points. Explore the two-mile Civil War Forts Trail and the half-mile African American cemetery loop trail as well. The Tennessee River is known for its great fishing either from the bank or boat. Experience it for yourself at this historic state park.
Enjoy the outdoors at a leisurely pace by strolling the quaint town square in Collierville. You’ll love the cozy feeling of this small town with its local shops and eateries, historic train depot and beautiful gazebo that is perfect for a photo op. Hallmark even filmed some scenes for its 1019 movie “Wedding at Graceland.” And, Parade Magazine named the town square as the Best Main Street.
Cozy Campsite or Luxury Hotel
Escape to the peaceful forests of Pickwick Landing State Park and pitch a tent at the campground. There are 48 sites available for reservation, each equipped with a table, grill and water and electrical hookup. There’s a centrally located bathhouse as well. Enjoy the views of Pickwick Lake, build a campfire (see the firewood policy) and soak up a cozy night under the stars. During the day, you can take a swing on the golf course that features Champion Bermuda greens and 419 Bermuda fairways, rent a paddle craft at the marina, hike and more. Pickwick Landing is known as one of the best state parks in West Tennessee to spot birds like grebes, loons, gulls and ducks.
Step into the boutique hotel The Memphian, located in Memphis’ vibrant Overton Square, and you’ll be instantly charmed by the bohemian style that nods to the city’s soul and history. Guest rooms and suites are curated with local touches and luxury amenities. Enjoy beautiful common spaces, two full-service restaurants, including a rooftop bar and so much more. Conveniently located to Overton Square’s collection of restaurants, art galleries and boutiques, you’ll quickly make The Memphian your home away from home every time you visit Memphis.
Children’s Museum Adventure or Art Appreciation
You could spend a few days at Discovery Park of America with its extensive exhibits on natural history, Dinosaur Hall, military, regional history, space and science exploration, the Enlightenment Gallery and much more. The Park also has a 50-acre heritage park that includes a man-made river, three gardens – the Japanese Garden, European Garden and The Maze, historic structures like a train station and grist mill and The Settlement which includes farmhouses, smokehouse, hog barn and much more. Special attractions include the Starship Theater that shows a variety of films, Earthquake Simulator that details the 1811-1812 earthquake that formed Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake, and Cooper Tower featuring glass floor panels in the observation room and on the outside deck.
Travel on the Tennessee Music Pathways and stop for a selfie in front of the Rockabilly Highway mural, painted by Nashville artist Brian Tull, to pay homage to McNairy County’s rockabilly roots. Explore downtown Selmer after your photo op. Try a slugburger at the Rockabilly Cafe; learn about the legendary Sheriff Buford Pusser at the Sheriff Buford Pusser Home & Museum that maintains a collection of original home furnishings, photos, cars and more; and, get some fresh air on the mountain biking trails, hiking trails and on Travis McNatt Lake at Big Hill Pond State Park.
Photo ops are just waiting to be made at The Walls Art Park in Waverly. The park has 18 different walls with 36 different places to paint. Murals and art from a variety of local and regional artists are featured. Walk the trail that meanders through the park and snap lots of photos. The park is open from dawn to dusk. Murals are changed every so often to make sure each visit is new and exciting.
Beale Street is known for lively music and now is also home to a couple of Instagram-worthy murals. The Beale Street Wings feature music notes as an homage to the historic district. Located next to Tin Roof nightclub, it’s a great photo-op on America’s most iconic street. Want to go mural hunting? You can take a walking tour to discover the fun public art in Memphis. Check out this handy Downtown Mural Guide.
“Love Your Neighborhood” Mural – Jackson
Jackson is home to a variety of murals downtown. One in particular is the colorful “Love Your Neighborhood” mural. Located walking distance from The Carnegie featuring The Tennessee Legends of Music Museum, The Blacksmith and Jackson’s AMP at the Market, the mural is a bright, colorful, and photo worthy painting by Courtney Searcy. The mural is a way to encourage community spirit and unity.
Spend an art-filled day in Overton Square while visiting Memphis. This area in Midtown bursts with creative energy from a number of murals, restaurants with inspiring menus, art galleries, boutiques with local goods and so much more. Check out the public art by hunting for the eight murals where you can take a photo op. The mural of Overton Square (pictured) was created by artist David Lynch and is located on the north side of the Italian restaurant, Bari. Other must-sees include a 30-foot, LED-lit metal sculpture by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo called "Gyroscopic" and giant windchimes by artist Sean Murphy that hang in the Tower Courtyard.
Walk Through History or Animal Safari Adventure
Learn about one of the bloodiest Civil War battles at Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh. Here, you can learn about the battle formations and strategies, hear soldiers’ stories, and visit the Shiloh National Cemetery, a United States National Cemetery which contains approximately 4,000 soldiers and their family members. Hike and walk the grounds of the park via its extensive trail system on the battlefield which lead you to monuments. You can also do the 12.5-mile auto tour or bike the paved auto tour road as well.
Did you know there is an extensive wild animal preserve in Alamo, Tennessee? At Tennessee Safari Park, you can see exotic animals up close, drive or walk through safari parks and the kids (and kids at heart) can have fun at the petting safari. Drive through the 5.5 miles of safari roads in your car and interact and feed the animals on your way. You’ll see kangaroos, ostrich, Springbok, zebu, wildebeest, gazelles and more. Walk through the zoo to see cotton top tamarins, Nigerian dwarf goats, squirrel monkeys and ringtail lemurs among other animals. Tickets are cash only and are $20 for adults and $12 for children (2-12). Feed cups are $3 each or four cups for $10 (cash only).
Discover even more adventures and hidden gems in West Tennessee.