May 30, 2023
Looking for adventure off the beaten path? West Tennessee overflows with exciting destinations, including more than 15,000 acres of scenic state parks, all within a short drive from Memphis. There are lots of fun and unique day trips you can enjoy in this region.
Tennessee State Parks have experienced record-breaking numbers of visitors over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. West Tennessee parks offer many reasons to spend time in the great outdoors, from canoeing and kayaking to camping, fishing and much more.
Historical Attraction Day Trips
Fort Pillow State Historic Park in Henning, about 47 miles from Memphis, offers a family-friendly campground, backcountry camping along the historic Mississippi River Bluff and 11 RV sites, all of which are dog-friendly.
History buffs will appreciate Fort Pillow State Historic Park for its rich heritage and archaeological significance. It served as a strategic location during the Civil War thanks to its steep bluffs that overlook the Mississippi River.
The fort was built by Confederate troops in 1861 and was named for Gen. Gideon J. Pillow of Maury County. Visitors can watch a 12-minute video on the park’s history in the on-site museum, which also has Civil War artifacts on display.
The park’s 27-acre Sullivan’s Pond attracts fishing enthusiasts and stays stocked with bass, bream and crappie. The nearby Fort Pillow Grocery & Bait Shop in Henning is a convenient place to stock up on supplies.
Active Outdoor Adventure Day Trips
About 60 miles south of Fort Pillow State Historic Park, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Millington is a sprawling 12,539-acre hardwood bottomland area that borders the Mississippi River. The park contains two lakes – Poplar Tree Lake and Lake Piersol.
Park visitors can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards to relax on the water, play a round of disc golf and look for more than 240 species of birds that live in the park. Boating, hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding and camping are other activities that draw visitors to Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.
Unique Small-Town Places To Eat
When you work up an appetite, stop for a bite to eat at Shelby Forest General Store, an old-school style eatery that’s a favorite among the locals. The mom-and-pop store sits between the front and rear entrances of Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park and serves “world-famous” cheeseburgers, hot and cold deli sandwiches, breakfast dishes such as biscuits and gravy, omelets and much more. Open since 1934, the restaurant first served the community as a dry goods store during the Great Depression.
Just 15 miles from downtown Memphis, T.O. Fuller State Park offers the opportunity to get away from the city without having to drive very far. The park protects and showcases local natural habitats and has an Interpretive Nature and Education Center, 8 miles of trails, playgrounds, campgrounds, an Olympic-size pool and splash pad, tennis and basketball courts, baseball fields and gathering spaces for families or groups.
Constructed in 1938, the park was originally intended for African Americans and was designated the Shelby County Negro State Park. In 1942, the park’s name was changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, an African American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader and author.
Travel back in time to when American Indians prospered along the shores of the Mississippi River at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa, a hidden gem located just outside of Memphis. The museum exists to protect and interpret the Chucalissa Indian Mounds and invites families, students and tourists to learn about and celebrate the sophisticated culture of these ancient people.
Chucalissa was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The site also includes a nature trail, a replica of a Native American house, a hands-on archaeology laboratory and an arboretum.
You’re sure to get hungry while day-tripping through West Tennessee, and there are plenty of local dining options to choose from. Wolf River Cafe in Rossville is a favorite destination for catfish and homestyle cooking in a friendly hometown atmosphere.
In Halls, Just Divine Tea Room serves homemade daily specials such as poppyseed chicken, meatloaf and roast beef, as well as made-from-scratch soups, cakes and pies. Barbecue lovers can fuel up at the iconic Bozo’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q in Mason or Brad’s Bar-B-Q in Bartlett, just outside Memphis.
For a little retail therapy, shop the charming town squares in Collierville and Covington. Both historic town squares attract visitors and locals alike with their independently owned stores and restaurants, antebellum architecture, antique shops and quaint one-of-a-kind boutiques.
Sample local award-winning wines at Old Millington Vineyard and Winery in Millington just 14 miles north of downtown Memphis.
In Lakeland, spend a leisurely afternoon on the veranda at Delta Blues Winery, where you can sip wine or hard cider while listening to live music. Purchase a bottle or two of locally made wines and take home a tasty souvenir of your day trip to West Tennessee that you can enjoy in the future.
For more fun things to do in West Tennessee, including pre-planned itineraries, visit westtndaytrippin.org.