Summer vacay, West Tennessee-style
We’re two weekends into my daughter’s summer vacation, and we’re already hitting it hard. Already, we’ve:
Opened the H2Oh! Splash Park at the Children’s Museum of Memphis: This splash pad quietly opened for the season Friday before Memorial Day. Weather permitting, it will remain open daily through Labor Day or so, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For an overview of its play potential, read the piece I wrote after its grand opening last year. Splash pad admission is still separate from museum admission, but note two changes: Museum members are now admitted free; non-members can save by buying a $20 combination ticket (individually, museum and splash pad tickets cost $12 each). Get the most for your money by bringing your own snacks and picnic lunch. Shaded chairs and picnic tables are available first-come first-served.
Slurped the lemonade of the day at Lunchbox Eats: In warm weather, know this: Like the rest of her menu, chef Kaia Brewer’s flavored lemonades are scratch-made. She presents a different flavor every few days. We were lucky to catch the watermelon lemonade, served on ice in a mason jar. Taking turns with my daughter slurping it through a fat, pink straw tasted like summer. Sit in the air-conditioned interior and play board games while you sip or grab a table beneath the misters on the front patio.
Ran the bases with Rockey the Redbird: It’s Redbirds baseball season at downtown Memphis’ beautiful AutoZone Park, and Sunday home games are extra-special: In the eighth inning, kids begin lining up to run the bases with the Redbirds’ mascot, Rockey. I love sitting on the bluff with my family where tickets are only $6 ($9 on game day) and my daughter can dribble ice cream on the lawn or run to the adjacent playground and boardwalk. Bonus: The coming months at AutoZone Park are full of fireworks, giveaways, themed nights, and TWOSdays (that’s $2 hotdogs, sodas, and popcorn), so check the promo schedule before you go.
Sloshed through the River Walk at Mud Island River Park: The River Park is free, it’s good for at least two hours of kid-entertainment, and it’s educational (I like to call it a geography lesson disguised as a splash park). Note two things: (1) Parking in the rear parking lot, accessible from the A.W. Willis Bridge, is no longer free (no biggie, in my opinion, if you’re just going for the River Walk). (2) We splurged this weekend and rented a swan boat at the end of the River Walk which was $5 per person for 30 minutes. This was perhaps the most touristy thing I’ve done in Memphis, and I loved every minute as my daughter and I pedaled around the mini-Gulf of Mexico wrapped in this view of downtown Memphis:
Here’s what’s up next on our summer to-do list:
Splash + Splatter at Shelby Farms Park: Memphis’ Shelby Farms Park will add one more feature Saturdays and Sundays in June and July: an all-ages water play zone. I’m talking six 50-foot-long slippery slides, kiddie pools, an adventure splash area, water inflatables, a sand volleyball court, sandcastle sculpting, a shaded entertainment area, and food trucks. Admission is $5. Enter at Gate 11 (the Raleigh-LaGrange Road entrance). Splash + Splatter operates 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
All-American Open House at Casey Jones Village: Casey Jones Village in Jackson is an all-American attraction — the kind of place where you can climb on old trains, eat ice cream on the front porch, and shop inside an old country store. You’ve got a long weekend and a reason to celebrate surrounding Independence Day, so visit July 4-6 for live music, a new bakery and buffet selections at the Old Country Store, and The Antique, Junk & Yard Sale.
Something splashy, something sweet in Collierville: This Memphis suburb just opened its free splash parks for the season. There’s no shade, but plenty of fun, though you should know the rules before you go. Watch for “off” days and age-restricted periods. The ultimate follow-up? Italian ice or an all-natural popsicle made by Mama D. She just opened her first store at 305 New Byhalia, Suite 101 in Collierville. The store’s open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. and she’ll continue to sell at many Memphis-area farmers’ markets. Chocolate sea salt popsicle, here I come.
Road trip to Discovery Park of America: If you haven’t visited yet, no more excuses: Summer gifts you ample time for the two-hour trip north of Memphis to this science center/history museum/children’s museum/historic village and more. Bonus: A summer concert series on the grounds is bringing BIG-name acts.
What’s on your summer to-do list in West Tennessee? Tell me in the comments section below!