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Take it Outside!

Memphis Zoo

Courtesy of the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau

View amazing animals, such as the panda, at The Memphis Zoo.

The grand dame of all the area’s parks is Shelby Farms Park in the heart of Memphis, a 4,500-acre natural wonder that is more than five times the size of New York City’s Central Park. It’s no wonder the park gets roughly a million visits a year.

The outdoor destination for city dwellers began as a penal farm, where prison inmates supplied labor and sold produce to citizens. In 1970, Shelby County was gifted the acreage. The park is now home to multi-use trails (horse riding, biking, walking), 20 bodies of water, playgrounds, paddleboats picnic areas, strawberry and sunflower fields, a dog park, a disc-golf course, an amphitheater and even a herd of bison.

Being the gem that it is, Memphians have fiercely defended Shelby Farms from commercial and residential development. This year, the Shelby County government and the Shelby Farms Conservancy successfully passed an ordinance that will protect the land for the next 50 years.

Though Shelby Farms has the biggest plot of acreage, there are other green spaces and natural areas dotting the city as well. The Memphis Botanic Garden is 96 acres of woodlands and flowers with more than 23 specialty gardens, including the Japanese Garden of Tranquility.

Just a block away is the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, a 17-acre estate with a museum and one of the most beautiful gardens in the region. In Midtown, the 100-year-old Overton Park draws visitors with its lush green spaces and public golf course. The Memphis Zoo, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Memphis College of Art are also located there.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 4339 Park Ave., 901-761-5250
Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road, 901-576-4100
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, 1934 Poplar Ave., 901-544-6200
Memphis College of Art, 1930 Poplar Ave., 901-272-5100
The Memphis Zoo, 2000 Prentiss Place, 901-276-9453
Shelby Farms Park, 500 Pine Lake Drive N., 901-767-7275

This article has been adapted from the original, which was published in October 2008 by MSP Communications.

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