The Best Day Trips From Memphis

Exciting day trips from Memphis include a visit to the Mississippi capital, Jackson
Exciting day trips from Memphis include a visit to the Mississippi capital, Jackson | © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Frank Lopez
Writer5 August 2020

Memphis is a great base for exploring the rest of Tennessee – a state that is rich in history and saturated with tales. From Memphis you’ll have easy access to the legendary city of Nashville, but also to older historical sites and the real small-town America that most of us only get to see on the big screen. Culture Trip has put together a varied selection of exciting day trips from Memphis for you to choose from.

Nashville

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Broadway in Nashville, TN
Some Airbnbs in Nashville come with sweeping views of the city | © Susanne Pommer / Alamy Stock Photo
Nashville, Tennessee, is only a three-hour drive east of Memphis and is a city that’s just as revered for its culture and history. Certainly renowned for its part in the American music scene and at the very epicentre of country music itself, it has also become a city where young foodies have gravitated to display the modern culinary talent that the US has to offer. The people of Nashville are welcoming and charming, and this is a sure-fire destination if you are looking for a relaxed day in a city that likes to make merry.

Jackson

Architectural Landmark
Map View

Jackson, Mississippi, is much more than a hub between Nashville and Memphis. It is home to historical American Civil War battleground sites as well as a flourishing downtown, and it rivals Nashville for producing musical icons. Jackson is a city that thrives as an underdog. It is where rock music was arguably born, with the mystical elements of moonshine, the blues, and country music coming together to form a style that took over the planet. That is the spirit of this city, so be prepared to know that you may leave it howling at the moon.

Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park

Archaeological site
Map View

Around a one-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Memphis lies Pinson Mounds, a preserved Native American area that dates back to around 1500CE. The grounds cover 400 acres with around 30 mounds to explore. The legend is that this was ancient religious ceremonial land, and there is some evidence that the mounds align with the stars. The earthwork has been wonderfully preserved. If you have any desire to immerse yourself in ancient culture or for anyone who just wants to take a hike with a different edge, this is a good option for a day out of the ordinary.

Oxford

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Civil Rights monument  honoring James Meredith at the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, in Oxford, Mississippi, USA.
© BHammond / Alamy Stock Photo
An hour-and-a-half drive south of Memphis takes you to Oxford, Mississippi. This distinguished southern city is home to the University of Mississippi and was home to the esteemed American writer and Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner. It has carried a reputation for producing great artists and musicians. Oxford’s small-town charm is always on display here, and if you head to the Square, which is the main hub of the city, you will find everything the city has to offer, from its art to its food to of course its shopping.

Water Valley

Architectural Landmark
Map View

If you really want a small-town experience, head further south from Oxford to a town that is thriving with the energy of young people who want to live in an engaging community away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Water Valley offers that sense of a community that is flourishing to the backdrop of American life from another era. This is a city where professors, musicians and retired farmers can all be friends sitting alongside each other in a coffee house. Young people have bought historic homes cheaply and in turn have brought new life to this city from bygone days.

Corinth

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Corinth has found its place on the map in the direction of Alabama from Memphis. It is a quaint and quirky place that is proud of its history, especially for those who are interested in learning more about the Civil War. At the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, you can really get to see how important a site Corinth was and what battles were fought in the region. The food in this city is also great, offering some unique choices that are as much part of this place as anything else. Try a slug burger, for example (it doesn’t actually contain slugs).
These recommendations were updated on August 5, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.