The Best Road Trips From Memphis

Looking for a fun road trip from Memphis? There are so many great places to go that you can drive to in less than a day. Whether you’re looking for weekend road trips from Memphis or places where you and the family can enjoy a vacation – you have plenty of options!

Here are our suggestions of some of the best road trips from Memphis!

1. Oxford, Mississippi

Oxford is an easy road trip from Memphis

Oxford is one of the best ideas for a fun weekend trip from Memphis! It’s a terrific college town with a great downtown vibe! There are lots of unique small shops and incredible locally owned restaurants. If you’re into college sports, the University of Mississippi offers plenty of chances to watch inspiring young athletes. For literary fanatics, Oxford was home to author William Faulkner whose home is open for tours. Some say that Oxford is the best small town in Mississippi!

85 miles (1 hr, 20 mins)

2. St. Louis, Missouri

The Gateway to the West is more than just the country’s tallest national monument. (630 feet high, in case you were wondering – and yes, you can take a tram all the way up to the top.) Saint Louis is home to Forest Park, which is bigger than New York’s Central Park, and full of free attractions like the Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum and yes – the award winning Saint Louis Zoo, which is only one of two major zoos in the America with free admission. Enjoy a great meal on “The Hill” – one of the last still thriving Italian neighborhoods in America and take your kids to City Museum – one of the most bizarre, yet incredible places in the midwest. Tour Budweiser, take a stroll at the Missouri Botanical Garden, or try some St. Louis style thin crust pizza or toasted ravioli! Yum! 

More fun: Here are 10 “quirky” things to do in St. Louis!

285 miles (4 hours)

3. Little Rock, Arkansas

If you’ve not been to Little Rock in the last five years, you owe it to yourself to make a return trip.  Arkansas’ capitol city is on the move with new restaurants and things to see and do popping up all the time.  The River Market District (shown above) has become a great spot for local nightlife with outdoor concerts, a weekend farmers market, shops, a sculpture walk, and pedestrian bridges that light up each night with cool LED multi-colored lights. If you’re a history buff, the Clinton Presidential Museum is a must, as well as Central High School where the Little Rock 9 made world headlines at the start of the civil rights movement.  If you need something cool for the kids – be sure to visit the Museum of Discovery and take a tour of the USS Razorback submarine docked on the north bank of the Arkansas River.

Bill’s Advice:  Taking your lady on a romantic weekend getaway?Earn extra brownie points for taking her to the only purse museum in the United States, located in Little Rock’s South on Main neighborhood.

137 miles (2 hours, 20 minutes)

4. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This is one of the longer road trip options but also one of the most underrated. Oklahoma City has been busy over the last few years and has become a legit travel destination. Bricktown is the hot spot for nightlife and dining, while the city’s other neighborhoods (called “districts”) all offer something interesting for visitors. The Oklahoma City bombing memorial is a must-visit and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame is pretty interesting.  If you don’t know anything about banjos – don’t let that deter you from checking out the American Banjo Museum either! It’s very cool. But the best part of OKC is all of the food! If you love good food – you will love Oklahoma City!

466 miles (6 hours, 20 minutes)

5. Branson, Missouri

Branson makes a great weekend road trip from Memphis if you enjoy family-friendly entertainment! There are so many great shows and things to keep the kids amused. Be sure to check out Silver Dollar City for amazing roller coasters and rides – especially during the holidays when things are fully decorated! The landing in downtown Branson has lots of shops and you’ll love the dancing fountain that plays at the top of each hour!

279 miles (5 hours)

6. Nashville, Tennessee

weekend road trips from Memphis

Music City USA has seen a major boom in recent years and is a no-brainer among the road trips Memphis! Along with the treasures that have always made Nashville great, there are brand new attractions and businesses making it one of the hottest cities in the south.  For country music fans – the Hall of Fame is a great bet, along with a tour of the Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry.  These days, Broadway is a happening street akin to Times Square in New York City. Bars, live music, and plenty of good people watching.  Check out an exact replica of the Parthenon in Centennial Park, and be sure to try some authentic Nashville Hot Chicken while you’re in town!

212 miles (3 hours)

7. Tunica, Mississippi

Tunica may be best known for all of their casinos but there’s more to this small Mississippi town that happens to be an easy drive from Memphis. Even if you don’t gamble, there are always great shows and concerts in the casino theaters and your visit may be best to plan a trip around one that fits your taste!  The Gateway To The Blues visitor center is SO cool and is a great first impression when you drive into town. Take your time to explore their state of the art museum and learn all about the history of blues music which started in the cotton fields of Mississippi. Check out some stops along the Mississippi Blues Trail and do a little shopping in their quaint downtown area. The Tunica River Park is a great attraction to learn more about the history of the Mississippi River.

Bill’s Advice: If you’re headed to Tunica – you must grab breakfast or lunch at the world famous Blue & White Restaurant! It’s the hot spot for locals and tourists alike.  

42 miles (1 hour)

8. Gulf Shores, Alabama

I’ve been going to Gulf Shores, Alabama for years and it’s only gotten better. Major upgrades to some of the area’s public parks and beaches after the devastating oil spill in 2010 have put this beach town back on the map for many tourists. You can chill out on the beautiful white sandy beaches or maybe hop in a kayak to explore some of the lesser known waterways around the region. Kids will love the new Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo where you can get up close and personal with animals like lemurs and kangaroos. The Lodge At Gulf State Park is a perfect destination with beautiful views, but there are plenty of options for all budgets. The state park also offers space for old fashioned camping or “glamping” in your RV or motorhome.

449 miles (7 hours)

9. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana’s state capital is an underrated southern destination and a great place for a road trip from Memphis! Start with a tour of the largest capitol building in America and get a beautiful view of the city along the Mississippi River. (Tour the former state capitol as well which is absolutely beautiful!) Baton Rouge is also a college town, being home to Louisiana State University, so there’s always something fun going on. Be sure to tour one of the area’s gorgeous plantations!

381 miles (5 hours, 20 minutes)

10. Bentonville, Arkansas

What’s not to love about Bentonville’s welcoming town square, complete with the original Walmart store (now a free museum.)? Bentonville has grown to be a hot spot for biking with trails popping up all over the place. Oh, and one of the coolest art museums in the country is located here! Crystal Bridges is an awesome place to spend the day!

342 miles (5 hours)

11. Brownsville, Tennessee

An easy drive from downtown, Brownsville makes a great weekend trip from Memphis! Check out Tina Turner’s hometown (Nutbush) and the Tina Turner Museum. Brownsville has a really cool downtown with some amazing restaurants! You’ll also find lots of places to enjoy the great outdoors!

63 miles (1 hour)

12. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

A favorite stop along historic Route 66, Oklahoma City is great for a road trip from Memphis or an extended weekend with the family. Check out the historic Brickyard district and the American Banjo Museum, or the Cowboy Hall of Fame & Museum. Oklahoma City has so many amazing restaurants to choose from, it’s a really great spot for a foodie road trip!

466 miles (6 hours 30 minutes)

13. Hot Springs, Arkansas

Arkansas isn’t called “the natural state” for nothing. It’s full of beautiful scenery and driving through the Ozarks in route to Hot Springs makes for a terrific road trip experience. Check out one of the historic bath houses and of course, Hot Springs National Park. For nature lovers, Arkansas has great state parks as well, many that have lodges or spots for camping. Petit Jean State Park is along the route if you have the time!

188 miles (2 hours, 50 minutes)

14. Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville is one of the best road trips from Memphis, and home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. This is the place where kids from all over the country have come to take part in “Space Camp” over the years. It’s a wonderful museum dedicated to the space program and definitely worth a stop. While you’re visiting Huntsville, be sure to check out their beautiful Botanical Garden, maintained almost exclusively by volunteers. If you’re into camping, you can check out the peaceful surroundings at Monte Sano State Park. There are a lot of great restaurants

218 miles (3 hours, 40 minutes)

15. Muscle Shoals, Alabama

This is one of the easier road trips from Memphis, and a must-visit destination for any music lover! Muscle Shoals, Alabama is known as the “recording Capitol of the world” and you can tour two of the most famous recording studios in music history. You can also check out the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and visit Helen Keller’s childhood home.

154 miles (2 hours, 40 minutes)

16. Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Bay St. Louis is one of the longer road trips from Memphis, but worth the drive! This is a beautiful, laid back small town set along the beautiful Mississippi Gulf coast. You can find a relaxing bed and breakfast, shop in the historic downtown, and enjoy fresh caught seafood at one of the locally owned restaurants. Take a boat ride, go fishing, or just enjoy the views of the gulf from the beach. Check out the rest of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and its awesome small towns as well.

17. Franklin, Tennessee

Located south of Nashville, Franklin is a fun “small town” with music at every turn. Enjoy small town shopping and Civil War history at local museums. Plus you’re only about 35 minutes away from Nashville and all of its major attractions.

18. New Orleans, Louisiana

Looking for a lively getaway, great music, and plenty of people-watching? New Orleans has ya covered! The city’s best attraction (in my opinion) is the incredible World War II Museum. It’s a massive complex with rare artifacts, exhibits, and interactive activities like a faux submarine and an amazing 4D movie experience narrated by Tom Hanks. The Southern Food & Beverage Museum is worth a stop as well!

19. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

What’s not to love about the beautiful Smoky Mountains? Pigeon Forge is a gateway to Smoky Mountain National Park and full of family friendly attractions and resorts. See a replica of the Titanic, full of authentic artifacts; visit Alcatraz East – a great crime museum; or enjoy a laid back time at the Margaritaville RV Resort!

20. Springfield, Missouri

Our last suggestion for road trips from Memphis is located along historic Route 66. Springfield lays claim to some of the mother road’s best tourist attractions in Missouri. Check out Johnny Morris’s Wonders of Wildlife for an amazing experience that includes one of the coolest aquariums in the country. Take a cave tour; see the world’s largest fork; or see some of the area’s Civil War historic sites.

286 miles (4 hours 45 minutes)

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