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Road trip ideas for the fall

by Staff


With the summer heat starting to leave the south, now is one of the best times to be out and about.

Whether you want to head outdoors on a hike or take a walk around a new city, this is the perfect time of year to be outside. We’ve compiled a list of destinations that are near Memphis that are great places to road trip to. We also kept the trips to destinations that could be made in under 4 hours one way.

Here are a few places not too far from Memphis to take a weekend or a day trip.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Distance from Memphis: 137 miles

As the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock sits on the Arkansas River in the central part of the state. Downtown features numerous restaurants and shops for tourists to visit. Little Rock can be reached in two hours from Memphis.

A great feature of the city is the Museum of Discovery, located in downtown Little Rock, which has a focus on STEM education. All of the exhibits are interactive along with a live animal collection. It shares the record for the world’s largest bi-polar tesla coil with the coil at the Hands On! Regional Museum in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park is another spot to hit up while in the city. On the west side of Little Rock, it features Pinnacle Mountain, 22 miles of trails, 14 miles of biking trails, and the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers. There is space to engage in a picnic, enjoy the pavilion, or visit the park visitor center. The state park is also a Trails of Tears National Historic Site.

For historical education, there are two major spots to see. One is the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. In 1957, Little Rock Central High School was the first school to follow desegregation following Brown v. Board of Education. The other spot is the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum which is the presidential library of former president Bill Clinton.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Distance from Memphis: 188 miles

Hot Springs, Arkansas is located in the Ouachita Mountains. One of the biggest attractions is the naturally heated springs that are located in Hot Springs National Park. Hot Springs is well noted for the many bathhouses it has in the area. From Memphis, Hot Springs is a little under three hours.

The Garvan Woodland Gardens, owned by The University of Arkansas, is filled with botanical landscapes that offer wonderful photo opportunities. The gardens’ mission is to preserve and enhance a unique part of the Ouachita environment. It is a place for people to learn about the landscape and engage in cultural enrichment.

Another outdoor venture is the Hot Springs National Park which features thermal springs throughout the park. There are also 26 miles of hiking trails that feature great views and forest scenery.

An indoor feature of Hot Springs is the Mid-America Science Museum. It sits on 21 acres of land that has over 100 different exhibits to explore with hands-on science. There are both indoor and outdoor centers for learning for all ages.

Jackson, Mississippi

Distance from Memphis: 209 miles

The capital city of Mississippi is a three-hour drive from Memphis. Jackson dubbed itself the city of soul. The city has 15 major museums along with three cultural districts.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Downtown Jackson introduces visitors to important figures of the Civil Rights Movement from Mississippi. It features eight exhibits within the museum’s walls.

Along with having a great history, Jackson also features a great art presence. The Mississippi Museum of Art in Downtown Jackson has five current exhibits and two that will open next month. The museum also has multiple events each month available for both adults and children.

The Mississippi Children’s Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame are all within a mile stretch of one another for a one-day triple-hitter. Something in this one-mile area is sure to intrigue at least one member of the family.


Distance from Memphis: 212 miles

The Music City is another destination that is only three hours from Memphis. It is known for its delicious blend of food and music in its nightlife scene.

Downtown Nashville is one of the hottest spots in the entire state. It is home to Broadway and an entertainment district famous for its music scene every night.

A historical venue to visit is the Grand Ole Opry. It is a radio broadcast of weekly live country music. It is the longest-running radio broadcast in United States history. Visit and go on a backstage tour of the historic venue.

Also in the music genre is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. It has eight exhibits in the museum that display individual artists, regional country music, current country artists and more.

Birmingham, Alabama

Distance from Memphis: 245 miles

The capital city of Alabama, also known as the Magic City, is a little further with a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Memphis. Birmingham is called the Magic City for the iron-making resources it has all in one area − iron ore, limestone and coal.

A lovely outdoor experience in Birmingham happens at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The gardens feature gardening classes, summer camps for kids, plant studies, and more throughout the year.

For those looking for a fun activity with “the boys,” the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum might be for you. The museum holds over 1,800 motorcycles that span over 100 years in production. It also features the world’s most extensive Formula 1 Lotus collection.

Take a trip to Vulcan Park and Museum for a bit of history in the Magic City named Birmingham. The Vulcan statue was made in 1904 and has sat on a hill overlooking the city since the 1930s. The park surrounding the statue, a museum and the statue itself make up the Vulcan Park and Museum.

Ozark, Arkansas

Distance from Memphis: 266 miles

The smallest destination on the list is Ozark, Arkansas. Located 50 miles past Little Rock, this journey is a three-and-a-half-hour ride. This trip is an entirely outdoors one, so get those hiking boots ready.

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest lies on the border of Arkansas and Missouri and is one of America’s most scenic areas. The park is 1.2 million acres of hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, boating, camping, swimming, fishing and more. There are also plenty of camping sites in the park for those who enjoy a bit more ruggedness in their vacations.

St. Louis, Missouri

Distance from Memphis: 284 miles

the final and furthest destination is the capital of Missouri. The trip to St. Louis is just over four hours.

Probably the most famous sight to see in St. Louis, the Gateway Arch sits in the heart of Downtown right on the Mississippi River. Made in 1963, it is the tallest monument in the United States. Inside the arch is a tram that will take you up to the top at 630 feet in the air where you can see out over the city.

Right up the road from the Gateway Arch is the St. Louis Zoo. It is known as one of the best zoos in the nation for research, conservation and animal management. The best thing about the zoo is that it is always free.

If you’re in St. Louis and see a bus on top of a building, don’t worry. It’s just the City Museum. This museum is housed in an old shoe factory. It is an indoor, outdoor and underground playground for any visitors. It features slides, ladders, a skatepark, a castle outside and so much more.

Jordan Green covers trending news for The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @_green_jordan_

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