If you are headed to the Children’s Museum of Memphis, here are 7 tips that you need to know before you go in order to have the best time with your kids.
We love the Children’s Museum of Memphis! It is a great space to interact with your kids in an educational environment. Kids will be entertained and worn out by the end of your visit. And worn out kids mean good nap times!
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Where Is CMOM?
The museum is located in the Midtown area which is offers lots of Memphis culture and fun. Many of our favorite kid friendly Memphis activities are nearby like the Memphis Zoo, The Pink Palace Museum, and The Art Project.
Not to mention tons of awesome family friendly restaurants in Overton Square and Cooper Young areas. Another good option is a quick brunch at Brother Juniper’s in the University of Memphis area before a day of play!
These neighborhoods are near the museum and you can get to most of these places in just 5-7 minutes.
The museum is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. Be sure to check the website for special holiday closings.
2525 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
The Exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Memphis
As members of this museum, we usually try to go every month or so. The exhibits don’t really change at the museum but even so, my kids always have a blast and are never bored.
During a visit, we typically stay about two hours. My kids could stay longer but since we are members, I don’t usually push it. If you planned accordingly, you could definitely spend several hours playing indoors and out.
Here are some of our favorite exhibits. Don’t forget to look around the museum for other activities outside of the main exhibits. There are lots of free play areas with things like legos, magna tiles and even a giant weaving loom.
Kroger Grocery Store
A real grocery store setup made for little ones.
I went to the CMOM as a kid and my favorite memory there was the grocery store. And my kids find equal joy in it 30 ish years later! There are kid size grocery carts and tons of food to select. Even my one year old loves to shop for things like milk, fresh fruit and oatmeal.
I love the touches that make it feel like a real shopping experience for the kids. There is a “fresh” flowers section, a meat counter, plenty of canned goods, cleaning supplies, milk and produce.
After the kids fill up their carts, they head to the check out counter where they become the cashier. My one year old just loves to push buttons and hear the noises on the real cash register.
The older kids will have fun scanning barcodes and getting the real receipt that prints at the end. Don’t forget that you will need to put the items you “bought” back on the shelf after you are done, so shop for the evening not the month!
The Smiles exhibit is all about dental health. It is one of the smaller and older areas of the museum but my kids always want to run in and brush the patient’s teeth.
There are really big tooth brushes, teeth models and even some lab coats to practice their dentistry skills.
This area is adjacent to the Smiles exhibit and features a pretty cool rock wall. It is perfect for an adventurous 4 year old and up.
If you have kids of varying ages, this area will probably be a favorite. My toddler can climb through the tunnel or go down the slide while big sis is climbing the rock wall. And there is a park bench which comes in handy if you need a break while the kids play.
The main attraction here is the fishing! There are tons of plastic fish and boats that float down the river for your kids to catch with small poles or nets.
It is tons of fun trying to catch a fish (and it is harder than you might think!). There is also a small aquarium with some real fish and you can learn to tie a couple of rope knots.
Memphis is known for music, BBQ and of course, FedEx! Right around the corner from the mighty Mississippi, you will see a huge portion of a FedEx plane in the middle of the museum
This is another area of the museum that if great for a broad range of kids. Go up to the second floor to see an air traffic control area, the cockpit of the plane and then slide down the slide.
The bottom level has a conveyer belt that allows kids to place boxes on the belt and manually hoist them up to a processing center. They then come falling down the chute. It may not sound that amazing but there are always kids wanting to play with this!
4 & Under
If you have little ones, definitely check out the four and under room. You will find lots of age appropriate ride on toys, a lite brite wall, a mini version of the American Airways pneumatic air tube, and a playground structure with a slide.
The second side of the 4 & under room features a tree house climbing structure, a school bus, and a book nook. My daughter just turned 5 and she still enjoys some time in this area while her little brother plays. We have also never had any trouble getting her in (even though she is slightly over age).
There is also a bathroom in this play area. It has changing areas, a regular toilet and a tiny kid size toilet and urinal. I normally wouldn’t talk about a bathroom on a post that is about the children’s museum but I’m telling you we go once a visit.
I don’t know what it is about those kid size toilets that my kid loves. So if your kids love to check out every public bathroom they see, now you know about this one! (It is clean too so that is a plus)
Since my kiddos are younger, we don’t usually spend a ton of time at the bank exhibit. But you can do some fun things like writing checks, make coin rubbings and use a banking tube.
American Airways Pneumatic Tube
This intricate tube system is a pretty cool experiment in aerodynamics. The kids push colorful scarves and pom pom balls into the tubes and watch them travel through the clear tubes before coming out at the other side.
This picture is from the smaller tube that is in the preschool area but there is a larger one that you will see right when you walk into the museum.
My little princess doesn’t usually want to spend a lot of time at this spot but it is pretty interesting none the less. You will find a gas pump and a race track for toy cars.
Your child can play like they are a mechanic and look under the hood or pretend to change a tire.
There is also a race track and toy cars where kids can test speed.
This is another one that was around in my childhood (but they have renovated it since then! The kids can have fun climbing up through the maze and then they exit through a set of stairs adjacent to the exhibit.
I’m not sure if this one has an age on it but I would say that 3-4 is probably the youngest to go up. Otherwise you might end up having to climb through to rescue a stuck little one!
Hollywood Role Play
Costumes, a stage and karaoke are the stars of this show. When the kids get on stage, they can choose a kid friendly song to perform.
The best part about this play area is that directly across the stage is a big tv that projects the kids on stage. The kids love seeing themselves on stage singing and dancing!
There are also several rows of seats for the parents to watch the show. When my son was a tiny baby, I would use this time to feed him while my daughter played.
Engine House 18
Here you will fine a real fire truck, police car and police motorcycle. Kids love to climb inside and pretend to drive these rescue vehicles. The radios inside have real sounds of calls that you would here on a police or fire scanner.
And grand it is. This is by far one of our favorite things to do at the museum. There is just something magical about a big carousel and this beautifully restored 1909 Dentzel carousel makes for a grand display at the Children’s Museum of Memphis.
You can read the full history on the carousel but the short version is that it started it’s journey in Chicago in 1909. In 1923, it moved to Memphis and has remained although it has been in storage for the last few years. At the end of 2017, the restored all horse carousel was brought into the museum!
This carousel is only one of four or five Dentzel all horse carousels left in existence! So enjoy a little piece of history as you spin around on that sparkling horse.
Little Planter’s Pasture
Plant a pretend vegetable garden, collect your chicken’s eggs and milk your cow. Yes, the cow really releases “milk” when the kids pull on the utters.
A daily craft is featured in this room. There is an attendant at the door that will give you a set of supplies and some brief instructions.
The crafts are usually simple enough that a toddler can participate with some assistance or an older child can do the craft with more detail and independence.
Little Fixin’s Kitchen
Forget those plastic kid kitchens, this play area will put those to shame! It is a real kitchen scaled down to kid size proportions. Kids will have fun making meals in the life like appliances in this spot.
There is not a lot to this exhibit. It is a small walk thru room that is dark except for multi colored lights and a disco ball! We don’t spend a ton of time here but we do usually visit it for a quick dance party.
The outdoor space of the Children’s Museum of Memphis has been completely revitalized in the last couple of years and it is really great.
The seasonally open splash pad is tons of fun! There are lots of ways for the kids to have fun and splash around. It is a fairly large splash pad and even though the parent seating area can get crowded, the splash pad never seems overly trafficked.
The splash pad does have a few areas of shade but it is not overly shaded. Be sure to pack sunscreen and hats to keep your kids safe in the hot Memphis sun.
They also sell snow cones for $1 that make for a refreshing treat after all that playing (Bring cash).
Next to the splash pad is the dinosaur themed sand area. Pretend to search for dino bones, sift through the sand or build a castle. I don’t know what it is about sand, but kids love it.
This area is also seasonal and open Memorial Day – Labor Day.
The outdoor playground is a fun spot all year round and features a couple of cool things that I have not seen at other playgrounds before.
The self propelled zip line is very cool. It has a large seat that you buckle the child into. Gently push the seat to propel them down the zip line. There is a bumper at the bottom stops the ride and pushes them back up to the top. It is really unique and fun.
4 years is probably the ideal age for the zip line but mine did it at three and enjoyed it.
A double see-saw and a merry go round that you can spin your children in are also fun activities. You will also find a traditional playground with slides and monkey bars.
We have never actually played basketball (remember the Princess, she isn’t really into b-ball ) but it looks so cool. There are 19 goals and it is brightly colored and whimsical looking. Definitely not your typical basketball court.
7 Children’s Museum of Memphis Tips to Make Your Visit Great
- The carousel runs every quarter hour. Unless the museum is overly crowded for a special event, there is not usually a long line and everyone makes it on.
- The museum does have a café area with tables and a vending machine. However, unlike other children’s museums that we have been to there is not any type of hot food prepared on site. You are allowed to bring your own food or even use a service like Uber Eats to deliver food that you can eat on site.
- If it is splash pad season, arrive right when the museum opens. Have the kids wear there swim suits under their clothes so that you can go straight out to the splash pad. This is important because you will get a seat (they have big Adirondack chairs but there are often more people than chairs later in the day) and you will beat the blaring sun (there is not much shade once 11 or 12 hits). By the time your kids are tired of the splash pad, it will be getting more crowded outside. Change clothes and go inside, and you will practically have the inside museum to yourself!
- Avoid the dates with special events if you are just wanting to spend time in the museum. The events can be fun but they increase the crowd pretty dramatically and make it more difficult to really interact with the exhibits.
- Don’t skip the Doodlebug Studio. Everyday they have a new craft where you will be given brief instructions and a set of supplies for your child. The craft can usually be finished in 10 or 15 minutes. I find that it gives a little break from the high stimulation that some of the other exhibits provide and gives us all time to regroup (and prevent meltdowns).
- Don’t go on during a University of Memphis football game. The museum is basically in the backyard of the Liberty Bowl Stadium. There will be lots of traffic surrounding this area if there is a game so you may wish to avoid it during that time.
- If you are from out of town and are a member of a children’s museum in your area, check to see if your museum is part of the ACM reciprocal program. If it is, you will get 50% off your admission at the Children’s Museum of Memphis!
Membership to CMOM
Here at Protecting Your Pennies, we are always looking to save a few dollars! In number 7 of our top tips, saving money with the reciprocal program was mentioned.
But if you are local to the Memphis area, you may want to consider a museum membership! We have been members for several years and really enjoy it.
Is a Membership Worth It?
I think so! Look at it like this, a trip for four (Mom, Dad & two kids) will cost you $64 for the museum and parking. You will also pay $3 a person if you want to ride the carousel and $5 extra per person if you want to do the seasonal splash pad. So you could be looking at a total of $96 if you do everything.
A family of four membership is $165 for the year and includes unlimited visits to the museum, splash pad, and carousel. So you only have to go 1.7 times to make the membership worth it! We go at least 9-10 times a year with our membership so I average a cost of <$20 a visit.
If the membership is an expense that is too great, think about asking for it as a Christmas gift from family. I know several sets of grandparents that give the family a membership as a gift. That is such a great idea as opposed to a toy that may end up sitting in a corner.
If you have visited the Children’s Museum of Memphis, what are your favorite activities?