Shelby Farms playground is a Memphis, TN gem. The park is a great place to take the entire family for free and it is in the heart of East Memphis.
At 4,500 acres, 10.65 miles of urban trail (referred to as the Greenline) & 40 miles of paved and unpaved scenic trails. You may see people accessing these trails by foot, on bikes or even horseback! Shelby Farms Park is one of the urban parks in the country and shouldn’t be missed if you are in Memphis.
Shelby Farms park has changed a lot in just the last few years. When I think back to it as a kid, I remember a big walking trail and the buffalo. And that is about it.
But over the last few years, it has expanded into so much more! There is so much to enjoy and the Shelby Farms playground is like nothing else in the area!
There is so much to do but my kid’s favorite is definitely the playground. The Shelby farms playground offers all kinds of active play for young kids all the way up to bigger kids. My kids beg to go and don’t want to leave!
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Where is Shelby Farms Playground and Park?
So to enjoy the Shelby Farms playground, you first have to get there.
6903 GREAT VIEW DRIVE NORTH
Memphis, TN 38134
The First Tennessee Foundation Vistor’s Center can help to direct you around the park and also has essentials like restrooms and water bottle filling stations.
You can park in the parking lot here and access the Woodland Discovery Playground by walking a short distance. It is nothing crazy but if you have small kids, it would definitely be stroller worthy.
If you don’t want to walk that far, there is a large parking lot at the Woodland Discovery playground area that you can park your car.
Shelby Farms Park – Woodland Discovery Playground
Mental Floss called this one of the 16 Coolest Playgrounds in the world. So it is kind of a big deal.
When you first enter the Shelby Farms playground, there is a large open green space. You will often see people throwing a football or just relaxing in the grassy area. Then you will find the “nests” that contain the different play areas.
Look how cool this aerial view is & it doesn’t even show everything!
Image Credit: James Corner Field Operations
Sand Pit & Slide
The first area to the right is the sand pit.
There is a water table feature that will pump water down a series of wooden planks.
Tons of sand to put your feet in and play with. I often times see younger kids bringing small shovels and beach buckets to play with in this area.
There is also a toddler sized slide and an open air play hut to use in this area.
The landmark of this area in the big wooden climbing structure and slide. I have gone down this slide and will tell you that it is fast. Not like kinda sorta fast. Super fast.
I would not recommend anyone under the age of 4-5 going down it. Not to mention the climb up would be better suited for an older child. I have seen quite a few parents have to climb up to get a scared kiddo more than once.
There are a couple of benches in this area for the parents too.
What I Love about the Sand Nest
It is great for parents with toddlers and older kids. My 1 year old loves the small slide and the sand while my 5 year old wears herself out going up the big slide. It is nice to be able to keep both of them in the same area, having fun.
The next nest is the one with all the slides.
There are two chute style slides that can be used with a burlap sack to slide down. These sacks can be hard to find but you can go down without one and still have fun.
There are two other large slides that can fit multiple kids across all at the same time. This is a fun change since slides are typically one at a time.
There are also ropes and rock climbers that can be uses as a fun way to get back up the hill after sliding down.
A music wall with some noise makers is something that we usually bang on for a minute on our way out.
What I Love about the Slide Nest
Since the slides are so wide, it makes it super easy to slide down with a toddler if you want to give them some extra help. Don’t get me wrong, I have certainly crunched my legs up on a twisty traditional slide before but this just makes it so much more comfortable.
The swing next will come up next. It is filled with several different ways to swing.
There are traditional swings and baby swings. There are also several ADA swings available.
There are tire swings and ropes.
What I Love about the Swing Nest
We usually do this after doing the other two and so it is a relaxing way to end our play time. There is something kind of relaxing about pushing your kid in a swing.
This area is currently closed due to repairs and renovations.
When it is open, it is a large area full of ropes for climbing. This area is best suited for school aged kids due to the difficulty of scaling the ropes course.
What Else Is There To Do At Shelby Farms?
So much! Don’t stop at the Shelby Farms Playground, there is so much more to offer.
I think there is literally something for everyone that enjoys the outdoors at this park.
I haven’t done this yet but I really want to! I always see people on the course and it looks so fun!
Your kids have to be at least 10 years old so keep that in mind. The park website also says to allow 2-3 hours to complete the course so keep that in mind.
The ziplines are a paid activity and it isn’t cheap. However, keep a look out on groupon! I have seen passes on there for about 1/2 off before. You can read more about the ziplining at the park here.
> 20 Lakes
If water fun is your thing, there are tons of things that you can do to enjoy the more than 20 lakes on the property.
You can rent paddle boats, canoes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards in order to experience the lakes from a different view. And you can bring your own non-motorized boat if you have one.
Fishing more your style? There are no fees to fish at Shelby Farms but if you are 13 or over, you will need a TN fishing license. More fishing info here.
Food At The Park
Food options at the park is a relatively new undertaking.
The visitor’s center and the FedEx Event center both have new restaurants coming in the Fall of 2019.
Cheffie’s at Shelby Farms Park will be in the Visitor’s Center and offer breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Coastal Fish Company will be in the FedEx center and offer dinner daily and lunch/brunch on the weekends only.
You can also find snacks and vending options in the Visitor’s Center gift shop.
Another favorite is the food trucks that will pop up to offer fun local specialties. I see Memphis’ choice for gourmet popsicles there fairly often. So if you see the Mempops cart, be sure to stop for a yummy treat.
Laser Tag & Paintball
This is another one that I have not personally used but I’m sure it would be popular with the kids. More info about these activities can be found here.
Water Spray Park
The splash pad is only open seasonally, so you will want to check the website for available dates.
This is another paid experience and costs $5 for kids 3-10 and $5 for adults if the child is 0-3 (up to 3 children 0-3 can accompany one paid adult). There is a 50 minute time frame on this
100 acres of the park is dedicated to off leash fun for your dog. There are ponds, unpaved trails and open fields for your dog to have a blast and run free (with your supervision of course).
Just keep in mind that the other areas of the park that allow dogs do require a leash (trails outside of the dog park etc).
I hope that if you are in town or new to town that you will check out the Shelby Farms playground and park. And if you want to eat a yummy breakfast before you go, be sure to check out Brother Juniper’s near the University of Memphis. It is about 15-20 minutes from the park and really yummy.