20 Actually Fun Memphis Date Ideas

It’s natural to stress about where to go and what to do for a date. After all, whatever you choose will set the tone for the night and say a lot about your character. So, you know, no pressure.

Luckily, there's no shortage of things to do in Memphis, from immersing yourself in culture, to checking out our idiosyncratic culinary scene, to seeing just how robust our entertainment scene can be. With that, we present a few recommendations that will get you out of the house and away from defaulting to pizza and Netflix.

Get artsy at the Brooks Museum

With more than 10,000 works of art in its permanent collection, Renaissance masterpieces, and a gorgeous architectural setting, the Brooks Museum in Overton Square is perfect for anyone hoping to impress with that freshman year Intro to Art History knowledge. Visit the cafe for pastries and coffee and admire the works that range from contemporary, to historic African art, and more.

Have a couple drinks at Libro

East Memphis
The city’s largest independent bookstore -- which changed ownership last year and closed briefly -- has reopened as Novel. Browse the shelves and discuss sweeping works of great literature, then cozy up in the space’s new cafe/restaurant, Libro. It's helmed by Sabine Bachmann who grew up in Germany and brings a romantic European sensibility to the spot.

Play video games at Rec Room

Broad Avenue
Head over to Rec Room in the Broad Avenue Arts District where you can rent a couch, specify which game console you want, and play video games projected on a giant wall. There’s also some VR content to try, old-school arcade games in the space, and a bar. Impress your date and win XP. Or just grab a couple of drinks.

Get dolled up for a night at the opera

Check out Opera Memphis’ performance in February of The Italian Girl in Algiers. There will be pirates, kidnappings, hoped-for marriages, and love triangles galore -- all great date fodder -- and at the very least it’s fun to get fancy for a change.

Take in Memphis music at a distillery

Music fans should head to the new Old Dominick Distillery Downtown. The venue has launched a new listening room concept, with its Pure Memphis Music live series set to launch January 25. All of the artists who play at the venue as part of the regular series will be connected to Memphis in some way, either by being born here or by trekking here to make a record, so it’s got the makings of the perfect Memphis- and music-themed date night spot.

Spend a day at Shelby Farms

East Memphis
Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal brought his restaurant concept -- The Kitchen -- to Shelby Farms, Memphis’ giant urban park on the eastern side of the city. But if you’re not feeling a sit-down meal, there are expansive fields and opportunities for a picnic or walks around the lake.

Stroll along the river

The Mississippi River is perfect for a couple strolling arm-in-arm and relaxing in the quietude and peacefulness of the scene -- oh, hell who are we kidding! The point is it’s free. Plus, sunsets make for a particularly romantic tableau along the river.

Relax on the rooftop at the Peabody and Madison

While we’re on the subject of taking in the sights, few are as memorable as Downtown from up high. The rooftops of the Peabody and Madison hotels afford sweeping river views, and be sure to indulge in cocktails at Madison’s Twilight Sky Terrace.

Take your date to the drive-in

East Memphis
Memphis still has a drive-in movie theater, which is open on the weekends after sunset. Pull up, park the car, and catch a double feature after the sun goes down. Plus, you can bring your own blanket, food, and drink, and you don't have to worry about cell phones or your cousin Tevin whisper-talking through the final scene and distracting you.

Take a walking tour with historian Jimmy Ogle

If you don’t mind a walk, throw on some sneaks and assemble for one of historian Jimmy Ogle’s regular walking tours. It’s a great way to soak up Memphis history, with the tours kicking off at the Cotton Museum and the corner of Front Street and Union Avenue.

Explore Broad Avenue

If you or your date has a sweet tooth, head down to the Broad Avenue Arts District on the first Friday in February for Sweet Street. From 5pm-9pm participating shops will be staying open for you to come by and sample sweet treats -- including Wiseacre Brewing Co., City & State, and more.

Take an old-fashioned carriage ride

Take your date Downtown for a romantic, old-timey carriage ride. Your carriage will convey the two of you past landmarks and picturesque Downtown sites while a knowledgeable guide regales you with stories about Memphis history and lore.

Make it a music-themed date night at a museum, preferably Rock ‘n’ Soul or Stax

Music junkies can combine an appreciation of local culture and the city’s musical heritage with a date to museums that offer a look at the tunes and songsmiths who’ve made Memphis a music town. Stax is a landmark: a monument to the soul legacy of Memphis’ Stax record label. The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, adjacent to the FedExForum NBA arena, takes a broader look at blues, rock, and more.

Explore a southern pyramid

Check out Memphis’ unmistakable, hard-to-miss Pyramid arena-turned-Bass Pro Shops superstore for a date filled with ton of things to do, all in one stop. You’ve got options for dining, bowling, shopping, hotels on the upper level -- even a glass observation deck that gives you great views from up high, provided you don't have a thing with heights.

Show your team spirit at a Grizzlies game

Cheer on Memphis’ home team at FedExForum, where you can grab food from local vendors like Rock'n Dough and Memphis Burrito Co., as well as catch the infamous Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas Dance Team who performs at halftime. At the very least, you'll leave with something to talk about if the Grizzlies brick it.

Enjoy a night at the ballet

Ballet Memphis opened its doors to brand-new headquarters at Overton Square. It's a more inviting space in the heart of the city where you and a date can take in a show, like February’s upcoming "Small Places." There will also be a collection of three world premieres to close out Ballet Memphis’ newest original series.

Explore the universe with a visit to the planetarium

East Memphis
For something a little different, you could always spend a night under the stars… by visiting the Sharpe Planetarium! It boasts a space that includes 145 fixed seats and a screen area of almost 4,000 square feet, which makes it the largest projection screen in the city.

Visit the old growth forest at Overton Park

If you’re down for an easy hike, hit up the old growth forest at Overton Park. It’s got, among other things, four miles of unpaved walking paths, a limestone running trail, and over a mile of paved trails.

Take a stroll and window shop along South Main

While you’re in a walking mood, start a block south of Beale Street and explore the picturesque Downtown neighborhood of South Main. It’s one square mile of locally owned shops, restaurants, arts enterprises, and more.

Enjoy a show at Lafayette's Music Room

Overton Square
The Overton Square restaurant and performance venue Lafayette’s Music Room would be a great place to start or end a date -- or even to serve as a midpoint, in case you and your date might want to explore the rest of Overton Square after. Be sure to hit up Lafayette’s -- a reopened version of the old, shuttered Lafayette’s that had a part in elevating the careers of acts like Billy Joel and Big Star, among others -- for some Southern comfort food and to catch a show.

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Andy Meek lives in Memphis where he writes for the Memphis Daily News, as well as national outlets like Food & Wine. Follow him at @aemeek.