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Travel with the Grandkids to Memphis

Did you know that National Grandparents Day is Septmeber 11? Last year, I took a look back at previous posts for boomer adventures that would be fun to do with grandkids. For 2011, let’s take the grands to Memphis, Tennessee.

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Mississippi River

Barbecue, blues and Elvis —  is that what comes to mind when I mention Memphis? On a visit to the Bluff City, Alan and I experienced activities that would have made a fun boomer trip with the grandkids. Why not treat your grandchildren to some special time with their grandparents in Memphis, Tennessee? We suggest:

Exploring the Mighty Mississippi at Mud Island River Park

Have you walked the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to where the mighty river dumps into the Gulf of Mexico? Didn’t think so. I wonder how long that would take? But a visit to Mud Island River Park is the next best thing. A three-dimensional model filled with chlorinated water traces the Mississippi’s path from beginning to end, including the small towns that hug the riverbank and the bridges that span the muddy water. Adults will have fun pointing out the places that they’ve visited.

“Look, there’s Vicksburg,” Alan said remembering our road trip through Mississippi on the Natchez Trace.

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Cooling my itchy travel feet in the model of the Mississippi

Of course the grandchildren will have fun splashing through this miniature Mississippi while surreptitiously being introduced to United States geography. Don’t worry, wading is allowed (so is learning). And on a hot, muggy summer’s day, you may enjoy sticking your boomer travel feet in the water, too. I did.

The model Mississippi culminates at the “Gulf of Mexico” where paddle-boat rentals are available — $5 for 30 minutes. There’s also a restaurant and on our visit, golden oldies music blared from the loudspeaker. How’d they know boomers were visiting?

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Treat the grandkids to a ride in a paddleboat

Admission to Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River model is free. There is a small fee to enter the Mississippi River Museum, also located in the park. Here you’ll find 18 exhibits promoting the natural and cultural history of the Lower Mississippi River.

Give the grandkids a thrill with a ride on the monorail ($4 round-trip all ages) from the footbridge near Wolf River Lagoon in downtown Memphis over to Mud Island. Or arrive at the river park by walking over the harbor on the SkyBridge. You can also drive to Mud Island.

Are you traveling with active preteens or teens? Consider renting a kayak from The Adventure Center for a one hour paddle around Wolf River Harbor. Mountain bike rentals are a second option.

And here’s a boomer heads-up, Peter Frampton will be preforming at the Amphitheater at Mud Island River Park on October 21, 2011.

Visiting the Grizzlies at the Memphis Zoo

No, I’m not talking about the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team (how’d a southern professional basketball team come to be called the Grizzlies? The team relocated from Vancouver in 2001).

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Grizzlies play in the water at the Memphis Zoo

Introducing the grandkids to grizzlies of the animal kind requires a visit to the Memphis Zoo. The Teton exhibit includes a building that resembles Old Faithful Lodge, right down to the rocking chairs on the front porch. A huge fountain takes the place of Old Faithful. On our visit, three young grizzly cubs romped in and out of a man-made stream.

Have you always wanted to see pandas? You can do that at the China exhibit. And what child wouldn’t enjoy riding on the Endangered Species Carousel turning round and round to Chinese music.

The 17 exhibits of the zoo, located near the Evergreen Historic District, are well laid out. Water features scattered around the grounds keep visitors cool. During our hot, muggy visit, children squealed as they ran in and out of the fountains. Yes, Alan had to restrain me from joining them.

More Memphis kids activities:

Have you visited Memphis with the grandkids? Post a comment to tell us about your experience. Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email with your comments or questions.

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