Explore parks and gardens

Overton Park

Picnic bench on a lawn surrounded by trees on a sunny day.
Overton Park boasts plenty of picnic areas like this.

A flexible urban green space made for running, cycling, family-focused activities and cultural experiences. 

Overton Park spans 342 acres in Midtown Memphis and features a variety of spaces made for high-intensity recreation as well as quiet contemplation and cultural enrichment. The park’s grounds are home to formal gardens, an old-growth forest with trails, a nine-hole golf course, a dog park, two playgrounds, the Memphis Zoo and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Overton Park is managed by the nonprofit Overton Park Conservancy, which stewards the multi-use green space for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike. The group was founded in 2011 and manages daily operations as well as conservation programs to maintain the health of the Old Forest Natural Area, a permanently protected space and one of the only old-growth forests in the urban Southeast.

Picnic bench on a lawn surrounded by trees on a sunny day.
Overton Park boasts plenty of picnic areas like this.

The park has become a sought-after destination for city-dwelling runners and fitness-focused walkers in search of the forest’s shaded trails, but the park’s formal gardens are also a big draw for anyone looking for a little bit of Insta-worthy relaxation. The carefully tended area, which is the site of recurring group meditation classes and free Tai Chi lessons, includes plenty of space for passive recreation; perennial plantings include crepe myrtles, hostas, roses, ferns and ornamental grasses. 

Beyond the trails and gardens, Overton Park provides dedicated spaces for everything from golf to children’s playtime. Pet parents can use the Overton Bark dog park to exercise their pups in a 1.3-acre enclosure, a nine-hole public golf course provides convenient access for those looking to catch a few quick rounds during the week or on weekends; and the Rainbow Lake and East Parkway Playgrounds offer big family fun including a merry-go-round, noise-making sculptures, swing sets and climbing structures made for supervised exploration. 

For those in search of culture, Overton Park is also where the Memphis Zoo and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art are located.

The Memphis Zoo has been a major attraction at the park for more than 100 years, with a dedicated staff that cares for a menagerie of animals, big and small, including African lions and black-footed penguins. And at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, visitors from all over the world explore the museum’s permanent collection of sculpture, photographs, paintings and prints spanning from antiquity to modern times. Outstanding special exhibitions are also on display here.

Overton Park is also home to the iconic Overton Park Shell amphitheater, where Elvis Presley took the stage in 1954 to play his first-ever public performance. Today, the venue hosts free summer concerts and other special events.