3731698The wonderful thing about Jackson, Tennessee is that it’s close to two major cities, meaning there is no shortage of wonderful ways to enjoy summer break with your grandkids, nieces, nephews, or other special young people in your life. Between Memphis and Nashville, there’s a lot of options for creating special memories, learning more about one another, and giving mom and dad a break. Here are our top tips for how to have fun and stay young all summer long:

1) The Memphis Zoo has an impressive array of animals, including the ever-popular Giant Pandas, as well as gibbons, bonobos, elephants, gazelles, zebras, ostriches, lions, cheetahs, cougars, and more. It’s a wonderful experience just to get to see these amazing creatures up close and learn more about other parts of the world, but there are also many additional events such as animal feeding times, and special programs like the Zookeeper Breakfast series that let you get even more personal with the animals and their human friends.

2) The National Civil Rights Museum at the Loraine Motel is an important part of our nations’ history, and a great opportunity to share your memories and experiences with little ones. You’re their link to other times and places and can make our country’s pivotal moments come alive for them in a way books and movies can’t. After viewing the powerful exhibits, grab a bite to eat at Central BBQ and share your memories of the Civil Rights era with your grandchild. He or she will appreciate having a personal connection to what they’ve learned.

3) If the special young people in your life are big music fans, Graceland is a must, as is the Memphis Rock and Soul museum and Gibson factory. Spend a day or a weekend taking in all of Memphis’ rich musical heritage. Older kids especially might enjoy discussing your memories of concerts you attended and records you listened to, as many older musicians are coming back into fashion and being rediscovered by the next generation. Talking about the music that moves each of you and why is a great way to spend some quality time.

4) Mud Island River Park is a fun family-friendly spot. See the whole course of the Mississippi River mapped out along the park’s length, from where it begins high in the mountains near Canada to where it meets the Gulf of Mexico in the delta region. Smaller kids especially will like getting to explore a version of geography pared down to their size, crossing bridges over the Mississippi model, seeing what cities grew up along its banks, and seeing the twists and turns it takes, all in view of the real thing surrounding Mud Island.

5) Memphis Riverboats offer another way to experience the Mississippi River, with hour-long sightseeing tours. Children will love exploring the boat and learning how these steam-powered boats once ruled the mighty Mississippi. You’ll get to see the city from a whole new perspective. There are even special event cruises such as for the Fourth of July that include a BBQ dinner and a splendid view of the fireworks.