Memphis, TN | No Rock-n-Roll, Just Heavy Metal – Part 1

Memphis Tennessee

Ah Memphis… When I think of Memphis, I think of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jazz music, and world class barbecue.

The night before we rolled into Memphis for the first time, we stayed outside the city and boondocked at a Super Walmart at Olive Branch that offered overnight parking.

RV Terminology: Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups and at no cost using public land or parking overnight with permission.

Boondocking at Walmart in Olive Branch

In the morning, I began to look into activities that we could do while also towing a travel trailer because we only intended to stay in Memphis for the day and then continue on to our next destination. When researching options, the key is to make sure there is adequate parking and sometimes that means calling ahead and having a game plan.

All my sons love music. My middle son (who is 11-years-old) he tends to be the one that wants to make music, so I asked him if he wanted to go see where Elvis lived and the museum that talked about this music legend. I realized I hadn’t done due diligence in teaching him about the King of Rock and Roll when he simply asked, “Who is Elvis?” (Gasp!)

So, I did a quick search on YouTube and played some videos of Elvis. I was shocked – my boy was unimpressed. When we weighed the cost of going to Graceland, I did not want to drop $171 when our family that didn’t have any interest. When traveling cross country, our goal in choosing activities was to keep it cheap to stretch resources and to make sure that things we chose to do would be something everyone wanted to take part in. So, right out of the gate, Graceland got bumped.

Graceland and Platinum Tour:
– Adults $40 ea x 2 = $80
– Youth (13-18) $36 ea x 2  = $72
– Youth (7-12)  $19 ea x 1 = $19
– Child (under 5) $FREE
TOTAL for Graceland Experience for 7 people = $171

That kind of money would purchase about 73 gallons of diesel (@ today’s cost of $2.35).  And 73 gallons of diesel would take us about 728 miles (using our average 10 mpg when we tow.)

When I checked Trip Advisor, the number one rated thing to do was Sun Studios. The cost for our family would be $12 ea. x 4 adults = $48 (children 6-11 are free, so one child would be free in our situation.) The downside to this option was that there was no convenient place to park a travel trailer nearby AND they do not allow children 5 and under in (we’ve got two in this age range).  So, Sun Studios was put on the “visit another time” list when we were in a better position to enjoy the experience.

National Ornamental Metal Museum

We decided to check out the National Ornamental Metal Museum since our older two sons have been interested in taking up welding. But this museum is more about blacksmithing than welding and they include a one-of-a-kind apprenticeship program for those wanting to learn the art.

Metal-Museum-RVSetup
When we make a stop, we have to make sure there is room to park both our 36′ travel trailer as well as our tow vehicle.
National Ornamental Metal Museum Blacksmith Shop
On Saturdays, there are supposedly metalwork demonstrations. We hung around for an extra hour hoping to see one that was posted and the guys who were suppose to do it must have decided to take a break because there were no demonstrations as posted.

Our boys loved the sculptures in the garden and we enjoyed the quiet courtyard and the picnic tables that invited us to enjoy a picnic lunch.

memphis-picnic-lunch-fam
They had some picnic tables in the courtyard and so we decided to get some sandwiches from the trailer and enjoy the quiet courtyard.
memphis-picnic-lunch
Traveling with five children is all about making choices with money. We save money by eating food from the grocery store instead of going to restaurants. Sweet tea, sandwiches, and chips are an easy fix!
Mississippi River
The kids stand in front of the the Mississippi River. We took the opportunity to talk about the Louisiana Purchase and the role that the Mississippi River played in that land acquisition. While traveling across the bridge that took us over the Mississippi River, I pulled up a YouTube video that explained more about the role that the river played in that land acquisition. You can also search history.com or go to the online World Book Encyclopedia and read more about a topic. The fun part is everyone learns something new right on location!

metal-museum-cattails

metal-museum-gate-exhibit

Most interesting was how the docent explained to us how one goes about passing their Journeyman Bladesmith Certification by making a knife and what his/her knife must be able to do before being considered a work master craftsman. The make two knives — they make one for structure and one for aesthetics. The one made for structure goes thru a series of tests and ultimately is put in a vice and bent at a 90 degree angle. If it survives, the test is passed. (You can learn more by watching this video.)

peyt-and-knife-collection
Our middle son loves to collect knives. If it weren’t for the docent, we would have totally missed the drawers that housed a magnificent knife collection from craftsmen. Listen to the video to learn more about how an artisan must pass a test by making a knife.

If you’re looking for unique, one of a kind hand artisan gifts, check out their online store.

Details-Costs

WHAT KIDS CAN LEARN THRU THIS EXPERIENCE:

  • The craft of metal working and the diversity of the trade and how much practice a skill requires to become good at it.

It took us about an hour-and-a-half to go thru the museum buildings and walk around the grounds. Here are the details for planning your budget and outing…

Cost:
– Adults $6.00
– Seniors (62+) $5.00
– Youth (5-18) $4.00
– Child (under 5) $FREE

RV & Bus parking available along road outside of the museum.
*Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Be sure to check their website before you visit to see if there are any other restrictions as things change from the time of this posting. 


TIP: Bring a picnic lunch on a nice spring or fall day! They have a couple of picnic tables and a lovely courtyard. If you go on a Saturday or Sunday, you may be able to see a demonstration. Check the Web site for details.


Hours:
Tuesday–Saturday / 10AM–5PM
*Closed Mondays, Easter Sunday, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Dec 24-26, Dec. 31, and Jan 1.  The Museum is CLOSED due to weather when Shelby County Schools are closed.

Demonstrations: Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (forging) and 3:00 pm (casting), except when there are classes in the Metals Studios. Visitors are invited to watch classes. Please call to confirm demonstration schedule.

Pets are not permitted on the grounds.

For a more enjoyable visit, plan to spend 1–2 hours.See Map Graphic
National Ornamental Metal Museum
374 Metal Museum Drive
Memphis
 Tennessee 38106
+1 901-774-6380


Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!

 

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