In downtown Memphis, between Main Street and Second Avenue and between Madison and Jefferson avenues, you'll find Court Square, the oldest park in Memphis. With its classically designed central fountain, restored gazebo, and stately old shade trees, this park was long a favored gathering spot of Memphians. Numerous historic plaques around the park relate the many important events that have taken place in Court Square. (Tip: Don't sit here and expect to enjoy a snack or picnic lunch -- you'll be accosted by dive-bombing pigeons and aggressive, overweight squirrels.)
A block to the west, you'll find Jefferson Davis Park, which overlooks Mud Island and Riverside Drive. Several Civil War cannons face out toward the river from this small park. Below Jefferson Davis Park, along Riverside Drive, you'll find Tom Lee Park, which stretches for 1 1/2 miles south along the bank of the Mississippi and is named after a local African-American hero who died saving 32 people when a steamer sank in the Mississippi in 1925 -- even though Lee, himself, could not swim. This park is a favorite of joggers and is the site of various festivals, including the big Memphis in May celebration. A parallel park called Riverbluff Walkway is the newest development atop the bluff on the east side of Riverside Drive. And just north of the Pyramid in Harbor Town, an exclusive, 950-home planned community neighborhood (similar to Seaside, Florida), lies Greenbelt Park. Its tree-shaded trails and pristine picnic area offers the city's most picturesque, unspoiled views of the Mississippi River.
Located in Midtown and bounded by Poplar Avenue, East Parkway North, North Parkway, and North McLean Boulevard, Overton Park is one of Memphis's largest parks and includes not only the Memphis Zoo and Aquarium but also the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis College of Art, and the Overton Park Municipal Golf Course, as well as tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, and an open-air theater. The park's large, old shade trees make this a cool place to spend an afternoon in the summer, and the surrounding residential neighborhoods are some of the wealthiest in the city.
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