Date: September 19, 2018

Your Playground Awaits

As a dad, I’m always on the lookout for fun things to do with my girls, but after a while you can get stuck in a rut when it comes to ideas. Of course we love Overton Park and Shelby Farms, but it’s hot! And yes, the Children’s Museum of Memphis and Brooks Museum are awesome, and provide some shelter from the elements, but what about a place that offers a variety of fun activities under one roof?Thankfully, Crosstown Concourse — just a hop, skip, and jump from my house in the Vollintine Evergreen neighborhood — is filling in some gaps for the Hulett family.

On any warm day driving down Cleveland, you can see the Concourse plaza covered with kids and families, biking around and splashing in the water fountains. However, what might not be so obvious is all of the free arts, education, and wellness programming happening inside. From arts camps and activities at Crosstown Arts and dance lessons in the central atrium to kids yoga at the Church Health YMCA, the former Sears building is redefining itself as a hub for family fun.

Whether it’s the kids reading nook or story time on the theatre stairs, cruising the always-changing art galleries, listening to music, or playing games like pinball, there’s so much to do, and most of it is free.

Warning: It’s impossible, however, to not indulge in either a tasty Mempop or matchless ice cream from Area 51. I suggest both.

Does your kid like art? No problem. Crosstown Arts offers several artist-led workshops that teach collaboration as well as creativity. Workshops fill up fast so make sure to sign up today. Does your kid like whipping up new recipes? Church Health kitchen offers tons of different cooking classes for kids and families that range from beginners to the more seasoned chef.

“It’s been an electrifying summer! Over 50 middle- and high-school kids from all over the city participated in free, artist-led workshops via our programming,” says Crosstown Arts community theatre coordinator Jazmin Miller. “The students participated in beat battles that they created in shared art-making, learned recipes from our own Chef Raymond, displayed original art in exhibitions, featured their short films in a film festival, and graced the West Atrium with a flash mob. These budding artists were able to be a part of something that was truly collaborative, and they were also able to actively contribute to the creative community of Memphis.”

If your kid is looking for creative play opportunities, look no further than The Well at Church Health. With a motto of “eat better, get moving, have fun,” your kids can’t lose, and if you are a member of the YMCA or a Shared Lab, you can leave your kids in The Well while you get fit or work on your next project. Crosstown Concourse’s ecosystem encourages fitness, nutrition and wellness throughout and is built for infants to the elderly. There really is something for everyone. Just look at the newly minted Crosstown High School — 150 students learning and growing together alongside leaders in healthcare, arts, and education.

The best part about exploring Crosstown with your kids is not knowing where you might end up. It truly is a choose-your-own adventure scenario. Recently, I took my kids to ballet in the Creative Movement studio at Church Health. The next thing I knew, we were eating a fun family lunch at Next Door, sampling some new Mempops, playing chase on the theatre stairs, checking out all of the new art in the galleries, and getting our photo made in the Amurica photo booth, strategically placed in the main atrium.

With only a year under its belt, the impact of this extraordinary endeavor of adaptive reuse is already garnering international attention. As Memphians, we should appreciate having a new playground to take our kids, too.

To see all the different activities you and your family can experience at Crosstown Concourse on any given week, visit the events page at

1350 CONCOURSE AVE • MEMPHIS, TN • 38104 • 901.203.8300