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Summer Series Part I: Overton Park

Publication Date: 6/4/2013

By Lauren Albright ′16

Rhodes College is known for its beautiful campus, but our campus is only 100 acres . . . needless to say, you get really familiar with the campus really fast. Those buildings that all used to look the same are now unmistakably different.  Nine times out of 10 there is something to do amongst these buildings, but sometimes you need to step outside the Rhodes bubble and experience the city of Memphis. A good place to start would be right across the street in Overton Park. I used to think that Overton Park was just a plot of land with your typical walking trails and playgrounds. But in reality, it is so much more. Some of the most popular sites are great getaways when your stress levels get too high or when great weather beckons you from your studies.

My personal favorite is the Memphis Zoo (one of the top zoos in the country). The zoo is directly across the street, so when the monkeys come out to play, they can be heard from anywhere on campus. On Tuesday afternoons admission is FREE, so this is a great time to go and experience all the awesome exhibits, including my favorites: the bears and wolves in Teton Trek, the polar bears and sea lions in the Northwest Passage, and, of course, Ya Ya and Le Le, our giant pandas, who live a perfect life of eating and sleeping. The zoo offers lots of job, volunteer, research, and internship opportunities for students, which is nice since all you have to do is walk across the street to get there!

Last semester, I went on a field trip for a classical studies class to the Brooks Museum, located just south of the zoo. The museum has a ton of great exhibits and I would suggest devoting a good chunk of time to go, because it’s so easy to get lost in the masterpieces they have collected. The student admission fee is ONLY $3, which is a total steal and fits right into a college student’s budget. The museum also has a restaurant called The Brushmark that comes very highly recommended.

So everyone knows that Memphis is known for music and everyone knows that college kids love free stuff . . . so an awesome way to experience Memphis’s love for music for FREE is by going to the Levitt Shell. The Levitt Shell is famous for being the site of Elvis’s first ever rock’n’roll concert, and nowadays the venue hosts more than 50 FREE shows from stellar artists during its fall and spring season, aka our fall and spring semester! The concerts are a perfect way to get away from the books and enjoy music from artists such as the North Mississippi Allstars (I highly recommend them), Theresa Andersson, and Big Sam’s Funky Nation!

For all of my outdoorsy friends, the Old Forest is a perfect place to take a break from the books and just stroll through a forest that is over 10,000 years old! There are paved and unpaved walking trails that snake through 142 acres of a conserved, protected State Natural Area. The forest is open from dawn till dusk every day and FREE walking tours are a great way to start getting to know the grounds.

If nothing else piques your interest, Overton Bark is a dog park that recently opened. It has sections for big and small dogs and plenty of log seats for people to sit on while their dogs play. For students who live off-campus with dogs—and for those who just miss their pups back home—Overton Bark is a great place to meet and mingle with dogs and people alike.