Hot Nights

Our Guide to Summer Nights in Memphis

Looking for something to do on those long summer evenings? Sure, you could always flop on the couch and watch Seinfeld reruns — not that there is anything wrong with that. But we'd like to offer you considerably more interesting — and active —options. Some of them, we think, may surprise you. >>>


Sitting outside on a humid Memphis summer night may not sound like the most pleasurable experience. But there's something about Café Olé's icy-cold margaritas that seem to melt the heat away. Order a pitcher of their tangy Sangria Margarita or sweet Strawberry Margarita (on Mondays, their house margaritas are two for one!) and kick back on the spacious patio. As always, the chips and salsa are free, but if you're really hungry, the Vera Cruz (a black bean and spinach enchilada with tomatillo sauce) will surely hit the spot. — Bianca Phillips

The Really Big Screen

You can have it your way at Malco's Summer Quartet, the city's only drive-in movie theater. You control the temperature inside the car. You control the volume since your car radio acts as the movie speaker. And best of all — you can sneak in snacks and beverages (not that we endorse that sort of thing). Oh, and let's not forget that the drive-in offers two movies for the price of one! Gotta love double features. So pack a picnic, load the car, grab some friends, and enjoy four hours of cinema heaven. — BP

Batter Up

My favorite moment of a night at AutoZone Park is right after the first pitch. Barring the assault of a home run from the visitor's lead-off batter, this is the moment when time — for baseball fans, at least — stops, and possibilities for the night ahead know no limit. Baseball being a game played outside the confines of a clock — at least 27 outs must be recorded by the winner, however long they take — you measure your time at the ballpark by the moments that follow that first pitch.

The sun sets behind the downtown skyline, the beer vendors get more creative in their poetry ("Too cold to hold!"), and the possibility of a foul ball landing somewhere nearby sharpens your focus on the action, however many cold ones were needed to wash down that hot dog. If a baseball game itself slows time, the design of AutoZone Park has community in mind, its concourse the location for social planning, random reconnections with old friends, and an after-dark stroll beyond the cypress trees in centerfield, where a kiss can be stolen as easily as second base.

Yes indeed, it's true: You can fall in love at the ballpark.

— Frank Murtaugh

Another World at Otherlands

Families with kids usually have to give up on hot summer nights in Memphis because most shows generally start sometime between 10 and midnight. But now there's an option. Otherlands coffeehouse has grown into a viable and interesting music venue that serves as a showcase for touring artists like jangle-pop innovator dBs co-founder Peter Holsapple (also an auxiliary member of REM and Hootie & the Blowfish) while featuring a regular slate of home-grown talents like Harlan T. Bobo, Dan Montgomery, and Lucero's Ben Nichols as well as country, blues, and bluegrass-inspired musicians Jed Zimmerman and Richard Ford.

The shows usually start between 8 and 8:30 p.m. and best of all, kids aren't simply welcome — they get in free. Otherlands is a comfortable, smoke-free environment that's far removed from the rowdiness of Memphis' bar scene. It's as if the patrons have actually come out to hear the music, rather than to simply get their party on. — Chris Davis

Rock Show

It's friday night. You've had a hard week at work. And now, here you are, a harness cinched tightly around your torso, relaxing on the side of a "rock face" at Bridges U.S.A.

Down below, a belayer from Outdoors Inc. controls the rope. Your arms quiver as you climb up the 35-foot course, but you reach the top and ring the bell in victory.

When Bridges first opened its ropes course and rock wall, it was used during training programs for school and corporate groups. But now the rock course is open to the public once a month during Climb Nights. Costing $15 for adults, $10 for children, it's an adrenaline-racing after-hours activity for the entire family.

About 50 people show up each month, and Bridges (260-3707) has a small concession stand serving drinks and snacks. — Mary Cashiola

Anchors Aweigh

With its cozy little patio, friendly wait staff, and nautical atmosphere, the Cove on Broad Avenue is an oasis in a sea of Memphis.

A captain's wheel and murals of lusty seamen — salvaged from the old Anderton's restaurant on Madison — decorate the walls of this pearl of an oyster bar. In addition to oysters, diners can feast on the Mermaid salad or the Sicilian sandwich (or, if they're feeling a little less exotic, the Midtowner).

The Cove also makes a mighty fine cocktail and, unlike at the Beer Joint, the space's previous incarnation, you can curse like a sailor, if you choose. Just be careful you don't find yourself three sheets to the wind. — MC

Blazing Away

It's 8:30 on a Saturday night, and a young man raises a gun to his shoulder, takes quick aim, and pulls the trigger, blowing a tattered hole in the chest of the "bad guy" 15 yards away.

But this is one shooting that won't make the news, because the "victim" is a drawing on a paper target. Welcome to "Shotgun Night" at the Range USA shooting gallery on Whitten Road. During the week, this establishment offers 21 shooting lanes for anyone who wants to perfect his or her skills with pistols and revolvers, but on Saturday nights, from 6 to 9 p.m., the action gets considerably hotter (and louder) as customers take aim with shotguns, .22 caliber rifles, and even AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapons. If you're stressed out, it's a good way to blow off steam, and — with an hour's lane rental just $12 — lots cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist.

And looking for something a bit more romantic? Friday evening is "Date Night" at Range USA — $39.99 gets you lane rental, a pair of targets, and dinner for two in the 1776 restaurant. Not only is it a mighty cheap date, but it has another advantage: If you and your companion aren't exactly hitting it off, after an hour of blasting away, your ears will be ringing so much you don't have to worry about making small talk. — Michael Finger

Roll Models

More than three years ago, about 40 local women laced up their traditional quad skates and got rolling. The result was the Memphis Roller Derby. Now part of the international Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association, MRD has three intra-league teams and one travel team, the Hustlin' Rollers.

During bouts — held at the Mid-South Fairground's Youth Building — athletic women fly around the tiny skate track, knocking into each other (and often into the crowd). They are muscular and tattooed — the likely daughters of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson from Grease. And with beer, local bands, and plenty of action, the bouts are a celebration of counter-culture, bad girls made good. — MC

Top of the Town

One of the oldest parties in Memphis is also one of the hippest. The weekly rooftop tradition at The Peabody began in 1938 as the Sunset Serenade. The supper club featured Big Band-era favorites, like Les Brown and Tommy Dorsey. These days, the Thursday-night soiree offers a variety of modern popular music, among them local aristocrunk rappers Lord T and Eloise, country artist Andy Childs, and party music masters Dr. Zarr's Amazing Funk Monster. On a warm summer night, the rooftop offers an amazing sunset view, as well as plenty of opportunity for networking over wine and cocktails. Ladies get in free before 8 p.m. — BP

Hot Wheels

The downtown trolley tours are Memphis at its most European, calling to mind long evenings in small Tuscan villages where everybody comes out of their houses to buy gelato and chat with friends and family while milling about the town square. There's no gelato, sadly. Instead the monthly tours use the art galleries on South Main as a reason to bring an extraordinary cross section of Memphians out to dine, drink, listen to music, and simply hang out in a nifty, stimulating environment. — CD

Beating the Heat

The only thing that might be better than sipping a brilliant Chimay while noshing on sausage and cheese and watching a film at Malco's intimate, incredibly comfortable Studio on the Square? Having an identical experience at the Paradiso in East Memphis, then walking across the parking lot to Ben & Jerry's, where you can play checkers on a giant tabletop board and beat the heat with a double scoop of Chubby Hubby. — CD

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