Any trip to Memphis, Tennessee would not be complete without a stop at Graceland, the lavish home of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi but moved to Memphis and made it his home when he rose to fame. His family and friends were welcomed here, often staying in his guest rooms and taking advantage of the horses and golf carts on the property.
Originally named Graceland Farms after the daughter of Stephen C. Toof, a local businessman. The property passed on to Grace and later her niece, who built the current home in 1939. Elvis bought the property in 1957, keeping its name. He added onto it a number of times over the years, adding his own touches and features. The home first opened to tours in 1982 after his death in 1977. The upstairs is still off limit to visitors as it remains the living quarters for the Presleys. Today it’s a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.
Visitors from nearly every country in the world come to pay tribute to the musician, over 650,000 per year. Visiting Elvis’ Graceland is like looking into the past, as the property has remained relatively unchanged over the years. Guests arrive at the home by shuttle and enter the front door. Interactive iPad audio guides are narrated by John Stamos, adding additional photos and interactive media. There are options for multiple languages.
Presley was known for his over-the-top style in both dress, as we saw in the Vegas years, as well as in his design aesthetic. His television room is one example, which had three TVs, just like the President of the United States had at the time. There are also mirrored ceilings and a logo for “Taking Care of Business,” something found throughout the home and his personal items.
The famous “Jungle Room” has a functioning waterfall, custom animal skin chairs and was used as a recording studio for his final two albums. Visitors can also see his racquetball court, which has its own piano and sitting area, and garage, which was turned into an office for Vernon, a recording studio, and even an impromptu shooting range. This area has exhibits on Presley’s life, including the attire he and Priscilla wore at their wedding, early photographs, and even his high school diploma.
The Meditation Garden is where Presley and his parents were laid to rest. Fans from all over the world send flowers daily. There is has always been an arrangement since he died over thirty years ago. It’s also where his memorial service is held every year on his birthday, usually hosted by Lisa Marie Presley.
One of the most well-known parts of the exhibit space is his famous Airplane collection. Presley’s airplanes, the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II are on display. You can go inside both and see the plane’s full dining room and bedroom. Both planes were returned to the home in the 1990s with much Memphis fanfare.
There are also brand new exhibits as well as longtime favorites at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a massive 200,000 square foot addition to the attraction. Presley Motors showcases the famous Pink Cadillac along with other vehicles like motorcycles and dune buggies. Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum showcases his rise to stardom and includes some of his notable outfits like the Vegas-era jumpsuits. Smaller exhibits include one on Lisa Marie, another on Elvis’s time in the Army, and items from the Graceland archives.
Graceland also has a performance space that welcomes touring acts. There are also shops selling memorabilia related to Presley and multiple restaurants open all day. Rock n Go is ideal for coffee and pastries. Vernon’s Smokehouse serves barbecue, while Gladys’ Diner is a 1950s-style diner with his beloved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Minnie Mae’s Sweets offer dessert and other treats.
If You Go
Skip the line by purchasing your tickets online before you go. They range in price, depending on how much you want to see, from $21-174. AAA, student, and government discounts are available, but you need proper documentation.
Graceland is located at 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38116. Parking is plentiful and driving is the best way to get there. Alternatively, there is a free shuttle that runs from Sun Studio downtown. No flash photography or video is allowed in Graceland. Give yourself three to four hours here.
I received complimentary admission to assist in updating this guide.