Elvis Presley’s legendary life has become a fixed part of our pop culture. Even if you are not the most dedicated Elvis fan, a visit to Graceland should be in your list of things to do in Memphis. Not only is a walk through Graceland a walk back in time (the 70s, to be precise!). But you will also have a better appreciation of Elvis’ musical legacy and catch a glimpse of the life of the man behind the myth.
How to get there
Graceland is located in Memphis, Tennessee, about a 15 min drive from downtown Memphis and even closer to the airport.
Since we were staying downtown without a car, we relied on ride-booking services: Uber and Lyft are readily available in the area and can pick-up at the airport.
There is also a free shuttle that leaves from Sun Studio and stops at Graceland and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Sun Studio recorded many musical legends of the 50s, like Elvis, Johnny Cash, B.B. King and Jerry Lee Lewis. A visit to this spot is highly recommended! The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum is curated by the Smithsonian and narrates the evolution of soul music from its beginnings in the 1930s’ rural Memphis to becoming a global cultural influence in the 70s.
When to go
We booked our trip for the Three Kings’ Day long holiday weekend (día de los Tres Reyes Magos), which is celebrated January 6 in Puerto Rico. To our surprise, when we started researching what to do in the area, we realized that we would be in Memphis in time for Elvis’ birthday celebration in Graceland.
Every year, Graceland celebrates Elvis’ birthday with a full weekend of events, leading up to his birthday on January 8. Most of the events can be accessed via VIP tickets, while others are free. More information can be found at the official Graceland website.
Since we are not huge Elvis fans, we decided not to participate in these events. We were a little worried that there would be crowds gathered for the celebration, and thus decided to schedule our visit for opening time (more about tickets below). There were only a handful of people on our early Friday morning tour, so perhaps it was good to go early.
Or perhaps it was the weather? You see, whenever we had considered a trip to Memphis, we had agreed not to go in the summer to escape the hot temperatures, which can reach the mid 90s° F. In January, we expected temperatures of about 50°F, which for us is pleasant enough to walk.
What we did not expect was the winter storm that took the South by surprise that winter (2017). We arrived just as the storm had cleared. Next day, Memphis was a winter wonderland! As it often happens when it snows heavily in the South, all stores were closed and there was absolutely no one on the streets. The temperature dropped to 20°F and the streets were not cleared of the snow, so it was not very nice to walk around! The drives also took longer than expected, as there were fewer drivers available. We still had a great time, but just be aware than in winter anything can happen!
Your point of entry to Graceland is the Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibition complex. Here you will either buy your ticket or exchange your voucher, then wait for a shuttle bus to Graceland (just across the street). Visit the exhibits and the shops while you wait, or grab a bite in one of the restaurants on site.
Within the complex, you will find the Automobile Museum, displaying Elvis’ car collection, like the Pink Cadillac. In the Career Museum, you will see many of Elvis’ iconic jumpsuits, as well as a collection of his gold and platinum records.
Graceland – the home of Elvis
Crossing the gates of Graceland was enchanting. You’ve heard the stories of this magical place that was the home of Elvis, the legend, the King of Rock -n- Roll. And suddenly you find yourself waiting on the porch by the white front door. So cool!
You will receive an iPad and headphones as this is a self-guided visit. The audio guide narrates the daily life of Elvis in Graceland, and details the design choices made for each room. As you move along the tour, you will walk in and out of the house and through some steps.
During our visit, the house was still decorated for Christmas, with a beautiful tree in the living room.
The second floor is closed to visitors. But look at that amazing chandelier!
The tour continues on to the first-floor bedroom, Jungle Room, the kitchen, the Pool Room and the TV room (although there was a TV in every room of the house). Every room was lavishly decorated.
In the Trophy Room there is a collection of Elvis’ memorabilia. There are a few jumpsuits, posters from his movies, some Elvis’s concerts playing on TV screens, and a room full of his gold and platinum records. Quite impressive to see!
At the end of the visit, you will walk outside to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family are buried.
The Lisa Marie airplane
If you are a frequent traveler, you will get a kick out of visiting Elvis’ planes. The Lisa Marie was customized to be fit for a king! The plane had a living room, bedroom with full size bed, and a conference room. Wish we could travel in that luxury every day!
Things to know
- Graceland opens every day, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day (December 25). Opening hours are seasonal, so check online before your visit.
- Tickets can be purchased online, and you can select a date and a time for your visit. For more information about what to do if you miss the time of your tour, visit the “Tips for visiting Graceland” section on the Graceland website as that information may change without notice.
- A visit to Graceland is not cheap. There are a few ticket options, starting at $41 for the mansion-only tour. Choose a package based on your level of interest in Elvis memorabilia. We extensively searched the internet for promo coupons, but found nothing (please let us know in the comments if you find anything!). Note that the website offers a few discounts, so see if you qualify.
Have you visited Graceland? How was your visit?
Let us know in the comments!