Things to do in Memphis: Visiting Graceland

If you’re in Memphis, visiting Graceland is a must! Or is was for me. I’m not a die hard Elvis fan, but come on it’s Elvis. Thirty-six years after his passing  he’s still regarded as one of the most important figures of twentieth century popular culture. He’s simply iconic – and so is Graceland. Take a little tour with the photo essay I put together from my visit to Graceland.

visiting graceland
Elvis Aaron Presley. He is rather dreamy…

 Visiting Graceland

Graceland welcomes more than 600,000 visitors each year. It’s one of the five most visited home tours in the United States, and is the most famous home in America after The White House. In 1991, Graceland was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The right-side of Graceland. Photo from Wikipedia.
Graceland was voted the number one “Best Iconic American Attraction” by USA Today readers. Photo from Wikipedia.

Photos of the front of the house are not allowed until the end of the tour of Graceland. Make sure to remember to walk around to snap your photos, I didn’t.

Standing outside of the house I had to think it wasn’t exactly fit for The King. It did not seem to be the rock star type of mansions we see on MTV and VH1 today. But back in the 1950’s it was the real deal – nine bedrooms, seven-and-a-half baths, two full kitchens and two living rooms.

 

Graceland living room
Elvis’ visitors could admire the stained glass blue peacocks that decorate the living room and music room when they sat on custom-made, 14 feet long white leather couch. It looks remarkably comfy.

The tour of Graceland starts in the foyer where you are greeted by one of the tour guides. After a brief intro you’re instructed to begin your audio guide and “step into” the bright yellow, blue and very white living room and music room. The music room is seprated by an entryway flanked with stained-glass peacocks. It’s really a sight to see. I wished we had been able to step into the music room and get a look at the pianos Elvis played at his many late night jam sessions. But alas, all the rooms in the house are roped off so you can’t actually enter them.

Graceland staircase
The stairway that leads to Elvis’ bedroom and his daughter’s bedroom. Tours of the upstairs at Graceland have not been available and won’t be in the foreseeable future.

Tours of the upstairs at Graceland are not available. During Elvis’ life he did not allow guests to go upstairs into his/his family’s private area. The part of Graceland shown on our tour includes the areas he allowed his personal guests to see. When the family opened the house for tours, they felt the upstairs should remain private, that letting everyone go up there would be disrespectful to Elvis.

parents bedroom
Elvis’ parents – Gladys and Vernon Presley – bedroom is located on the main floor of Graceland.

 

Graceland kitchen
The kitchen is unchanged from the final set of renovations in the mid-1970s – everything from the carpeted floor to the yellow refrigerator.

Everything on the main floor of the house seemed pretty normal, until we reached the Jungle Room. Apparently Elvis had his patio turned into a room, complete with a waterfall, exotic plants and crazy animal print furniture. To add to the jungle theme he had green shag carpet put on both the floor and the ceiling, which added a great acoustical benefit. He recorded the album “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” and half of “Moody Blue” in the Jungle Room.

jungle room at graceland
The Jungle Room at Graceland. Perhaps the first “Man Cave”? It was in the room where he recorded the album “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” and half of “Moody Blue”.

The basement at Graceland houses the Billiards Room and the TV Room.

graceland billards room
The billiards room was redecorated in 1973 by Elvis and is a perfect demonstration of his unique – wild – taste. The walls and ceiling are covered in pleated, matching fabric.

 

elvis basement
Truly a TV room. Elvis had the room quipped with three TVs. He got the idea after hearing that President Lyndon Johnson watched three TVs at the same time to keep up with the news. Elvis didn’t end up using the TV room to keep up with the news though, rather NFL football.

 

elvis basement
Elvis really did sit here; bar stools in his basement TV room/bar.

Elvis had a racquetball court built in 1974 when he got into the sport. It’s now home to his awards and world famous jumpsuites.

elvis awards
Elvis starred in 33 successful films. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees.

 

elvis jumpsuite
Elvis’ jumpsuits and gold records are on display in the racquetball building.

 

visiting graceland
In addition to Elvis’ awards, on the tour you’re able to see many of his outfits as well as those worn by his wife, Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie.

 

ElvisPlane Graceland
Elvis had two planes, both of which are stored at Graceland and can be viewed on the tour. Each plane, along with other items throughout Graceland and custom jewelry Elvis wore, are marked with a large lightning bolt and the letters TCB. It means “taking care of business in a flash.” This was his personal credo and what he considered to be words to live by.

 

visiting graceland backyard
The back of Graceland.

 

pool graceland
The pool at Graceland is really rather small. It’s directly in front of Elvis’ Meditation Garden and his grave.

 

statue at graceland
Entering into the Mediation Garden, where Elvis is buried, visitors are welcomed by a statue of Christ and angels.

 

graceland
A little grace at Graceland… The Meditation Garden was where Elvis went for quite and time to reflect.

 

elvis aaron presley grave at graceland
Elvis Presley died in his home on Aug. 16, 1977. His family had him buried at Graceland to help aid in protecting his peace. His father and mother are also buried at Graceland along with a marker for his twin brother who died at birth.

 

Things to know before visiting Graceland

When to Visit Graceland

The peak season for visiting Graceland is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Attendance ranges from a few hundred visitors on a weekday in the winter to 2,000 – 3,500 visitors per day in the spring and early summer, to over 4,000 per day in July at the height of the travel season.

GracelandTickets

Graceland Hours of Operation

Graceland is open year round. Tours are typically done from 10am-4pm but during some of the summer months they’re offered from 9-5pm. Check Graceland tours for exact times.

Graceland Ticket Pricing

There are three different packages for the tour, with prices ranging from $33-70 for adults. All include the audio-guided tour of Graceland. I don’t usually like audio tours but there is a lot of ground to cover at Graceland and the audio tour helps keep you on track and allows you to skip ahead if you want to. The audio tour can be done in several languages as well. More information on tickets for visiting Graceland.

Graceland Ticket Office Hours

The ticket office is open 8:30am – 5pm, Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 am – 4 pm on Sunday for most of the year. Mansion tour availability begins 30 minutes after the ticket office opens and the last mansion tour of the day begins when the ticket office closes.

Graceland Tickets
There are three different packages for the tour, with priced ranging from $33-70 for adults.

 

Parking at Graceland

Graceland parking is located at 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN. Parking at Graceland is $10 for standard vehicles and $15 for over sized vehicles like RV’s, trailers or semi-trucks.

Where to Stay in Memphis

I did not have the opportunity to stay at The Heartbreak Hotel but it’s a REAL HOTEL. The boutique hotel is located conveniently across the street from Graceland and has 128 rooms for those wishing to be close to The King.

HeartbreakHotel
Heartbreak Hotel

 

Have you visited Graceland? What did you think? Would love to hear your thoughts on visiting Graceland – what did you like, dislike, etc?

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