Touring Graceland – The Home of Elvis Presley is one of the top things to do in Memphis, Tennessee. You’ll experience an intriguing glimpse into the life of a rock and roll legend. While Graceland: The Home of Elvis Presley hosted me, opinions are all my own. And I highly recommend visiting this iconic destination when visiting Memphis.
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You may also like my other Memphis travel guide posts:
- Top things to do in Memphis – 3-day itinerary
- National Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel
- Sun Studio – birthplace of rock and roll
- Stax Museum of American Soul Music
- Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
Top things to do in Memphis: Visit the iconic Graceland
I am a huge fan of historic homes, and honestly, wasn’t quite sure what to expect before visiting Graceland. Granted, I grew up as a fan of Elvis Presley – his music and his movies. I’m sure if I watched them now they may seem a little campy. I remember what a treat it was when an Elvis movie aired on TV. We’d pop some popcorn on top of the stove in our green and almond kitchen and sit down on our burnt orange shag carpet in front of a tiny screen.
That was the 70s.
And Graceland definitely encapsulates the 1970s. So come along with me on a photo tour of the 14-acre Graceland estate as well as several Elvis Presley exhibits. Plan for at least a half-day to take the audio-guided tour of the mansion and a self-guided tour of Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland – a 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex.
Elvis fun fact
Elvis made 31 feature films and two concert documentaries.
You’ll find lots of parking at Graceland: The Home of Elvis Presley – currently $10 for standard vehicles and $15 for oversized vehicles. The parking lot is across the street from the mansion in front of Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex. That’s because you’ll need to take a shuttle bus over to Graceland from that location. And there’s lot to experience.
Where can I buy tickets to Graceland: The Home of Elvis Presley?
A number of ticket packages are available online or in person in the ticket office. Here are the Graceland tour options as of this published date.
- Elvis Presley’s Memphis + Planes – Features 10 exhibits (tour of the Graceland mansion is not included): Elvis’ career, cars, gold records, wardrobe, planes, and more
- The Elvis Experience Tour – Includes mansion tour, plus all the exhibits mentioned in the first bullet
- A special Elvis Entourage VIP Tour – Includes everything in the Elvis Experience Tour plus a skip-the-line pass and VIP shuttle to the mansion and an exclusive exhibit for VIPs in a private VIP lounge
- And for you die-hard fans, there is the Elvis Ultimate Tour – Everything above plus an expert guide, exclusive photo opportunity, personal Walt Disney Archives show-and-tell experience, and a meal voucher
Additionally, you’ll find special tours at Christmas, for example. Discounts available for Graceland tours include AAA, students, and seniors. Bring proper identification.
Where to eat at Graceland
Does Graceland have restaurants onsite?
Yes, well, not at the mansion, but across the street at Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex.
You can choose to dine at any of the following onsite restaurants at Graceland.
- Gladys’ Diner – Named after Elvis’ mother, Glady’s Diner at Graceland offers American cuisine from burgers to salads to pizza and, yes, Elvis’ favorite sandwich: peanut butter and banana – grilled in butter or bacon grease. You’ll also find a grab and go section and a shake and ice cream station.
- Vernon’s Smokehouse – Named after Elvis’ father, Vernon’s Smokehouse features traditional Memphis BBQ – ribs, brisket, chicken, and more of Elvis’ favorites such as meatloaf, catfish, and BBQ spaghetti
I arrived right around lunch time so before I headed over to the mansion, I ate lunch at Graceland’s onsite restaurant, Gladys’ Diner. Named after Elvis’ beloved mother, the cafeteria-style restaurant is located right next to the ticket office. The Gladys’ Diner dining option at Graceland is very spacious, lots of room, very clean, and really great food.
So, of course, I had to try Elvis’ favorite sandwich: grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich with crinkle (my favorite!) fries. I was surprised by how good it was. Delicious!
Before boarding the shuttle to take you across the street to the Graceland mansion, you’ll watch a short feature film about Elvis.
Graceland mansion tour
Then you’ll queue up for the shuttle bus where you’ll receive headphones and an iPad to use during your audio tour of Graceland. You may bring your own headphones with a standard jack if you prefer. Graceland rotates and sanitizes all equipment in between uses.
The shuttle to Graceland drops you off right in front of the main doors. You can take pictures before you go inside. And you also have the opportunity to take photos once your tour is over before boarding the shuttle back to the entertainment complex.
Can you take pictures at Graceland? Yes, you may take photos; however, flash photography is not allowed inside Graceland Mansion or any attractions.
One of the best historical homes in Memphis, Graceland is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, Graceland is a designated National Historic Landmark.
When you first enter Graceland, you’ll see the beautiful living area with stained glass windows and a pristine white piano in the background.
A beautiful staircase leads upstairs (with apparently mirrors on the wall beneath the King of Rock and Roll’s pictures as that’s me in the lower right). Your tour does not include the upstairs as that was Elvis’ private sanctuary. The tour takes you throughout the complex to areas where he entertained guests.
Elvis fun fact
Elvis did not like his nickname, The King. Although King of Rock and Roll was okay. He felt we only have one king: The Lord Jesus Christ. Elvis never shied from his spirituality. In fact, when I took a tour of RCA Studio B at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville (post coming later), Elvis had a steadfast tradition. On Sundays, he and his session players always played and sang gospel songs for up to two hours before he recorded.
Another Elvis fun fact
Elvis won three Grammys – all in gospel music.
Beautiful bedroom at Graceland Mansion
Can you stay at Graceland? No. While you cannot stay at the mansion, you can stay nearby at The Guest House at Graceland. Additionally, you can camp or glamp at the Graceland RV Park and Campground, which is within walking distance of Graceland.
Beautiful dining room at Graceland mansion
You’ll definitely feel the 70s vibe as you tour Graceland like this very bright yellow bar area.
And then there’s the billiard room. Loved the fabric treatment on the wall and the ceiling.
The iconic Jungle Room at Graceland. One of the top five most visited homes in the U.S, it is considered the second most famous home after The White House. Very popular, Graceland attracts 500,000 visitors a year. While that seems like a lot, it did not feel crowded to me. Lots of social-distancing opportunities and no lines.
Your Graceland tour will take you through many exhibits featuring photos and memorabilia. This iconic family photo depicts a young Elvis with his mother Gladys and father Vernon.
Elvis and Priscilla Presley married in 1967 at Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas. Today, you can hold your wedding at the Chapel in the Woods at Graceland.
Graceland Mansion also features a full racquetball court.
One of the prettiest stops on the Graceland Tour is the Meditation Garden. Here you’ll find beautiful sculptures, a fountain, a gazebo, flowering shrubs. This is also where you can visit the gravesites of Elvis and his close family members.
The gravesite of Elvis Presley at Graceland in Memphis.
Tour the beautiful gardens and grounds at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. – America’s #1 attraction.
At the end of your Graceland mansion tour, make your way to the small gate house. Here you can wait for a shuttle to take you back to the Elvis Presley’s Memphis complex. The shuttles run frequently so if you didn’t get photos of the front of Graceland, this is a good time to do it.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis gave me a Walt Disney vibe – without the crowds.
One of the 10 exhibits where you can take a self-guided tour of when visiting Graceland: The Home of Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex features several interactive experiences like virtually riding around in a golf cart.
One of the best exhibits at Graceland: Private Presley that illustrates his life serving his civil duty in the military.
You’ll find many displays of Elvis’ time in the military in the Private Elvis exhibit.
I especially loved the exhibit featuring musical legends influenced by Elvis.
Elvis Presley fun fact
Elvis sold more than one billion units of music.
Make sure to stop in at the Elvis – The Entertainer Career Museum when visiting Memphis. It’s one of the top things to do at Graceland.
Elvis Presley recorded his first song, “That’s All Right,” at Sun Studio in Memphis. He recorded about a dozen more at that studio. Grateful that Memphis Travel and Sun Studio – the birthplace of Rock and Roll – hosted me on a tour of where so many musical legends recorded. Will share my incredible experience at Sun Studio soon.
Elvis Presley released his first record at Sun Studio in 1954. He went on to record more than 700 songs over his career – with 150 albums. And according to the estate’s information, 150 albums or singles were certified as gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
With nearly 1,100 concert performances, I was surprised to learn that Elvis Presley never performed outside of the U.S. or Canada (and the latter was a three-day tour). Interesting fact especially since an estimated 40% or Elvis Presley records were sold outside the United States.
An Elvis Presley fun fact
Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957, but they only recorded him from the waist up. His dance moves were a little too provocative for the times apparently. A year earlier, Elvis started a scandal with his performance of Hound Dog on the Milton Berle Show.
Out of the 149 songs that appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop Chart, 114 made it to the top 40.
Elvis Presley made 31 movies and became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and the highest-paid actor for many years. Love Me Tender was his first movie and his two most critically acclaimed movies are Jailhouse Rock and King Creole.
Make sure to plan time to tour all the exhibits at Graceland when visiting Memphis.
You can spot this red MG sports car in the Elvis Presley movie, Blue Hawaii.
Speaking of Hawaii, Elvis gave a benefit that raised more than $65,000 toward building the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. His support attracted more donors to the then-fledgling fundraising efforts. The memorial opened a year later.
The iconic white jumpsuit.
You’ll learn more about Elvis Presley throughout the Memphis entertainment district.
That’s my tour of the historical and beautiful Graceland – Home of Elvis Presley. I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour until you get the opportunity to visit. And I hope you do! Graceland – Home of Elvis Presley lives up to its reputation as one of America’s top attractions. See my related post on the Top Things to do in Memphis, Tennessee.
Pin it for Later: Graceland – Home of Elvis Presley
Tour the top attraction in Memphis, Tenn.: The historical home of Elvis Presley – Graceland.