Are you visiting Memphis, Tennessee, and wondering, “is Graceland worth visiting?” For many of us, touring Graceland never makes our bucket list as the younger generations may know who Elvis Presley is, but they've never listened to his music. Or perhaps they don't know his story.
I'll be honest and say while I always liked Elvis and his music, I never knew his story. But when I got the opportunity to visit Graceland during a travel conference, I was blown away. Not only was I enamored by this historic treasure, but I discovered so much about Elivs' life I never knew. I have a completely newfound appreciation for him, his legacy, and his contributions to the world.
More than that, I was simply in awe of his complex that pays tribute to this American legend and would say not only is Graceland worth visiting. But it's a must-visit spot for anyone interested in music, Elvis, and American History. Graceland is a fantastic place for adults and families alike. And, even though they may not know much about Elvis Presley, this immersive and interactive experience is something kids will love.
So, if you're wondering, “Is Graceland worth visiting,” I answer with a resounding yes!
You don't have to be an Elvis Presley fan to enjoy spending a day at Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s an affordable family travel destination with plenty of activities for all ages. In fact, I'll bet your kids will love it just as much as the adults will!
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Located about 20 or so minutes from downtown Memphis, this stunning mansion on Elvis Presley Boulevard was home to Elvis, the largest-selling musician of all time. Elvis also just happened to be a movie star and had the largest television broadcast ever (1.5 billion people watched it).
Unfortunately, Elvis died suddenly at Graceland in 1977 at the young age of 42. His 13.8 acres estate is one of the most toured privately-owned houses in the United States.
The Graceland Mansion is an important part of Memphis, Tennessee's history, as well as American history and music history. Graceland was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2006.
The Graceland Complex
While Graceland Mansion is part of the Graceland experience, it is just one part of this sprawling complex that pays homage and respect to Elvis's life, his upbringing and rise to fame, his life as a rock star, famed car collections, life in Graceland, military service, and so much more. You can even tour his private planes.
The entire Graceland complex is immersive and interactive, which makes it such a fantastic place to visit in Memphis with kids. There is so much to see and do there, it is easily a half to a full-day experience, depending on how much time you spend in the different sections. If you are like me, you will find it so fascinating, you won't want to leave. And, it offers so many interesting features, even kids who know nothing about Elvis will find it interesting!
If you are at all an Elvis or rock n roll fan, this will feel like Disneyland to you. But if you are like me who knew some things, you will be immersed in a world that in some parts is walking in his footsteps as much of it is preserved as it was when he lived there.
More than that, you will be in awe of him as a person, his contribution to the world through his music, his talent, and his service. Just as his home is an American treasure, he too is an American treasure and for this reason, Graceland is well worth visiting for families.
What To Do At Graceland
While Graceland Mansion tours are the main attraction, they aren't the only things to see and do. This is another reason why when I am asked “is Graceland worth visiting” I say a resounding yes. Because it isn't just the mansion to see. It's a museum of Elvis's legacy!
Here are things to do when visiting Graceland.
Graceland Mansion Tours
One of the main highlights and features of Graceland is taking one of the Graceland Mansion Tours. But it is important to note, this is just one part of the entire Graceland experience (albeit one of the most important parts.) It is probably the most impactful and important experience of visiting Graceland, as this is where you will learn Elvis's story from the time he was born until the time of his passing.
His 9-year-old daughter Lisa Presley inherited the home when he died, and his ex-wife Priscilla Presley turned it into one of the most popular tourist attractions in America. Once you purchase your timed tickets, you will first watch a short film about Elvis and Graceland. You then board a shuttle that will take you to the mansion and you'll be given an iPad and earphones which is set up to give you a self-guided audio tour of the property.
Narrated by American actor John Stamos, who played Jessie on the hit television show Full House and whose character was an Elvis fan, you will be walked through the house, much of which is set up as it was back when Elvis lived there. You will see rooms, his grounds, office, and even where he and his parents are buried in the meditation garden at Graceland. It is toward the end of the Graceland Mansion tour.
The available tours are:
Tours of the Graceland estate range between $17 and $259 and allow you to tour various parts of 120 acres that have been dedicated to the life and career of Elvis Presley. You can see his classic car museum, ride a simulated golf cart like Elvis loved to do, experience the interactive exhibits, tour his planes, see his gold records, and even stay at The Guest House at Graceland, a AAA four-diamond resort.
- Elvis Presley's Memphis + Planes – $27 to $48
- The Christmas Tour – $60 to $93
- The Christmas UVIP Tour – $259
- Elvis Experience Tour – $44 to $77
- Elvis Entourage VIP Tour – $128
- Ultimate VIP Tour – $196
People who buy the Elvis Entourage VIP, Ultimate VIP, or the Elvis Experience also have the option to purchase a discounted multi-day ticket for additional days to visit. This option is great if you want to visit Graceland and get access to the Graceland Mansion and estate for more than one day. There is also The Guest House at Graceland across the street that mirrors the exterior of the Graceland Mansion, making it the perfect place to stay for a multi-day visit.
Plus, you can visit the Ultimate Lounge, a jungle room available to VIP guests only, where you can see some special artifacts no one else can.
You can purchase some Graceland tickets online or at the show ticket office and box office, on the property.
So, is Graceland worth visiting if you're not a huge Elvis fan? My whole family, even the kids, loved this experience. When you choose one of these tours to visit Graceland, you experience the King of Rock ‘n' Roll like never before.
And die-hard Elvis fans will want to stay at The Guest House at Graceland and consider taking one of the more extensive Graceland tours.
There are several restaurants on site where you can dine, including a diner themed after the time period when Elvis was at the height of his popularity. These restaurants also share some Elvis's favorite dishes and even some famous Memphis barbecue! Dining on property includes:
- Vernon's Smokehouse (Memphis Barbecue and some of Elvis's favorite meals)
- Rock ‘n' Go (coffee shop)
- Minnie Mae's Sweets
- Gladys' Diner
Of course, when you visit Graceland, you must grab a few souvenirs. Luckily there are a couple of gift shops to do that so you can grab one of those stuffed pink Cadillacs! There are collectibles, clothing, items for the home, and so much more. It is definitely a great way to bring home a bit of Elvis to remember your trip.
Depending on when you visit Graceland, you could be in for a real treat. Events and shows take place from time to time at Graceland and any Elvis fan will not want to miss it. Things like Elvis Movie Exhibitions, Elvis Tribute Artists, Elvis Week, and Live Graceland Concerts take place at the complex. It's just another way to embrace this experience.
15 Reasons You Should Visit Graceland Mansion and Complex
1. Elvis is the King of Rock n Roll.
Elvis revolutionized Rock ‘n' Roll – the genre was born once he arrived on the scene. He was a white man bringing black influence into this type of music, and he influenced famous musicians like Michael Jackson, The Beetles, Elton John, and other megastars.
2. Graceland is One of the Most Visited Private Residences in America and Memphis, Tennessee.
Every year more than 650,000 people visit Graceland. The first most visited private residence is technically the White House, but I'm not sure that counts.
3. Graceland is More Than Just a Home
Graceland is not just the King's house; it's on the National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark.
4. Learn About Elvis's Remarkable Life Story
Elvis represents the true American dream as he was born into poverty in Tupelo, Mississippi, and ended up being the undisputed King of Rock n Roll. Not many people start off poor and end up being more of the most popular musicians in America and owning one of the most popular tourist attractions in Memphis, Tennessee.
5. Elvis Was One of the Most Influential Musicians in History
When I say Elvis started a musical revolution, he really did. He created the new Rock n Roll genre making it what we know today and influencing hundreds of the most popular recording artists in the world.
6. Uncle Jessie is Your Tour Guide
Need I say more? It could be because I grew up with Full House, a popular TV sitcom in the 80s and 90s. Fuller House came later on. As far as I'm concerned, they picked the perfect tour guide! And, fun fact, you learn that Uncle Jessie was named after Elvis's twin brother Jessie who passed away at birth.
7. There's so Much to See
You'll find so many things to see when you tour Graceland, like:
- The rooms in his house, like the Jungle Room (based on his love of Hawaii,) the TV room with the mirrored ceiling, and the billiards room. The billiard room is one of the most fascinating, next to the Jungle room.
- The racquetball court that now houses his platinum records, gold records, and famous jumpsuits.
- All the rooms are staged the way Elvis lived in them.
- His personal collection of cars
- His planes
- Much of his military gear and Army uniforms
- Fun interactive exhibits like the virtual golf cart experience
- A gift shop to get Elvis souvenirs
- A movie theater and restaurants
8. Learn About His Story to Better Understand Him
Visiting Graceland and learning more about Elvis's story gives you a better understanding of his life and death. You can't help but feel compassion for him.
9. Travel Back in Time
Visiting Graceland is like traveling back in time. The rooms in the mansion and gardens are basically untouched, so it is an incredibly well-preserved museum featuring a day in the life of Elvis Presley. See:
- The Jungle Room
- TV room
- Billiards room
- Living room with peacock-stained class
- The red-themed bedroom
- The Meditation Garden and pool
10. The Pink Cadillac
Just about everyone has heard of Elvis's pink Cadillac. If you love classic cars, you'll love his pristine classic car collection.
11. You'll Literally Walk in Elvis's Footsteps
You'll get to see the same things Elvis saw daily and feel his presence. Walking in Elvis's footsteps alone makes visiting Graceland worth it.
12. It's One of the Most Interactive Historical Sites
I've traveled all over the world, so it's saying something when I say it's one of the most interactive historical sites I've been to. When someone asks “what is so special about Graceland?” I say everything. It is walking in the footsteps and connecting with one of the most iconic people in history.
The fact that you can walk around the house and visit the planes up close creates a personal connection with the location. You can even sign the famous Graceland wall.
13. If You're Not a Fan Before You Visit Elvis Presley's Memphis, Tennessee Home, You Will Be
If you didn't love Elvis before visiting Memphis, you certainly will. You can't help but connect with Elvis on a personal level. When I left, I felt like I had known Elvis all my life.
14. You'll Respect How Talented and Accomplished He Was
He accomplished so much and rose to stardom like no other musician that you'll feel sad too that he passed away far too soon. If only the world was able to experience him even longer.
15. See Elvis's Iconic Artifacts
Whether you're an Elvis fan or not, you'll love seeing all his artifacts, like his gold records, clothing, pop culture memorabilia, things from his life in the military, and much more.
16. Bonus: You'll Be Blown Away
You'll be blown away by how much you'll learn about Elvis Presley's Memphis home and life; I certainly was. And I promise, your kids will be impressed too!
When you visit Memphis to see Elvis, you'll be surprised that your kids may even want to listen to his music. So, many people loved Elvis, and you'll totally see why.
Tips For Visiting Graceland
Here are some quick tips to help you get the most your of your Elvis Presley Graceland tour.
- If you're wondering how long it takes to tour Graceland, block off at least 4 hours for your visit to Graceland, if not a full day. – Like other historic landmarks and estates, there's a lot to see, like his private jet, beautiful estate gardens, Elvis memorabilia, jeweled jumpsuits, personal moments, and a large gift shop. I spent about four hours and wish I had more time. I would also purchase the ticket to be able to see the planes as well to get the whole experience.
- You can eat onsite. – There are a few restaurants on the property at The Guest House at Graceland – Shake, Rattle, and Go, EP's Bar & Grill, or Delta's Kitchen.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. – Make sure everyone wears comfy shoes as you'll be doing a lot of walking on your Graceland Mansion tour.
- Your tour of the Graceland Mansion will be a self-guided tour. – You'll ride a shuttle bus to the entrance of the mansion, where staff will give you an iPad and earphones for an audio tour. You’ll listen to Elvis Presley facts as you walk around, taking in all the spaces like the infamous Jungle Room, billiard room, and dining room.
- Explore the Rest of the Property – After your tour of the Graceland Mansion, you'll explore the rest of the property, like The Entertainer Career Museum, Meditation Garden, and other exhibits. There's a lot to see.
- Visit the exhibit with Elvis Presley artifacts. – You'll get to see items from his family home, birth, time in the military, and most famous days.
- See where Elvis was laid to rest. – As the tour continues, you will walk past the tennis courts and ultimately arrive at his resting place. Even if you're not an Elvis Presley fan, you'll shed some tears of sadness at a life snuffed out way too soon.
- Visit the Elvis Presley Motors Automobile Museum – If you love classic cars, you'll love this part of your visit to Graceland and immerse yourself in a few interactive displays, including a simulated golf cart ride.
- See Elvis Presley's Airplanes – As promised, when you visit Graceland, you'll also get to see Elvis's planes.
- Even if you don't know a lot about Elvis when you first visit Graceland, you'll learn a lot during the tour.
- Staying Close to Graceland – If you want to stay close to Graceland, you can stay at The Guest House across the street or in downtown Memphis Tennessee. But you will need to Uber or drive from downtown to the estate.
- Print Your Tickets or Have Them Available on Your Smartphone – If your tickets were emailed to you, then having them ready will reduce your wait time if you need to have them reprinted onsite.
- Pay for Advanced Parking Before You Visit Graceland. – If you pay in advance, you'll save time.
- Visit Graceland at Less Busy Times. – Graceland is typically less crowded in the afternoons, especially after 2 PM.
- The GPS Location for Graceland is 3717 Elvis Presley Boulevard.
- Bring a Sharpie to Sign the Famous Graceland Wall.
Tips For Seeing More Elvis Sights In Memphis and Beyond
- Be sure and add a trip into downtown Memphis and stop by Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded his first record. This is important also as many famous artists have graced this studio.
- Take a stroll on Beale Street in Memphis as well (during the day not at night as it becomes more of a nightclub scene at night) where you will see many landmarks where famous musicians have walked and graced this historic site in Memphis.
- If you want to follow Elvis's upbringing, you can take a day trip to Tupelo, Mississippi where he was born!
- The best time of year to go to Graceland and Memphis is in April or May or October or November to avoid the Memphis summer heat. It's a great spring break destination for families.
Final Thoughts on Is Graceland Worth Visiting
Many people who have visited Graceland in Memphis and learned more about Elvis report becoming Elvis fans if they weren't before. And at the very least you will have a unique, immersive experience that is great for the whole family. When I am asked, “Is Graceland worth visiting?” I say absolutely it is!
From the fun self-guided tour led by John Stamos to staying at The Guest House at Graceland, you'll experience the life of a famous rockstar. And you will understand why so many people were moved and influenced by him.
So, whenever someone asks me, “Is it worth going to see Graceland?” I say yes! In fact, I recommend putting it on your bucket list!
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