The 16th August 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of the King of Rock and Roll – Elvis Presley. Elvis is regarded as one of the most iconic entertainers of the 20th century. He is one of the bestselling solo artists in the history of recorded music, has won 3 Grammy’s and has starred in numerous Hollywood films. Tragically, Elvis died of a heart attack on 16 August 1977, aged just 42.
Today, fans can visit Graceland in Memphis, the house of Elvis Presley and pay tribute to The King as well as see where he was laid to rest next to his mother and other family members. If you’re thinking about heading to Memphis to see this iconic residence, here’s an insight into what to expect from one of our team members who visited a couple of years ago.
The Graceland Mansion
You will have the opportunity to explore the personal side of The King by walking through his home. See his living room, his parents’ bedroom, their kitchen, pool room, the famous Jungle Room and much more. It’s quite surreal to walk through, as most of the décor has been left exactly how it was back in 1977. You can’t help but wonder what life must have been like for Elvis and his family living in such a prestigious house.
The Meditation Garden
One of the more subdued and meaningful spots on the tour is the Meditation Garden. This is where Elvis, his mother, father and other family members have all been laid to rest. Millions of fans from all over the world come to the Meditation Garden to pay their respects and leave flowers for The King.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis and Airplanes
Separate to the Mansion is a 200, 000 square foot exhibition complex called Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The complex allows you to follow the career of Elvis Presley as well as the things he loved. You’ll go through his career museum; where you can immerse yourself in his collection of gold and platinum records, his unique and eye catching outfits and memorabilia from his movies. You’ll also get to walk through the automobile museum; and lay eyes on his beloved vehicles and motor cycles.
For those interested, you can also take a walk on Elvis Presley’s very own private jet, named Lisa Marie after his daughter. The customised jet features gold-plated seat belts and 24-karat gold flecked sinks!
Dining and shopping in Graceland
If you want to take a break in between wandering through Graceland, there are plenty of options to find a meal or snack within the grounds of the Mansion and at Elvis Presley’s Memphis. For those wanting to feel even closer to The King, you can taste one of his favourites – a peanut butter and banana sandwich!
Like all good tourist attractions – there are plenty of guest shops along the way! Elvis lovers can purchase anything from t-shirts and mugs to homewares and jewellery. So you will definitely come home with a new Elvis souvenir from your travels.
Memphis – the city
Memphis, Tennessee is not a big city to explore. However, it has southern charm, history and the opportunity to experience some incredibly talented musicians showcasing their favourite Blues tunes. There’s plenty to see and do, but here’s my top three highlights.
Perhaps one of the most iconic streets in America, Beale Street is a definite site to experience. Go for a stroll during the day or at night, treat yourself to some delicious southern food and listen to one of the many local musicians doing their thing on stage.
Sun Studio is known in the music industry as ‘The Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll.’ It is where Elvis Presley recorded his first song and where the likes of B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and many others started their recording careers. During the day you can take a tour of this iconic studio.
We stayed at The Peabody Memphis, so we had the opportunity to witness the legendary Peabody Ducks firsthand. Everyday at 11am and 5pm the Peabody Ducks march from their Royal Duck Palace on the hotel’s rooftop to the fountain in the main foyer for a swim and march back up again. The tradition began nearly 90 years ago when the General Manager of the Peabody and a friend returned from a hunting trip, got a little drunk and decided to let their live duck decoys into the hotel fountain. From here, this tradition has continued and has become famous all over the world.
How long to stay
You only need to allow a day to do the Graceland tour. The main hours of operation are 9am-5pm, however this does change sometimes depending on the day you visit and the time of the year so please check their hours of operation before you plan your visit so as to not be disappointed. As Memphis is not too big, you only really need to allow 2-3 nights to explore the city.
We stayed in downtown Memphis, only a short walk from Beale Street and our hotel organised a shuttle to take us to Graceland. This way we had an opportunity to explore the city as well. However, for the die-hard fans that want a little bit more Elvis in their stay, The Guest House at Graceland (an updated version of the original Heartbreak Hotel which is now closed) is also an accommodation option.
If you only have a couple of days in Memphis, we recommend you pre-purchase your Graceland tour tickets so that you are guaranteed entry on the day you desire. There are a range of options, from Ultimate VIP tours to self-guided audio tours (narrated by John Stamos and by Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie). Our consultants will be happy to help guide you through what ticket category will be suitable for your needs.
If you’d like to incorporate a visit to Memphis and Graceland in your itinerary, our experienced consultants can help with planning it for you as an independent journey. You can also visit Memphis (and Graceland) on Intrepid’s Southern Comfort USA 12 day tour.
Images taken by Peregrine Travel Centre team member Adriana on her travels in Memphis.