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Bucket List: Visiting Graceland Memphis

Graceland Memphis

Graceland: The Home of Elvis Aaron Presley

Kiddo asked me early on into the planning stages of our epic summer road trip if we could stop in Memphis so she could visit Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum. Truthfully, the thought never crossed my mind for this particular getaway. Both Memphis landmarks had been on my bucket list for as long as I could remember, so I had no apprehension adding a few days on to our road trip.

“I’m going to Graceland. For reasons I cannot explain, there’s some part of me wants to see Graceland. And I may be obliged to defend every love, every ending or maybe there’s no obligations now. Maybe I’ve a reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland.” – Graceland Paul Simon

I switched our return flights to LAX through Memphis International Airport which was only a 10 minute drive from Graceland and that was that. While in Memphis, we stayed at The Guest House at Graceland so it gave us even more time to spend with “The King of Rock and Roll.”

Graceland Memphis | Elvis Experience Guest Pass

TCB: There is no turning back now. I’m caught in a trap and I can’t get out.

Only Fools Rush In

Kiddo picked out her favorite “movie star” dress to match her gold Elvis glasses, and her face lit up when she realized that our guide for the tour was none other than John Stamos. I had no idea she was such a Stamos fan until this moment when she screamed, “Mom! Look! It’s John Stamos! I love him.” Apparently, she’s a big fan of Full House, Fuller House, and his hysterical sitcom, Grandfathered. One day I will tell her in detail about the time a friend introduced me to John Stamos and how kind he was, but for now we’re all about The King. 

Graceland Memphis | John Stamos official tour guide

Meet our official Graceland tour guide, Mr. John Stamos.

In 1957, Elvis purchased the Graceland Mansion for $102,500 and lived there for 20 years until his sudden death on August 16, 1977. Elvis died upstairs at Graceland, and soon afterwards the property would then be converted into an iconic tourist attraction in order for the family to keep up the annual maintenance of the property. 

Inside Elvis Presley's Graceland Mansion - Dining Room

Many of the rooms have since been renovated inside Graceland and the second floor living quarters are strictly made off-limits to visitors. Kiddo’s favorite room without a doubt was The King’s Jungle Room and I completely understood why. The original vision for the room was to bring the outdoors inside complete with waterfall. The intricate carved furniture was impossible to ignore. 

Graceland Mansion | Elvis Presley Jungle Room

Something I found very interesting was the amount of bars Elvis had throughout Graceland. There was one in almost every main room, but you’d soon come to find out on the tour that Elvis wasn’t even a fan of alcohol. So much in fact that even the Lisa Marie plane was kept stocked with Original Gatorade and Dr. Pepper soda. 

Graceland Memphis | Lisa Marie Airplane

The Graceland Experience

Visiting Graceland brought back so many childhood memories that I never realized I had. Clearly, somewhere deep down inside Elvis made a much bigger impression on my life than I had realized. Walking through the Graceland grounds felt much more meaningful than I ever imagined. The energy was palpable. Learning about him throughout the tour made me realize how cool and influential he was. I realized how profound this entire experience was the moment the tour of Graceland ended.  

Graceland Memphis | Backyard Exterior

I was walking through the Meditation Garden at the foot of his pool, where he and his family are laid to rest and had a lump in my throat. As I walked past the grave sites of Elvis’s twin brother, Jesse Garon, mother Gladys Presley, Elvis himself, and Vernon Presley, I became really emotional. It was the most appropriate ending to something of an Elvis Presley time capsule of sorts that I never knew I needed to close. I’m so grateful for the to visit Graceland with my daughter and that the weather was beautiful with sunny skies. I suppose if you were to dream up the perfect Graceland experience this day came pretty close. 

Graceland Memphis | Elvis Presley grave Meditation Garden

Graceland Tour: What to Know Before You Go

For those staying at The Guest House at Graceland, there is a n Elvis Presley Memphis shuttle that will bring you directly to the start at the tour where you can buy or pick up your tickets at Will-Call inside the Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The entertainment complex is the home to many souvenir shops where you can buy Elvis collectables and view Elvis memorabilia from as small as the Presley family Bible to as big as his 1955 Pink Cadillac and Lisa Marie airplane. 

Graceland Memphis | Presley Motors 1955 Pink Cadillac

Many want to know, “When is the best time to visit Graceland?” We went on a Wednesday in the beginning of June and it was perfect. The weather was great, and there wasn’t a crowd in sight. This made taking photos a dream because I didn’t have to navigate the lens around the other guests. Everyone was polite, cordial, and most importantly, respectful. 

Those taking the self-guided tour of Graceland will be given an iPad and earphones to hear John Stamos narrate the tour and give a 360 degree view of the rooms in the mansion. This is a great way to view the home at your own pace. The iPad program is very user-friendly, so even if you do not consider yourself tech-savvy, you’ll have a very easy time navigating the device. You will not need the iPad to tour the remaining parts of the complex like the Elvis The Entertainer Career Museum or Presley Motors Automobile Museum where you will find his favorite automobiles. 

Graceland Memphis | Presley Motors Mercedes Benz Limo

Make sure to stop by Vernon’s Smokehouse for some down-home BBQ brisket or Gladys’ Diner for the greatest peanut butter and banana milkshake this side of the Mississippi. They also serve PB & Banana grilled sandwiches, but the milkshake won. There are also a few shops and stores on property so I’m sure you’re not surprised to know we had our own Elvis Presley haul. I mean how could I not come home to Hubs without bringing him his own Elvis gifts like a Blue Hawaii bowling shirt complete with silver tiki buttons? I mean, c’mon. I’m not that heartless 😉 

Graceland Memphis | Gladys' Diner

Which package is the best Graceland tour ticket to purchase? In my opinion, I feel the Elvis Experience Tour is fantastic and worth every penny. Otherwise if you are looking to seriously TCB then opt for the Ultimate VIP Tour of Graceland. This includes a private tour guide for those interested in a more intimate look inside Graceland mansion and the life of Elvis, and meal at Vernon’s Smokehouse. You’ll also be privy to a few more benefits not extended to other guests like shopping perks, keepsake Elvis backstage pass, and access to a private lounge. 

Graceland Memphis | Gladys' Diner

Graceland: Lessons Learned

With so many things to do in Memphis, please make sure a proper stop at Graceland is on your must-see list. Was it kitch? Absolutely. Cheesy? Not in the least. I enjoyed every moment of the tour and wandering around on my own with Kiddo. Graceland does a fantastic job at teaching guests about the life of Elvis Presley directly from The King himself. The tour feels as though you are living inside the autobiography and not the biography of Elvis written by someone else. I learned so much. Much more than I ever dreamed. 

Graceland Memphis | Hound Dog II jet plane

After leaving, if I’m being truthful, I felt very embarrassed of myself. For all these years, everything I have ever thought of Elvis Presley was extremely judgmental in the face of a pop culture icon and not once considering that this legend was in-fact human. And a father. And a son. And a friend. The tour did an amazing job at teaching me that perception is not reality and that I need to look at the woman in the mirror a bit more closely. 

Graceland Memphis | Elvis Presley's Daughter Lisa Marie

A little less conversation a little more action…

That’s the Elvis song they played when they first announced us as Mr. and Mrs. J…Standley at our wedding on September 4th, 2004. We married at the Four Seasons Las Vegas, and yes, we had an Elvis impersonator show up, and yes, we left gold Elvis glasses at each guest’s seat to enjoy. They were a huge hit. However, never in a million years did I think I would actually end up at Graceland Memphis. Well that day came and went and I absolutely loved every second of it. Will I go back? I think it’s safe to say it’s inevitable. 

Graceland Memphis | Exterior Home

Mandatory selfie outside of Graceland Mansion in Memphis, TN

Have you ever been to Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis?

We would love to know more about your experience. By sharing your tips, experiences, and memories, in our comment section below, you help fellow travelers in The JetSet Family community decide the best fit for them and their families. Let us know what you liked most, or if you have any questions about visiting Graceland in Memphis, TN. 

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Review overview
  • Ashley S June 21, 2017

    Oh wow! Looks like such a great place to visit. May need to consider it for next year 🙂

  • Irina June 22, 2017

    What an awesome experience!!

  • Marysa June 22, 2017

    While I’m not much of an Elvis fan or follower, this does sound like a cool place to visit. Seems like there is plenty to see and lots of unique features. Very interesting!

  • Kristi June 23, 2017

    We hope to make it there when it’s open. Last time we drove through Memphis and it was night time, so it wasn’t open. We were bummed but we were on a strict time crunch to get home. Will plan it as our destination soon because looks like we would all enjoy it.

  • Brandy June 24, 2017

    I am all about visiting places with historical value, seriously makes me so intrigued. I am loving how much fun you had in Graceland, what a wonderful experience to have and share with us. Thank you for letting us be a part of this Memphis trip!

  • Jody Robbins June 26, 2017

    I’ve never been, and I never thought it would be something to do with kids. You’ve changed my mind!

  • Ian June 27, 2017

    Graceland is on my bucket list of places to visit. Great photos.

  • mami2jcn November 21, 2017

    This is amazing! We are planning a trip to Tennessee in January but we’ll be too far away from Graceland. I definitely want to go there in the future.


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