Lifestyle

Visiting Graceland For the First Time? Here's Everything You Should Know

Wikipedia Commons/ Public Domain

On March 19, 1957, Elvis Presley purchased a mansion on a 13.8-acre estate in Memphis, Tennessee. Located at what is now 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, the Graceland mansion became a castle for The King.

Each year, thousands of Elvis fan visit Graceland for the ultimate Elvis experience. The year's first big celebration is held during the first weekend in January for a four-day celebration honoring Elvis' birthday (Jan. 8). Every summer, fans from around the world flock to Graceland for "Elvis Week," a week-long celebration of The King of Rock 'n' Roll's music, movies and legacy. This year, "Elvis Week" will take place from Aug. 9 through Aug. 17. The week culminates in the annual Elvis memorial candlelight vigil.

Though those are the two of the most popular treks to the home of Elvis Presley, there's no wrong time of the year to visit the Southern travel staple. If you're planning on visiting Graceland for the first time, read on to find out what to see, where to eat and where to shop in the land of The King.

Planning Your Trip:

There are many different ways to experience Graceland. First you'll need to decide on a ticket option. Elvis superfans may want to opt for the Ultimate VIP Tour, which includes an expert Elvis tour guide, a meal voucher for Vernon's Smokehouse, a look inside Elvis' planes, a self-guided tour at Elvis' custom jets and full access to Elvis Presley's Memphis Entertainment Complex, featuring the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, the Elvis: the Entertainer Career Museum, self-guided tours of the Elvis Discovery exhibits and an exclusive VIP exhibit. In addition, you'll also receive an exclusive photo opportunity, access to a private lounge inside Elvis Presley's Memphis, a keepsake backstage pass and more. The Ultimate VIP Tour costs $174 per person and the tour takes about four hours to complete.

If you want something a little more budget-friendly, there's the Elvis Entourage VIP Tour, which allows you to skip the line with a VIP shuttle and offers an audio-guided tour of the Graceland mansion. This option also offers full access to Elvis Presley's Memphis Entertainment Complex and a self-guided tour of the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, the Elvis: the Entertainer Career Museum, Elvis Discovery exhibits and an exclusive VIP exhibit. The Elvis Entourage VIP Tour costs $99 per person.

The Elvis Experience Tour includes a tour of the mansion as well as access to exhibits showcasing Elvis' career, automobiles, wardrobe, gold records and more. This tour is priced at $61 per person.

The least expensive tour option is the Graceland Mansion Only Tour, which will only allow you access to the mansion. There's still plenty to see, including Presley's personal family artifacts. At just $41 per person, it's a bargain.

Bottom line: if you're only interested in walking through the King's house, the Mansion Only tour might be your best bet. You'll still get to see Elvis' music room, TV room, the Graceland dining room and my personal favorite, the Jungle Room. But if your tour of Graceland isn't complete without a look at Elvis' jumpsuits, pink Cadillac or the pink Jeep he drove in Blue Hawaii, make sure your tour includes Elvis Presley's Memphis.

If you're just passing through Memphis or just want to visit Presley's grave, Graceland's Meditation Garden offers free walk-up visits from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.. The garden includes the grave sites of Elvis Presley as well as his parents and grandmother.

Lastly, the basics: Graceland's hours of operation vary throughout the year. Check here for a full list.

If you purchase a ticket to Graceland online, be sure to bring a photo ID and the credit card you used to purchase the ticket to the ticket office upon arrival.

Read More: 8 Things You Didn't Know About Graceland

What to Bring:

  • comfortable shoes for walking
  • cash to pay for parking, if necessary
  • a Sharpie to add your name to the fieldstone wall that surrounds the Graceland property

Where to Eat:

There's no shortage of good eats in Memphis. For the direct Elvis connection, try Elvis' favorite -- the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich at Gladys' Diner (named for mama Presley herself), located inside Graceland.

Of course, no trip to Memphis is complete without getting some authentic Memphis BBQ. Hit up Central BBQ on South Main, Payne's Bar-B-Q in Midtown or Pollard's Bar-B-Q in Whitehaven. You won't be disappointed.

Where to Shop:

A trip to Graceland calls for some Elvis merch. Visit the official Graceland store to buy everything from Elvis t-shirts to rhinestone-embellished Elvis socks.

But as you would expect, Elvis gift shops in Memphis don't end with Graceland. Venture out to Boulevard Souvenirs (located across the street from Graceland) to pick up Memphis memorabilia and Elvis collectors items.

For locally owned shops and vintage duds, be sure to check out Memphis' Cooper-Young District.

Where to Stay:

For the full Elvis experience, stay at the Graceland Guest House, a luxury hotel located right inside the gates of Graceland.

In the mood for a historic stay? Check out the Peabody Hotel, which was built in 1925 and is one of the most beloved Memphis hotels.

Now Watch: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Dollywood

recommended for you

Visiting Graceland For the First Time? Here's Everything You Should Know