August 8, 2020

Peek inside Graceland with me

Did you know that Graceland, Elvis Presley’s house in Memphis, is the second most visited house in the entire US after the White House?

Of course the difference is you can go inside Elvis’s house and take as many photos as you like without a horde of bodyguards or a throng of reporters.

In fact a pilgrimage to Graceland is on the Bucket List of a vast array of people from rock and roll fans, the squealing girls (now grandmas) of the 1960s and 70s, and hilariously you’ll come across dressed-up Elvis lookalikes roaming through the Presley mansion, eating a burger in their onesie at the burger bar across the road or browsing through his collection of classic cars.

In 2019 the new Graceland Guest House hotel opened just next door with rooms themed like Elvis Presley’s House. Read on to see what they look like!

If you fancy getting married by Elvis, read about the Elvis wedding in Las Vegas I gate-crashed!

Graceland tour buses
Tour buses taking fans into Graceland

I’ve visited Elvis Presley’s house twice with about five years between visits. The first time we were on what we called a Music Road Trip starting in Nashville, down to Memphis and ending in New Orleans with my parents.

The second time I brought a small tour of 9 people to New Orleans and Memphis where we found great music venues in NOLA and ate all the food!

Each year the second week of August is Elvis Week, commemorating Elvis Presely’s death on August 16. In 2020 this was held as a virtual event with fans buying tickets online to stream music and interviews, including some new material not released before. But in a normal (non Covid!) year Elvis Week draws fans and Elvis tribute artists to a huge convention. So diary August if you want to join in!

Taking care of Business – TCB

Elvis week in Graceland
This is what you’ll see at Elvis Week!

Leave extra time for shopping and eating at Graceland!

Across the road from the Elvis mansion is a veritable shopping and dining mecca where you buy/pick up your tickets and hop on the buses that take you across the road into the grounds.

The Graceland mansion sits on a small hill behind trees on the front lawn that slopes down to the iconic gates. Some people are actually quite surprised by how small the house looks – maybe because it’s been hyped up for so many years!

Elvis bought Graceland in March 1957 and installed his iconic music gates as part of the overall renovation before he moved his parents, Gladys and Vernon in two months later.

Graceland gates

The only way to get through the Graceland gates is to buy tickets (online or in person) for a self-guided audio headset tour and take the shuttle bus from what I call “Elvis-ville” across the road. It really is for crazy, hard-core Elvis fans over there!

You should also allow an hour or two after or before your tour to eat in the 1960’s inspired diner, view the King’s cars, planes, gift stores and read all the paraphernalia. New attractions have been added in 2020 to allow you to take “selfies” with the king and email them to yourself. It’s packed with souvenir shops and other exhibitions, but my pics below are what you’ll see inside Elvis’s house.

Graceland

Peek inside Graceland

The upstairs rooms at Graceland are locked and alarmed and no one is allowed up there except family. Even staff are not allowed up here, out of respect for the family as it includes Elvis’s bedroom (and the bathroom where he died) as well as Lisa Marie’s room.

But there is great news for true Elvis fans – the Guest House at Graceland, a new 450-room hotel with rooms and suites, bars and the lobby all decorated with a nod to the decor of Graceland has been built up the road. Scroll down for a peek at the hotel pics too!

Imagine the parties that would have been held in these rooms…

Graceland white lounge
The white lounge at Graceland with Elvis’s grand piano in the back.
Graceland dining room
Elvis’s dining room at Graceland
Graceland staircase
Walk past the forbidden staircase …
... and gaze at the chandelier, wondering what is hidden up there
… and gaze at the chandelier, wondering what is hidden up there

You’ll pass through the kitchen where someone told me Elvis had the first microwave in the country (?) Anyway, it cost $1000 back in the 70s.

Graceland kitchen
Elvis's parents bedroom
Elvis’s parents, Vernon and Gladys, had this downstairs bedroom
Buy Lucy Lou

Are you ready for the Jungle Room?

Turn left and go down the hallway from the kitchen where you’ll find the wackiest room in the whole house – or maybe not. Check out the pool room too!

The floor and walls of the jungle room are covered in green shag pile and wooden furniture is carved into animals, with stuffed animals sitting on the oversized furniture. Oh if walls could talk!

Jungle Room shag pile carpet
Jungle Room shagpile is even on the walls!
Graceland jungle room

But wait! Here’s the pool room, so you can decide which room would have been more fun. Check out the fabric wall and ceiling coverings.

Graceland pool room

Once we finished walking through the house with our headsets on telling us about each room we came outside around the back of the property.

Here Elvis had his office, a private shooting range and an indoor racquetball court where he played this piano on the morning of his death before he went upstairs to his bathroom. This room used to house his massive platinum records which have since been moved into their own gallery.

Graceland piano room
The former racquetball room
Elvis Presley racquet ball room
The racquetball court is now a shrine with costumes entombed in glass cases and floor to ceiling gold and platinum awards
Elvis Presley's grave

The Presley graves

At the end of the tour you come to Elvis’s grave where his parents and grandmother also lie. Each day gifts arrive by mail from fans and staff make sure they all get placed here for a turn with the king.

An eternal flame burns and a statue of Jesus, given to Elvis by his friends and that used to stand in the garden, stands at his feet.

Elvis was a twin, but his brother Jessie died at birth on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo Mississippi. He had a plaque made for his big brother that he never met placed beside his parents here in the memorial garden at Graceland.

Jesse Presley memorial

Do some Elvis shopping!

Of course, it wouldn’t be a tourist attraction without the shopping! Back across the road where you got your tickets are several stores selling Elvis Presley merchandise, including these onesies that go for upwards of $3000!

Elvis Presley and me
Across the road in the many shops and exhibits I met my new friends. They’re on honeymoon. Guess what he does for a living….
Elvis Presley costumes
You can buy a replica Elvis costume for a cool $3500

Tour Elvis’s planes

The Lisa Marie is named after his daughter who used to be taken on whimsical jaunts as a little girl. One time they flew to see the snow and touched down for only an hour!

Convair CV880 named the Lisa Marie
Lisa Marie plane
Inside this former Delta plane Elvis had decked it out in velvet with gold plated buckles. Everything’s now covered in plastic wrap today.
Elvis Presley plane bed
He has a lounge area with big bulbus TVs, a dining table and this is the king’s bed room.
Priscilla Presley's mercedes
This is the Mercedes Elvis gave Priscilla which she donated to the museum dedicated solely to his many cars across from Graceland.

Look through the Graceland Guest House hotel!

This 450-room hotel with a pool, a ball room that can hold 1000, convention hall and theatre is just a few steps from Graceland and as you’ll see below, its rooms have been decorated with a nod to Elvis Presley’s quirky 1970s design aesthetic.

Graceland Guest House
Graceland Guest House jungle room
The lobby inspired by the Jungle Room
Graceland Guest House staircase
Just like the Graceland staircase up to the private upper rooms
Graceland Guest House bedroom
Not that we know what Elvis’s private bedroom looks like, but this suite is probably in keeping!
Graceland Guest House living room
This is the sitting area in the one of the Graceland Guest House suites. Love the 70s inspired decor!
Graceland Guest House suite
The King Suite at Graceland Guest House

If you’re planning a Music road trip, check out my 10-day itinerary including Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans >

Other things to do in Memphis

We all know the King loved to eat – and Memphis BBQ is about the most quintessential thing you could bite into. I really like Central BBQ.

A visit to the Lorraine Motel and Civil Rights History Museum is another Memphis must-do. It is about so much more than the Martin Luther King era, but a sobering insight into the back story of the slave trade and Rosa Parks, right up to MLK’s murder.

Lorraine Motel Memphis
The Lorraine Motel is now part of the Civil Rights Museum

Check out latest prices for Graceland Guest House here on booking.com

Booking.com

About Megan Singleton

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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