Get Yourself to Graceland, the No. 1 Must-See Attraction in Memphis

A pink Cadillac belonging to Elvis Presley inside the Presley Motors Museum at Graceland
Elvis Presley's pink Cadillac (Photo by California News Press)

Elvis Presley could have lived anywhere in the world, but even at the highest peak of his fame he devoted himself to Memphis. Elvis was born 100 miles away in Tupelo, Mississippi, moved to Memphis with his family at the age of 13, and rose to stardom in the city alongside rock ‘n’ roll itself. In 1957, Elvis purchased Graceland, a country estate picked out by his parents, Vernon and Gladys, to keep fans at a safe distance from the door. The King died there in 1977 at the age of 42 and is buried alongside his closest family in the Meditation Garden. Graceland has been open to the public since 1982, when it instantly became a must-see Memphis tourist attraction for the ages. 

A tour of Graceland begins on the opposite side of Elvis Presley Boulevard (Highway 51 South) from the iconic mansion. Here, an entertainment complex called Elvis Presley’s Memphis offers more than 10 exhibits and attractions plus multiple restaurants and gift shops. You can see Elvis’s private airplanes, check out his car collection at the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, and browse extensive exhibits dedicated to his Army service, movies, love of football and the other artists he influenced.

The front room and music room with peacock stained glass and a white grand piano at Graceland Mansion, Memphis, Tennessee
The front room and music room of Graceland Mansion, decorated for the holidays (Photo by California News Press)

Start at the ticket pavilion, watch an introductory movie and then hop onto a minibus that will take you across the street to Graceland Mansion. You’ll stick with the same small group as you follow the self-guided audio tour of the property. After the tour, return to Elvis Presley’s Memphis to explore its many attractions independently. 

As the shuttle enters the music book-themed iron gates of Graceland, it’s immediately clear why Elvis adored the property. Fourteen acres of oak-shaded rolling hills and horse pastures offer both a sense of serenity and a protective buffer against the outside world. Await your tour group’s entrance under the mansion’s classical columns, taking in the tidy landscaping and plaque proclaiming Graceland a National Historic Landmark. 

A tour of the mansion’s interior begins with the most formal of its 23 rooms. First, see the pristine all-white front room starring a 15-foot-long white couch. A pair of stained glass peacocks section off the music room with its gorgeous white grand piano. Next is the room Elvis gave to his parents, neat as a pin and skipping the signature exuberance of the rest of the house. The formal dining room feels homier thanks to portraits of Priscilla and little Lisa Marie. Period appliances in the large kitchen would have been state-of-the-art, but now make the space a charming time capsule.

The famous Jungle Room departs from the formality of the front rooms and fully embraces comfort and kitsch. The sunken den goes all in on plush textures, with dated green shag carpets and fleecy upholstery. An indoor waterfall and tiki accents were inspired by Elvis’s time filming “Blue Hawaii,” while a pile of giant stuffed toys remind visitors that Graceland was home to a beloved child. Despite Elvis’s reputation for loving everything glitzy and garish, the mansion has homey touches throughout – this warmth tempers the displays of wealth. 

A basement lounge filled with vintage TVs and records at Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis’s basement TV room at Graceland (Photo by California News Press)

The basement, accessed by a stairway fully lined with mirrors, is very much an adult space. Down here are Elvis’s TV room in its marigold-hued, mid-century-mod glory, a wet bar and billiards room with chintzy upholstered walls and ceiling. You can clearly envision the lounging, imbibing and uninhibited playfulness of Elvis entertaining here in his prime. 

Not all of the mansion is open to the public; the second floor is off-limits and reportedly untouched since the day Elvis died. The tour continues through additional buildings on the Graceland property. You’ll see the horse corral, swimming pool, offices, racquetball court and Trophy Building, which hosts extensive museum exhibits detailing Elvis’s life and legacy. There are a ton of displays and mementos to take in, from early childhood photographs to personal items like Elvis’s stuffed wallet, Priscilla’s wedding dress and Lisa Marie’s baby clothes. 

Elvis Presley's gravestone in the Meditation Garden at Graceland Mansion
Elvis Presley’s gravestone in the Meditation Garden at Graceland Mansion (Photo by California News Press)

Tours of Graceland end, fittingly, in the Meditation Garden where Elvis is buried alongside his parents, grandmother, daughter and grandson. There’s also a plaque commemorating Elvis’s twin brother who died at birth. It’s a solemn space, circular around a central fountain, where Elvis went for contemplation and reflection. He said the garden was his favorite place to be. 

Elvis’s fame, talent and enormous charisma expanded beyond his too-short life and now exist in the public sphere. A tour of Graceland returns them to Elvis, the man, who came from humble beginnings, loved his family, and experienced the most intense thrills of the rock-star lifestyle while holding onto a lifelong preference for gospel hymns. His legacy lives on at Graceland. 



3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116

(800) 238-2000

The exterior of the Guest House at Graceland
The exterior of the Guest House at Graceland (Photo courtesy of the Guest House at Graceland)

Where to Stay: The Guest House at Graceland

The Guest House at Graceland, a AAA Four Diamond-rated resort hotel, is an ideal choice for Memphis visitors prioritizing a trip to Graceland. The tourist complex is 9 miles outside downtown Memphis, so staying on site is especially convenient. Plus, the resort offers complimentary airport shuttle service and a shuttle to and from Graceland and Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The Elvis-inspired decor and rock ‘n’ roll theme are a big draw for aficionados, but also alluring enough that a casual music fan will head home with an amplified appreciation for The King. 

The luxurious guest rooms and high-end amenities throughout the Guest House at Graceland have major appeal. A playful and elegant take on Elvis’s signature style gives the resort a unique charm. The decor embraces the razzle-dazzle of an Elvis stage outfit, using mirrors, metallics and jewel tones with maximalist exuberance, yet translated to suit contemporary tastes. There’s a relative subtlety to the artwork and overall aesthetics, so you won’t see kitschy Elvis collectibles on display, but instead tasteful homages to his musical talent, charisma and storied career. 

A guest room at the Guest House at Graceland with two queen beds and a portrait of Elvis in a gold jacket
A guest room with two queen beds inside the Guest House at Graceland (Photo by California News Press)

The Guest House at Graceland has 430 guest rooms and 20 themed suites, making it one of the largest hotels in Memphis. Deluxe rooms offer one king or two queen beds, all with luxe amenities including spa-like rainfall showers, a Keurig coffee maker, mini-fridge, and 50-inch HD television. Turn the TV on and discover a custom interface that lets you select your favorite era of Elvis (50s, 60s or 70s). You’ll be able to stream Elvis movies, footage, music and specials in your guest room 24/7. 

The resort has lots of incentives to stay and play on the property during your visit. Every evening, there’s a showing of an Elvis movie in the Guest House Theater. There’s also a 464-seat theater hosting live performances, so check the schedule when you make a booking. The Lobby Lounge Bar has live music most nights, so order a local craft beer or Elvis-inspired cocktail and put in a request for your favorite song. An enormous outdoor pool in the courtyard is open from May to mid-October. The outdoor spaces also include a fire pit and backyard games like cornhole and shuffleboard. 

Don’t miss the complimentary PB&J and chocolate milk hour every evening. It takes place in front of Delta’s Kitchen, one of two full-service restaurants at the Guest House at Graceland. The other is EP’s Bar and Grill, a casual eatery offering a modern twist on southern favorites along with sports on many TV screens. 

If you’re an early riser and want to pay your respects to The King, know that resort guests are welcome to stroll over to the Meditation Garden every morning between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. If you didn’t already get tickets to tour Graceland, you can buy them at the resort’s onsite gift shop. 


The Guest House at Graceland

3600 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, TN 38116

(901) 443-3000

Read more about visiting Memphis here: Experience the Magic and Music of Memphis, Tennessee

California News Press and its contributors received goods, services and/or other professional courtesies to facilitate this review. All opinions are those of the author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.