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A Tour of Graceland: Elvis’ Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee as the child of two Elvis Presley fans, and despite a decade where I considered myself “too cool” for Elvis, I became one myself. I almost didn’t have a choice – a love for Elvis was bred into me from a young age. I can remember being 8 or 9 years old, riding with my dad in our family’s Chevy pick-up listening to All Shook Up playing from the cassette deck, my foot tapping out the rhythm on the floorboard. Not having my own musical preferences yet, I adopted those of my parents, and Elvis was one of my favorites.

So how I managed to live in Memphis for twenty years and never take a tour of Graceland, Elvis’ mansion in the city, is beyond me. My own father visited Graceland every day for eight years – he just wasn’t ever invited in. (My dad was Elvis’ paperboy!) I suppose when you live somewhere, you don’t look at it through the same eyes as a tourist would, so it took moving to London for us to finally pay Graceland a visit!

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

We visited Graceland on Christmas Eve, so crowds were low – unlike how I’m sure they were last week for Elvis’ birthday. (His birthday, 8 January, and the day he died, 16 August, are always popular days among fans.) Graceland receives over 600,000 visitors every year, coming in third for the most visited personal residence in the U.S. behind the White House and the Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina.

Entrance into Graceland isn’t cheap. Tickets for adults start at $34, children at $15, and go up from there. We chose the second tier package for $3 more per ticket that allowed us into the house and grounds as well as Elvis’ two airplanes and five special exhibits.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

We entered the mansion through the front door and were immediately standing in the foyer with the staircase leading up to the second floor, Elvis’ private quarters. The upper floor is not open to visitors out of respect, since that is where Elvis passed away.

To the right is Elvis’ living room decorated for the holidays with his own collection of Christmas decorations. Just beyond the peacock flanked doorway is his music room housing a baby grand piano and a 1950’s television set.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

Down the hall is the only bedroom visible in the house, Elvis’ parents room. It was his parents, Vernon and Gladys, who discovered Graceland for sale after Elvis urged them to find a place for the three of them to live. He bought the house in 1957 for $100,000. A paltry-sounding sum for a 10,000 sq. ft. mansion, but for frame of reference, my grandparents bought a house just behind Graceland the same year for only $11,000.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

The next stop on the tour was the dining room and kitchen. And this is where it starts to get a bit tacky, at least by 2013 standards. The last time these rooms were updated was the 70’s, so keep that in mind as you travel back in time via the Graceland time capsule. Elvis’ kitchen reminds me of our family room and kitchen in our old house before we remodeled them. All that dark wood paneling and cabinetry – it’s a bit depressing!

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

Next we headed into the basement where Elvis had his tv room, complete with three different televisions and a wet bar encased in mirrors. If you look closely, you can see the ceiling in the tv room is tiled in mirrors as well. (If I were Elvis, I would have wanted to look at my face all day, too!)

Next to the tv room is the billiards room outfitted in ridges of fabric covering every square inch of wall and ceiling space. Say what you will about Elvis’ decorating skills, but you can’t say he didn’t have unique taste! This was my favorite room, and I’m a little sad that the pictures I have didn’t turn out a little nicer and more colorful, but with no natural light, it was difficult to photograph.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

Heading back upstairs, our last stop in the mansion was the famous Jungle Room where Elvis recorded his last two albums. Designed with Elvis’ favorite vacation spot in mind, Hawaii, the room is outfitted with green shag carpeting on the floor AND ceiling, Polynesian furniture, and a no-longer-functioning waterfall along the far wall. The other side of the room features a seating area and an intricately carved wooden bar area.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

After the Jungle Room, we exited the house and came to a second building used for offices and Elvis’ shooting range. Then we stopped to admire the horses in the pasture. Elvis loved horses, and when he was alive he kept his own in the stables here. The horses currently at Graceland are rescues. Tours of the stables are available in the summertime only for an extra fee.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

Next we headed to yet another outbuilding lovingly known as the Trophy Room. Elvis had it built to store his awards and gifts he’d been given. Most notable here are Elvis’ three Grammy awards and the hall of gold records. Other exhibits have been added like Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding attire and a few of the famous suits he wore in performances. (You’ll see many more of those if you pay the $3 upgrade for the extra exhibits!)

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

The racquetball court turned record/memorabilia room was the last building we entered. Before we got into the court itself, we walked through the arcade and sitting area Elvis had built onto the court where you’ll find yet another wet bar. (If you’re counting, we are up to three now!) This is also where Elvis played the piano for family and friends the morning of the day he died.

The racquetball court is impressive not only because of the sheer size of it, but also because of the amount of records and memorabilia lining the walls from floor to ceiling. More of Elvis’ famous jumpsuits are showcased behind glass and video clips from his concerts play on a big screen television. With the amount of awards and gold records presented on such a grand scale in here and the Trophy Room, it is undeniable what a gigantic influence Elvis had on the music industry.

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

Closing out our tour, next to the pool is Elvis’ Meditation Garden where he, his parents, and his grandmother are buried. A small marker memorializes the death of his twin brother who is buried in Tupelo, Mississippi where they were born. An eternal flame burns at the head of Elvis’ grave in his memory.

Overall, I loved visiting Graceland. The audio tour through the mansion was incredibly helpful and added so many insights into Elvis’ personality that I really felt like I got to know who he was better through it. My only complaint was the ticket prices. They’re high enough to keep away some of Elvis’ less wealthy fans, and judging by how generous he was in his lifetime, I don’t think he would approve of such a steep entrance fee. However, seeing as how we were there for almost four hours, I feel like we got our money’s worth!

This is where I’ll stop for today. I’ll continue on Wednesday with the second part of our tour, including Elvis’ cars and custom airplanes. If you’re interested, make sure you come back and see that!

Graceland: Website
Address: 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38116

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A Tour Of Graceland: Elvis' Mansion In Memphis, Tennessee

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Оксана Грищенко
    April 17, 2017 at 10:52 AM

    Thank you for your interesting article and colorful photos!

  • Reply
    Judy
    February 17, 2016 at 1:32 AM

    Im from KY and go to Graceland every year at Christmas time, usually on Christmas eve. I was there on this date!!!! Love your pics and articles.
    Judy

  • Reply
    Sara Louise
    January 22, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Sometime next year, I’ll be driving from Texas to Massachusetts and I’m going to do my best to stop in Memphis and see Graceland. I really, really want to see it!

  • Reply
    Mrs. Match
    January 20, 2014 at 6:04 AM

    How cool! I really like that they used Elvis’ Christmas decorations. Isn’t it crazy how tacky the kitchen looks, and you know it must have been fancy back when. It makes me wonder if people will look back on our current styles and think, oh ew, look at the stainless steel appliances! Lol!

  • Reply
    Diana Bockus
    January 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    Wow they really made it festive for the holidays! I went in March so it was just the regular. Still pretty neat. I had no idea he was buried there until we did the tour. Oops!

  • Reply
    Jo
    January 15, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    So cool since this is probably the closes I’ll ever get to ‘visiting’ the place.
    Did I spot a carpet in the kitchen? That would just be weird and terrible to keep clean!

  • Reply
    Stacie Stamper
    January 14, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    The stained glass and all of the beautiful Christmas trees are my favorite. I want to go there someday, maybe when E is older and we can go places with breakables again…

  • Reply
    Keith Wynn
    January 14, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    Since I live in KY I may take a day trip and visit here one day :)

  • Reply
    Amy | Club Narwhal
    January 14, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    Sarah, this is amazing! I have always wanted to visit Graceland (and even came close to visiting the Graceland replica house in Florida). That peacock stained glass is unreal! And his kitchen totally reminds me of my childhood kitchen as well–I think the lamps are what really take me back :)

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      January 14, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      I didn’t even know there was a Graceland replica home in Florida! What part? We lived in Orlando for three years, but I never heard anything like that mentioned.

      I would LOVE to have the peacock stained glass in my own home, maybe at the entrance to a pretty sunroom! It is so beautiful!

  • Reply
    Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    January 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    The ticket prices are def steep, but I think it’s something that has to be done! I’d love to go. I would not want to be the one who had to dust that house though haha

  • Reply
    Ashlee - I'll Love You Forever
    January 14, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    This looks so awesome! Glad you guys spent the time to go! I would love to visit!

  • Reply
    Mandy Southgate
    January 14, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    This is a fantastic post Sarah! I loved reading about how you first thought you were too cool for Elvis and later came to embrace him. It sounds like Graceland is quite pricey although similar to many UK attractions. I absolutely agree that prices like that are prohibitive to many fans and it is not really fair. I thought your photos were amazing and didn’t notice the low light effect. I did notice the carpets on the ceilings and that billboards room! How very 70s (says she who used to wear a brown polyester jumpsuit).

  • Reply
    Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    January 14, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    The outside is gorgeous and the inside is just as amazing!! Isn’t it funny how we tend to not do the touristy things in our hometown? It was a few years after moving away from Alaska that I did some of the touristy things.

  • Reply
    Jen Mc
    January 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    We’ve been there twice. I love it! I would love to go at Christmas.

  • Reply
    Emmymom
    January 13, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    How awesome that your dad was his paper boy!! I was a paper girl but definitely didn’t have any famous customers.

    • Reply
      Sarah Shumate
      January 14, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      You were a paper girl! How cool!! Did you deliver them on a bike or in your car?

      • Reply
        Emmymom
        January 14, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        I walked it actually. My street was a dead-end surrounded by cornfields. There were no sidewalks and really big yards so I wouldn’t have been able to throw the newspaper from the street to the door, so I walked. Had about 40 papers I delivered.

  • Reply
    Katrin
    January 13, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    I would love to go too! It is so cool that your Dad was Elvis’ paperboy! Elvis definitely had a unique taste! And of course I love the fact that rescue horses live there! Thanks for sharing your pictures!

  • Reply
    Macey
    January 13, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    The kitchen and TV room hurt my brain, so bad. My first thought was that the kitchen and dining room probably gave you the twitches!
    Very cool to be able to do that tour, though. Isn’t it funny that you had to move away to a different country before you ever did a tour of it! :D

  • Reply
    Caroline
    January 13, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    I visited a couple of years ago and it was such an amazing experience for me as a life-long Elvis fan. Seeing the actual catsuits that he wore was just incredible. Love seeing these pictures.

    Caroline x

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