Friday, August 12, 2011

Tours of Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee

If you're ever in the Memphis area, book a tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland. No matter how big of a fan you are of the King, I'm sure you recognize his success and the phenomenon he was. Known by his first name the world over, he was a monumental figure in rock and roll. When I started listening to the radio, Elvis was pretty much finishing up his career (nine years before he died), so I had a lot of catching up to do.

People who are swept up in the fan frenzy forget what a great vocalist he was.  And he had a style like no one else before.  Sure, there are plenty of people who perform like he did, but there is always only one original.  His body of work is so amazing.  He wasn't the album artist but no one was at the time; it was all about singles.  Elvis gave us some of the most memorable songs of our time.

Graceland has been maintained since Elvis' death.  Due to expenses, it was opened to visitors on June 7, 1982 by his ex-wife, Priscilla, to offset those costs.  The two-story mansion is constructed of tan Tennessee limestone and now includes 23 rooms, with eight bedrooms and eight bathrooms.  The entrances is formed of Corinthian columns.  Elvis pained the mansion blue and gold, and it glows at night.  The Garden's centerpiece is a circular twelve-foot fountain pool with five jets of water on the outside and a larger one in the middle--all lit by colored floodlights.  The curved wall behind the fountain is made of Mexican brick and features four stained glass windows.  Elvis' kidney-shaped swimming pool is near the Meditation Garden.

The front room features a fireplace made of white marble and Louis XIV furniture.  After purchasing Graceland, Elvis added several rooms, most notably a trophy room and racquetball court, and added the famous guitar gates made of wrought-iron.  The trophy room was originally used to race slot cars but now is a tribute to the incredible success of Presley, showcasing his dozens of gold and platinum awards and a sample of his spectacular clothing.  The Jungle Room features an indoor waterfall and contains three air conditioners that Elvis used for livability in the hot Memphis heat.

700,000 people visit Graceland each year; it is second only to the White House as the most visited home in the United States.  What the Graceland tour does is allow you to walk in the footsteps of Elvis at his home in Memphis.  There are personal mementos, memorabilia from his movies, stage costumes, photos, video and much more at the Mansion.  The Graceland Mansion tour includes Elvis’ living room, music room, parents' bedroom, dining room, kitchen, TV room, pool room and the famous Jungle Room. Included in the tour is a stop at his trophy room, containing a staggering collection of his gold and platinum records.  One look around the room will tell you how great he was.  The final stop is Meditation Garden where Elvis and members of his family were laid to rest.  There is an audio guided tour available.

Elvis loved cars and the Elvis Presley Car Museum displays 33 vehicles owned by Elvis, including his famous Pink Cadillac, a 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible, Stutz Blackhawks, the red MG from the movie Blue Hawai'i, his Harley-Davidson motorcycles and more.

In 1975, Elvis purchased a 1958 Convair 880 that he named Lisa Marie after his daughter.  You can climb aboard the jet that features a living room, conference room, sitting room, private bedroom and all the bells and whistles.  You can also go inside the Lockheed Jet Star that took Elvis' manager and his staff from city to city when Elvis was touring.  Note:  the airplanes are not wheelchair accessible.

Artifacts from Elvis relating to his media presence are featured in Elvis!  His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story, now open in the Sincerely Elvis museum.  Elvis was a fashion trend-setter, and you can see the clothes at Graceland that helped form his unique style and public image.  The new exhibit, Fashion King, features everything from handmade shirts and suits to flashy jewelry and shoes. 

There are also two free exhibits at Graceland that tell the story of Elvis.  In Elvis Lives:  The King and Pop Culture Exhibit, you can see his overpowering impact on music and the world through video, photos, displays and listening stations.   In the '68 Special Exhibit, videos, photos and displays of artifacts takes yo into the historic 1968 television special. 

Graceland added three new exhibits for 2011.  The Elvis in 1956 Interactive Timeline in the Graceland Trophy Building (which is part of the tour) shows you how it all started.  It was the year that Elvis gave us two all-time classics "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Love Me Tender" (from his first movie).  I already mentioned Elvis!  His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story.  In addition, the Graceland VIP tour allows you to explore The Roots of Elvis Exhibit.  This tells the story of Elvis' early years and the influences that shaped him as  person and a Rock Era legend. 

There are three great tours of Graceland and surrounding area.  Audio tours are available in English, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and French.
Newsmaking Story, the Fashion King Exhibit, the Roots of Elvis exhibit, the '68 Special Exhibit, a special VIP Only exhibit at Graceland, "Front of the Line" Mansion access (hint:  avoid the long lines), a special All Day Ticket and a Keepsake Backstage Pass.

The tour will take you approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours and you can make as many return visits as you wish before closing time on that day.  And a reminder--this is a historic visit so take time to look at each of the displays, watch the videos, observe all the memorabilia, awards and accolades that made Elvis Presley what he was.  Note:  A limited number of VIP Tour passes are available.  Passes you may have do not apply to the VIP Tour.  Discounts for the VIP Tour are only available to Elvis Insiders. 

The Graceland Platinum Tour is $35, Seniors and Students from 13 to College Age (with College I.D.) are admitted for $31.50, tickets for children 7-12 are $17 and six and under are admitted free.  To be honest, though, I don't know how much children under 18 are going to be able to fully appreciate what is before them--might be good to leave the kids at home.  This too provides an audio-guided tour but you won't get the access you can with the VIP tour.  You can tour the Mansion and its grounds, see the two custom airplanes, the Automobile Museum, the Fashion King, King and Pop Culture, the Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story and '68 Special exhibits.  So essentially the difference between this and the VIP Tour are the Roots of Elvis tour and the special VIP exhibit, and once you walk out the door you can not go back in and see something you wanted to explore more.  Plus, you have to wait in the long lines.

The basic Graceland Mansion Tour is $31 for Adults, $27.90 for Seniors and Students 13 to College (again with College I.D.), children 7-12 $14 and kids under 6 admitted free.  This tour will give an audio presentation and tour of the Mansion and grounds only and allow a self-guided tour of the '68 Special exhibit.  That's it.  At the very minimum, most people will want the Platinum package.  The exhibits are what give life to the legend.

The upstairs of Graceland Mansion is not included as part of the tour. The part of Graceland that is shown is the part that Elvis showed anyone who visited him at Graceland.  The upstairs was his private area.  When Graceland opened, Priscilla and Lisa felt that the upstairs should remain private, that letting everyone go up there would be disrespectful and inappropriate.

Purchase tickets online, in person at Graceland during hours of operation, or by calling Graceland Reservations (1-800-238-2000 in the U.S. or Canada or 1-901-332-3322 for visitors from other countries).  You can e-mail the Graceland Reservations Office with any questions or concerns at  You can also cancel reservations up to 24 hours in advance but there is a $4.95 processing fee that is non-refundable so keep that in mind.

Groups of 15 or more can get discounts for meals and admissions by contacting the Group Sales Department at 1-800-238-2010 (1-901-332-3322 internationally). 

Discounts:AAA Members with valid membership card receive 10% off Graceland Mansion Tour or Graceland Platinum Tour for up to four individuals (tickets must be purchased by the member in one transaction). This discount not available for VIP tour.
  • Active and retired military, law enforcement officers and firefighters receive 10% off Graceland Mansion Tour or Graceland Platinum Tour for up to six individuals (tickets must be purchased by the qualifying person in one transaction with one payment).
  • Elvis Insiders members receive 10% off the Entourage VIP tour, Graceland Mansion Tour or Graceland Platinum Tour for up to six individuals (must be purchased by the member in one transaction with one payment).
Please note: AAA members, military personnel, Elvis Insiders, senior citizens 62 and older, and college students - please have your membership card and/or proof of eligibility available to receive your discount.  Discounts cannot be combined. The discounted tickets must be purchased directly from the Graceland Reservations Office or Graceland Ticket Office.

Elvis Insider membership offers:
  • 10% off tour tickets at Graceland, including the VIP Tour
  • $3.00 off parking at Graceland
  • 10% off purchases on*
  • 10% off the published room rate at the Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel**
  • 10% off purchases at the Graceland, Heartbreak Hotel and Sun Studio gift shops
  • 10% off purchases at Graceland restaurants***
  • 20% off tour tickets for Sun Studio
  • $3.00 off tour tickets for Stax Museum.
Might be well worth your time and money to check into membership for that.

General Discount Information

  • If purchasing tickets on the Graceland website, choose the appropriate price corresponding with your eligibility. Proof of that eligibility will be required when picking up tickets or the difference will be charged on arrival. Discounts/refunds can not be applied after the ticket purchase has been completed.
  • If purchasing tickets in advance, the name on the reservation must be that of the eligible person.
  • Discounts do not apply to prior purchases. Refunds/discounts can not be applied after the ticket purchase has been completed.
  • AAA discounts require a valid AAA card (that has not expired) with government issued photo ID in the same name. Ticket office staff can not call AAA offices to verify memberships.
  • Military discounts require government issued active or retired Military ID.
  • Law enforcement and Firefighters discounts require badge/ID issued by department along with government issued photo ID.
  • Elvis Insiders discounts require a valid Insiders membership card along with government issued photo ID.
  • Discounts may not be combined.
  • Discounts do not apply to special events.


From time to time, discount coupons for Graceland tours are available via the Internet and at various area hotels and visitors centers.  The coupons must be presented at time of purchase or when claiming reserved tickets purchased with the discount offer.  Coupons are not valid on previously purchased tickets.  Specific black out dates and limitations apply. Details/limitations are listed on each coupon. Expired coupons can not be accepted.

Still photography is allowed on the grounds but no video and flash photography allowed.  Also, tripods are not allowed as they present a safety hazard.

Parking is $10 per vehicle and $15 for RV's and trailers.

For convenience, Heartbreak Hotel features 128 rooms across the street from Graceland.  The Heartbreak Hotel offers complimentary hotel/airport transfers for guests who are staying at the Heartbreak Hotel.  When you arrive at the Memphis International airport, you will need to go to baggage claim located on the lower level. There will be a courtesy phone there that you can use to phone the hotel for pickup. The shuttle operates from 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The Heartbreak Hotel does offer transportation to and from Beale Street, located 20 minutes away in downtown Memphis. They charge a $5.00 fee each way. This starts at 6:00 p.m. and the Heartbreak Hotel shuttle runs every hour up until 9:00 p.m. You will need to sign up at the front desk for this service due to limited seating.

If you are booking the trip for a huge Elvis fan, Heartbreak Hotel offers:
  •  Wine Goblets
  • Champagne Flutes
  • Happy Birthday mug
  • Elvis singing Birthday Balloon
  • Balloon (1 Elvis, 4 latex)
  • Elvis wine (red or white)
  • Fresh flowers
  • A Cake
If you would like a cake and/or flowers, the hotel needs 72-hour notice. E-mail*All items are subject to availability.

Another popular attraction is the Tour of the Graceland Stables.  If you choose not to stay at Graceland, you're probably going to have to go through the expense of getting a rental car.  The good news there is that you can get a 25% discount on your rental.  

Sun Studios runs a free shuttle bus to and from Graceland every hour on the hour. For more information on this free shuttle service, please contact Sun Studio at 1-800-441-6249 or visit the Sun Studio website.

Directions to Graceland

Important Addresses

Graceland's Ticket Office is located at 3765 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116.
Graceland Parking is located at 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116. There is a fee for parking.
Heartbreak Hotel is located at 3677 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN 38116

View Larger Map


FROM I-55 SOUTH / JACKSON, MS Take Interstate 55 North to exit 5 (Brooks R.d. & Elvis Presley). At the light, turn left onto Brooks Road going west. At the next light (Elvis Presley Blvd.) you will turn left and go south. Parking will be at the 3rd light on the right.


Take Interstate 240 South to Interstate 55 South (Jackson, MS). Off of I-55, take exit 5B(Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 240 South to Interstate 55 South. Off of I-55 South (Jackson, MS), take exit 5 B (Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 40 West to Interstate 240 West. Then take I-240 West to Interstate 55 South (Jackson, MS). Off of I-55, take exit 5B (Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 40 East to Interstate 55 South. You will cross the Mississippi River on I-55 South. Once in Memphis, Off I-55 (Jackson, MS), take exit 5B(Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Hwy 78 West o Interstate 240 West. Take 1-240 West to Interstate 55 South (Jackson, MS). Off of I-55, take exit 5B (Elvis Presley Blvd.) Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light on the right.


Take Interstate 55 South into Memphis. Once in Memphis, off-I-55 South (Jackson, MS), take exit 5B (Elvis Presley Blvd). Continue south on Elvis Presley Blvd. Parking will be at the 4th light.

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