Inside Elvis’ Memphis

A new biopic puts the legendary star and the southern city in the spotlight once again.
elvis memphis graceland

The biographical musical drama “Elvis” starring Austin Butler as Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks as manager Colonel Tom Parker, has sparked a renewed fascination with the late icon. And whether you are inspired by the movie or are a fan of Elvis or music in general, a visit to Memphis provides plenty of rock-and-roll fun for travelers.

The first stop for an Elvis-themed (or any) tour of the city is the 120-acre Graceland. The King’s estate features the uniquely styled Graceland Mansion. Single and multi-day tickets are available, inviting visitors into Elvis’ personal world.

At the mansion, you’ll see the music room, racquetball room, the famous Jungle Room and more. And you can pay your respects at the Meditation Garden, the final resting place for Elvis and members of his family.

Once you are done exploring the house, cross the street to the 200,000-square-foot Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment and exhibit complex. Check out Elvis’ impressive car collection, including his Pink Cadillac, at the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, or see his collection of gold and platinum records and iconic jumpsuits at the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum.

elvis memphis graceland
“Graceland” by josephleenovak is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Included in the price of your Graceland ticket, interactive and immersive experiences at Elvis Presley’s Memphis feature customized photos and videos of you and Elvis. Pick an Elvis from the era of your choice: the 50s, 60s, or 70s. You can even virtually dress up like an Elvis impersonator or place yourself in Elvis’ movie posters and album covers.

And you don’t want to miss his custom jets. Known as “Flying Graceland,” the Lisa Marie (named for Elvis’ daughter) is decked in signature Elvis style.

When it’s time for a break, dine on Memphis barbecue at Vernon’s Smokehouse. For those who would like to enjoy live music, the Graceland Soundstage at Elvis Presley’s Memphis hosts musicians and bands.

Die-hard fans can spend the night at the 450-room Guest House at Graceland, a full-service hotel that includes a 464-seat theater.

Follow the Music

Explore more of Elvis’ Memphis at Sun Studio, where he recorded his first singles. It’s also the site where other music greats such as Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, B.B. King and Roy Orbison recorded their early tunes. A guided tour of the studio features outtakes from recording sessions and plenty of stories about the music legends.

The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, created by the Smithsonian Institution, looks at Memphis’ music story starting in the 1930s and those “who, for the love of music, overcame racial and socio-economic barriers.”

Elvis is, of course, an inductee of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. A visit here offers a look at cool memorabilia, video performances and interviews, and interactive exhibits. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music and The Blues Foundation Blues Hall of Fame offer additional context and music exhibits.

Stroll along Beale Street, home to shops, restaurants, bars and live music venues, and get a photo with the Elvis statue near Main Street. In the evening, take your pick of such clubs as B.B. King’s Blues Club, Rum Boogie Café’s Blues Hall Juke Joint and Blues City Café to listen to live blues. And you can relive the excitement of the “first-ever rock and roll show” at Overton Park Shell outdoor amphitheater where Elvis performed in 1954.

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Dine Like The King

While in Memphis, be sure to check out two of Elvis’ favorite dining spots.

At the Arcade Restaurant on South Main Street, you can sit in the Elvis booth and order his favorite fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.

Or head to Coletta’s Italian Restaurant’s South Parkway location to eat in the Elvis Room, a private dining space that Elvis and his entourage would regularly take over. They claim to have created barbeque pizza, so be sure to try some while there.

Festival Time

Every August, the annual Elvis Week is filled with concerts, tributes, conversations, a moving candlelight vigil and more. This year’s event takes place Aug. 9-17 at Graceland and marks the 45th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Among the special appearances slated for 2022 are Priscilla Presley and Barbara Eden.

The Holiday Lighting Weekend at Graceland kicks off the season on Nov. 17 to 19 this year. Special holiday tours of the decorated Graceland Mansion and grounds run from Nov. 17 to Dec. 23, with the holiday décor staying on through Jan. 8, 2023.

Graceland also celebrates Elvis’ birthday every year with a four-day celebration around January 8. Be part of the festivities for Elvis’ 88th birthday taking place Jan. 6 to 9, 2023.

Let a AAA travel advisor help you plan your trip to Memphis.

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