Visiting Graceland for the First Time.
Who doesn’t love Elvis Presley? I grew up watching this pop idol turned legend with my grandma in his classic films like Girls Girls Girls, Fun in Acapulco and Change of Habit. When we weren’t watching his teenybopper movies, I was maybe listening to him on “My First Sony” boom box.
A bucket list item has always been to visit his Graceland mansion. I remember watching Full House and being intrigued when Uncle Jesse said he wanted to be married there. When I found out we would be heading to the south, I was thrilled to be invited for a day at Graceland in Memphis!
Pulling into the Graceland entrance ($10 parking, FYI), it was more “theme park” vibes than a musical legend’s home. Adjacent to their ample parking lot, they’re remodeling and soon unveiling a brand new hotel.
Heading into the lobby, prepared to be overwhelmed with EVERYTHING a “hunka hunka burning love”. This is a shrine to the King! We proceeded to grab our tickets. We had The Entourage Tour that featured a multimedia iPad tour of Graceland Mansion and grounds, Graceland Archives Experience, self-guided tour of Elvis’ two custom airplanes, self-guided tours of Elvis’ Automobile Museum, The’ Tupelo Exhibit at Graceland Crossing, as well as Elvis in Hawaii: Concerts, Movies and More, at The Crossing.
All tour options include the main attraction (and what I was most excited to see): the mansion. Yes, friends–it’s as stunning as you can imagine. It’s also a bit overwhelming, and for that I am glad that the tour is self-guided to go at your own pace.
As you walk through Presley’s home and see such heirlooms as his furniture, instruments and the china filled dining table his daughter, Lisa Marie, and her family still enjoy when they visit, the beauty has no parallel.
A Family Affair
Built in 1939 and named after a relative named Grace, Presley bought this 500 acres of land in 1957 from The Toof Family at the ripe age of 22. While it doesn’t scream “Neverland”, it certainly has some unusual, odd decor. There was “The Conga Room”, with its 70’s classic “green” carpet not only on the floor, but, wait for it– on the walls. As well as another unique room with bright, neon decor and a statue of a white monkey. This is when I thought of Neverland.
A devoted family man, one of Elvis’ biggest dreams was to take care of his parents. Growing up in the humble town of Tupelo, Mississippi, the Presley’s struggled to keep food on the table and nothing made Presley more proud, than rewarding his parents with living at Graceland. We got to take a peek at Mr. and Mrs. Presley’s room. It looked just like it did in the 1960’s.
If you want to see nearly every single gold record of Elvis Presley’s, as well as movie posters and memorabilia, Graceland will not disappoint. Entering his room of records and achievements was a startling reminder at why this man has been hailed, time and time again, as the King.
You will also get to visit his Vegas room. Presley was the pioneer of entertainment in Las Vegas and after the success of his short run, was one of the first to pave the way for a residency show in Sin City.
The Gardens of Graceland
As you continue through the tour, you will eventually wind up outside and get to see some of the most beautiful gardens and landscaping ever. I was not expecting to be taken aback at the roses and trees that adorn the back yards of Graceland.
As you make your way past the pool, we enter some very sobering territory. Elvis, as well as his twin brother, Aaron, and his parents, are buried on the grounds and fans flock for a picture of the King’s grave.
Something I loved hearing on our audio tour were words from Presley’s only child, Lisa Marie. Speaking so highly of her dad, she insists she just knew him as “dad” and not the super star. She also discusses just how KIND Elvis was. “We all come from the same God, and we need to take care of each other” Presley himself once said. If you were a local in need, or one of the many charities he supported, Presley was always quick to share his fortunes with others.
Seeing many of the entertaining rooms, it looks very clear that the Presley’s loved to surround themselves with friends, family and great people. I can imagine them in the kitchen enjoying some laughs, drinks, and maybe a banana peanut butter sandwich.
Take the Tour
With many new improvements to The Graceland tour, one of their best moves has got to be their audio tour guide. It S indeed, no other than Uncle Jesse himself, John Stamos! While no references are made to his alter-ego’s love for Presley, you definitely feel like a pro is leading you around the legend’s home (even if you did not know the Full House connection).
With so many more stops to see, we were glad we got a fairly early start to Graceland. Touring the mansion easily can be enjoyed for 2 or more hours, if you enjoy reading every little tid bit and checking out those suits and records. If you have little ones in tow, the Graceland staff is very accommodating to help you get strollers down or up stairs or taking it outside for you should the space be narrow (A few parts of the home have very tiny stairwells) .
If you need ADA/Wheelchair accessibility, you’ll be happy to hear that Graceland is accessible except for the 2 basement rooms and the airplanes.
In the meantime, check out their website HERE to start planning your own visit. You will not be disappointed. xo
(Disclosure: A huge thank you to Graceland for providing me with media credentials to support this article. All opinions are my own.)