A stop in Memphis on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans. A few hours to kill. A taxi ride to see a King. These three things made up what turned out to be a fun and kitschy solo excursion to Graceland, the mecca of all that is Elvis Presley.
I hailed a taxi from my downtown Memphis hotel and took the 15 minute ride for my personal pilgrimage. This place isn’t just a house on the top of a hill. It’s a destination full of museums, restaurants, shops, and even a hotel. Across the street stood that iconic white gate I’ve seen in so many movies and on television.
Visitors don’t enter Graceland through the pearly white gates, but instead park or get dropped off in the rear of the commercial area. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect but it wasn’t a strip mall type area full of mini museums and gift shops. I made my way into the main building to purchase my tour ticket, which was a bit pricey. This was okay with me, though, as for many visitors, you can’t put a price on visiting The King of Rock and Roll’s final resting place.
There are three ticket options and I chose the Graceland Platinum Tour, which was only $4 more than the $32 Graceland Mansion Tour. There was a VIP option for $70, but I still needed cab fare for my return to the hotel. The Graceland Platinum Tour was the best value. Here’s what’s included:
Tour of Graceland Mansion and Grounds – This audio tour begins at the shopping area where visitors line up to take a shuttle across the highway to the mansion. If you are hoping to get a photo of the entrance gate, then you’ll have to walk across the highway after your tour as the shuttle does not stop for photos. The self-guided audio tour takes about 30 minutes once stepping off the shuttle and entering the mansion. It was extremely cool to not just see the home where Elvis and his family lived, but that crazy decor from the era. Of course, the tour isn’t complete without a glimpse of the infamous Jungle Room.
While touring the home and grounds be sure to check out some of the memorabilia and smaller museums around the property before heading back across the street. While waiting for the shuttle, I had a few minutes to finally snap a photo of the front of the mansion.
Tour of Elvis’ Custom Airplanes – Around the side of the shop area are two custom airplanes, including the Lisa Marie. I took a walk through on this self-guided audio tour and it was complete with thick plastic furniture covers. Elvis sure did fly in style.
Other tours included in the platinum ticket: Elvis’ Automobile Museum, ICON: The Influence of Elvis Presley, Elvis Lives: The King and Pop Culture Exhibit, Elvis on Tour Exhibit, ’68 Special Exhibit. If you are so inclined, you can even order your own jumpsuit.
The Graceland Platinum Ticket tours take around 2.5 – 3 hours to see everything. Should visitors get hungry, there are a few eating venues onsite and for those looking for a special memento, there’s a plethora of gift shops scattered around the property. The onsite burger joint even serves Elvis’ favorite — grilled peanut butter banana sandwhiches.
I opted for a classic burger and fries and gave my feet a rest while enjoying the 1950′s atmosphere inside the restaurant. It was relaxing to listen to oldies but goodies and watch the visitors from all over the world enjoy the lasting memory of Elvis Presley and his legendary lifestyle.
To plan your own tour, tickets can be purchased online or in person at Elvis.com.