Make a well-planned visit to Elvis Presley’s home using these tips for visiting Graceland. Maximize your visit, there is much to see.
Use these Graceland Tour Tips to get the most out of a full day doing the Graceland Tour in Memphis.
If you don’t live nearby, you will be planning a trip. I am also sharing with you where to stay and eat while in Memphis for your Elvis experience tour.
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There is much more to visiting Graceland than only touring the mansion. Directly across the street from Graceland sits a huge entertainment complex complete with museums, gift shops, and restaurants for you to explore. This is where your Graceland experience will begin.
Table of Contents
- How to get into Graceland
- Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex
- How much does it cost to tour Graceland?
- Ticket options
- Where to stay
- Dining and Shopping
- Tips for visiting Graceland
- More Places To Visit in the South
How to get into Graceland
Your tour will begin at the Elvis Presley Memphis Entertainment Complex. This is where the ticket office is located.
It’s across the street in front of Graceland. There is a $10 parking fee. If you are staying at the Guesthouse, their shuttle runs every 30 minutes so don’t drive your own vehicle over and pay to park.
Graceland tours are scheduled every 15 minutes so you will be given a time on your ticket. Prior to boarding the shuttle, that is provided for your tour, you will watch a short, 7-minute video of Elvis’s career.
Once you are directed out to board the shuttle bus, you have an opportunity for your picture to be taken in front of a fun background. You are not obligated to buy these and you can opt-out of the photo if you like. They cost about $35 currently and can be found at the auto museum after your mansion tour.
You will also be handed an iPad and headphone set to listen to an audio tour narrated by John Stamos. As you make your way through the home of Elvis Presley, John who is also a big Elvis fan will tell you information about each room of the house tour.
You can spend as much time as you like on your tour. You are not required to board the free shuttle at any particular time. Just be sure not to miss the last bus of the day. Graceland hours of operation are daily 9-4. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex
A lot has changed on Elvis Presley Blvd. since the King of Rock and Roll passed away back in 1977. Over the years Elvis Presley Enterprises was able to purchase land across the street from the mansion. They built a 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex known as Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Elvis Presley’s Memphis enables you to follow the life path that Elvis took, and surround yourself with the things that he loved.
What will you find there?
Presley Motors Auto Museum
A nice collection of vehicles owned by Elvis which includes the infamous pink Cadillac are on display in the car museum.
Fun fact about the pink Caddy. It was referred to as Glady’s car but she never learned to drive. The car earned the name Glady’s car because she wanted a pink Cadillac and that is why Elvis bought it. He loved his Momma.
Elvis Career Museum
You will be able to view up close hundreds of artifacts from the extensive Graceland Archives, including Elvis’ amazing collection of gold and platinum records, his stunning jumpsuits, memorabilia from his movies, and more. This museum is the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world.
The items on display change from time to time as they are sent to locations around the world for his dedicated fans to enjoy.
The display of the iconic Elvis jumpsuits is amazing. They are stacked two and three high on three walls, each encased individually and lit so they are easy to view. But that isn’t all, there are more on display in this museum in various places including the famous black leather suit he wore for the 1968 Comeback Special.
Other museums include:
- Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley
- Presley Cycles; Elvis motorcycles and other vehicles
- Private Presley, showcasing his service in the U.S. Army
- ICONS: The Influence of Elvis Presley, an exhibit that showcases Elvis’ influence on other artists
- Archives Experience, which allows you to explore the Graceland Archives
Elvis Custom Jets
Climb aboard Elvis’ customized jet, named after his daughter Lisa Marie, that features a living room, conference room, sitting room, and private bedroom, as well as gold-plated seat belts, suede chairs, and leather-covered tables, 24-karat gold-flecked sinks, and more.
Then, take a peek inside Elvis’ smaller Lockheed Jet Star, customized by Elvis with a yellow and green interior. Remember the decor is 70’s.
There are lots of souvenir shops at the complex. Many of them have similar items but some do have different things.
The T-shirts cost around $35 and up. You can find almost anything you can imagine. Shop Amazon before your trip for lots of Elvis t-shirts right here.
Restaurants at the Entertainment Complex
The menu includes; Classic American cuisine, including burgers, hot dogs, and pizza – plus one of Elvis’ favorites – Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches.
Vernon’s Smokehouse features authentic Memphis BBQ fare, including pork ribs, chicken, and beef brisket, seasoned with exclusive Vernon’s Smokehouse BBQ sauce. Also on the menu are; meatloaf, catfish, and BBQ spaghetti.
The Rock-n-Go is attached to Glady’s Diner and they share a dining room. They serve sandwiches, salads, and snacks. The menu also includes smoothies, iced coffees, and shaken iced teas.
Minnie Mae’s Sweets
Be sure to also visit Minnie Mae’s Sweets for hand-dipped ice cream, Root Beer floats, candy, and more! Choose from 16 delicious ice cream flavors.
How much does it cost to tour Graceland?
The good news is there are tickets available in a variety of price ranges. We chose the Ultimate VIP in order to enjoy the expert guide.
Tickets currently range in price from $48 up to $196 per person depending on the type of experience you prefer.
The most expensive option is called the Ultimate VIP Tour and includes:
- Graceland Mansion Tour with an Expert Guide For Each Small Group of up to 10 Guests
- Self-guided tour of Elvis’ Custom Jets
- Full Access to Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex, including Presley Motors Automobile Museum
- Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum
- Self-guided tours of the Elvis Discovery Exhibits
- Access to Ultimate Lounge and Exclusive VIP Exhibit
- A meal voucher for a restaurant at Elvis Presley’s Memphis
- Exclusive Photo Opportunity
- Personal Graceland Archives Show and Tell Session
- Keepsake Backstage pass
The least expensive option is called Elvis Presleys Memphis + Planes. This option does not include the tour of the mansion.
Benefits of the Ultimate VIP
The most significant benefit of the Ultimate VIP package is the expert guide. They will tell you lots of tidbits and stories you won’t otherwise hear.
We got lucky and our tour guide was one of the archivists who doesn’t usually do tours but we were there during Elvis week and it was busy.
You will receive a set of headphones for wearing during the tour so you can hear your guide because they don’t talk out loud for other tourists to listen to the things you paid extra to learn.
VIP Private Lounge
Near the end of the mansion tour, you will be taken to the VIP Private Lounge to sit and relax for a few minutes. There is water available and a few displays for you to look at that others won’t see. We enjoyed it because it was very hot the day of our visit and it was nice to cool off.
After leaving the lounge, we were shuttled down to the only building on the property which isn’t original to the home. It was built to house memorabilia and archives.
If you are not doing the Ultimate VIP Tour, you won’t come to this archives building.
Here, you get to see up close some of Elvis’s personal possessions and will be allowed to touch one thing. On our visit that thing was one of Elvis’ guitars.
Also part of the Ultimate VIP package is a meal voucher to one of the restaurants on the Elvis Memphis campus. We ate at Vernon’s and it was very good.
Buy your tickets online before you go
Save time and buy your tickets online before you go. You can print them or have them available on your cell phone when you get there. If you have the QR code open on your phone, the ticket agent will scan it quickly and you can go through the line. They will scan the code for each ticket you purchased.
What can you tour for free?
You are allowed to visit the Meditation Garden which is Elvis’s burial site during a one-hour time frame each morning. Visitor walk-up times are daily from 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. All guests must enter the gates by 8:30 a.m. to walk up, and guests must leave the mansion grounds before Graceland tours start.
Elvis, Gladys, Vernon, his Grandmother who he lovingly called ‘Dodger’, and his grandson, Benjamin is buried there. You will also see a memorial marker for Elvis’s twin brother, Jessie, who died at birth.
Where to stay
Guesthouse at Graceland
The Guesthouse, built in 2016, is a quite beautifully equipped, luxurious hotel decorated to reflect the colorful style of Elvis Presley. Located literally next door to Graceland, you can walk over to the mansion.
The gorgeous furniture in the lobby is designed to pay homage to the high collars of Elvis stage wear.
Read my Review of The Guest House at Graceland. It’s full of pictures.
Graceland RV Park and Campground
The Graceland RV Park & Campground is located on 19 acres just off Elvis Presley Boulevard. It is part of the Graceland Campus.
The Memphis campgrounds feature:
- Full Hookup Sites
- 30/50 Amp Service
- Bathhouse and laundry facilities
- Bike & Walking Trails
- Tent Area
- Patrolled 24-hour Security
- Free campground-wide wireless internet access
- Swimming Pool
- Camping store providing ice, drinks, propane, souvenirs, books, t-shirts, camping and RV supplies, and a small business center.
- Brochures and local information are also available in the store along with maps and other related items.
- The office staff can assist you in making reservations for tours and [dining] out at represented restaurants in the area.
Dining and Shopping
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of dining options located in the general area around Graceland or the Guesthouse. There are two restaurants inside the hotel but if you are staying a full week you will get tired of those. Their food is good but the prices are on the high side and the menus are limited.
We drove down to Southaven, Ms. for shopping. There is a nice Tanger Outlet there and we had a fun day shopping. It’s only about 11 miles from the Guesthouse so not far at all.
There are more dining options in this same area where the Tanger Outlets are. We went to a little pizza place where the food and service were both good and it was budget friendly.
Be sure to go to Marlowe’s Ribs and Restaurant which is just a few blocks down the street from Graceland.
They will come and pick you up in their pink limousine and bring you back. It’s a fun adventure and the food is quite good.
Graceland is the second most visited home in the U.S., second only to the White House. Of course, you want to get the most out of your visit. Use these tips to plan your trip to Graceland.
Visit the Graceland website to purchase your tickets in advance online.
Tips for visiting Graceland
- Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved.
- You are allowed to have bottled water in the mansion but no food.
- Flash photography is not allowed. Snap all the photos you want without the flash.
- Graceland is typically less busy in the afternoons, especially after 2:00 p.m.
- The last mansion tour of the day begins at 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m., depending on the day of the week and time of year.
- Bring a sharpie. You can sign the famous Graceland wall.
- The Graceland gates close at 5 p.m., that is when you can get a picture of the closed gates or early in the morning.
- Walking up to Elvis’s grave is free. You are only allowed to do that between 7:30-8:30 am before tours begin.
- The mansion tour takes about an hour to an hour and a half.
- You can easily spend most of a day touring the mansion and the entertainment complex with a break for lunch at one of the restaurants.
- Take cash for tips if you plan to tip the driver of the free shuttle.
- Use #graceland when sharing
- If you plan to visit during Elvis Week, book everything in advance and buy tickets to the shows in advance.
- Visit during Elvis week and buy tickets to the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Finals. The concerts are fabulous.