How to visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley

Elvis’s beloved, outré mansion is the second-most visited private home in the US, beaten only by the White House. Here are some tips on making the most of a visit to the former residence of the King.

By Zoey Goto
Published 10 Feb 2023, 07:00 GMT
Living room at Graceland

Living room at Graceland, featuring the white piano bought by Elvis in 1957.

Photograph by EPE

Pay your respects for free

Time it well and you can visit Graceland’s grounds without spending a dime. Every morning (aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, when the site is closed), from 7.30am to 8.30am, fans can pass through the gates free of charge for an hour of quiet contemplation at Elvis’s graveside.

Plan around peak season

The party kicks off from 5-8 January for Elvis’s birthday celebrations, where crowds flock for a cake-cutting ceremony sometimes hosted by his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. There are events all across Memphis, too, but plan ahead as hotels book up lightning fast. The bustle returns for the week surrounding 16 August, the anniversary of Elvis’s death, when celebrations go all out, with tribute artists in bejewelled jumpsuits and a moving candlelight vigil.

Hop on the shuttle

Combine Graceland with a visit to Sun Studio and stand in the precise spot where Elvis first belted out That’s All Right. A free shuttle whisks guests between the two landmarks every hour.

Bring the kids

Graceland is family friendly. A new entertainment complex includes interactive attractions such as an LED dancefloor quiz and a photo booth. Inside the mansion, children gravitate towards the hyper-themed rooms, including the Jungle Room, with its green carpet and neon-lit indoor waterfall.

Arrive fashionably late

Dodge the queues by visiting after 2pm, when things start to wind down, but there are still a couple of hours to take it all in before the site closes at 4pm. 

Don't miss

Sample a peanut butter and banana sandwich grilled in bacon grease — one of Elvis’s favourite eats — at the on-site Gladys’ Diner.

Published in the US Cities 2023 guide, distributed with the March 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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