Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Memphis, Tennessee: Graceland - The Home of Elvis Presley

During spring break 2015, my family and I took a road trip to Orange Beach, Alabama.  As we do with any road trip, we researched other things to see along the way.  Memphis, Tennessee was definitely the place to visit!  Our first stop was to see Graceland.  We are not big fans of Elvis but how can you not explore his famous home when you are so close???!!!

Here's our experience of Graceland:

We started our road trip reading this book.  Since we were visiting his home - we figured we better learn who he is.  My kiddos take-a-way?  Elvis did drugs and then died....  Well, at least that wasn't really discussed during our tour.

Layout of the property.  There are many shops.
The house is actually located across the street (more about that later).

This sign is in the parking area with easy and safe access - unlike the picture of the sign at the top of this post (near the road in a busy area).  There is a fee for parking.  However, there is a strip mall nearby where you could park and walk.
We purchased our tickets in advance online via their website at a discount but we had to pick up the official tickets at the ticket window.  There is a gift shop near the ticket window.  The day that we were there it was very busy!  But, we discovered later that there are many gift shops on the property.  I'm mentioning this in hopes that you do not got caught in this one store thinking it is your only shopping opportunity.

You can save money by purchasing your tickets online and you can reserve your time to tour the house.
 There are many ticket options - depending on what all you would like to see.

The back of our ticket was a coupon for Hard Rock.  Perfect since we planned to eat dinner there that night!

The house is on the opposite side of the rest of the property.
Tour buses take you from the main area to the house.
You are given a time to get into line for the bus ride.  They are set in half hour time blocks.  For example 10:30 am means that you get in line at 10:30 am and you are hopefully through the line by the next timeframe. The line seemed to be pretty long the entire time we were there but it moved fast.
There is a constant flow of buses taking people to and from the house. 

While you are in line, they take your picture for a souvenir.
You can view/purchase the picture at a kiosk located where you get off the returning bus.
The cost at the time of our visit was $35.

Looking at the house from the bus line.

You can walk across the street.  You can't enter the property by walking but there are some things  to see outside of the gate.  People have "signed" the entrance gate and there is a plaque/sign to read about the house.

Areal view

Back to the line...  Once you get close to your turn to get on a bus, you are given an iPad with a headset.   This is your walking/virtual tour of the house.  The host (via iPad) is John Stamos.  It was very easy to follow along with this option.

Looking from the house back to the main property.

Getting ready to tour the house.

An employee spoke to all the guests before entering the house.  I have to admit that it was pretty crowded at first.  Imagine, everyone on the bus waiting at the front door and then entering all at the same time.  It was a small bus but still.  Thankfully, the crowds weren't much of an issue once we all started moving at our own pace.  

All of the rooms were roped off so you could see inside but not get close enough to touch.  The upstairs (where Elvis passed away and where his bedroom is located) is off limits.  

Things seemed smaller than I thought they would be.  However, there are so many rooms in this house!  It seemed like a maze as we moved through the main floor and basement of the house.  

It was interesting to see how this kitchen compared to todays world.
Especially when you consider that they had top of the line appliances for that time.

The media room was even more interesting!

Everything but the floor covered in this material!
It is even pleated!

There is a piano in the bottom left corner of this picture.
It is the one that Elvis reportedly played just before he passed away.

The jungle room.
Part of the tour also includes the exterior buildings of the house.  This is the trophy room.

Elvis and his family members (grandma, mom, dad, and a memory stone of a little brother that passed at a very young age) are buried at the house.  These people were all discussed in the book we read which made the experience even more meaningful.

Once we were done with our tour of the house, we boarded a bus to head back.  But there was one more stop.  Near the house is a small museum and a movie.  After exploring that, we got onto another bus that took us back to the other side of the street. 

Back to the main side of the property:

The Automobile Museum.  Oddly, it did not have the pink Cadillac in it!

There are many little museum sections.  Here's some of what we saw:

There are also a few options for food and treats.
One looked really good but it did not have options for all of my fussy eaters.  

There is another section where you can explore Elvis' airplanes.
This required another ticket.  It is also owned by another company that leases the space to display them.
At the time of our visit we were told that the lease was due and it was not being renewed.  However, a friend of mine went a few months later and the planes were still there.  We did not tour these due to lack of time but it sounded interesting.
The Hawaiian museum is actually located in a retail store (strip mall store) across the drive from the main property.  

We decided to eat at the Rock-N-Roll Cafe in the strip mall.  It was a good choice!

Fried green tomatoes - I finally got to try them!!!  YUMM!!!!

While in Memphis, we also visited the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street.

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