For us, road trips east have usually included a stop in Memphis, Tennessee. As many times as we have been through this cool city, only Carrick had visited Graceland before. While I’ve never considered myself a true Elvis fan, I do like his songs and always thought that Graceland would be a fun, kitschy thing to do. We decided a stop at Graceland, Tennessee would work out perfectly on our way home from Orlando.
I’ll admit that I was mildly concerned that the kids would be bored with it, especially at the end of a long two weeks and half a dozen theme parks. I could not have been more wrong!
Disclosure: We were given complimentary tickets for the Graceland Platinum Tour that also included the Airplane Tour. Opinions in this post are ours alone. However, Graceland with kids was awesome and everyone loved it, so keep reading!
In preparation for our visit, we added some of the best Elvis songs to our road trip playlist, as well as Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” These songs at least gave the kids a little context as to who Elvis Presley was.
We arrived at around 9:00 AM when the mansion opens and went to pick up our tickets. We did the platinum tour which includes the Graceland Mansion and grounds tour, the car museum, the airplanes, the archives experience, and Sincerely Elvis. We began with the mansion tour, and everyone was given his or her own iPad and headphones before we were bused across the street to the front steps of the mansion.
A Tour of the Graceland Mansion
After a brief introduction and explanation of how and when Elvis purchased the home and land, we were invited to begin the guided tour on our iPads. The tour is narrated by John Stamos, with additional information provided by Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley. A new feature of the iPad tour is the youth version of the narration, which worked out perfectly for our kids.
The narration and virtual tour really bring the rooms to life as you see them in person, and it adds context also. We all enjoyed the interactive features, such as videos, pictures of Elvis in the rooms, and additional content. They really help illustrate the life of Elvis Presley. I got a kick out of the bill of sale for the microwave in the kitchen. Microwaves have certainly come a long way over the years!
Back in the 1980s, my family was told by some locals that the tour “wasn’t worth the money,” but with this new virtual component, I think it is totally worth it! We all enjoyed looking around the uniquely (and sometimes garishly) decorated rooms. It was like a 1970s time capsule that not only showed Elvis’s personality and showmanship, it also displayed the love he had for family and friends. The stained glass in the living room was one of our favorite parts of the mansion.
Another of our favorites was the “Jungle Room.” With a distinctive Polynesian influence, it was modeled after one of Elvis’s favorite vacation spots – Hawaii.
The Grounds Around Graceland
The tour continues to parts of the grounds and includes Elvis’s trophy room, his father’s office, the racquetball court which now houses some of those famously flashy costumes, the Graceland swimming pool, and finally the meditation garden and graves of Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother. Overall, the grounds of the estate are just beautiful. We loved seeing the horses as well.
Other Things to See at Graceland
Back across the street, we toured Elvis’s cars, airplanes, personal effects, clothing, and memorabilia. We especially enjoyed the car museum which includes many of the favorite cars and other vehicles used by Elvis and his family. The pink Cadillac was my personal favorite. The kids also enjoyed seeing Elvis’s private planes and have decided that traveling like Elvis would be pretty cool.
I’d say we all liked learning about the life of this music legend, and I, for one, am looking forward to seeing some of his movies after visiting the Trophy Room.
The Guesthouse at Graceland
For those wanting to be even more immersed in the Graceland experience, Graceland is now taking reservations for their new hotel called The Guest House at Graceland.
Per the press release:
Inspired by Elvis’ iconic home, every aspect of The Guest House will reflect Elvis’ personal style
and the unique character of his famous Memphis mansion, from the southern colonial exterior
to 19 specialty suites with designs supervised by Priscilla Presley.
The project is huge, and will feature 450 rooms located right next to the Graceland Mansion.
The Guest House at Graceland, the most significant enhancement to Graceland since it opened to the
public in 1982 and the largest hotel project in Memphis in over 90 years, was recently named by the
Sydney Morning Herald in Australia as one of the 16 most exciting hotel openings worldwide in 2016 –
the only U.S. hotel to receive this recognition.
The star-studded opening weekend is slated for October 27-30 2016 and will feature too many guests to list here. Click here for more information.
Reservations are now open, so if you would like to make a reservation, click here to check the latest prices.
This looks like a really cool project, and I know that everyone we talked with is very proud of it. Even if you’re not a huge Elvis fan, this will be a very cool place to consider staying on your next visit to Memphis, TN.
Summing Up Visiting Graceland with Kids
We had a great time! Even if we had not received complimentary tickets, I would have paid the admission. We’ve been through Memphis too many times now to not stop in. The kids were really receptive to the iPads, and I think that really helped them engage in what they were seeing. Kudos to Graceland for making those available to all guests. The staff were all very helpful and friendly and ready to answer questions. Be sure to visit the Graceland shop for lots of fun things to take home.
If you have any trepidation about visiting Graceland with kids, don’t! We feel like even if you have kids who don’t know who Elvis Presley is, they would still have fun at Graceland, and when you are done touring, everyone will know some cool facts about Elvis Presley!
Quick Facts about Graceland:
Graceland Hours of Operation During the Summer:
Monday – Saturday:9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m., except for:
Sunday, May 29th: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Memorial Day Weekend)
Sunday, July 3rd: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Independence Day Weekend)
Sunday, September 4th: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Labor Day Weekend)
Graceland tours are self-guided with complementary iPads. However, VIP experiences are available. Graceland prices can be found here.
Graceland Mansion, Graceland Archives Experience, Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, Elvis’ Custom Jets, I Shot Elvis, Elvis’ Hawaii: Concerts, Movies and More!, Sincerely Elvis, Elvis in Hollywood: From Teen Idol to Leading Man (VIP-Only), and Elvis’ Tupelo Exhibit.
Beale Street and the Hard Rock Cafe
After spending about three hours with the King, we were all ready for some food, so we took the short drive over to Beale Street where we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.
HRC Memphis has some great Elvis memorabilia, as one might expect. They even had some live music while we were there, which added to the fun. The kids like to stop in the local HRC for some drumsticks and a t-shirt when we’re traveling, and this year we were able to add Tokyo to the list.
Our half day in Memphis was so fun, but it is easy to see that we will need to make another trip soon to experience more of what this city has to offer. Whether you are just passing through or plan to make Memphis your destination, be sure to put Graceland on your “must see” list.
Let us know what your favorite things to do in Memphis are over on Twitter or Facebook!
This post is part of our #SummerRoadTrip2016 Series. Check out our other posts from this trip!
- The Best Parasailing in Florida
- AftT’s Guide to Wizarding Around Universal Orlando Resort
- The Best of Walt Disney World Resort – Old Favorites and New Magic
- Our Favorite Gear for a Summer Road Trip
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