Had the best 56 hours in Memphis with my friend Beth who flew in from New Orleans to meet me after a work trip in New York!
Cost: ££ – expensive but not as crazy as bigger cities in the US
Rating: 10/10 for Elvis / music fans, 6/10 for anyone else
Trip length: 3 nights is enough
See the trip video here.
There are no direct flights from London and it’s a long way (12 hours of travel), so I would suggest booking as part of a larger trip to the US. Internal return flights from New York were about $250.
We stayed at the The Guest House at Graceland – over the road from where Elvis lived! It’s absolutely massive and has lovely, spacious rooms, as well as Elvis songs playing all day and night. Convenient if you’re planning an Elvis focused weekend, but not the best place to stay if not, as it’s a 15 minute drive to the centre and in an area which is not very safe (although if you get an Uber door to door I think you’ll be ok). It’s super close to the airport too and not horribly expensive – $739 / £666 for 3 nights (£222 per night).
Currency is the USD $ – check conversion rates before you go
As mentioned before, Memphis isn’t the safest place. We were told that the main tourist spots (like Beale Street) were fine to walk around during the day, but that we should be careful at nighttime. We made sure we ordered Ubers and had them waiting outside as we were out late both nights.
Even if you’re not an Elvis fan, this is absolutely worth seeing. It’s not just a tour of the house Elvis lived in for 20 years (and died in), but an Elvis theme park (with rides substituted for exhibitions).
You can buy different packages online – prices range from $49.75pp (exhibits only, no Graceland access) to $225pp for the ‘Ultimate VIP experience’. We went for the $79.75 option for a self-guided tour of Graceland, the planes and exhibits – suggest booking in advance as there was limited availability for one of the days we were there.
TOP TIP – leave enough time! I told Beth we would only be a couple of hours as I thought it was just the house tour and a couple of other bits… nearly 8 hours later I was still looking at every detail of every exhibit (made it up to her and to be honest, I think she was an Elvis fan by the end – bought multiple items in the gift shops). If you’re not quite so interested, you could probably whiz around more quickly, but I’d still allow a few hours.
The house is obviously incredible to see – so much smaller than I expected and as it was when Elvis last lived there (although there were renovations over the years). Upstairs (his bedroom) is not accessible.
The car exhibit is incredible – so many beautiful cars on display with their stories, as well as go carts and boats!
You can go inside his famous plane, the Lisa-Marie. There’s a smaller one too!
Can’t believe I got so close to some of the outfits he wore! Really loved this part, especially after watching the Elvis film.
Part I didn’t love so much… it’s a really beautiful, peaceful area behind the house and by the pool, where all the Presleys are buried.
Other exhibits included:
– Elvis in the army
– stars (big names) talking about how they were inspired by Elvis – lots of outfits in cases
– a section on Lisa-Marie
– film sets
– many more!
I genuinely think this was a beautifully done place and worth a trip to Memphis to see. Lots of interesting information, films and music along the way. What an amazing man.
– Beale Street
If you’ve watched the Elvis film, you will know about Beale Street – it’s surprisingly only a small area, a couple of blocks long (it seems a lot bigger in the film).
Definitely worth walking around, checking out the shops, having some drinks in one of the many bars. Wet Willie’s was great for a massive daiquiri.
It’s super lively during the evening with incredible live music – we spent a lot of time in Rum Boogie Cafe which got very busy as the evening went on (the food was not good though). The band was unbelievably talented – the girl sounded like an even better Adele. Make sure you have some cash to tip.
I was supposed to take Beth somewhere fancy for her 30th birthday, but we were having such a nice time that she insisted that we stay on Beale Street and she was desperate to see the goats in Silky O’Sullivan’s, so we ate there (not great either but did the job).
We went late when the goats were in bed but we were not going to leave without seeing them, so the kind manager gave us some crackers to try and entice them out with – it worked! They’re behind a fence now as I think guests were feeding them too much alcohol and pub food which wasn’t good for their little tummies.
We enjoyed a typical American breakfast in the famous Arcade Restaurant, only a short walk from Beale Street too. Seemed popular with locals as well as tourists and was reasonably priced.
– The Mississippi River
It’s just a short walk from Beale Street to the Mississippi River (can anyone else only spell Mississippi because of Matilda?) There is a pyramid which is a Bass Pro (hunting / fishing / camping) shop which Beth found super weird, but there is a bar, restaurant and viewing platform at the top which is worth doing if you have time. We luckily had a clear day.
– Overton Square in midtown Memphis
We only went here for dinner and a few drinks on a Sunday so it wasn’t particularly lively. Did look like a nice, more upmarket area from what we saw of it. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, some cocktails and snacks at a stunning cocktail bar called Tiger & Peacock!
We didn’t get time to visit Sun Studio, ‘The Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and where Elvis recorded his first song, but I wish we had… other big artists also started recording careers there (Jerry Lee Lewis, B.B. King, Johnny Cash to name a few).
I LOVED my time in Memphis and am so happy I got to visit Graceland. 100% worth a visit.