I Spent the Night at Graceland!

I woke up to the sound of the birds chirping. I was also sweating so much I wondered if I’d fallen asleep in a sauna.

Nope, I was just in my tent and the sun was beaming down on it so intensely, I felt like I was getting baked. I looked at the time on my phone.  7 am? Only about 5 hours earlier than I usually get up at on a Saturday  (haha!).

But there was no way I could sleep a minute longer in this oven tent.

IMG_4317 Cowboy was already up. I guess he’s not a fan of ‘sleep & bake’ either. When he saw me slide out of the tent (that’s how sweaty I was–no joke) he offered to slay me a cup of coffee at the little campground shop. Have I mentioned that he’s a big sweetheart?   (Nope, he didn’t pay me to say that).

We sat under a big tree (shade, yes!) sipping coffee and watching the activity of the other campers around us. As I slowly started to wake up, it dawned on me (pun intended): I just woke up in Elvis’s backyard!

While I may not be the biggest Elvis fan in the world, it is pretty cool to be sleeping on his homestead. I’ve been to Memphis once before, but I didn’t stay overnight on that trip. My friend Al and I had toured Graceland and then we were back on the road to our next destination. If we had stayed for the night, however, there was no way we would have camped. It was the middle of August then, so even spending two minutes outside was almost unbearable.

So for this trip, I suggested we come before the sticky summer heat sets in. Which is why we are here in May. While the sun did wake me up early this morning, it’s still quite pleasant to be outside.

IMG_4314 Camping at Graceland was much cheaper than I expected. Given it’s a huge tourist destination, I thought they’d charge an arm and a leg even for a tent site. But it was only a little under $30, which is cheaper than many of the KOA’s I’ve been to. Plus we got a free parking coupon for the Graceland tour (normally $10). So we weren’t ‘all shook up’ over the cost whatsoever  (HA! Sorry…).

And we got to sleep on ‘Don’t be Cruel’- lane, you really can’t get any more Graceland culture than that (well, aside from touring his house of course).

We packed up the tent so we could begin our pilmigage to the Graceland mansion. First though, we decided to stop for a quick breakfast (an IHOP, one of the only places close by) and then we were finally on our way to Graceland. 

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IMG_4319 Because there isn’t parking at the mansion, you have to park across the street from Graceland.

You then buy your tickets at the touristy ‘Elvis-ville’ shop near the parking lot, then line up for the shuttle bus which will take you to Elvis’s home.

IMG_9480 When you get in line for the bus, the staff offers to take a photo of you under the Graceland sign in hopes that you will hopefully buy their (pricey) photo package after the tour. We opted out and took a fun selfie instead. I really like this shot.

IMG_9420 While we were waiting, we asked if we can skip the line and walk across the street ourselves. Apparently they don’t allow this. The reason for the shuttle buses, the line up guide told me, is because they don’t want tourists  running across the (very busy) 4-lane highway (‘Elvis Presley Boulevard’) to get to the mansion.

Mostly because most people would probably be too busy gawking at the mansion instead of making sure they don’t get run over by a car.

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The drive was so ridiculously short (about 20 seconds), it was quite comical. Even though I was just here a few years ago, I completely forgot about having to take the shuttle bus. But I did remember being on a bus, which I couldn’t figure out. I guess I repressed that 20- second ride because it was SO short, it was almost like it didn’t happen.

We were let off the bus practically on the front steps of Elvis’s home. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Graceland!

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When I first saw Graceland I was really surprised. I thought it would be much bigger and more grandiose.

164316_10150394179930601_7782758_n It’s also much busier than when I was here 5  years ago. On my first visit here it was mid-summer so even the biggest Elvis fans know to avoid Memphis at this time of the year. I remembered expecting tons of crowds and line ups and had been very surprised at how quiet it was.

Not this time. There were long line ups for the bus and we had to wait a bit to get into the mansion as well. But the wait wasn’t too long, at least.

We took a few pictures to pass the time, ’cause normally we wouldn’t have thought to take a photo of the front door and posing in front of the sign.

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IMG_9430 We gathered at the front door and then put on our headphones as walked into the mansion (it’s a self-guided tour).

IMG_4667 - Copy When inside, the first room we see is Elvis’s living room. It’s very fancy and pristine-looking and I really love how all the vibrant stained glass decorations add a nice vibrant pop of colour to contrast the white furniture. Just stunning…

IMG_4328 The King would have used this room to hang with the family and guests and sing them a few tunes on his grand piano, which you can see here at the back of the room. 

34476_10150238965080601_5477167_n Right cross from the living room is the dining room, where many a dinners were served here to the Presley family.  Who wouldn’t enjoy a delicious home-cooked southern meal under this spectacular chandelier?   

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IMG_4331 The staircase going upstairs was roped off and we were told it was  out-of-bounds (only Elvis’s family can go up there). Darn, I was hoping to jump the rope and check it out (because I’m nosey, mostly) but the staff were guarding the staircase like hawks.

We wandered down the hallway and soon arrived at the kitchen. I laughed at the 1960s decor, especially when I saw the technology. I’m sure back in 1969, this kitchen was cutting-edge!

166867_10150394183770601_4800280_n Look at that snazzy microwave in the corner! Rumour has it this was the first microwave in America. Back in the early 70s, this baby probably cost a grand (pocket change for the King, of course). Nowadays you can’t even pay someone $20 to get rid of your microwave, especially if it’s an older model.

I like how they’ve kept Elvis’s home decorated like it was back in the day. Makes you feel like you’ve entered a time machine as  you walk through the front door.

IMG_4689 - Copy Elvis also had a TV in his kitchen…and this one has 2 screens!! He could watch the local News AND American Bandstand at the same time. Now that’s fancy.

IMG_4682 - CopyBut if he could time-travel to the future back then (say, to 2014) and see our present day mainstream TVs (50 “flat screens for many folks), he’d be laughing at this TV too.

Right near the kitchen is the bedroom which was used by Elvis’s parents.

167959_10150394183570601_7710674_n Then we moved on to the Jungle Room, which I found one of the most interesting and eccentric rooms here at Graceland.  Elvis loved Hawaii so this room was designed with his favourite vacation spot in mind.

The floor AND the walls are covered in green shag carpeting, and the wood furniture have animal shapes carved into them. He definitely had unique taste!

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IMG_4687 - Copy The next room was the “Pool Room”, which is almost as guady interesting as the jungle room. Lots of colour and the walls & ceiling were lined with fabric here too. A few couches surrounded the pool tables but they had a gazillion throw pillows on them, so no room to sit, really.

IMG_4700 - Copy We head to the basement to this room which is decorated in a lot of yellow and black,  and 3 T.V’s so Elvis could watch a few shows at once. At that time, the only other person in America with this many TVs was probably the President.

IMG_9439 I like the creepy cute porcelein monkey sitting on the table. This sorta scared me a little, truth be told.

164101_10150394184160601_6279968_nNot only did Elvis love TV’s, shag carpeting and monkeys, he also loved mirrors. Here’s Cowboy taking my picture in the mirror’s reflection here. Isn’t he creative?

IMG_4334 We then headed back upstairs where the tour led us out to the backyard where Elvis had his shooting range, a racquetball court, and a horse pasture just beyond the buildings. 

And lots of beautiful flowers and trees, too.

IMG_4720 - Copy Elvis loved horses and kept a few in the stables. Apparently the horses at Graceland these days are rescue horses (yeah!!). You can tour the stables in the summer months too if you’re interested (for an extra fee).

IMG_4742 - Copy From the backyard, the Graceland mansion looks even smaller, I thought. There are houses on my street back home that are bigger than this one (and it’s not a fancy street I live on, either).  Graceland really does look a bit more like a farm-house than a mansion. But it is beautiful and the house and grounds are kept in immaculate condition.

167671_10150394184970601_173235_n Right outside the back door is Lisa Marie Presley’s swing set that her dad bought for her when she was a little girl.

167797_10150394184635601_6338032_n Next we take a peek at Vernon Presley’s (Elvis’s dad) office.

IMG_4730 - Copy Not overly exciting, but it show the office technology they used back in the day (the 60s & early 70s). I chuckled when I saw this sign posted on the front door.

168044_10150394184715601_3252294_n We decided it was best to not loaf around any longer and quickly vacated the premises to resume the rest of the tour.

Next up was Elvis’s Raquetball building. During the ’70s, Elvis started playing racquetball which was beginning to be a popular sport at the time. In the building was a full service bar, pinball machines, games and a deep sunk lounge right beside the racquetball court.

179817_10150394185735601_1325829_n Sadly, we learned that it was right in this room on the morning of August 16th, 1977, that Elvis sat down at this piano and played his last song. Soon after, he headed back into the house, went upstairs and died in his bathrom. 

180358_10150394209150601_4795805_n Next on the tour is the Trophy Building, which is basically a shrine to Elvis as it’s chock full of his trophies, albums, outfits,  awards etc.    IMG_4748 - Copy

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IMG_4770 - Copy For Elvis fanatics like Cowboy, there are tons of great memorabilia on Elvis’s life and career on these walls. We roamed around for awhile as there were lots of fun things to see and read.

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The end of the tour is a bit sombre as we arrive at the cemetery where Elvis and many of his family members are buried.

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IMG_9467  And finally, we see Elvis’s gravestone. Not too surprising, there were line ups at this one.  

IMG_9476 One of the ladies on our tour asked us if we wanted a photo. Have I mentioned how friendly everyone is ’round these parts? I just love the deep south…

IMG_9472Close to the cemetery is the beautiful Meditation Gardens and Elvis’s pool. Since it was really warm, I contemplated taking a quick dip. I wonder if anyone would notice?

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Over all, I was impressed with the tour (even having done it once before already). It hasn’t changed at all in the few years I’ve been here, but it was still fun to see it with someone who really loves the King. Cowboy just loved it and was glad to finally get here. 

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IMG_9407  If you don’t want to camp at Graceland, you can always stay at the Heartbreak Hotel  (it’s got mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, I noticed).

IMG_4809 We just did the regular tour at Graceland, but there are packages that allow you to tour his planes, an automobile museum, and a couple other exhibits in addition to his house .

The regular tour was $36, but I just noticed that it’s gone up a little even since May (2014) when we were here. Check this site for more info on prices. If you want to camp at Graceland, here’s info on the campground.

If you’re coming to Graceland and have an iPad, they have just released a brand new iPad tour. It’s narrated by actor John Stamos and includes fun random hotspots to learn more about Elvis’s life. Probably a little more exciting than the regular audio tour, I’ll bet (which wasn’t bad, but a tad boring I found).

After a wonderful couple days in Memphis, we’re off to our next destination:  New Orleans. Woohoo!

The first part of this Deep South Road Trip Series are here, in case you missed them:

First Day in Nashville, Nashville Day 2: Grand Ol Opry , Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville , Dinner at the local…Drug Store: Franklin, TN (outside Nashville) , Rockin’ in Memphis , Tour of Sun Studios, Memphis , Walking in Memphis: Beale Street   

Have you ever been to Graceland, and if so, what did you think? Was it worth it? (Even if you aren’t a hardcore fan? ). If you went, did you do the regular tour or one of the fancier packages?


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2 thoughts on “I Spent the Night at Graceland!

  1. Pingback: Hello, New Orleans! Arriving in the Big Easy | The Roadtrip Cowgirl

  2. Pingback: Bourbon Street, Music and a Carousel Bar! New Orleans, Part 2 | The Roadtrip Cowgirl

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