Elvis Presley's Graceland will always be a buzzy destination. Most recently, though, it’s been in the news because of a letter that surfaced by To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee: “They are trying to turn Harper Lee into a tourist attraction like Graceland and Elvis Presley," wrote the author in the newly-surfaced letter about her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.
Like the tiny Alabama town's influx of visitors following Lee's novel (whose setting was loosely based on Monroeville), Memphis saw a huge increase in tourism since Graceland was opened to the public in 1982. Not only did it draw crowds from all U.S. states, but the mansion and surrounding grounds have actually attracted visitors from nearly every country in the world as well.
So, Elvis fans, before you go ahead and plan your trip to Graceland, here are all the answers to your most pressing questions, including why you should visit, how much it costs, and where you should stay.
Who Owned the Graceland Mansion First?
The 500 acre farmland in Memphis, Tennessee upon which Graceland was later built was owned by the S.E. Toof family for generations and named after Grace, a member of the family. In 1939, the tourist attraction's site recalls, "Grace's niece, Ruth Brown Moore and her husband, Dr. Thomas Brown Moore, built the mansion [on the land], which became well-known to the locals of Memphis."
Ruth was a harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, so classical recitals were common in the front formal rooms.
Why Is it So Special?
Aside from being beautiful, Graceland was famously known as Elvis Presley's home after he had purchased it from the Moores in the spring of 1957—when he was just 22 years old—for a bit over $100,000. That year, Graceland.com reports, was the King of Rock & Roll's first year of "super-stardom including historic network television appearances, record-breaking live performances, and armloads of gold record awards."
What Happened After Elvis?
On August 16, 1977, Elvis died at Graceland, leaving his father, Vernon Presley, as executor and trustee. His beneficiaries were his grandmother, father, and only child, Lisa Marie Presley, who still retains sole ownership of the Graceland Mansion and the 13 acres it sits on.
Because the estate cost over half a million dollars a year in maintenance and taxes, Elvis's former wife Priscilla Presley and the executors (following Vernon's death) planned to open Graceland to the public. They hired Jack Soden, an investment counselor in Kansas City, Missouri, who is now the President and CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc (EPE).
By June 7, 1982, Graceland was opened to the public for tours and has since "hosted more than 20 million visitors from every state in the union and nearly every country of the world." Because of this, EPE has increased tourism in Memphis and continues to welcome over 500,000 visitors annually and has become one of the "five most visited home tours in the United States."
What Can I Do There?
Explore the Mansion
Tour the living room, his parents' bedroom, the kitchen, TV room, pool room, Jungle Room, father's office, Trophy Building, and Racquetball Building, and Meditation Garden of the Graceland Mansion via an interactive iPad tour hosted by John Stamos, with commentary and stories from Elvis's daughter, Lisa Marie.
Visit Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum
Learn about Elvis's career with the help of hundreds of artifacts and photos from his life.
Visit Presley Motors Automobile Museum
Check out his iconic Pink Cadillac and more of his favorite automobiles.
Visit Various Exhibits
Explore the discovery spaces to experience different aspects of his life.
Check Out His Airplanes
Tour Elvis's customized airplanes, including the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II.
Taste the flavors of Memphis at one of Graceland's dining experiences, including Vernon's Smokehouse and Gladys's Diner.
Purchase souvenirs from "the largest collection of Elvis merchandise in the world."
DETAILS Everything to Do at Graceland, graceland.com
How Much Do Tickets Cost?
Depending on the experience you are looking to have at Graceland, tickets prices range. For adults, costs start at $41 for Graceland Mansion access to $174 for Ultimate VIP Tour packages (per person.)
Where Should I Stay?
Of course, if you'd like to eat, play, and sleep at Graceland. You can! The Guest House at Graceland is "located just a few steps from the gates of Graceland Mansion and recently awarded AAA’s Four Diamond Award, [and] is inspired by the same warm Southern hospitality that Elvis Presley always showed his guests."
BOOK NOW The Guest House at Graceland, tripadvisor.com
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