13 Tips For Making The Most Of Your Time At Elvis' Famous Home, Graceland

Every year, Graceland attracts over half a million visitors — and we're not surprised by that figure. This Memphis landmark feels like both a time capsule and a shrine to the King of Rock 'n' Roll. But while some kings live in castles, Elvis preferred this 120-acre estate, and if you're heading here soon, you're about to find out why.

Everyone has heard of Elvis, but as the celebrity once said, "The image is one thing, and the human being is another," and Graceland offers this deeper look into the man behind the legend. The 23-room mansion is where he spent his years, raised his family, and eventually passed. Elvis Presley's Memphis complex is massive with museums and interactive displays detailing his life and legacy, and the Meditation Garden is where Elvis was laid to rest.

As you can tell, this place is massive, and whether you're an Elvis fan, a music buff, or love a good history museum, Graceland is a must-visit. From boarding Elvis' famous planes to observing his most personal artifacts, there's plenty to keep you occupied. But with so much to do, it's hard to know where to begin. We've scoured social media forums and researched the Graceland website and blogs to understand exactly what to expect when visiting. So before heading to Memphis and exploring the world-famous Graceland, consider these 13 tips to make the most of your time there.

Time your visit carefully

To make the most of your visit to Graceland, it's important to time your visit carefully. It's open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Opening hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., depending on the time of year. Elvis' Airplanes open at 10 a.m. But for the ideal experience, we recommend visiting the mansion at 2 p.m. on weekdays. Multiple websites and people on social media claim this is the best time to avoid those pesky crowds.

However, if you're traveling on the cheap, a little loophole allows you to visit Graceland without spending a dime. You can pass through the gates for free between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. to silently pay your respects at Elvis' gravesite. Mind you, you're only allowed into the cemetery portion and must leave before tours arrive at 9 a.m.

When it comes to the time of year, spring or fall are probably the best seasons. Temperatures are comfortably cool, and you can walk the enormous grounds without breaking a sweat. Winter might be chilly, especially since you'll be outdoors for a good portion of time. And if you're planning your visit during the summer months, be aware that it can be hot and humid. But regardless of what season you're in Memphis, a visit to Graceland is worth it, especially if it's been on your bucket list.

Choose and purchase tickets in advance

There are several ticket options for Graceland, which can lead to serious analysis paralysis. Instead of rolling up to the gates and feeling overwhelmed by the options, do some research in advance. This could also save you money. Each ticket allows entry to specific exhibits and locations, and you don't want to pay for the places you're not interested in visiting. And while you can purchase tickets at the door, online reservations can save you time and stress.

The most economical ticket option for adults is the Memphis Ticket + Planes Tour, at $49.75. It includes access to Elvis Presley's Memphis Entertainment Complex and Elvis' two custom airplanes but does not include entry to the Graceland Mansion. Next up is the Elvis Experience Tour, which covers a self-guided tour of Graceland Mansion, Elvis Presley's Memphis Entertainment Complex, and Elvis' two custom airplanes for $82.

The Elvis Entourage VIP costs $149 and includes everything in the previous tours plus a tour of an exclusive VIP exhibit, front-of-the-line mansion access, and a keepsake backstage pass. The Elvis Movie UVIP Tour offers a different experience altogether. For $202, a private guide will lead you through Graceland's major areas and provide fascinating commentary based on Baz Luhrmann's research for his film "Elvis." Lastly, the Ultimate VIP Tour provides a more traditional private tour experience for $202, but if you visit before 1:30 p.m., you can add a meal voucher for $23.

Special groups can get a discount

If you're the type who's always on the hunt for a good discount, you might be in luck. Seniors, AAA members, military personnel, law enforcement, and firefighters can get a 6% discount off certain Graceland tours by presenting their ID or membership card at the ticket office. The discount is valid for up to six tickets per ID or membership card, so bring a group of friends or treat the family to a trip to Graceland.

True Elvis fans can do more than just visit Graceland; they can also join the Graceland Insider's Club. As a member, you'll get access to a members-only website with behind-the-scenes content, priority access to events and concerts, discounts at Graceland gift shops and restaurants, and a discount on tickets for guests you bring to Graceland. The membership costs $23.95 per year, and you can sign up on the Graceland website.

Know Graceland's attractions

As you walk around Graceland, you'll get a feel for Elvis' life and what it was like to walk in his shoes — blue suede shoes, of course. But this isn't your average home. It's a vast property with multiple attractions and exhibits, so it's best to familiarize yourself with the area before you go. This way, you can strategically visit the sites that pique your interest the most before running out of steam.

The Mansion is the most famous part of Graceland and the main reason people visit. It's a tour of the home where Elvis Presley lived for over 20 years, and it includes a look at the famous Jungle Room, the Trophy Building, and other parts of the house. However, the Mansion isn't the only hotspot at Graceland. 

Elvis Presley's Memphis is a 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex that includes exhibits, restaurants, shops, and theaters. The Car Museum houses over 20 of Elvis' cars, including his iconic pink Cadillac, along with motorcycles and other vehicles, while Elvis' Airplanes (the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II) showcase how he truly traveled in style. The Discovery Exhibits offer a glimpse into Elvis' life and career, featuring items like his military uniforms, gold records, and personal artifacts. Lastly, the King's Archives feature a collection of photos, documents, and other items that detail his historic life. 

Pay for parking ahead of time or arrange other transport

Memphis is a great stop on any music lover's road trip. So if you've brought your own car, you might want to drive yourself to Graceland. There are several parking options available, and the Graceland parking complex costs $10 per vehicle. When you're heading to Elvis' home, just punch in the GPS address of the parking lot: 3717 Elvis Presley Boulevard. Although you can always simply turn up, paying ahead can save you time and effort upon arrival. 

If you prefer not to drive to Graceland, you've got options. For the ultimate convenience, taxi and ride-share apps are available. Another option is to take the Memphis Hop Bus, a hop-on, hop-off bus, that stops at several Memphis attractions, including Graceland. It runs Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $40 for a one-day pass. Lastly, the most economical choice is to take the local bus. Bus #42 stops just in front of Graceland and costs about $1.

Not all areas are wheelchair or stroller accessible

Wheelchair users will be happy to know you can enjoy almost all the perks of Graceland. The property is wheelchair-friendly, with accessible ramps and elevators available to freely explore the Mansion, exhibits, restaurants, and gift shops. However, some portions do not accommodate wheelchairs, such as the basement of Graceland Mansion and the upstairs of the Lisa Marie airplane. As such, airplane tours are not suitable for wheelchair users. 

Unfortunately, Graceland doesn't provide wheelchairs, so you must bring your own. You can also rent one, and Graceland recommends doing this through either Medical Mobility: 901-683-3543 or Access Medical: 901-767-5400.

Although wheelchairs are welcome, strollers are a different story. Since they tend to be bulky, strollers aren't allowed in the Mansion. They must also be folded on shuttles to and from the Mansion. However, you can feel free to pop it open and use it when walking outdoors or in other guest facilities, including Elvis Presley's Memphis. 

Take photos (but follow the rules)

Not only can you take photos at Graceland — but you should! You'll want to capture those memorable moments at the King's castle. Just remember that there are a few restrictions on the types of photos you can take. Flash photography is not allowed inside the mansion, as it can damage the artifacts. Tripods and selfie sticks are not permitted inside the mansion or any of the exhibits — and if we're being honest, bumping into tourists handling all these props in small corridors would be a bit obnoxious anyway.

To keep copyright issues in check, you can't use video cameras, movie cameras, or tape recorders inside any of the museums or attractions, and they're not allowed on the Mansion premises at all. While you can use them outdoors, carrying them around might not be worth it. Leave them in your car or store them safely in a Graceland locker. 

We suggest bringing that smartphone and keeping it in photo mode only. You can take photos of the mansion, exhibits, and both of Elvis Presley's planes or strike a pose by his pink Cadillac. But to really up your selfie game, snap a photo in front of the "ELVIS" sign in Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. Don't forget to add #Graceland to your posts, and who knows, you might show up on a future Graceland blog.

Bring a permanent marker and headphones

Bring a permanent marker so you can leave your mark on the famous "wall" outside the mansion. This wall is located along the pathway leading up to the house and is covered in messages from visitors over the years. It has become a kind of living museum covered in signatures, notes, and drawings from Elvis fans around the world. Some visitors even bring stencils or templates to create their own unique designs. So, get that marker ready and let inspiration strike, or plan ahead and practice that penmanship.

When it comes to the iPad tour, many visitors also bring their own headphones. It ensures that they have complete control over the volume and sound quality of the tour. This can be especially important in crowded areas where ambient noise makes hearing the tour audio difficult. Using your own headphones can also be more hygienic than using the ones Graceland provides, although staff sanitize these after each use. That being said, you get used to your own headphones, and comfort will only enhance your overall Graceland experience.

Spend the night at the Guest House Graceland

To feel like a personal guest of Elvis himself, book a room at the Guest House. This hotel is right next door to the Graceland Mansion and features a variety of amenities, including two full-service restaurants, a large outdoor pool, and a shuttle service to and from Memphis International Airport. But what truly makes the Guest House so special is its unique design and decor that pay tribute to Elvis Presley's personal style and tastes. Think rock 'n' roll with luxury and a touch of Southern charm. It's basically like you're walking around in his world.

While staying at the Guest House, you're just a short walk from the Graceland Mansion. This makes visiting Graceland super easy, especially for those who want to spend more time exploring the property or attending events and exhibitions. Plus, the hotel offers special packages that include tickets to Graceland and other Elvis-related attractions in the area. 

Plan enough time for your visit

Graceland visit can be a full-day experience — or even longer for die-hard fans. Touring the mansion alone usually takes about an hour, while the Elvis Experience Tour can take up to four hours. However, don't worry about feeling rushed. You're allowed to linger and revisit sights after the tours, so you can take your time and really soak up the experience. And if you need to step out, you can leave and return to Graceland on the same day without having to worry about buying another ticket. This is especially convenient if you're planning to spend the whole day at Graceland, as you can grab lunch in the area and then return to the grounds later.

If one day isn't enough, multi-day passes are available for purchase. Although you can't buy them in advance, you can pick them up on-site. These passes can save you money if you plan on spending more than one day exploring the grounds. An additional day will set you back $18, two extra days cost $29, and three extra days costs $39.

Plan ahead during peak season and special events

During peak season, Graceland gets busy, and tickets may sell out. This period typically runs from late spring to early fall, and crowds are even more intense on major holidays and weekends. It's a good idea to purchase tickets and make arrangements well in advance so you don't miss out.

While any visit to Graceland is a cause for celebration, you can take it up a notch by booking tickets for a special occasion. Check Graceland's Calendar of Events for fun concerts, holiday-themed tours, and unique events. Of course, these celebrations will be in hot demand, so you'll need to book your accommodations and tickets ahead of time.

The Elvis Birthday Celebration takes place every January and includes concerts, film screenings, and special tours. Elvis Week is held in August and is a weeklong celebration of his with concerts, panel discussions, and tours of Graceland, culminating in a candlelight vigil outside the mansion on the anniversary of Elvis's death. Finally, the Holiday Lighting Ceremony takes place in November every year, which marks the start of the holiday season at Graceland. This event includes a lighting ceremony, live music, and festive activities to ring in the holidays.

Grab food on-site

With its vast size and multiple exhibits, it's best to treat Graceland like a marathon, not a sprint. As such, you might need to stop for sustenance along the way. After all, all that walking can build up quite the appetite. Luckily, Graceland has prepared for this with two on-site restaurants: Vernon's Smokehouse and Gladys' Diner. 

Vernon's Smokehouse has a casual and relaxed ambiance, with indoor and outdoor seating and a menu that features barbecue ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and other Southern favorites. Here, you can enjoy its food while listening to live music and watching the chefs at work in the open kitchen. Meanwhile, Gladys' Diner is designed to look like a 1950s-style diner, with booths and counter seating and a menu that includes burgers, hot dogs, fries, and milkshakes. The walls are decorated with memorabilia from Elvis's life, and the whole place gives off nostalgic vibes. 

To jump-start your morning, you can also stop by Rock 'n' Go Cafe, which offers coffee and takeaway items, including Elvis' favorite snack, a PB and banana sandwich. And if your sweet tooth is calling, grab an ice cream at Minnie Mae's Sweets. Its hand-dipped ice cream is the perfect way to cool off after a long day of sightseeing at Graceland.  

Visit the other Elvis sites in town

Graceland is just one of the many places Elvis fans should visit in Memphis. If you're in town, you should soak up all the Elvis magic possible, from museums to menswear. There's no shortage of rock 'n' roll vibes in Memphis, and the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum is an excellent place to start. This museum tells the story of the birth of rock and soul music in Memphis, including Elvis' impact on the genre. You can see exhibits of rare recordings, instruments, and costumes. Follow it up with a visit to the Overton Park Shell, an outdoor amphitheater where Elvis gave his first-ever paid performance, and Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded his first hit.

Since Memphis was Elvis' stomping grounds, tour the hotspots he frequented in town. Grab a burger and sit in the same booth as Elvis at the Arcade Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Memphis. Shop vintage-inspired clothing and accessories at Lansky's Brothers, one of Elvis' favorite outfitters. Here, you can also see some of the store's famous customers' photos and see where the King embraced his iconic style.


If you're heading to Graceland, you want to know these tips come from a reliable source. Ultimately, we're dedicated to helping you have the best trip possible, and you can rest assured that each recommendation is backed up with research. 

We read the Graceland website thoroughly to ensure we understood the fine print. Understanding the ins and outs of Graceland also helped us uncover some handy tips for visiting. We also searched social media forums like Reddit and travel websites like Tripadvisor for useful visitor recommendations. We made sure each suggestion was consistent across the majority of websites and not just a one-off. For example, multiple people recommended visiting Graceland around 2 p.m., stating it tended to be less busy at this hour. 

When tips from past visitors lined up with Graceland's policies, we were confident they could be included on this list. So feel free to use as many of these tips as possible to take full advantage of your time at Graceland. And if you're heading there soon, get ready to "inject your soul with some sweet rock 'n' roll."