It’s always got the blues, but Memphis will rock this January 8 when thousands of fans arrive to pay homage to Elvis on his 75th birthday. In what will be a great year to raise a lip to the King at Graceland, plan the perfect pilgrimage with these tips from IgoUgo travelers.
Don’t hesitate to visit, even if you’re not a fan. We’ve heard the story time and time again: a traveler almost skips Graceland because she’s not much of an Elvis fan, only to go and discover that she’s riveted. Need proof? Tavia begins her review with, “Full disclosure: I am not a rabid fan,” and ends up saying, “I always thought Graceland would be one of those fun, wacky, campy, and tacky things to do on a road trip...but I was not prepared for the emotional wallop a visit actually packs.”
Go on a sunny day. Recent visitor weeblewobble46 figured the tour would be inside and showed up for her time slot despite a downpour. “Bad move!” she says. By the end, she was “slogging through knee-deep water” to rescue her car from a low-lying parking lot--plus she missed seeing the “flooded” memorial garden. She concludes, “It is too bad the grounds aren’t more guest-friendly in bad weather.”
Check into the Heartbreak Hotel. For the “ultimate Elvis experience,” says Shady Ady, book a room at Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel. The themed property is across the street from Graceland, offers a free shuttle to Beale St. and Sun Studio, and is, according to catsholiday, “clean, comfortable, and a good price.”
Time your trip to see the holiday light display. Go before January 10 to see Graceland all in lights, dressed up for Christmas just as it was when Elvis did the decorating. That could be why there’s not much restraint. “The inside was adorned with so many Christmas decorations that it looked like the North Pole,” says bonpow. She also notes that it’s an optimal time to take kids; even if they’ve never heard of Elvis, they’ll love the indoor-outdoor winter wonderland.
Try the neighborhood barbecue. Local expert HankFontaine, whom you’ll notice is solidly anti-chain-restaurant in his member profile, says, “There are some great places to eat right around Graceland, and if you are looking for authentic Memphis barbecue, any place along Elvis Presley Boulevard is a good bet.” For the best barbecue in Memphis, he recommends E.P. Boulevard’s A&R Bar-B-Q: “It looks like a real dive, but you can't argue with the great food and the low prices.”
Read up before you go. Tours of Graceland are conducted via headphones, and while some people love them, some people love to hate them. “They were great because they allowed me to set my own pace,” says CarolinaPanthers1983. Conversely, parramore feels “gratuitously cut off from the surroundings wearing a headset” and suggests reading up on Graceland beforehand so you can skip the audio tour. MCJ graduate concurs, though the audio tour didn’t keep her from gaining insight into Elvis’ “love for his family, his roots, his music, and his fans.”
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