There's no doubt that Memphis was essential in turning Elvis Presley into the King of Rock... and that Elvis's legacy has, in turn, helped put Memphis on the map as a destination for music-lovers. Elvis blended country with rhythm and blues in a way that only could come from a place like Memphis, and Elvis definitely had a deep love for the city in return. It seems like The King frequented most restaurants here, his songs pour out from bars into the streets, and delightfully kitschy tributes to the famously over-the-top artist can be found just about everywhere.
If you want to see the real Memphis, the places that really got Elvis all shook up, then we've got your definitive guide right here. Slip on your blue suede shoes and hit the town on this tour of Elvis's Memphis!
Graceland was the second house that Elvis bought in Memphis: he bought this home on Audubon Drive in 1956 after releasing Heartbreak Hotel. He lived here with his wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie for only a year, before they moved to Graceland in search of more privacy. Keep in mind that this is private property, and someone lives here, so stick to checking it out from the street. It's a totally different look than Graceland, and is a unique stop on your tour of Elvis's Memphis.
You can't take an Elvis tour of Memphis and not purchase a souvenir, and an old Elvis 45 makes for a great bit of memorabilia. Plus, while you're here, pony up a quarter to their Elvis Impersonator Shrine; it's a little coin-op folk art display that lights up and plays Elvis covers, a fittingly kitschy tribute to Elvis tributes.
Of course, the highlight of any Elvis-themed tour of Memphis is gonna be Graceland. A tour of the estate will get you into the foyer, the famed Jungle Room, his dad's office out back, the trophy building, the racquetball building (which now houses an exhibit covering his life between 1972-1977). Plus, you get access to the garden where Elvis and his family members are buried. Add on tours of the automobile museum (where you can see his most famous cars), the archives, his private jets (which you can board), and more to really make the most of a visit here.
We know the King loved his food, and the Arcade Restaurant was his favorite little PB&B joint (that's a grilled peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich... if you haven't had the pleasure of enjoy this delicacy yet, you absolutely need to order one here.) If you're lucky, they'll seat you in his regular corner booth.
If there's one thing Elvis knew besides music, women, and food it was how to dress; his style defined a generation. Stop by his favorite men's clothing store, Lansky Bros, to get an appropriate outfit for your tour of Memphis. They sell blue suede slip-ons, plus jackets, sweaters, shirts, and more inspired by Elvis's style for both men and women, plus accessories and gifts.
If rock is your religion, make the pilgrimage to Sun Studios, the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. The first official rock single (“Rocket 88″ by Jackie Brensten and his Delta Cats) was recorded here in 1951, and it turned out tons of R&B, blues and rockabilly hits in its day. Elvis was probably Sun Records' most iconic rock star, but Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and more made music here, too.
Whether you're enjoying a peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich, shaking your hips to one of Elvis's hits or you're paying quiet tribute to The King at his gravesite, the city of Memphis captures the soul that made Elvis Presley the icon he's known as today.
Roadtrippers helps you find the most epic destinations and detours—from roadside attractions to natural wonders and beyond.