18 Places Every Elvis Presley Fan Needs to Visit



Ever since visiting Graceland for the first time last year, I have become absolutely FASCINATED by the life and story of Elvis Presley. My husband and I were itching to get out of town, and planned a weekend road trip to see the top spots that shaped Elvis’ personality, life and career. If you’re an Elvis fan (or even a fan of American pop culture in general!) this is one trip I highly recommend you take. Here are the spots to visit, along with tips to make your road trip a success. Let’s rock and roll!

Natchez Trace Parkway

Living minutes from the iconic entrance to the Natchez Trace Parkway in Nashville, Tennessee, we decided to take the scenic route to Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi. A little over a three-hour drive from Nashville, it’s an absolutely beautiful route, even in February. There are plenty of historic pit stops along the way, including the final resting place of Meriwether Lewis (of the Lewis & Clark Expedition) along with many other memorials. If you’re a history buff, make sure you do your homework beforehand to make sure you see all the sites that interest you, or else just enjoy the beautiful winding roads and pastures along the Natchez Trace Parkway!



Tupelo, Mississippi

Located in Northeast Mississippi a little less than two hours from the Tennessee state line, Tupelo is a city with a charming Main Street, vibrant murals, unique restaurants, music, a lot of history and of course, it’s most famously known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Here are three key spots we hit in three hours, but we easily could have spent more time there, and can’t wait to visit again soon – maybe during their annual Elvis Festival!



Johnnie’s Drive In

Established in 1945, Johnnie’s Drive In is dubbed as “Tupelo’s oldest restaurant,” and was a place Elvis frequented as a child with friends, so naturally we had to visit! Pulling into town, our game plan was to hit Johnnie’s right when it opened at 10am to snag the Elvis Booth. Walking inside the small diner is like stepping back in time, with plenty of Elvis memorabilia. While their main menu is BBQ, it was too early for us, so we ordered egg sandwiches and soaked in the ambience. Next time I’ll get a milkshake! The server was extremely gracious and kind and took photos for us (she said she was used to people wanting photos in and around the diner). A few notes, Johnnie’s is a cash-only joint, and as many Southern spots, they are closed on Sundays, so be sure to plan around these details if you want to hit this Elvis joint on your trip.




Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum

Less than two blocks away from Johnnie’s is the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, complete with the house where Elvis was born, as well the Presley family’s church, a museum, park grounds and plenty of photo ops. Each exhibit provides an insightful glimpse into the first 13 years of Elvis’ life. The two-room, 300 SF house was built in 1934 by Elvis’ father, Vernon, after borrowing $180 to build alongside his father and brother, and on January 8, 1935, Elvis was born. Tragically, Elvis’ twin, Jessie, was stillborn. The Presley’s lived in this shotgun house for three years, then bounced from place to place until they left for Memphis in 1948. Walking through the home, you really get a sense of what it was like to live in that time period, in poverty in the middle of the Great Depression. Across the lawn is the First Assembly of God church, a little Southern church that Elvis grew up attending, where he first began to sing and was fascinated by the quartet singers. The church exhibit includes a 15-minute recreation of a service to see what it was like to attend back in the 30’s and 40’s, where the services typically lasted up to six hours – without air conditioning! Pretty fascinating. The museum has a nice walkthrough of Elvis’ life, along with many artifacts, from his time in Tupelo to Memphis, and ends naturally – in true Elvis fashion – with an extensive gift shop filled with merchandise. Although we didn’t have time to walk through the grounds and cover every inch (we had a busy agenda ahead!) we really loved visiting and highly recommend checking out this historic landmark. When you do make the trip, try to get there as early as possible to avoid crowds and take photos without anyone lurking in the background!




Tupelo Hardware

After we soaked in so much history at the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, we took the short cruise to Main Street to visit Tupelo Hardware, the site where Elvis’ mom, Gladys, bought him his first guitar for his 11th birthday in 1946 for $7.75+tax. Founded in 1926, this business has been a staple of Tupelo for almost a century, with the original hardwood floors and same look and character from the 40s. If you are there on a weekend, be sure to get there on Saturday before noon (and know they are closed on Sundays)! PLEASE learn from our mistake, because we learned the hard way. Walking up to the doors at 12:18pm, the lights were off and the doors were locked. We missed one of the spots we were looking forward to because it didn’t even occur to us that it would close so early in the day on a weekend! After our disappointment, we strolled up and down Main Street, which was full of character with plenty of cute boutiques and restaurants. We also walked by the Lyric Theatre, a movie theatre Elvis would ride his bike to as a child. Tupelo was charming, and we will definitely be back to buy a guitar from Tupelo Hardware — before noon!

After we saw all the sites we could possibly see that morning, we hopped back in the car and made the two-hour journey to Memphis.




Memphis, Tennessee


Sun Studio

The world renowned birthplace of Rock n’ Roll, Sun Records Studio, is located at 706 Union Street in Memphis. Founded by Sam Phillips in 1952, Elvis first walked through the doors in 1953 to record an acetate for himself. Although he was shy and somewhat timid, his persistence paid off. After a year of continuously popping in the studio to see if Sam and his assistant, Marion Keisker, knew of any bands looking for a singer, Marion pushed Sam to bring Elvis in to record with two local musicians, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. After a few initial meetings and a long session, they recorded his first song “That’s Alright Mama” in 1954, and his fame literally skyrocketed from there. He was an overnight sensation in Memphis, and his popularity spread like wildfire across the U.S. soon after. If you’re in town, I think the hour long tour of Sun Records is a must. While still an active recording studio, they host multiple tours a day. Tickets are first come, first serve, so be sure to pop in to secure your tickets for this musical history tour! The tour begins upstairs with an incredible display of music history and memorabilia, and ends in the recording room, where Elvis recorded his first hit record, along with the likes of B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Pro tip, if you have time to kill before your tour, walk over to High Cotton Brewing for a few beers. It’s a really fun, relaxed place that hit the spot after a long day of driving!


Peabody Memphis Hotel

In the heart of downtown Memphis lies the historic Peabody Memphis Hotel, two blocks from the also historic Beale Street. Opened in 1869 and noted as a National Register of Historic Places, the Peabody is definitely worth a visit (and absolutely worth a stay!!) You’ll be entranced by the elegant, ornate lobby, where you can grab a drink in the lounge and people watch, while listening to the piano playing in the background. I was blown away by our stylish suite, and can’t wait until we stay there again! And we can’t forget about quirky and lovable tradition of the famous Peabody Ducks. The parade of ducks are walked to the lobby fountain daily at 11am, and marched back upstairs to their accommodations on the royal rooftop at 5pm. It’s so endearing, and draws a crowd without fail every time! The Peabody is host to numerous bars, restaurants and shops, and is steps from Beale Street and other major attractions. I can’t wait to go back and I’m sure you will love it too.



Lansky Bros

Another Memphis tradition is Lansky Bros, which opened its doors in 1946 at a storefront on Beale Street (which is temporarily closed). Nicknamed the “Clothier of the King,” the signature style of Lansky threads captured Elvis’ attention long before his rise to fame, who in turn provided incredibly publicity for their shop. They opened another location within the Peabody Hotel in 1981, which is still open today, and the site of many celebrity sightings! Any Elvis fan should definitely pop in, and perhaps buy a colorful piece that Elvis himself would be proud to wear!




Beale Street

Home of the Blues and one of the most iconic streets in the U.S., Beale Street is packed with blues clubs, restaurants, plenty of neon signage and souvenir shops! Walking up and down the famous street, you’ll hear the music of blues bands streaming out through the windows of each club (kind of like Broadway in Nashville). I’ve strolled Beale a few times now, and each time we have to hit the same place to get their famous ribs: B.B. King’s Blues Club, and we have never been disappointed. The entertainment is always great too. While you will have to pay a $10 per person cover at the door, it’s definitely worth it to sit back, listen to a blues band, and eat some delicious ribs! While this is definitely a touristy spot that I keep coming back to, there are so many more BBQ and blues joints that I hope to explore in the future. But once I find something I like, I stick with it!




Lauderdale Courts

About a five-minute drive from the Peabody Hotel, you’ll find Lauderdale Courts – now called Uptown Apartments – the low-income housing complex that Elvis and his parents moved into once they received approval from the Memphis housing authority. The Courts were built in 1936 as one of the first Works Progress Association (WPA) projects, led by FDR during his presidency. The Presley’s lived there from 1949 – 1953, and this apartment marked the second longest place Elvis called home, aside from Graceland. This was a pivotal time and place for Elvis and the development of his musical talent. It was here he made a lot of new friends, picked his guitar, and had his eyes opened to the incredible musical opportunities of the Memphis blues scene. It’s a little tricky to find, as the complex is extensive, (plug in 185 Winchester Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105 to your GPS!) but once we found the Historic Landmark sign, we parked, snapped a few photos and looked around the exterior of the place Elvis fondly called home during his teen years. Want to step inside the Presley apartment? The Presley apartment was restored to its original state, and is open for tours and even available for overnight stays certain times of the year, so be sure do to your homework if you want to fully experience this American landmark!

Humes High School

I’m kicking myself for not driving by this site on our extensive trip, but Elvis’ high school is a quick five-minute drive from Lauderdale Courts, so you should make the drive if you’re there! When Elvis moved to Memphis at 13, he started eighth grade at Humes. Shockingly, Elvis was very shy, unpopular, and was looked down upon for his flashy style and “greasy” ducktail hairstyle. He was truly one of a kind and knew who he was, right from the start! While he had friends at the Courts, he didn’t become popular until his peers watched him take center stage at the Humes High School talent show his senior year (up to that point no one at school knew he even sang!). Needless to say, his popularity took off from there!




Overton Park Shell

Ten minutes east from Lauderdale Courts lies the Overton Park Shell, an open air amphitheater where Elvis made his concert debut, where he opened for country singer Slim Whitman in 1954. The Overton Park Shell was also built in 1936 as part of the WPA (just like Lauderdale Courts!). A place where they still host outdoor concerts today, I can only imagine how excited, yet extremely nervous Elvis must have been to play his first concert in his own hometown. Elvis had severe stage fright, which caused himto shake his legs a lot, which made the crowd go wild. He thought they were making fun of him until his bandmates pointed out the crowd was crazy for his moves, and the rest is history! We went during the day, and while completely empty, it was fun to walk around and imagine what the young 19-year-old was feeling during his big debut. I definitely recommend driving by this landmark!

Memphian Theatre

Elvis LOVED the movies, and was known for renting out entire theatres late at night to watch movies with his tight knit circle of friends, the “Memphis Mafia.” After a quick google search, we realized the Memphian (now called the Circuit Playhouse) that Elvis frequented was right down the street from the Shell, so we had to check it out. We were only intending to see the theatre’s façade, but luckily a church service was finishing up inside. We walked in, sat down in the seats and imagined the scene of Elvis and friends watching the latest movies of the 60s, with one of his signature Cadillacs parked out front. We even spotted one of the seats labeled with Sun Record’s “Marion Keisker” so we knew we found the right place! While I wouldn’t say this is a must-see, it definitely continues to paint the picture of a young Elvis, and I’m glad we went. They host tours on the weekdays, so I might give that a shot the next time we’re in town!





The second most visited house in the United States (next to the White House!), Graceland is an absolute must visit for all Elvis fans. Elvis purchased the 13.8-acre estate as a home for his parents and himself in 1957 for $102,500. It was one of the (if not THE) proudest moments of his life, and also the place where he unexpectedly passed away in 1977. Today, the Graceland campus has expanded to 120 acres, and is now also home to his airplanes, and expansive exhibits that include his car collection, his time in the U.S. Army, his movie career, and of course, his music career. This is the site that had me completely mesmerized by Elvis Presley after my first visit. I’ve been three times in the past year and I learn more each time. Be prepared to spend at least four hours at Graceland (but even four hours isn’t enough). Be sure to check out my post on Graceland for some tips and tricks if you are making the trip soon!



Bonus: RCA Studio B in Nashville

If you also make Nashville a part of your trip, and up for even more Elvis history, a trip to RCA Studio B will really make your Elvis bucket list. Organized by the Country Music Hall of Fame, this one hour tour to the studio in Nashville’s famed Music Row is a really unique experience. As with Sun Studios, RCA Studio B is still an active recording studio, and has also been used by other famous musicians, from Waylon Jennings, Charlie Daniels and Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood and Martina McBride. After a quick bus ride from the museum (along with an impressive intro and amount of facts from the tour guide), you arrive at the studio to see where Elvis recorded more than 200 songs, including Stuck on You, Are You Lonesome Tonight?, It’s Now Or Never and Bridge Over Troubled Water. My favorite part was listening to Are You Lonesome Tonight? in the studio in the dark, just as Elvis had recorded it in 1960.

Extra Credit: Great Books To Read!

  • Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley
  • Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley
  • Me and a Guy Named Elvis
  • Elvis & Me

After walking Elvis’ paths, I left feeling inspired by his American dream – reaching from poverty during the Great Depression in Tupelo to being one of the most famous people in history. Despite being “on top of the world,” Elvis also battled many internal struggles as any human being, including loneliness, grief, disappointment and insecurity. Regardless of these battles, he was a respectful, kind, spiritual, and down-to-earth man – at least as down-to-earth as you can be as a global icon – and had an incredible sense of humor and curiosity. Just a few more or the many reasons why his story is so fascinating, inspiring, and relatable. To this day, Elvis Presley still captures the hearts of people around the world – including mine – even after his passing almost 50 years ago. I hope this guide gives you a great idea of what to see and research as you plan your ultimate Elvis road trip, and would love to hear about your adventures or any tips you have for me – because we will be making this road trip again in the future!