Elvis Presley Attractions, Historic Sites, & Points of Interest
540 South Main Street Memphis, Tennessee
Open daily: 7:00 Am – 3:00 PM
Web site: www.arcaderrestaurant.com
When you go to the Arcade for breakfast, try to get a seat at the Elvis booth towards the back of the restaurant (it was apparently his favourite). Even if you can’t get the coveted seat, you can still gorge yourself on the restaurant’s fantastic sweet potato pancakes and other classic southern breakfast treats. The Arcade is one of the oldest restaurants in Memphis and the classic retro decor hasn’t changed in years.
Elvis Birthplace & Historic Site
306 Elvis Presley Drive, Tupelo, Missouri 38801
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Sundays: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Web site: https://elvispresleybirthplace.com/
HOUSE ONLY TOUR: Adults, Seniors and Students – $8 | Children 7 to 12 – $5
GRAND TOUR: Adults – $17 | Children Ages 7 to 12 – $8 | Under 7 – Free | Seniors 60 and up – $14 | Students 13 to 18 – $14
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935 to Vernon and Gladys Presley. Born in a two-room house built by his father, grandfather and uncle, Elvis was one of twin brothers born to the Presleys. His brother, Jessie Garon was stillborn. Elvis grew up in Tupelo surrounded by his extended family including his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Financially, times were hard on Vernon and Gladys, and they had to move out of the house where Elvis was born when he was only a few years old for lack of payment. Vernon and Gladys worked various jobs while in Tupelo and moved several different times during the thirteen years they resided in Mississippi.
While in Tupelo, Elvis attended the Assembly of God Church with his family where he was first exposed to gospel music that influenced his musical style throughout his career. It was in Tupelo that Elvis was exposed to bluesmen in the Shake Rag community where he lived for a time. His family also listened to country music radio programs from which Elvis drew influence. In 1945, Elvis made his first public radio broadcast. At ten years old, Elvis stood on a chair and sang “Old Shep” in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show at the Tupelo Fairgrounds. WELO Radio broadcast the talent show, and Elvis won the second prize of $5 and free admission to all the fair rides.
In 1946, Elvis and his mother went to Tupelo Hardware where Elvis wanted to purchase a .22 caliber rifle. Gladys persuaded Elvis to look at a guitar, which store employees allowed him to try out. Elvis decided that he wanted the guitar, which his mother purchased for him, and his pastor taught him how to play it. Elvis could often be seen around town with his guitar in hand. In 1948, Elvis played his guitar and sang a farewell tribute to his Milam Junior High class before moving to Memphis where his father hoped to make a better life for his family.
Nine years later, Elvis returned to the fairgrounds and performed a benefit concert for the City of Tupelo. After his triumphant homecoming concert at the fairgrounds in September 1956, Elvis returned on September 27, 1957 and performed a benefit concert to raise money to build a Youth Center and park for Tupelo. The proceeds were used to purchase his birthplace and make a park for the neighborhood children. The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park now consist of the Birthplace, Museum, Chapel, Gift Shop, “Elvis at 13” statue, Fountain of Life, Walk of Life, “Memphis Bound” car feature and Story Wall
Elvis Candlelight Vigil
3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee
Web site: www.elvis.com/elvisweek
Annually on August 15th
The Candlelight Vigil is Elvis Week’s main event, and the only one that captures the week’s unique blend of reverence, kitsch and fun. It’s also one of those things that you’ve got to do at least once before you die. The vibe is part-funeral (you can wait in line to file reverently past the grave with a candle) and part block party (people set up makeshift shrines on the street and hang out next to them in lawn chairs). The Vigil starts at 8.30pm on 15 August and goes on until everyone who’s wanted to has had a chance to pay their respects.
Elvis Shrine at Goner Records
2152 Young Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hours: Open Monday – Saturday: Noon – 7:00 PM, Sundays: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Web site: www.goner-records.com
The greatest Elvis shrine in Memphis is at Goner Records in Cooper-Young. Drop a quarter in the shrine’s coin slot and listen to Elvis tunes and behold its majesty. The shrine is made of all kinds of things – beads, glitter, picture frames, action figures and a single blue-suede shoe. After you check out the shrine, browse the shop for vintage and new vinyl, magazines, posters and T-shirts.
Elvis Statue on Beale Street
Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley has been dead for 36 years, but in Memphis, he’s everywhere. There’s no better place to take a picture with him, though, than the statue on Beale Street. It could have been a simple statue, but the sculptor took the time to add detail to the guitar and get the sneer just right.
149 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Web site: www.peabodymemphis.com
Elvis was more than a musical icon – he was also a style guru, known for his crazy colour combinations, tight jumpsuits and lots of sequins. That’s a little too much look to get at the mall: to shop like Elvis, you have to shop local, particularly, at Lansky Bros. The clothing store, which was founded on Beale Street in 1946, is now located in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel. It still carries high-end menswear, including some of the styles that were designed for Elvis.
Pink Cadillac Tour of Memphis
American Dream Safari
Web site: www.americandreamsafari.com
Tad Pierson can show you things that don’t make it into any of the standard Memphis guidebooks. He’ll pick you up in his vintage pink Cadillac and squire you around town to Memphis’ more obscure musical history landmarks, or to a handful of the city’s coolest blues halls and juke joints.
Sun Studio Tour
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Open daily from 10am-6pm, tours at half past every hour, $12
Sun Studio should be the first stop on any Elvis fan’s list of things to see in Memphis. The recording studio where Elvis got his start is now a museum with tours led every hour by local musicians. You’ll get a history of rock’n’roll’s beginnings, get to stand in the room where Elvis cut his early tracks, and get to touch (or pose for pictures with) the studio’s legendary microphone. If you have to wait for your tour to start, have a milkshake in the lobby – they’re some of the best in town.
Uptown Square – Lauderdale Courts Apartments
188 Exchange Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Web site: www.lauderdalecourts.com
$250 per night (plus tax)
Before Elvis was a big deal, he was a high-school kid living in the Lauderdale Courts apartments with his parents from 1949-53. Today, Lauderdale Courts has been transformed into Uptown Square, a community of classy condos and upscale apartments, but you can still tour (and spend the night in) Elvis’ old digs – apartment 328 – which has been decorated as it would have been when the Presleys were in residence. It can be a little eerie to stay the night, but it should be on any hardcore fan’s bucket list.