There’s no doubt that Memphis, Tennessee, was essential in turning Elvis Presley into the King—and that Presley’s legacy has, in turn, helped put Memphis on the map as a destination for music-lovers. It seems like everywhere you turn in the city, Elvis is present: 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.
Tracing Elvis’ legacy back to Tupelo, Mississippi
If you want to see the places that really got Presley all shook up, then slip on your blue suede shoes and head to these six must-see stops in Memphis.
1. Audubon Drive
Graceland was actually the second house that Presley bought in Memphis; he bought a modest 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, so grab a quick photo and be respectful of the residents.
2. Goner Records
If you’re looking for a Memphis souvenir, you can’t go wrong with the King on vinyl. Goner Records stocks new and used records of all genres—from rock to punk, hip hop, and country. There are sections devoted to Memphis musicians, including, of course, Presley himself. While you’re here, pony up a quarter to activate the Elvis Impersonator Shrine, a coin-op folk art display that lights up and plays Elvis covers, for a fittingly kitschy tribute.
The highlight of any Elvis-themed tour of Memphis is Graceland. A tour of the estate will get you into the foyer, the famed Jungle Room, and the trophy and racquetball buildings, home to artifacts and papers from the King’s life here. The remains of Elvis and his close family members (including his parents, grandmother, and, most recently, his grandson Benjamin Keough) are interred in the garden. Add-ons include tours of Elvis’ custom jets, and the entertainment complex which houses the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, and Elvis Discovery exhibits.
4. The Arcade Restaurant
Presley’s love of food is well-documented and the Arcade Restaurant was his favorite PB&B joint—that’s a grilled peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich. If you haven’t tried this delicacy yet, you can’t go wrong ordering one at this classic diner. Memphis’ oldest cafe was founded in 1919 and officially became the Arcade in 1925. If you’re lucky, you might get to snag a seat in Presley’s regular corner booth.
5. Lansky Bros.
In addition to his love for music, women, and food, Elvis was also a fashion icon; his style defined a generation. Stop by Presley’s favorite men’s clothing store, Lansky Bros., to get an appropriately-splashy outfit for your tour of Memphis. The store sells Elvis-inspired blue suede slip-ons, jackets, sweaters, t-shirts, and more for both men and women, plus accessories and gifts.
6. Sun Studio
If rock is your religion, make a pilgrimage to Sun Studio, considered the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. The first official rock single (“Rocket 88″ by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats) was recorded here in 1951, and the studio turned out dozens 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 other legends made music here, too.