While many of you are enjoying Spring Break, others are dreaming about vacation. Am I right? Well, recently, Photojournalist Brian Holt and I hit the road to visit a new expansion at Elvis Presley’s beloved home, Graceland. We left on a Wednesday morning and returned that Friday. Yes, a VERY quick trip to Memphis, but great stops along the way. To break up the 6 hour trek, we made a pit stop in Nashville just off the Old Music Highway. (I’d highly recommend it!)
WATCH VIDEO: Nashville Pit stop, The Loveless Cafe
If you’re craving downhome food, Southern charm and proven hospitality, pull up a chair and get ready to dive into a plate of crispy fried chicken and biscuits at the Loveless Café. In business for more than 60 years, it’s a timeless, tasty tradition. (FYI, huge portions. Photojournalist Brian Holt and I split the sampler platter- fried chicken, fried catfish and yes, barbeque. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for dessert.) Open 7 days a week, lovelesscafe.com is located on Highway 100 (just off I-40) in West Nashville.
WATCH: Gates of Graceland and Priscilla Presley (WE MADE IT)
The chicken and biscuit refueling was just what we needed to tackle the last leg of the trip. Three hours later, we were walking in Memphis… literally through the gate of Graceland. I’d like to say Priscilla Presley greeted us at the door. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. However, we did have the chance to talk with Elvis’ former wife and the mother of his child, Lisa Marie. She was incredibly gracious. The trip highlight for Brian was showing Priscilla how his Go Pro worked. 40 years after his death, Priscilla still misses the King terribly. She’s happy to share even more Elvis with the world.
WATCH: Graceland expansion celebrates even more about Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley’s Memphis is the largest addition to the King’s estate since it opened to the public in 1982. The expansion spreads 200 thousand square feet in size (imagine three NFL football fields) across the street from the Graceland mansion. It features a dozen exhibits showcasing memorabilia including hundreds of items that have been in storage, a showroom of the King’s favorite toys on wheels, a soundstage, even two restaurants named after his parents, Vern and Gladys. And yes, you can order Elvis’ favorite sandwich… a PB & B. Yes, that’s peanut butter and banana. I’d never tried the concoction before. I must say, it's pretty good. Another highlight- holding Elvis' gold microphone. No, I didn't drop it!
WATCH: Elvis The Entertainer, the center piece of Elvis Presley’s Memphis.
Elvis the Entertainer is truly the cornerstone of the entire expansion. It tells the story of Elvis' career by decade. Prepare to be wowed by the largest collection of Elvis memorabilia in the world. (HELLO JUMPSUITS!) Graceland Director of Archives Angie Marchese is incredible. Much of the exhibit is her vision. She gave us the grand tour.
WATCH: Tour The Guest House at Graceland
After a 12 hour day, thankfully we didn't have to travel far to sleep! The Guest House at Graceland is a brand new, high end resort. (Very Swanky!) It's next door to the Graceland mansion. In addition to 450 rooms decked in Elvis' contemporary style, there are 20 suites designed by Priscilla Presley. There's even a 464 seat theatre that plays Elvis' movies and concerts.
WATCH: The Graceland Mansion
Elvis Presley Entertainment Director of Public Relations Kevin Kern gave us a tour just after the home closed to the public. Thanks to the expansion, many of the rooms have been restored to their original look and purpose. For example, the racquet ball building once again displays a court instead of memorabilia overflow. (Side note- Kevin and I worked together at my first TV job, WKAG in Hopkinsville, KY. It was great catching up! Also, Brian accidentally left his go pro inside the mansion that night. Too bad the battery was dead!!)
WATCH: Tour The Legendary Sun Studio, the birthplace of Rock and Roll
This is a must see in Memphis. Rock and roll pioneer Sam Phillips opened the recording studio on Union Avenue. The label was the first to record many music greats including Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sam Phillips' secretary is actually to thank for discovering Elvis. Sun Studio is open 7 days a week. Artists still record here nightly.