Visiting Graceland in Memphis Tennessee with Family

Visiting Graceland in Memphis Tennessee with Family pin

A trip to Memphis Tennessee is not complete without a visit to Graceland. Most Americans know Graceland is the home to the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. Fans of the King and Rock n Roll history buffs will love walking around Elvis’s home. Here they can learn about his life and career through stories and commentary by Elvis and his daughter Lisa Marie. On the site, headphones narrate notable events of Elvis’s life and introduce relics adorning the rooms and corridors.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee house

History

Graceland is a 13.8-acre estate. Located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the vast Whitehaven community, about nine miles from downtown and less than four North from the Mississippi border, the estate still stands proudly. Graceland opened to the public on June 7, 1982, for fans to come and pay their respects. Later, the National Register of Historic Places listed the location on November 7, 1991. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006. To this day Graceland is one of the most-visited private homes in America with over 65,000 visitors a year.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee p

Design and Decor

The Memphis Architectural Firm Furbringer and Erhmanis created Graceland. The firm designed the two-story house in the Colonial Revival style with a side facing gable roof covered in asphalt shingles accumulating to 23 rooms including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. As we walked through, we noted the many TVs spread throughout the house. This apparent obsession with TVs would seem odd in a modern day house, but back when the house was built the number of TVs one had was a status symbol.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee chair

Probably one of the most iconic features of Graceland is the décor. People often criticize the décor, including Albert Goldman who stated: “nothing in the house is worth a dime.” Other critics include Professor Goldman, who said, “…it appears to have been lifted from some turn-of-the-century bordello down in the French Quarter of New Orleans.”

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee bed

What struck us was how surprisingly modest the home was. Yes, the gaudy yellows popular in the 70s decorate most of the house, but it very much looks like a house that people could still conceivably live inside. It didn’t feel like a museum – it felt like a home.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee light

Jungle Room

Of course while in the Presley household, nobody should miss infamous Jungle Room, a family favorite due to the reminiscent atmosphere of Hawaii. Hawaii held a special place in Presley’s heart where he would often vacation, filmed and performed. The room features an indoor waterfall of cut field stone on the North wall. In 1976 Elvis converted the Jungle Room into a recording studio where he recorded the bulk of his final two albums, From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee, and Moody Blue.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee room

Trophy Building

During the mid-60’s, Presley expanded the house and converted the new wing, which formerly housed a slot car track, into the Trophy Building. There, guests can see the many walls that display records, movie posters, and old-time memorabilia. They’ll also see more personal items, like the famous gold lame suit, Priscilla and Presley’s wedding outfits, and Lisa Marie’s baby clothes. As visitors continue through the Trophy Room, it winds down through a display of his 68 Comeback. The Comeback features his leather suit, copies of his movie script, costumes he wore in his movies, and a few of his trademark jumpsuits.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee elvis

Meditation Room

Elvis died on the estate on August 16, 1977. Those wishing to pay respects the King then can take a final stop at the Meditation Room. Architect Bernard Grenadier designed this room. Elvis used the Meditation Room to reflect on any problems or situations during his life. It is also the final resting place of Elvis, his parents, his grandmother, and his stillborn twin brother.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee garden

In Conclusion

For many of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Graceland each year, the tour takes on a quasi-religious perspective. They may plan for years to journey to the home of the ‘King’ of rock and roll. Some visitors pray, kneel, or quietly sing one of Elvis’s favorite hymns. Graffiti covers the brick wall enclosing the mansion’s grounds, expressing admiration for the singer as well as petitions for help and thanks for favors granted.

Visiting Graceland with Family in Memphis Tennessee car

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The house has some uneven terrain. Because of this, wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes as you tour the place.
  • We recommend this location mostly for older kids, especially kids interested in music history.
  • Visitors to Graceland have several options for tours, depending on their wants and needs. You can even get a VIP tour, a three-hour experience that allows you to skip most lines with an all day ticket.
  • An iPad “guides” most of the tours, something that many technologically inclined kids will enjoy. The iPad guide also allows you to walk around the mansion at your own pace, which is another bonus for families.

EST. 2014

 

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee pin

In the South, nestled within the state of Tennessee, lies the city of Memphis. Memphis is a place full of Southern United States traditions and history. Lovers of music, history, and Elvis will all find something in the largest city along the Mississippi River.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee photo

National Civil Rights Museum

It is no secret that America has a turbulent history when it comes to the lives of African Americans. Historically, the Southern United States has had the most controversial history with the African American community. With this in mind, Memphis recognizes the prejudice and injustice that has happened in the city. Memphis has a museum dedicated to educating visitors on the past and present fight for human rights.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee bus

The National Civil Rights Museum traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement from the 17th century to modern times. There, guests will find 260 artifacts, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts. All of this media serves to guide visitors along the five-century journey for civil rights. The museum maps the events out from the resistance started in slavery, the Civil War, the rise of Jim Crow, all the way to the seminal events of the late 20th century that helped inspire people around the world to stand up for equality and freedom.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee school

Graceland

Of course, those planning on traveling to Memphis absolutely cannot miss Graceland. Home to the one and only king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, visitors can walk through the King’s abode and learn about his life and career. Armed with a multimedia Ipad tour narrated by John Stamos featuring stories and commentary by Elvis and his daughter Lisa Marie, guests will enter the living room where Presley would greet his guests and provide entertainment.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee Elvis

While in the Presley household, travelers should visit the famous Jungle Room. This area is often a family favorite due to the reminiscent Hawaiian atmosphere. Hawaii, where Presley often vacationed, filmed, and performed, held a special place in his heart. Visitors can also stop by the Trophy Building and admire Elvis’s gold and platinum records as well as other memorabilia from his movies and charitable accomplishments. Those wishing to pay respects to the King can take a stop at the Meditation Room, the final resting place of Elvis Presley and other family members.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee couch

Sun Studio

Music is an essential part of Memphis, so strongly integrated into the city’s identity that it is almost a tangible force that can be felt and heard throughout the streets. Lovers of music must visit the Sun Studio. Sam Philips opened this studio back in 1950. Within these studio walls, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats “Rocket 88” recorded the world’s first rock and roll single. This historical moment allowed Sun Studios to claim the status as the birthplace of rock and roll. The studio is still in use to this day, and lucky guests might catch a living recording while there.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee mic

Stax Museum

To continue with the music theme, travelers can visit the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The museum, built as a replica of the Stax recording studio, opened in May 2003. The building is 17,000 square feet with more than 2,000 videos, photos, films, stage costumes, original instruments, and interactive exhibits. The museum is one out of a handful of museums in the world dedicated to soul music. Here, guests can learn about the roots of soul music and celebrate the legacy of Stax Records. They can also learn about artists such as Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and many others.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee stax

Memphis Zoo

Travelers should not leave the city without checking out the Memphis Zoo. The zoo holds 3,500 animals and over 500 different species. What’s lovely about this zoo is that there always seems to be something happening among its great exhibits. Cat country, for example, is an open area that focuses on the predators and prey of the cat world. Visitors can witness tigers and lions share a common space with fennec foxes and meerkats. The zoo also hosts a night exhibit devoted to nocturnal animals, which allows visitors to see these animals at their most active. Another fun area is the Dragon’s Lair where visitors can go and meet the zoo’s three Komodo Dragons in either their outdoor or indoor homes.

Best Family Activities in Memphis Tennessee plaque

Memphis is definitely a city that anyone should visit while traveling the United States. The city has a plethora of culture, history, and entertainment. It would be a shame to pass up on the opportunity to learn and live within the city’s walls.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Like in most parts of the Southern United States, Memphis Tennessee can get very hot and humid in the summer. Parents should make sure everyone is wearing comfortable, weather appropriate clothing. Also, it might be a good idea to pack a water bottle or portable mini fan for kids with temperature sensitivities.
  • The National Civil Rights Museum is a great place to teach kids about the history of civil rights and racism in America.
  • While some parts of the Stax museum are interactive, there are quite a few things that kids are not allowed to touch. Make sure that kids know the difference as you travel through the museum.
  • When traveling to the Memphis Zoo, make sure everyone wears comfortable, closed toe shoes as it is certainly a walking destination.
  • It can be difficult to get to the Stax Museum, and it is actually recommended to take a taxi.
  • For families who want to get a lot out of their visit, they can book a guided Memphis music tour that includes transportation through the city. The groups, who travel by bus or coach, are usually small and each group gets their own highly knowledgeable guide.

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Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel pin

Boasting the finest Southern hospitality and an unforgettable retreat with easy access to numerous attractions, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee is a fine choice. Situated at 2800 Opryland Drive, it is only ten minutes from the airport and has a spa, restaurants, a fitness center, indoor gardens with water features, swimming pools, an 18-hole Golf course and more. The premises constitute a prime venue for weddings and conferences since it has almost 3000 rooms.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel building

What Makes it Family Friendly

We chose the hotel because it is a Marriott property and as Gold members, we could pay for our stay with Marriott points. The hotel is next door to the Opry Mills Mall and a short drive away from downtown Nashville with its museums along with the iconic Gulch area.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel tree

Fellow Travelers

During our Christmas stay, most of the fellow travelers we encountered were families celebrating the holiday together in a festive atmosphere.

Our Welcome

To ensure the hotel knew of our accommodations of our a feather free quiet room request, we contacted the hotel beforehand. We arrived on Christmas day in the evening from LA because we thought the check in process would be less congested. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. There was a long line of people checking in, so the scene was somewhat chaotic. Later, we found out that the hotel provided several check-in areas we were not aware of and that travelers with disabilities should call ahead and ask which one would have less of a queue.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel guitar

Hotel Décor

Inside the hotel, the decor was traditional Southern-style with magnificent candelabras, comfy sofas, and lounge chairs in dark brown, olive green, and orange tones. The resort is divided into four main areas named Magnolia, Garden Conservatory, Cascades, and the Delta. The Delta section sports a mini human-made river that flows through it where travelers could enjoy a short boat ride for an additional fee. The elaborate fountain in the Cascades atrium was spectacular. Our favorite zone turned out to be the Garden Conservatory, elaborately decorated with Christmas lights around exotic plants.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel bridge

The Room

We had a spacious room, elegantly decorated in hues of green and gray topped by crown molding. Here again, the theme was subdued modern elegance using wood, granite, and contemporary artwork on the walls. The front door had an efficient lock and latch, but the peephole was placed rather impractically at the eye level of a six-foot person.

As we entered the room, the first thing we saw on the left was a large dresser that housed a 40 inch TV on top. The dresser had a granite countertop and pull out shelf mechanism that could be used as a desk. There was also a mini cooler and a coffee machine. Oddly enough, the room had only one usable chair, so we called housekeeping to ask for additional chairs.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel stair

The closet and storage area were relatively modest in size a family of four. The closet had a luggage rack, an ironing board, and an enormous safe for our devices.

Area lamps on the nightstand between the two beds and on the dresser kept the room moderately well lit. Two of the lamps had recharging sockets, and there were several power outlets throughout the room.

We had mostly comfortable and soft beds, though they were higher than what we are used to. The headboards had a wooden frame with a gray metallic color leatherette. We did appreciate the flexible metal lamps attached to the headboard. Because of these lights, it was possible to read quietly at night after other family members fell asleep. We liked the placement of the beds away from the air conditioning vent so the cold air wouldn’t blow directly on us as we slept.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel night

Most rooms had balconies with a seating area, nice for adults to sit and look out over the atrium. However, the double French elegant doors only had one lock placed four feet from the ground. The placement of the lock can be a safety issue for kids.

As Marriott members, the hotel gave us free bottled water and wifi.

The Bathroom

The natural stone tiled flooring with granite countertops and tiled wall bathroom was on the modest size. We liked the two separate areas in the bathroom. One area had a single sink, and the other had an additional sink with a shower/bathtub and commode. The curtained bathtub sported a fixed shower head with no handheld attachment or grab bars. These additions would have been an excellent addition for families.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel water

Housekeeping was generous, providing us with many towels as well as bathrobes and slippers.

Dining

This unique resort featured over fifteen food venues ranging from Southern cuisine to Italian grub. The main issue we encountered were the long lines at all places during meal times. These lines were quite frustrating for our son with autism. After trying most of the restaurants, our favorite was the Jack Daniel’s Saloon. Here, we enjoyed their Fried Green Tomatoes and Pickles along with their Jack Daniel’s cocktails.

For breakfast, the hotel offers two restaurants. These restaurants have both a menu and a bountiful buffet with multiple cold and hot items.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel outside

For families traveling on a budget, there were many other choices right outside the hotel in the Opryland Mills Mall. These options included fast food, chain restaurants, and our personal favorite, the Cracker Barrel. Travelers without a car should know the hotel offers a free shuttle on the hour between the venue and the mall.

Must See

We were able to watch a live broadcast from one of the oldest radio studios in the US near the Magnolia lobby. The station, called WSM, was apparently historically pivotal to the development of the country music genre in the US between the 1930s and the 1980s.

Christmas Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel guitar

Activities

The hotel features several pools that the guests can use and enjoy. The outdoor saltwater pool is perfect for hot summer months, while the indoor pool would be enjoyable during the winter. For those travelers seeking spa treatments, the hotel boasts a spa with a full menu of services, including relaxing massages and makeup lessons.

For more about the Christmas activities, check out our article.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The hotel gets very crowded and quite noisy during the holidays. Parents with noise sensitive children may want to reconsider visiting around this time.
  • Be aware that during Christmas there are many activities. Music also plays throughout the hotel even in the “quieter” areas.
  • Parents should request a quiet room in the Garden Conservatory area that won’t directly face noisy activities.
  • The hotel doesn’t provide a nightlight or anti-slip mat, so parents will have to bring their own.
  • The staff at the resort’s various restaurants was courteous, friendly and patient with our son with autism. When we had to wait for a table, the hostess found a quiet seating area for us. She brought some crackers when she heard our son say he was hungry.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch

The Memphis Peabody Hotel is a beautifully decorated remnant of the old south, with a full buffet and marching ducks. It is an experience enjoyable for all the family, where adults can enjoy the delicious food and even the youngest children can enjoy watching the ducks. 

In 1869, the original Peabody Hotel opened in Memphis, Tennessee; expanding and relocating 56 years later to its current location. Named for George Peabody, this hotel beautifully reflects the era, and it has earned a place in the National Trust for Historic Preservation – The Historic Hotels of America.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch tableLocation and Parking

Located at 149 Union Ave, Memphis, TN, the hotel is about 15 minutes from the Memphis International Airport and downtown. Its proximity to other Memphis landmarks makes it central and convenient. For a fee, there is both Valet parking on the premises and Self-Parking a block away from the hotel.

Decoration

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch duck home

There is lavish décor through the lobby, and decorations are granite and marble in contrast with the more modest restaurant. It is spacious with tones of pale greens and tans, and the area feels warm and welcoming lending to the history and air of the old South.

 

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch statue

Unique Traits

What makes The Peabody Hotel uniquely famous is its marching ducks. The ducks, five in number, live on the roof in a duck penthouse. Twice daily, these ducks take the elevator down to the lobby to march across the lawn at 11 am and 5 pm. The march is popular and attracts many visitors to the hotel especially the kids. Expect to call on the early side to catch a good seat on the floor near the ducks if you want to see them up close and personal. The marching duck tradition began 90 years ago, and many guests come to experience and take advantage of the Ducky Day Family package.

For fans of the web-footed quacking marchers, they will be happy to hear that the Peabody restaurant incidentally does not offer duck anywhere on the menu and has a lovely brunch on Sundays that locals and travelers enjoy.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch sleeping duck

Food

The brunch is catered by the Capriccio Grill between 11 am and 2:30 pm and you can make reservations online. The presentation of the delicious eats is a visual delight! It is elaborately laid out, and there are high standards in their meal preparation. From the breakfast items like cereals, muffins, cheese grits and sausage grits, eggs, breakfast potatoes to the more brunch and lunch items on the menu; it feels like a cozy diner. The salads are colorful; fresh vegetables and fruits whole or prepared and elegantly presented. A generous selection of bread, cheeses, cold cut meats and smoked fish is available. In the hot food section, there are other typical Southern cuisine items like Butternut squash ravioli, baby-back ribs, ratatouille, fried chicken, mixed vegetables and garlic butter shrimp. At the carvery, they have prime rib, calamari, and deep-fried ravioli. Finally, the dessert table is simply beautiful. The in-house chefs have prepared mousses, tarts, cakes, cookies, crème brûlée, croissants, cakes and even a hot chocolate pie.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch deli

Out of all the dishes offered what surprised us the most in a good way were the items dipped in chocolate at the dessert table such as potato chips, pretzels, and bacon, which turned out to be a firm favorite.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch chocolate

The staff was incredibly friendly and replenished our drinks in a timely manner. They regularly cleared the used dishes to make room for the new dishes filled with food offerings.

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If you don’t want to wait in line, then book to come later after 1:30 pm. This is best for those that prefer avoiding crowded places.
  • Seating is comfortable with the tables relatively far from each other, so customers don’t feel cramped.
  • The lighting in the area is a combination of natural and artificial, and the noise element is lower as the tables aren’t too close to each other.Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch lobby
  • Since brunch tends to be a longer experience, antsy kids can get coloring books, or parents can bring tablets. Our son found the lobby self-playing piano fun and spent quite a bit of time watching it.
  • As the food is served buffet-style, most diets can be accommodated. However, if you travel with someone with severe allergies to any ingredients make sure you ask the server about it before you dine.

Family Fun at the Memphis Peabody Hotel Brunch pin

 

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