How are COVID-19 restrictions impacting Elvis Presley fans visiting Memphis? Here’s the very latest information and our tips for a safe trip.
Note: This data and suggestions are as of today, Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Of course conditions could change at any moment. Our intent is to offer helpful insight for those considering travel. We elected to drive from South Central Texas.
First, know masks are required by Memphis City Ordinance #5751:
“Individuals should wear cloth face coverings that cover the nose and mouth in public settings where being in close proximity to others is anticipated and particularly where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain at all times.”
“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
“A mask/face covering is not required after a person has been seated in a restaurant or bar or similar facility, but is strongly recommended when a person is ordering food or drink or otherwise interacting with workers or other customers at the restaurant or bar or similar facility.”
Every restaurant we’ve been to is strongly adhering to the ordinance.
Graceland Mansion tours are reduced to 25% capacity. The result is a much less crowded and stress free experience. We didn’t feel any rush and when interviewed by Graceland media, I said “this allowed a more intimate visit, almost surreal like. We could savor the quiet and reflective moments, especially outside and near the Meditation Gardens.”
Don’t bring anything you won’t need for the tour (you’ll be juggling headphones and an iPad as you wander the house).
Securing an earlier tour in the day offers time to enjoy a restful lunch, perhaps at Vernon’s Smokehouse. They offered Meatloaf, Catfish, BBQ plates and sides for $9 to $12 range. BBQ Nachos listed on menu were not available.
Gladys’ Diner was closed, but note that entering from inside the Ticket Pavilion gives access to a “Grab n’ Go” offerings such as Croissant Sandwiches (Turkey: $6.99, Pork BBQ:$8.99).
Vernon and Gladys dining are located at Elvis Presley’s Memphis the complex, located across the street from Graceland. The museums opened there are Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, Elvis Discovery Exhibits, Elvis’ Custom Jets, and Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. The ice cream stand was closed.
We’re staying at the beautiful Guest House at Graceland. Every 30 minutes their shuttle takes to and from the Graceland Ticket Pavilion. Be warned that Delta’s Kitchen, the bar, and the gift shop are closed.
Guest rooms are cleaned only upon checkout. There is a “Grab n’ Go” good and beverage setup at the Information Desk in the lobby. The Front Desk also provides a list of local restaurants that will deliver meals to you in the lobby. The bar television remains on and tuned to FOX News per popular requests.
Each night at 7 p.m., an Elvis movie shows (free) in the beautiful theater. Social Distancing is enforced, but easy to follow with limited attendance. Monday they presented Viva Las Vegas and Tuesday, the 68 Comeback Special. Love Me Tender, Elvis On Tour and others are shown.
The pool, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. have a 30 person capacity limit. We saw couples and families enjoying outside patio and yard activities such as shuffleboard, ping pong and corn hole.
We enjoyed dining at Marlowe’s, about a mile south of Graceland. They offer free pickup and return at the hotel in a pink limo. It’s a fan favorite, not only because of their awesome BBQ, but they’re loaded with Elvis memorabilia, music, a gift shop and even movies on large screens. Marlowe’s has been featured on Food Network, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
For “Blues, Brews and Burgers,” Huey’s is a great option. This popular, family-friendly chain is often voted as having the best burger in the Memphis and DeSoto County. Some of the most popular options are the Senior Huey, the Madison Avenue and the Bluez 57.
Coletta’s Italian restaurant has been open in Memphis since 1923, and they made the original barbecue pizza. Their famous barbecue pizza has a thick crust, barbecue sauce, and is piled high with pork and cheese. Elvis and the Memphis Mafia liked it.
Corky’s Ribs & BBQ is open, but seating is limited. They are worth a visit: #1 BBQ Sauce 4 years in a row by Southern Living magazine; Best BBQ 24 years in a row by MEMPHIS magazine; Best of BBQ by TV Food Network.
Sun Studio is open, with tours beginning every hour from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This historical place is often referred to as the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and is a must-see for music aficionados.
Former owner Sam Phillips helped launch many a music career, including that of Elvis, B.B. King, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. In recent years, the studio has been used by artists like Justin Townes Earle, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and The Walkmen, among others. On our guided tour, we heared stories about the legendary musicians who recorded there, listened to unreleased tracks and saw memorabilia from the studio’s heyday.
Beale Street is open and live music continues.
You can still watch the world-famous Peabody Ducks march daily at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. for free. The Peabody Ducks have never missed a day of work and have continued their daily red carpet marches even under the circumstances.
Open Wed-Sun from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Rock ’n’ Soul Museum is offering half-price admission for Shelby County residents (with proof) through the end of June. With the discount, tickets will be $7.50 for adults and $5 for youth.
Open Wed-Sun from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Memphis Music Hall of Fame also offers half-price admission for Shelby County residents (with proof) through the end of June. Regular admission is $8.
Stax Museum of American Soul is open.
The National Civil Rights Museum will not be opened until July 1. Housed in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the museum features multimedia presentations on the civil rights movement.
The Children’s Museum of Memphis is open with new hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9a-5p. Closed Mondays.