We all know that Elvis Presley was one of the icons of rock and roll. Those who are huge Elvis fans like my wife know that this is the week to go visit Graceland and Memphis to pay respect to one of the greatest legends in music. Elvis died on August 16, 1977; during the week of August 8-17, Memphis has a lot of different activities geared to honoring their greatest son.
Believe it or not, I have been researching and promising my wife that I’d organize this trip for at least 5 years. This year, I was determined to make this trip a reality, and my daughter would appreciate that it was a bit “spontaneous” for me because I usually am one to plan ahead.
Booking the flights:
On Wednesday August 6, I received an email from United offering weekend saver fares. Inside was a deal from Newark to Memphis for $273 round trip. In order for the deal to price out correctly, I had to leave on Friday or Saturday and return either Monday or Tuesday.
There’s always a limited number of tickets at this rate. Regular price was between $550 and $650. I was able to find flights leaving Friday night at 8:30 pm and coming back Monday night at 4:23 pm. This worked out great because I only had to miss one day of work.
Booking the Hotel:
Next, I planned to book an airport hotel for one night because we were landing at Memphis at 10:30pm, and then I was going to find a hotel in downtown Memphis for the next two nights.
I used awardmapper.com to get ideas on hotel availability using points. I settled on the Courtyard-Memphis Airport hotel because they had a free airport shuttle and availability at the Marriott saver rate of 7,500 points. It is normally 10,000 points.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a clean hotel with comfortable beds and a corner room. Although breakfast is not included, there was free parking and a free airport shuttle. We liked it so much that we ended up booking 2 more nights for 15,000 more points. We stayed a total of 3 nights for 22,500 points.
The location is great – about 8 miles from Graceland and 10 miles from Beale Street. The area around the hotel is not optimal. It is in a commercial/industrial area, so you definitely need a car.
By using the free airport shuttle, we were able to save one night of car rental. The next day I used the airport shuttle to pick up my mid-size car rental that I found using carrentalsavers.com for 2 nights for $46.50, unlimited miles.
I recommend renting a car because the public transportation in Memphis is not reliable, plus it is always a great idea to move away from tourist traps. I will break down our itinerary for the next two days and I will include some money saving tips, that will hopefully help you with your own trip.
On Saturday, we visited Graceland (plan for at least three hours for the tour). We opted for the Platinum tour plus the airplane tour. The airplane tour is only offered during Elvis week. I believe it was $42, minus $3 for AAA discount.
Dad tip: Google for coupons or use your AAA card for discounts.
For dinner, we went to Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs – a famous barbecue restaurant – it is highly rated and offers ribs dry and wet. My wife loved it. I felt the ribs were too dry, but it was good regardless.
Dad tip: Parking can be fun – try 79 Union Ave., 2 blocks away. It has the best prices if you cannot find street parking. During the weekends, street parking is free. From there, it is about a 6-block walk to the festivities of Beale Street.
Dad tip: while on Beale Street, visit a Schwab’s Dry Goods store. They opened in 1876 and have great ice cream floats.
On Sunday morning, we found a great breakfast place away from the tourist spots (recommended) called Bryant’s Breakfast. You get a huge breakfast at a great price. We arrived at 9am, and there was already a line of 30 people, mostly locals. You will not be disappointed. The line moves fast, and there’s a great old-time atmosphere.
Another thing to do on Sundays in Memphis is to go to the Peabody today at 11 am to see the ducks come off the elevator and into the fountain. It’s an old tradition.
After that we went to visit Sun Studios. This is the studio that discovered Elvis. I believe the admission was about $12.77 per person.
Dad tip: ask for the AAA discount.
From there we went to the Civil Rights museum, located by the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King was killed. The cost was $15 and there was no discount. It was a great experience, and we learned a lot.
After the museum, we went to Corky’s Ribs in East Memphis. In my opinion, the ribs were better than the higher-rated Rendezvous ribs – juicer and 35% cheaper.
Hopefully I gave you some ideas and inspiration to book your own trip. BTW, the pictures are courtesy of one of the biggest Elvis fans… my wife.