Taking the Elvis Tour of Tupelo, Mississippi
Tupelo, Mississippi is a must-see for any Elvis fan. See the house where he was born, eat at a restaurant he ate at (even sit in his booth!), and visit the hardware store where his mom bought his first guitar. How’s that for some awesome rock ‘n roll history all in one place?!
Being from North Mississippi, I happen to know that the people who live here don’t really see Tupelo as a tourist destination. But maybe they should tell that to the tourists. On any given day, this little town sees visitors from all over the world!
I believe we all need to view our hometown/state with the eyes of a traveler and enjoy the unique destinations that we might take for granted!
The Birthplace of Elvis Presley-
This little house might not look like much, but it is definitely proof that greatness can come from anywhere. This is the house where Elvis was born!
You can pay a small fee to walk through the house, and (as of my trip just a few weeks ago), I was allowed to take photos inside.
Want to make your experience even more amazing? Bring headphones and listen to “Porch Swing in Tupelo” by Elton John on your phone or MP3 player while sitting in that very porch swing.
It’s a great song, and a sweet tribute to Elvis. It will definitely give you some feelings while sitting on the porch of this tiny little house!
Some items to pay attention to in the house are the little brown hat hanging on the wall and the stove in the kitchen. While the other furniture, accessories, and even wall paper are not original to the house (although they are true to the time period), these two items were truly owned by the Presleys.
The hat belonged to Elvis’ father, Vernon. He donated it to the Birthplace himself.
The Birthplace has two photo-ops that you must take advantage of. One is sitting in the swing on the front porch of the house, and the other is standing with the “Elvis at 13” statue nearby.
On a busy day, you may have to stand in line for these opportunities, but you can’t leave without these photos!
The Birthplace also has a museum and a gift shop inside where you purchase tickets to go through the house. Don’t miss the chapel, church, or the fountain outside.
Johnnie’s Drive In-
After spending a morning at the Birthplace, I highly recommend lunch (or an afternoon snack) at Johnnie’s. I realize the sign in the photo above says “Johnnys,” but trust me on this one.
The dough burgers are actually really good, and very well-known in this area. They were once made for poor families to save money by mixing dough or bread with meat.
I have never gotten anything here that I didn’t love. They also have great milkshakes if you just want a little treat!
Be sure to sign the guest book and spend lots of time looking at the memorabilia on the walls. If you have any questions or need someone to take a photo of your group, the staff here has always been more than willing to talk or help out.
If you’re lucky, you can sit in the same booth that Elvis sat in. It’s the most popular seat in the house, but someone will quickly clean up as soon as possible to at least let you sit for a photo.
Remember to take cash with you because they do not accept debit/credit cards.
Just a couple of miles up the road from Johnnie’s and the Birthplace, you will find Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis’ mom bought him his very first guitar.
You can park on the street or in the parking lot behind the building. The building is still a hardware store today, and you know what’s even better?
They still sell guitars! Many musicians coming into Tupelo for concerts stop by Tupelo Hardware to play or purchase a guitar.
Check out the story of Joe Perry from Aerosmith stopping by. The article is hanging behind the counter where the souvenirs are sold.
The souvenir counter just also happens to be the counter where the transaction for Elvis’ guitar took place. Totally fitting, huh?
If you have any questions, the staff is super friendly and always curious about where their visitors are from. Not many hardware stores get visitors from all over the world!
After visiting Tupelo Hardware, you can walk right on down to the Fairpark if you want to see the bench from the first photo in this post and the statue depicting Elvis from his homecoming concert in 1956. The concert was held right there at the Fairpark, which used to be the fairgrounds.
If you have time and an extra ten dollars, check out the Tupelo Automobile Museum nearby. It has a great collection of old cars including one that was owned by Elvis.
See Related: Graceland Too: The Legacy of Elvis’ Number One Fan
I love Johnnie’s and Tupelo Hardware because they are still open businesses today. They let you really experience part of history without having to see everything from behind glass or a rope. The owners/workers are still so excited about their part in Elvis’ life and are eager to share with fans and visitors.
I think the Birthplace is a great place to visit after visiting Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. After seeing the beautiful, grand mansion where Elvis lived later in life, it’s a little surreal to see where he started.
Besides Tupelo and Graceland, I highly recommend visiting Sun Studio in Memphis, the studio that first recorded Elvis.
The tour is very informative and entertaining, and at the end of it, they let everyone hold the same microphone that Elvis used. I believe these locations are the best at letting Elvis fans really feel like they walked in his footsteps!
See Related: Touring Legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee
Are you an Elvis fan? Have you visited any Elvis-related sites? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and doggie-daughter, Gizmo. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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