Ravell Call, Deseret News
Portraits of Elvis Presley and his family at the singer’s home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. Aug. 11 will mark the 40th anniversary of Presley’s death.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On the afternoon of Aug. 16, 1977, Elvis Presley was found unresponsive at his home, Graceland. He was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital, but the doctors there could do nothing for him. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m.
In the days that followed, tens of thousands of people made their way to Memphis in an impromptu pilgrimage of grief. They’ve been returning ever since. Now, 40 years later, the organizers of “Elvis Week” expect the largest crowds ever.
Truthfully, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll shimmied off his mortal coil in an inconvenient season. The middle of August finds Memphis balmy if we’re being charitable. Let’s not mention the language a person could use if he were feeling uncharitable.
Still, it’s a lively time to visit. Elvis fans will no doubt find many events at Graceland moving, particularly the candlelight vigil, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 15. Several popular locations are worth a visit, including Sun Studio and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The National Civil Rights Museum should not be missed, though its somber nature requires ample time to tour and reflect.
Other popular locations can be cut from your itinerary without sacrificing an authentic experience. Specifically, Beale Street should be avoided at all costs. Much like the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Beale Street exists entirely as a kind of live play-act for tourists. The ducks at the Peabody Hotel are cute, but they are simply ducks indoors.
Better to spend your time away from the crowds exploring a bit of the “real” Memphis. Here are some family-friendly activities located throughout the city, although each is easily accessible by car.
The great outdoors
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