[y] Tupelo Visitors Guide
Any true Elvis Presley fan knows that Tupelo, Mississippi is where The King spent the first 13 years of his life, and there are several tributes scattered throughout the Mississippi town to commemorate this fact. Tupelo keeps the rock ‘n roll spirit alive with the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum, Tupelo Hardware (the store where his famous first guitar was purchased) and Elvis driving tours. The Elvis Presley Festival celebrated in June keeps residents and thousands of tourists busy.
Tupelo is located about 108mi (175km) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee. The route to Nashville, TN, 215mi (347km) to the northeast of Tupelo, is now part of the historic Natchez Trace Parkway that once guided animals, Native Indians, Spanish explorers, and British settlers through the region. The Parkway Visitors’ Center is located in Tupelo and serves as a year-round interpretive center for visitors. Suspicious minds needn’t worry— there’s plenty more to do in Tupelo after the Elvis attractions have been enjoyed. The Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo feature hundreds of animals and a large herd of American bison. The Healthworks! Kids Museum, the Gumtree Museum of Art, the Tupelo Automobile Museum and the Tupelo Film Festival held annually in May are some fun things to see and do around town.
The perfect starting point for any Tupelo trip is the brand-new Tupelo Visitors Center. From interactive exhibits that highlight Tupelo’s top attractions and a collective timeline of the city’s rich history to displays focused on Elvis’ childhood in Tupelo as told like never before, the Tupelo Visitors Center will fully prepare visitors for exploring this unique, southern town.
The Elvis’ Tupelo journey begins at a humble, two-room, shotgun shack. The Elvis Presley Birthplace includes the home where he was born, the Assembly of God Church where he was influenced by gospel music, and a museum that chronicles his life. Ten other exhibits pay homage to the legacy of Tupelo’s favorite native son who spent his first 13 years coming of age here.
The Elvis’ Tupelo Self-Guided Bicycle Tour takes guests deeper into the Elvis’ Tupelo journey, on two wheels. Explore 13 stops that influenced his life here. Snap a picture or two enjoying the ride, tag #MyTupelo, and stop by the Tupelo Visitors Center to pick up a special gift. For those who prefer to explore Elvis’ Tupelo on four-wheels, the Elvis Driving Tour takes you to the same spots that influenced young Elvis in Tupelo. A highlight of the tour includes a stop at Tupelo Hardware Co. where Gladys Presley purchased Elvis’ first guitar. Guests can stand in the spot where Elvis stood, in this store that is still an operating hardware store today. Guitars are still available for purchase.
Tupelo is more than just the Birthplace of the King, it is home to many, unique attractions that can only be found here. Headquartered in Tupelo, the Natchez Trace Parkway spans 444-miles from Nashville, TN, to Natchez, MS. The Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center offers guests an interactive experience detailing the history, wildlife, flora, and fauna of this scenic byway. Hiking trails around the center make it a wonderful stop for a family adventure. The Tupelo Automobile Museum is home to over 100 antique and classic cars, displayed chronologically, making it a walk through the history of the automobile. HealthWorks! Kids Museum teaches kids how to make healthy choices in their own special brand of fantastic fun. The Tupelo Buffalo Park is home to 260 animals giving families a safari experience right in the middle of town.
Elvis’ mom, Gladys, and Evelyn’s mom worked together at Reed’s Manufacturing, a Tupelo shirt factory. The two classmates, and others, walked to the factory every day after school, unknowing at the time that they would ultimately share a common ancestry. Elvis occasionally visited the battlefield at Shiloh, not far from his home. He sometimes took friends and/or family to see the monuments and to teach them what he had learned about the battle. Elvis was very much aware that his roots were set during the War Between States, 1861 ~ 1865. His grandfather, Dunnan Presley, served for the Confederacy in Co. E of Ham’s Regiment, MS cavalry as did many ancestral cousins. During Christmas break after the 7th grade, Elvis and family moved away the rest is history.
Tupelo boasts three distinct shopping districts, with an abundance of choices for shopping mavens of all ages. The city’s historic Downtown includes a vast array of specialty boutiques, a local art gallery specializing in unique pieces made by Mississippi artisans, and a 113-year old department store. Many local restaurants serving up southern soul food, burgers, and barbecue are also housed in Tupelo’s city center. The Midtown Shopping District is made up of 24 locally-owned businesses nestled in an established shopping destination in West Tupelo. The Barnes Crossing Shopping District serves as a regional shopping hub for Northeast Mississippi with a selection of nationally-known stores, all anchored by the Mall at Barnes Crossing.
Whether shopping or exploring the city’s many attractions, one must be well fed when spending time in the Center of Positivity. From food trucks and doughburgers to farm-fresh creations and haute-cuisine, Tupelo has something to satisfy every appetite. Whether you are looking for the perfect ladies’ lunch spot, a great burger, and live music, or a truly memorable dining experience, Tupelo’s over 160 restaurants are ready and willing to make your mouth water. With new restaurants opening constantly, visit EAT at tupelo.net to stay current on where to dine and follow #tupelofoodie on Instagram. Your stomach will thank you.
Live music is as much as part of the Elvis’ Tupelo experience as sitting on the porch swing at the birthplace of the king. Almost every night of the week, Tupelo’s live music venues invite guests to feel the beat and sway along to the sounds of country, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and more. Check out the EVENTS page at tupelo.net to see what bands are playing and where nightly. Outdoor music festivals and special events make Tupelo a great weekend getaway for music fans of all ages.
The town that enabled Elvis to dream big still embodies that same contagious optimism that put him on a path to stardom, and today, it beckons visitors to come on in, have a bite to eat, and stay for a while. Imagine what you can do here!