It seems hard to believe, but Graceland, the former home of rock-'n'-roll-legend Elvis Presley and annually the destination of tens of thousands of love-struck pilgrims searching for the ghost of Elvis, is the second most visited home in America. Only the White House receives more visitors each year. A look around at the crowds waiting in various lines at this sprawling complex makes it clear that Elvis, through his many recordings, numerous movie roles, and countless concerts, still appeals to a wide spectrum of people. Today, decades after Elvis's death, Graceland draws visitors of all ages from all over the world. So many that Elvis Presley Enterprises recently completed a $137-million expansion of the property to make it a true full-service destination. Complete with 200,000 square feet of new exhibits, museums, and performance space and a 450-room resort hotel, The Guest House at Graceland, it is an increasingly impressive entertainment extravaganza.

Purchased in the late 1950s for $100,000—which would be about $1.2 million today—Graceland includes, among a bazillion other things, two personal jets, an auto museum, personal belongings, retail shops, a few serviceable restaurants, and, of course, Elvis’ home. If you can only do one thing here, it should be the Mansion, despite the fact that the tour's price tag grows more exorbitant by the year. The compound also offers exhibits on pop culture  history (like one on legendary producer Sam Phillips) and a museum that chronicles Elvis’s career in detail throughout the years. Presley Motors will be a draw for auto buffs and includes not only his famous 1955 pink Cadillac, but also motorcycles and other vehicles. A re-creation of an airport terminal serves as the entrance to the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II private jets. The former was once a regular Delta Air Lines passenger jet that was customized (at a cost of $800,000) after Elvis purchased it in 1975 for $250,000. The Hound Dog II is much smaller and was purchased after the Lisa Marie was acquired.

While all the high-powered toys are cool, they’re not going to do much (other than provide a fun photo background) for people who aren’t true gearheads or aerophiles. Without question, the most compelling piece of Graceland is Elvis’s personal stuff, which rotates from the extensive archives and has been given much more room to breathe in the new exhibition space. You can see his record collection, gifts sent to him by fans, and his books, which are fascinating. Elvis was an avid reader, and one small collection included a guide to yoga, a book on endocrinology (the study of hormones), and “Gone with the Wind.” Did you know Elvis had a collection of police badges he used to make citizen’s arrests? I did not, but I found that completely hilarious and intriguing. I also mightily enjoyed seeing one of the TVs Elvis shot out because he didn’t like what was on, and apparently he also did the same to books. The mansion itself is essentially a time capsule, and is a must for anyone into interior design. The details are fascinating: custom stained-glass peacock windows, the pool room (pictured above), which is outfitted in a splashy 1960s fabric all over the walls and ceiling, and, of course, the Jungle Room. I have no idea why no one in Memphis has yet made a bar out of this concept somewhere—the place practically begs you to pour yourself a stiff martini, sit down, and bullshit with the boys about your week—but they should.

The exhibits that fill out the halls are packed with other memorabilia, including the real blue suede shoes, which were actually Carl Perkins’, who recorded the song originally in 1955. There’s a note from Sam Phillips that reads “Talent just waiting to be discovered” and lists B. B. King, Ike Turner, Rufus Thomas, and Howlin’ Wolf, demonstrating just how good of an ear Phillips had. Rotating exhibits also include items such as the costumes of KISS, Trisha Yearwood, and Bruce Springsteen, so it caters to a wide audience.

Full disclosure: One reason I enjoyed my experience so much was because we shelled out the $202 for the VIP tour, which is a lot. I didn’t mind too much because that was probably the one time in my life I’ll visit Graceland, and my enjoyment definitely had a lot to do with having someone walk me around, tell me stories, and answer my questions. I completely understand, however, that paying more than $200 for that level of engagement is going to be a hard pill for some to swallow.

The good news is, though, that if you buy tickets in advance, get there early, and don’t mind touring much of it without a guide, you can see the mansion, the entertainment complex, and the toys for “just” $82 per adult. This is currently called “The Elvis Experience Tour,” and while it is certainly not cheap—especially if you have to cough up $46.50 for a child 5-10—it is the only way to see the iconic sights here. Don’t be fooled by “The Elvis Presley’s Memphis Ticket + Planes” option! While it sounds like a ticket that would show you where Elvis Presley lived in Memphis, it does not; That $49.75 ticket only gets you into the entertainment complex, and that is just not enough of a draw to be worthwhile. (Note to EP Enterprises: We see what you’re doing with these nebulous tour names. Just say “Mansion Tour” and be done with it!)

Whatever package you opt for, know that wait times, including ticket and shuttle lines, can bleed from minutes into hours quickly, so plan ahead: Buy your tickets online and print them or have them saved to your phone so you don’t have to deal with the lines at Will Call. Avoid Elvis Week (aka “Dead Elvis Week” to us locals despite EP Enterprises having spent decades trying to make us stop calling it that) and try to go on a weekday right when it opens or late (around 4pm but not after 5pm which is the cutoff). If you visit from Thanksgiving to early New Year’s, you can see Graceland decorated with Elvis’s original Christmas lights and now-retro lawn decorations. Early risers should be aware that most mornings it is possible to visit Elvis’s grave before Graceland officially opens. This special free walk-up period is daily from 7:30 to 8:30am.

As far as food goes, the options at Graceland have gotten better in recent years, though I can’t in good conscience tell you to pick barbecue here over any of Memphis more delicious, authentic options. Vernon's Smokehouse actually serves some pretty delicious sausage, but do not even think about getting the barbecue nachos here; they are all wrong. However EP’s Bar & Grill at the hotel, the Guest House, serves some very good food, including an excellent cheeseburger.