9 Presidential Landmarks Every History Buff Should Visit
If you want to tap into America’s rich history this President’s Day, there are plenty of places that will satisfy your desire to learn more about the men who have led the country since its inception. From presidential libraries to monuments, here are some of the best presidential landmarks that every history buff should visit.
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Simi Valley, California
There's something epic about the legacy of the larger-than-life President Ronald Reagan. It seems fitting that the largest of the 14 presidential libraries pays tribute to the “Gipper.” The Reagan Library in Simi Valley also pays homage to the eight years that he spent as governor of California. Along with a 6,338-pound piece of the Berlin Wall, you’ll find a replica of the Oval Office, a retired Air Force One Boeing 707 jet plane, and 50 million presidential documents. Don’t miss the permanent exhibition dedicated to the life of First Lady Nancy Reagan, or the stunning views of the surrounding Simi Valley.
Mount Vernon, Virginia
Mount Vernon was President George Washington’s home from childhood until his death in 1799. Originally called Little Hunting Creek Plantation, Mount Vernon is situated along the Potomac River 15 miles south of Washington, D.C. The first U.S. President’s former plantation is open to visitors and is still a working farm as well as a museum and education center. The mansion and gardens are still as magnificent as they were when George and Martha lived there during the birth of our nation.
Hyde Park, New York
Springwood hasn't changed much since the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945. FDR’s sprawling family estate sits on the Hudson River in Hyde Park, New York. It was his home during his full and momentous life. He was born at Springwood in 1882, spent his youth there, and is buried on the grounds of his beloved home. Upon his death, FDR left the house and surrounding land to the American people who can still stop by to admire his boyhood collection of stuffed birds.
Every history buff knows how much Thomas Jefferson is woven into the fabric of the birth of our nation. The Jefferson Memorial is a fitting monument to the founding father and third president. Built between 1939 and 1943 under the sponsorship of FDR, the memorial's architecture was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and reflects Jefferson’s personal preferences. Surrounded by a stunning grove of cherry trees, the Jefferson Memorial stands majestically on the Tidal Basin as a lasting tribute to a remarkable man.
Richard Nixon Library
Yorba Linda, California
Although his presidency is tied to scandal, Richard M. Nixon was considered by many as a great politician and president. The Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda is the birthplace (and final resting place) of the 37th president, and the museum memorializes his political career through fascinating exhibits and displays such as the White House Sitting Room and Army 1, the presidential helicopter. The library is surrounded by a gorgeous English garden and the restored farmhouse where Nixon was born.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
There is no question that the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. is impressive, but for history buffs, the Lincoln National Historic Site in Springfield gives unique insight into the life of the 16th President of the United States. The site features the only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned, as well the neighborhood that gives visitors an intimate view into Lincoln's life as a politician, husband, father, and neighbor. The home has been open to the public since 1887 and tours of the house are free. Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln lived in this impressive, Greek-Revival home for 17 years, and it was the base of operations for his successful 1860 presidential bid.
Federal Hall National Memorial
New York, New York
If you want to visit the birthplace of American politics, then head to New York and check out the Federal Hall National Memorial. The memorial stands on the site of the original Federal Hall, the first capital of the United States. Today, it’s a museum and memorial to the birth of a nation and features the slab of balcony that George Washington was standing on when he was inaugurated as the first president in 1789. History was made here. The Bill of Rights was passed at this location and in 1765, the Stamp Act Congress protested “taxation without representation.”
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
If you want to spend the long weekend outdoors, why not explore one of the nation's best national parks? Yellowstone, the country's first national park, was established by President Ulysses S. Grant, but we recommend heading to the badlands of North Dakota instead, to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park occupies the 26th President's old hunting grounds, and is a fitting tribute to this proud conservationist. According to the NPS, Roosevelt used his authority to preserve, "150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments by enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt protected approximately 230 million acres of public land."
The White House
No list of presidential landmarks is complete without the home and office of every President of the United States since John Adams. The White House is surrounded by lush parkland, known as President’s Park, and is a stylish setting for welcoming foreign dignitaries and festive events such as the lighting of the National Christmas Tree and the annual Easter Egg Roll.
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