It’s easy to just think of President’s Day as a day off, but this year, why not skip shopping at those blowout sales and take a step back in time? Instead, explore the homes and learn about the lives of America’s former presidents. Whether you’re a history buff or just want to pay tribute to America’s famous leaders, these National Park Service sites are a great way to discover more about our nation’s history.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The memories of President Franklin D. Roosevelt are preserved at his lifelong home in Hyde Park, New York. The estate features a guided tour of the 17th-century farmhouse that FDR and his family renovated and expanded. Also located on the 300-acre site is a museum and the first presidential library, where visitors can take a look at a special exhibit of 1,000 photos from the private lives of the Roosevelts.
For President’s Day don’t miss a special tour of the Roosevelts’ kitchen, FDR’s study and other places usually roped off to visitors!
John F. Kennedy
Brookline, MA, is where you’ll find the home of America’s “royal family,” the Kennedys. Tour the house where President John F. Kennedy was raised and get a look at his bassinet in the nursery, old toys, paintings and more.
While the JFK national site is not open to the public during the winter months, a special “Growing up Kennedy” tour will be offered February 20-22, which gives an inside look at the early years of the Kennedy family. Can’t make those dates? You can still experience the memories with a virtual tour.
It’s not surprising that the father of our country’s estate, Mount Vernon, is the most popular historic destination in America — the mansion contains President George Washington’s original furnishings, his tomb, a plantation, beautiful gardens, animals, a distillery and more.
Celebrate Washington’s 281st birthday with tons of special events, including “Breakfast with George Washington,” book signings, a performance by the US Army 3rd Infantry’s Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, the “world’s smallest parade” and a surprise birthday party for Washington himself. Plus, admission is free!
For a real blast from the past, attend the re-creation of the 1799 Birthnight Banquet Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Learn English country dances, dine on 18th-century food and play tavern games. Don’t forget your period costumes!
Get a fascinating glimpse at the life of President Woodrow Wilson at his elegant townhouse located in Washington, DC. Celebrating its 50th year, the Woodrow Wilson House is the only presidential museum in Washington and contains the home’s original marble entryway, grand staircase, study, furniture, art, photographs, and piano for an authentic trip to 1924.
If you’re looking for a sophisticated venue to throw your next soiree, the National Trust for Historic Preservation actually rents the Woodrow Wilson House for private parties, weddings and dinners!
The Lincoln Home in Springfield, IL, takes you back to 1860 at no cost to visitors. Walk the halls where Abe and Mary lived in for 17 years before his election. The home reflects Mary’s expensive taste but also Abe’s frontier upbringing so you’ll find fine china and flower prints along with sturdy furniture that was built to last.
You can also catch a film highlighting Lincoln’s life, and though it doesn’t star Daniel Day Lewis, the film gives a fascinating look at the man before he became president. Also don’t miss the 4 blocks of the historic neighborhood containing other houses preserved from the Lincoln era, and be sure to stop by the old state capital where Abe gave his “house divided” speech.
Check out other sites that chronicle our leaders’ achievements with our Presidential Destinations slideshow!