Top Ten Parks for Presidents Day

Looking to soak up some American History this Presidents Day weekend? Look no further. We've developed a list of national historic sites related to American Presidents. Our list is based on the National Park Service’s American Presidents Travel Itinerary, which features more than 70 sites nationwide that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Almost half of the sites are also part of the National Park System. There are many great sites on the heritage trail, but here is an overview of some of our favorite presidentially-themed sites.

1. Adams National Historical Park, Quincy, MA: Discover the history of four generations of the Adams family (from 1720 to 1927) at this park, which includes the birthplaces of 2nd U.S. President John Adams and 6th U.S. President John Quincy Adams, the “Old House,” which was home to four generations of the Adams family, and the Stone Library, which contains more than 14,000 historic volumes.

2. Monticello, Charlottesville, VA*: Monticello, or “Little Mountain,” was Thomas Jefferson’s home from 1770 until his death in 1826. The home reflects Jefferson’s personality, and was designed by the president himself, as he was also an accomplished architect. Take time to tour his home and explore the gardens, where Jefferson experimented with many types of plants from around the world.

3. The Hermitage, Nashville, TN*: Find out firsthand how Andrew Jackson got the nickname “Old Hickory” at The Hermitage, where he lived from 1804 until his death in 1845.  Explore this frontier-born president’s mansion, gardens and slave’s quarters to get a taste of what life was like in the 1800s.

4. Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, Washington, D.C.:
On April 14, 1865, just five days after the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre. Lincoln’s death increased the nation’s struggle to recover after the war. At Ford’s Theatre, discover some of the motivations behind this tragic act and its impact on a nation trying to heal.

5. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, St. Louis, MO: Ulysses S. Grant, the victorious Civil War general and 18th president of the United States, lived at White Haven plantation with his growing family from 1854 to 1859. Although White Haven was a private residence for most of the 20th century, it is now administered by the National Park Service. In addition to the main house, check out the Visitor Center to watch a film about the historic site and visit the Grant-period horse stable which now houses an interpretive museum.

6. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, SD: Among the most recognizable American landmarks, Mount Rushmore was carved into the black hills of South Dakota in the 1920s to honor a few of our country’s great leaders. The faces of George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln make up this famous monument. To make the most of your trip, stop by the memorial’s visitor center and museum to learn about the carving of the memorial, and walk along the Presidential Trail for spectacular views of the four faces.

7. Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY: Springwood, the family estate on the Hudson River, was the place FDR called home throughout much of his busy life. The historic site contains the Springwood house and the Presidential Library and Museum, created by Roosevelt before his death and operated by the National Archives. Start at the visitor center to arrange for tours of the house, Presidential Library and Museum, and Top Cottage, FDR’s personal retreat.

8. Eisenhower National Historic Site, Gettysburg, PA: Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, spent weekends and their retirement in this home adjoining Gettysburg Battlefield. The farm also provided a relaxed atmosphere for meetings with international leaders during the Cold War. To get to the park, take the shuttle bus, which leaves from the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center. For an extra dose of presidential history, visit the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg to stand in the very place where Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address in 1863.

9. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Johnson City, TX:
Located in the beautiful, rugged country along the Pedernales River in central Texas, this historical site consists of two parts. The LBJ Ranch preserves LBJ’s home, which is also known as the “Texas White House,” and historic Johnson City, which was founded by LBJ’s family, features buildings that have been restored to appear as they would have in the 1920s.

10. Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Plains, GA:
Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, still makes his home in Plains, the small Georgia farm town where he was born. The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site includes the farm where he spent his boyhood, the high school he attended, and the train depot that served as headquarters for his 1976 presidential campaign.

But the list goes on! A full run-down of the sites in the American Presidents Travel Itinerary is available online. You can find more travel ideas at the National Park Service’s ever-growing Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Series home page.

*Denotes sites that are on the National Register of Historic Places but are not part of the National Park System.

Image: The Old House at Adams National Historical Park. Source: NPS.