News Column

Presidential Sites To Vist for Presidents Day

Feb. 15, 2012

Amy Bertrand

Presidents Day is Monday, and just how do you plan to celebrate it? Many of us will be working. Some will be off school or work and might celebrate with a movie or a day at the mall.

But Lonely Planet has a great way to celebrate, by visiting presidential sites in every state.

Here are some highlights of itsreport:

Arizona: Hoover Dam, Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam -- that's more or less how the naming of this striking, if controversial, dam at the Arizona/Nevada border has gone. Franklin Roosevelt, by some accounts, had 'Hoover' struck from its name out of spite; Hoover's name was restored (after FDR's death) in 1947. By the way, the Arizona side has free parking, but Nevada's has the 'Dam T-shirt' shop, tours and bad coffee.

Arkansas: In Little Rock, the William J Clinton Presidential Center -- for the guy also known as Bill -- has 80 million pages of documents, 2 million photos and, hey, one of Lance Armstrong's jerseys. Bill's birthplace 100 miles southwest of Little Rock in the town of Hope was recently added to the National Park System as the wordy-named President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site.

California: Just 15 minutes from Disneyland is a presidential site too intriguing to drive by: Richard Nixon's birthplace, museum and library, in Yorba Linda. How does such a place handle probably the least graceful job exit in U.S. political history?

Georgia: Franklin Roosevelt first bathed in the natural springs of Warm Springs in 1924 to help strengthen himself from polio to take a shot at Washington. It worked. He'd return until his death in 1945. You can visit the site at the Little White House.

Illinois: Many sites are around Lincoln-obsessed Springfield are in the walkable downtown, including the Lincoln Home, where Abe and Mary lived from 1844 till 1861. Perhaps most memorable though is Lincoln's Tomb at nearby Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Indiana: Lincoln was born in Kentucky and rose to fame in Illinois, but he grew up in Indiana. Visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, four miles south of Dale in the hilly Ohio River region to the south.

Kansas: Dwight Eisenhower's boyhood home, museum and library in once-rowdy Abilene is a nice relief from I-70's monotony. Grab some free sugar cookies at the visitor center, made with Ike's wife Mamie's recipe.

Mississippi: Its website won't even mention his name, but the Rosalie Mansion in Natchez served as Ulysses S Grant's army's headquarters during the Union's crushing string of victories in 1863.

Missouri: Just outside Kansas City, the Truman Home in Independence (under renovation but should be reopened in spring) is where, you could say, the 'buck stopped' -- Harry and Bess lived here following his White House days. There's also a 2.7-mile historic walking trail that takes in his museum and the soda fountain where he first worked.

Ohio: Of all things, seven presidents were born in Ohio (Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley, Taft, Harding) -- and when Virginia's not looking, Ohio likes to call itself the 'Mother of Presidents.' (Interesting to note: three died in office, three were one-termers and the other a drunk.) Who to tribute? Hayes, definitely Rutherford B. Hayes. His election in is the probably single-most contested presidential vote in U.S. history and his presidential library/museum in Fremont -- opened 23 years after his death -- is the first one.

Rhode Island: Romantic president fans, get thee to Newport's St Mary's Church, where JFK and Jackie wed in 1953.

South Dakota: Its Black Hills -- a setting for Sioux ceremonies, deception, wars, gold rushes and, later, men of stone. Built between 1927 and 1941, Mount Rushmore is the quintessential American president site -- and the busts of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theo Roosevelt makes more of an impression that some would think. Afterward get fudge in touristy Keystone.

Washington, DC: It's a temple of president memorials, not to mention the president's home. Jefferson's is lovely, but none can compare with a climb up the steps to admire Abe's immortal determination at the Lincoln Memorial.



Source: (c)2012 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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