Historic Sites

Top places to discover something new about our presidents

An unforgettabe journey to discover all things about the leaders of our country.


He quit going to school when he was 14. By the time he was 17, he was working on the frontier.  Later in life he turned down the chance to be king—of the United States.

We’re talking about George Washington, of course.  On Monday, as we celebrate Presidents Day, take the time to teach the kids—and yourselves—something you didn’t know about our presidents. 

--Tour a presidential library. They are located around the country—from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., the John F. Kennedy Library on Boston’s waterfront, Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. or the newest library, George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in  Dallas.

--Visit the American Presidency exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.  It displays everyday objects that represent the lives and times of the country’s 42 presidents—from the desk Thomas Jefferson used to write the Declaration of Independence to George Washington’s battle sword and the top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln the night of the assassination.

--Tour the Lincoln Memorial at night in Washington, D.C. Visit the Ford’s Theater Campus which includes the museum, theater and more.  At the museum, you can explore Lincoln’s presidency until the night he arrived at Ford’s Theatre where he was assassinated, April 14, 1865.

--Time travel back to the 18th century at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home just 15 miles south of Washington D.C., where there is always a free family celebration on Presidents Day.  You can see his tomb, his farm, his house and learn about the slaves who lived here.

--Talk to Thomas Jefferson who might be walking the streets of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, where you can join life during Revolutionary times and experience firsthand the struggles of war. Nearby you can visit a Revolutionary War encampment at Yorktown Victory Center, where the climactic battle of the American Revolution ended with the British surrender Oct. 19, 1781.

--Tour Springfield, Ill. where Abraham Lincoln lived and practiced law before he became president and where he is buried. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Lincoln’s home, law offices and Lincoln’s tomb, among other sites.

For more family travel options, check out Taking the Kids Spring Break Ideas.

Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.