Presidential Museums – Visiting the President Carter Museum in Atlanta

This is another in an ongoing series of travelogue articles about presidential historic sites, homes, and museums. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is located just east of downtown Atlanta, not far from the city’s many attractions. Let’s take a closer look…

Visiting Atlanta

Atlanta, one of the deep south’s most enduring cities, is a popular destination for business and leisure travelers alike. Vibrant and energetic, Atlanta boasts several appealing neighborhoods for visitors, along with ample nightlife, family attractions, and outstanding restaurants.

We recommend you rent a car, but it is possible to navigate Atlanta via the MARTA transportation system, an above ground metrorail. Stops are located conveniently to most attractions, and if you’re staying downtown, it is a viable option.

Although the downtown area is reasonably compact, you will need a car to explore many of the neighborhoods. Spring, fall, and even winter are great times to visit. Summer is usually hot and humid, but bearable for the most part.

When visiting downtown Atlanta, you will want to tour the visitors centers of both the giant soft drink manufacturer Coke and the CNN media headquarters. Both are fascinating tours, and at CNN you can see live shows being filmed and even participate as an audience member.

Nearby is a below ground shopping area called Underground Atlanta, a several square block area of shops and market stalls directly below the busy streets above.

Atlanta’s Neighborhoods

Two neighborhoods in particular are well worth a visit for dining and shopping opportunities. The Virginia-Highland area, named after its two main streets, is a stretch of stores, restaurants, and nightlife options. It is ideal for a stroll, window shopping, or bar hopping.

Just north of the city is the upscale Buckhead area, sort of a miniature version of Rodeo Drive. Here you’ll find fine dining, trendy nightlife clubs, and shopping for the latest fashions. Either neighborhood is the perfect destination for an afternoon or evening.

Visiting the Carter Library And Museum

A few miles east of downtown is the President Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. The former president still has his offices here. The site is partially owned and administered by the federal government and also by private interests.

The museum is open for tours daily and was remodeled in 2009. There are numerous rotating exhibits, depicting not only crucial events in American history but also specific to the presidency. Carter’s career and presidency are chronicled, along with his family life and many contributions after he left office.

At the museum, you can view a life size replica of the Oval Office, and learn about Carter’s unlikely ascent to the presidency as a relatively unknown governor from Georgia. His years in office are spotlighted, with numerous multi media presentations and a display of memorabilia from his presidency.

Summary

A visit to Atlanta and the Carter Museum is perfect for travelers of any age and interest level. Family activities abound in Atlanta, and there are several great neighborhoods to explore. You can also learn about President Carter’s life and presidency and the impact he had on American history.

US Presidents Sites – Visiting the William McKinley Presidential Museum in Canton, Ohio

The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum is unlike any other presidential museum. Originally intended solely as the final resting place for our 25th president, it has effectively reinvented itself as a museum campus of sorts. The site appeals to not only those interested in McKinley and presidential history, but students of other scientific disciplines as well.

Located not far from Interstate 77 in Canton, Ohio, the towering memorial can be seen for miles. McKinley was tragically assassinated in September, 1901 and was laid to rest in a temporary tomb until a suitable memorial could be planned and built. Six years later, the McKinley Memorial was dedicated, and it is where the president and his family are entombed.

Today, fitness enthusiasts walk or jog the 108 steps leading to the entrance of the memorial, and it is a popular gathering place for school groups, continuing education classes, and visitors. On site, the visitor will find an active planetarium, exhibit space dedicated to McKinley memorabilia, and rotating exhibits focused on various aspects of American history.

One of the more popular attractions is the Street of Shops, a museum like exhibit of shops circa 1900. Various artifacts from that time period are displayed, like early model fire engines and machinery used in that era. There is also a museum shop on site which carries a wide variety of items appealing to all interest levels.

The site is open daily and there is a nominal admission charge. Visitors should allow about an hour to see all the various exhibits, which rotate frequently and often feature items from the Smithsonian and other presidential museums.

While McKinley and his family once owned a home in Canton and planned to return here after his second term as president, the home was not preserved and no longer exists. The home of his wife, also located in Canton, is now the First Ladies Library, dedicated to America’s first ladies. The building is where the McKinley family lived when the future president and his wife were first married.

Canton is also known for several popular local restaurants in the nearby downtown area, any of which make a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The city is probably best known for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located a short five minute drive from the McKinley memorial museum.

If you are traveling to or from Cleveland, we highly recommend a stop in Canton. For sports fans, the Football Hall of Fame is a must see, while anyone with even a passing interest in history will enjoy a visit to the McKinley museum campus.

US Presidents Sites – Visiting the Abraham Lincoln Sites in Springfield Illinois

This is another in a series of travelogue articles about historical sites dedicated to American presidents. Join us as we visit Springfield, Illinois to visit the sites of arguably America’s most well known and popular president, Abraham Lincoln…

An Overview Of Springfield’s Lincoln Sites

Located in central Illinois along Interstate 55, Springfield is the home of three distinct sites relating to America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Anyone traveling on I-55 to Chicago or St. Louis should take a half day at minimum to explore the life and presidency of Lincoln and learn about his influence that is still felt today.

The three sites are located fairly close to one another in the general area of downtown Springfield. They are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and Lincoln’s Tomb. Even if you only have a couple of hours to spend, you can easily see all three sites. Let’s take a closer look at each.

The Museum And Library

Open for just a few years, the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library is a fascinating portrayal of the presidents life, political career, and ongoing legacy. Here you will find the most comprehensive collection of Lincoln artifacts and memorabilia anywhere. There is an introductory multi media presentation which provides a general overview, and numerous permanent and temporary galleries depicting life during the Civil War and the many challenges during his administration.

The Museum also explores the presidency in general. Many exhibits are rotated from other presidential libraries, so expect to see something different each time you visit.

The Lincoln Home

About eight blocks from the museum is the small two story house where the family lived immediately before Lincoln assumed the presidency in 1861. It is administered by the National Park Service and guided tours are given throughout the day. The home has been restored to its original appearance and quite a few of the furnishings are original.

The tours are free, but you must obtain an admission ticket at the adjacent visitors center. Tours of the immediate historic neighborhood are also available, where you can literally trace the footsteps of Lincoln when he lived here.

Final Resting Place

After the longest funeral procession in American history, before or since, the president was laid to rest in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. The cemetery is about a mile from downtown, and you will see the 117 foot tall granite monument as you enter. The president is interred here along with many of his family members.

Visitors from around the world continually visit all three sites. While in Springfield, you should also visit the downtown shopping district with many unique, independent shops. Other sites worthy of a visit are also downtown, including Lincoln’s law office, the former Illinois capitol building, and the current capitol.

A great place for lunch is the popular Boone’s Uptown Grill, just a block from the current state capitol building. Try the famous horseshoe sandwich, a hearty concoction of toast points, ham, turkey, cheese, and french fries. It’s a Springfield original!

Summary

A visit to Springfield, Illinois to see the Lincoln sites is an ideal trip for those interested in presidential and American history. The three main sites are within a mile or so of one another and can be easily visited in a half day. While you’re there, be sure to enjoy the shopping in downtown Springfield and lunch or dinner at one of the convenient independent restaurants.