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Where to Learn About Great Presidents in Washington, D.C.

Where to Learn About Great Presidents in Washington, D.C. featured image

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If you’re a presidential history buff, you probably already know that Washington, DC is the place to be when it comes to discovering the legacies of our nation’s leaders. But which D.C. attractions are best for learning about your favorite American president? If you’re a fan of one of these popular presidents, here are attractions you can’t miss.

George Washington

Our nation’s first president led the U.S. army to victory during the Revolutionary War, and laid the foundations of the government we know today. His mark on his namesake city is everywhere you look.

Mount Vernon – At Washington’s estate and plantation, you’ll learn about his public legacy and his personal life with Martha.

Capitol Hill – Discover how the president worked with city planner Pierre Bordeau on the layout of our nation’s capital.

Washington Monument – Get a birds-eye view of the city at the top of this 555-foot marble obelisk.

Other locations: Old Town AlexandriaGeorge Washington’s Ferry FarmGeorge Washington Birthplace National Monument

Thomas Jefferson

From drafting the Declaration of Independence to signing the Louisiana Purchase, the third president of the United States most certainly left an impact on the country. Discover his mark on the country – and his love of agriculture – at these sites.

Jefferson Memorial – Majestically located on the Tidal Basin, this 20th century memorial commemorates the founding father with inscriptions of quotes, depictions of rural life and more.

Monticello – Jefferson’s plantation features a neocolonial mansion, farmlands, historic slave quarters and the president’s tomb. It’s located in Virginia.

Plume Restaurant – The fare at this five-star restaurant in the Jefferson Hotel is inspired by the produce growing at Monticello.

Other locations: National Portrait GalleryPoplar ForestTuckahoe Plantation

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln began life humbly, yet as he grew as a lawyer and politician he found himself in the center of the abolitionist debate. His election provoked Southern states to secede, but with the help of an expertly-composed cabinet he led the Union to victory. His impact on the country and personal experiences can be discovered throughout D.C.

Lincoln Memorial – Located at the end of the reflecting pool, this monument commemorates the 16th President. In addition to being the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, it’s on the center of our pennies and five-dollar bills.

Ford’s Theatre – Lincoln was assassinated in this theatre while watching the play My American Cousin. Discover the conspiracy in the building’s downstairs museum.

President Lincoln’s Cottage – While serving as president, Lincoln and his family escaped to this cottage. Many of their artifacts are reserved and on display.

Other locations: National Museum of American History, National Portrait GalleryMadame Tussauds

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Coming into office during the Great Depression, FDR transformed the nation’s economy with New Deal programs that focused on relief, recovery and reform. While Roosevelt was ultimately a man of peace, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor he sent the nation into World War II. Museums and memorials pay tribute to him.

FDR Memorial – Spread out over 7.5 acres, this memorial tells the story of America during FDR’s 12 years in office.

National Postal Museum – With the exhibit Delivering Hope: FDR & the Stamps of the Great Depression, you’ll learn how the president used stamps to communicate and create solidarity.

National Portrait Gallery – See original portraits of FDR – and every other American president – at this Smithsonian museum.

Other locations: Madame TussaudsNational Museum of American History

John F. Kennedy

While his time in office may have been cut short by his tragic assassination, JFK made a big imprint on the American legacy. After winning the nation’s first televised presidential debate, Kennedy signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, staved off nuclear war with the Cuban Missile Crisis and created Peace Corps.

Arlington National Cemetery – After the president’s assassination, his widow Jackie lit the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame, which continues to burn over his gravesite.

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – This modern building on the Potomac River serves as both a memorial for JFK and a center for dance, theater and music.

The Kennedy Garden – Co-designed by the ever-so-tasteful Jackie Kennedy, this White House garden is filled with traditional 18th century ornamental plants and herbs used for White House dinners.

Other locations: Madame Tussauds, National Museum of American History

Find out more fascinating facts about the men above – and other influential presidents – with our infographic, 10 Presidents Who Changed America in Washington, DC