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Discovering Our Presidents through Travel

President Barack Obama  President Ronald Reagan

With President’s Day weekend coming up, and the 2016 campaign for the White House in full swing, it’s a great time to plan a trip to one of the nation’s presidential libraries, especially for history and politics buffs.

Here’s some of what visitors will find at the libraries that recognize our four living ex-presidents.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, in Atlanta, contains a replica of the Oval Office, as well gifts the Carters received during his presidency from 1977-1981. One of the more unusual items on display is a replica of the Crown of St. Stephen, the national symbol of Hungary. The original was transferred to the United States at the end of World War II, to keep it from falling into the hands of the approaching Soviet army, and housed for decades at Fort Knox. In 1977, President Carter decided that the time had come to return the crown to Hungary, which was accomplished in 1978. In 1998, the Hungarian government presented a reproduction to the Carter Library.

This year marks the centennial of the National Park Service, a milestone that’s being celebrated at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located at Texas A&M University in College Station, 90 miles northwest of Houston. The National Parks Photography Project, on display through March 21, includes photos taken at each of America’s national parks. The permanent collection explores Bush’s life and presidency – which spanned 1989 to 1993 – and encompasses much of U.S. history since 1941. Displays include a bomber similar to the ones he flew as a young Navy pilot during World War II, a slab of the Berlin Wall that fell during Bush’s presidency, along with a replica of his Camp David office.

American USA Flag

The art and history of the Coca-Cola bottle is the subject of a display at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum through Feb. 15. “Coca-Cola: An American Original” features a chronology of the iconic object, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2015, as well as works by artists such as Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell. The Clinton Library, in Little Rock Arkansas, reflects the daily workings of the White House, President Clinton’s life before the presidency, his eight years as president (from 1993 to 2001) and his post-presidential work. The permanent display includes one of three 1993 Cadillac Fleetwoods that served as the presidential limousine and a replica of the White House Cabinet Room.

At the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, visitors can see steel taken from the World Trade Center, a Texas Rose Garden and a replica of the Oval Office. That room includes a reproduction of the Resolute desk, a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 and used by nearly every president since then. In addition to learning more about Bush’s presidency that began in 2001 and concluded in 2009, visitors can take in the Decision Points Theater that goes inside the presidential decision-making process during major crises and a 67-foot-tall Freedom Hall that features a 360-degree video wall depicting a montage of the 44 U.S. presidents.

For help planning a trip to these or any of the other presidential libraries across the United States, contact your travel agent.

© Travel Leaders Group