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Places in DC to learn about Presidential History

Updated: January 22, 2023

There is a lot of presidential history in Washington, DC. Every president since John Adams, our second president has lived here!

So if you're coming to the nation's capital looking to learn more about one of our past presidents, here are some great ways to do that.

1. Lincoln Assassination Tour & Ford’s Theater

You’ve heard the story or at least the highlights. You can visit the site of Lincoln's Assassination, Ford's Theatre during the day as a historic site or in the evening for a play.

Take a tour to learn so much more about the last day of Abraham Lincoln’s life.

2. Woodrow Wilson House & National Cathedral

A beautiful, well-maintained slice of history, the Woodrow Wilson House is a hidden treasure of Washington D.C.

Not so hidden is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, better known as the National Cathedral, a familiar part of the city skyline and where Wilson is laid to rest.

3. National Portrait Gallery Presidential Collection

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Portrait Gallery lets you glimpse the nation’s elected leaders from its beginning.

Through these images, you can also see changing times, fashions, and even changing ways in which we view ourselves.

This is one of our favorite museums, you can read more about it here.

4. Lincoln’s Cottage

A summer home of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Lincoln, this was a place where they could get away from the heat and the pressure of the city center.

It’s also where President Lincoln wrote an early draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

5. White House Visitor Center

See artifacts from the White House Collection, enjoy a 14-minute film, and get that perfect White House gift in the shop.

Read more about the White House Visitor Center here.

6. Presidential Memorials

There are several iconic presidential memorials that are easy to find right on or near the National Mall.

If you want to find Theodore Roosevelt’s however, you’ll need to embrace his “strenuous life” and take a walk around Theodore Roosevelt Island, a bit of nature kept close to the city.

We go into detail about presidential memorials here.

7. Arlington National Cemetery

This cemetery is the final resting place for many of the United States citizens who were called to serve. It is a place to honor and contemplate the sacrifices made for the nation, with two Presidents buried on its grounds.

For more about Arlington National Cemetery, you can read our guide to visiting, self-guided tour, and history.

8. Mount Vernon

The family home of George Washington, this preserved and restored slice of early American history is a wonderful glimpse into the life and times of our first president. Thanks to amazing work done in recent years, the site explores some of the deep scars of our nation, as well.

Read more about Mount Vernon and how to get tickets on our post.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Follow On Instagram | Canden is a historian & tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of the podcast, Tour Guide Tell All. She is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city since 2011. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has traveled to over 28 countries and every US State but Hawaii. She homeschools her 2 children by exploring the plethora of museums in DC.
Updated: January 22nd, 2023
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