20 vacation spots frequented by US presidents
From southern ranches and Rocky Mountain ski resorts to Pacific and Atlantic seaside retreats, US presidents have sought out some of the finest destinations and hideaways to escape the hustle and bustle of the White House. Here are 20 vacation spots frequented by US presidents.
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Martha’s Vineyard—an affluent summer destination south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts—has served as an island getaway spot for two presidential families, both Democrats: the Obamas and the Clintons. The first families get their fill of biking, golfing, cruising, and taking in the stunning views of the sea.
Camp David, Maryland
Camp David, tucked away in the Maryland countryside, is the official presidential retreat and has been occupied by 13 presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) first used it. The woodland getaway provides many opportunities for outdoor activities, including tennis, swimming, shooting skeet (President Obama pictured), golfing, jogging, and biking as well as cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowmobiling in the winter.
Yosemite National Park, California
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt, “an avid naturalist and an ardent hunter,” went on a camping trip in the rugged Yosemite wilderness with the famous naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir that later led to the expansion of the park. With today’s Secret Service protection of presidents wherever they go, it’s hard to imagine a time when a sitting president could camp in solitude beneath the stars without the press or bodyguards. Presidents Obama, Taft, FDR, and Kennedy also visited Yosemite.
Key West, Florida
President Harry S. Truman visited the Little White House (pictured) in Key West, Florida, 11 times. The house initially served as command headquarters for the naval station during the Spanish–American War, the First World War, and the Second World War, before becoming Truman’s winter White House, where he enjoyed taking brisk morning walks, playing poker, swimming, and fishing.
Warm Springs, Georgia
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had polio as a child, first visited Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1924 in the hopes of finding a cure for his paralysis. He enjoyed the natural beauty of the area, especially the therapeutic heated springs, so much that he had the Little White House (pictured) built in 1932, which he later used as his presidential retreat that he visited every year except one until his death.
Newport, Rhode Island
President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Onassis were married in 1953 in Newport, Rhode Island, famous for its magnificent mansions, and the first family continued to summer at the affluent seaside resort community at Hammersmith Farm, Jackie’s childhood home. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also had a summer home in Newport.
Hill Country, Texas
President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) maintained a working ranch—including 400 head of cattle—as his getaway destination among the undulating hills and rolling rivers of Hill Country, Texas, where he was born, lived, died, and was buried. The president’s birthplace, the Texas White House, and his grave site now form part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
President Gerald Ford was an avid skier and first went to the upscale mountain resort of Vail, Colorado, while serving in Congress before he went on to become vice president and president. Ford continued to visit Vail with his family every winter and eventually bought a retirement home in nearby Beaver Creek with his wife, Betty. Eisenhower also liked to vacation in the Colorado mountains, but in the summer to go fishing.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
Many presidents and their families have been drawn to the magical allure of Yellowstone, including the Clintons, the Obamas, Jimmy Carter, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, and Ford. Old Faithful, the Yellowstone River, and the Grand Prismatic Spring are just some of the national park’s main attractions.
Santa Barbara, California
Perched atop the Santa Ynez Mountains of Santa Barbara, California, Rancho del Cielo served as President Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy’s getaway home. Overlooking the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley and the Pacific Ocean, the private retreat gave the president and first lady a much-needed break from the hectic demands of public life.
President George W. Bush’s hideaway of choice was his pastoral Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas (about 25 miles west of Waco). During his two terms as president, Bush visited the sprawling southern ranch 77 times, where he enjoyed biking, jogging, fishing, hunting, and even clearing brush.
One of President Barack Obama’s favorite vacation spots is his birthplace of Hawaii. Though the first family has stayed in several different Hawaii homes, the one dubbed the Obama Winter White House was Paradise Point, a luxurious rental fronting 2.5 miles of white-sand beach at Kailua Bay in Oahu, just 25 minutes from Honolulu.
Both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush enjoy spending time at the Bush family summer vacation home in quaint Kennebunkport, Maine. The coastal compound at Walker’s Point has been in the family for over a century, drawing them back both for the natural beauty of the area and the connection with the community.
Palm Beach, Florida
President Donald Trump likes to take a break from the White House at his private club, Mar-a-Lago (pictured), in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump bought his “American castle” in 1985 and has visited the sprawling estate nine times since becoming president. The president enjoys teeing off at his nearby Trump International Golf Club while in Palm Beach.
Key Biscayne, Florida
Florida was also a vacation hot spot for President Nixon. His first vacation home was the Florida White House, an expansive waterfront compound on Key Biscayne that he visited over 50 times as president. Reportedly, Nixon developed his plans for the Watergate scandal while at his Florida retreat, across the Rickenbacker Causeway from Miami.
San Clemente, California
La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, California, was President Richard M. Nixon’s second summer home, dubbed the Western White House. The blufftop, Spanish-style mansion overlooks the vast Pacific Ocean and, after he resigned from the presidency, Nixon took up permanent residence and wrote his memoirs at the elegant beachfront estate.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
After finishing his second term in the White House, President Obama whisked his wife Michelle away on Sir Richard Branson’s private jet to the billionaire’s private Caribbean island, Necker. The secluded luxury holiday destination that can host up to 34 guests and 100 staff members fetches $80,000 a night—but since Branson is an outspoken Obama supporter, it’s unclear whether the former president had to foot the bill.
Jacqueline, wife of President John F. Kennedy, designed the presidential couple’s ranch house retreat near Middleburg, Virginia, with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Unfortunately, the estate, named Wexford by Jackie “after a county in Ireland where the Kennedy clan had roots,” was completed just one month before JFK was assassinated.
Bedminster, New Jersey
When he’s not at the White House or Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, President Trump likes to satisfy his penchant for golf by spending time at his luxury golf club and resort, Trump National, in Bedminster, New Jersey, about 45 minutes from New York City. The club’s amenities include “two 18-hole golf courses, a helipad, and a 25-meter pool with two Jacuzzis.”
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
President Bill Clinton visited the mountain resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, twice to escape the worries of Washington. Clinton partook of much golf to de-stress and the first family went on numerous hikes to take in the incredible views of the Teton Range and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan also vacationed in Jackson Hole.
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