By Allison Ganey
Your next three-day weekend is quickly approaching, with Presidents’ Day just around the corner! Have you planned your weekend getaway yet? If not, have no fear; Fleetwood RV has a few ideas that might pique your interest. Many of these destinations were once homes to our nation’s leaders, plus a few familiar landscapes.
If you have children, this is a great hands-on learning opportunity for them. You can compile trivia facts about our nation’s Presidents that coincide with each destination. And remember: wear a mask and practice social distancing! So, if you’re in the mood for an adventure, here are a few suggested stops from Fleetwood RV for your Presidential Road Trip!
Photo courtesy of Fleetwood RV
First stop: President’s House and the Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
Philadelphia is well-known as the birthplace of American democracy, so it’s only fitting that this is the first stop on your Presidential road trip. Our nation’s first two presidents — George Washington and John Adams — lived and worked in the President’s House! It was demolished in 1832, but a monument has been established in its place, as well as an education center. Admission is free, and as an outdoor exhibit, you can feel safe exploring the grounds and maintaining social distancing.
The Independence National Historical Park hosts several notable sites, including the Liberty Bell Center, Congress Hall, and the Portrait Gallery which houses over 150 portraits of politicians, explorers, and society leaders. If you want to get the kids interested, have them watch National Treasure before your trip — they’ll recognize many of these sites!
If you’re traveling in an RV, your family can stay the night at Philadelphia South KOA, just 20 minutes from downtown Philadelphia.
Next stop: National Mall, Washington, DC
Photo courtesy of Carol M. Highsmith – Library of Congress
Your next stop, Washington, DC, is just a hop and a skip from Philly! The National Mall is full of history, with over 100 unique monuments and memorials honoring some of the most influential people in American history, from presidents to civil rights activists. The Lincoln Memorial honors Abraham Lincoln with inscriptions from the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address. As the 18th president of the United States, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial depicts the respected Civil War Union General on his horse.
The National Mall and surrounding Memorial Parks honor so much more than presidents and make up more than 1,000 acres of parkland. While not all monuments are currently open to the public, the outdoor exhibits will amaze you. You’ll need a few days to take it all in!
RVers can stay at Cherry Hill Park, where they offer hook-up sites and other amenities.
Next stop: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
Hop in your RV and make your way down to Virginia to visit Arlington National Cemetery. This site is an essential piece of American history — a tangible reminder of the sacrifices made for the sake of freedom, and two of our nation’s presidents are buried here: President Taft in 1930 and President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
As an outdoor venue, you can feel safe exploring the grounds, from the Memorial Amphitheater which celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year, to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Standing watch over the Tomb is a 24-hour guard known as The Old Guard, a tradition upheld since 1948. Witness the changing over the guard in an elaborate ceremony every hour, on the hour,
RVers can once again stay in Cherry Hill Park outside of Washington DC.
Next stop: Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, VA
Photo courtesy of MountVernon.org
Home to the United States’ first president, Mount Vernon is an essential stop on your road trip. George Washington’s estate will transport you to another world, resembling the majestic estates of old England. Explore the galleries and gardens, then make your way over to the distillery! You’ll want to reserve your spot in advance online because of new COVID-19 regulations in place, but that’ll save you a few bucks anyway! If you’re interested in planning your day ahead of time, you can even take a virtual tour from the estate’s website.
Mount Vernon is just a short drive from Washington DC and Alexandria, VA, so anyone traveling by RV can stay in Cherry Hill Park another night.
Next stop: Monticello, Charlottesville, VA
Photo credit: iStock/DNY19
From one Founding Father’s home to the next, visit Monticello to see where Thomas Jefferson spent his retirement. What does the day-to-day life of the 3rd president of the United States look like when he’s not writing the Declaration of Independence? You’ll be able to see the table he ate his breakfast at and the gardens he strolled through after dinner. With 43 rooms and 5,000 acres to explore, including Jefferson’s tomb, there’s so much to see.
Plan your visit by watching the video guide to Monticello on their website, and keep in mind they’re operating under winter hours, so they’re closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the end of February. RVers can stay at the Misty Mountain Camp Resort located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Next stop: Montpelier, Orange, VA
Photo credit: iStock/ablokhin
Next on the list of Presidential estates is James Madison’s sprawling plantation mansion. A short drive from both Mount Vernon and Monticello, Montpelier was the 2,700 acre home of our 4th president. Schedule a tour, then enjoy a picnic on the grounds or take a hike on one of the many trails made up of over 8 miles of wilderness!
Montpelier currently has a groundbreaking exhibition on slavery that explores how the legacy of slavery impacts today’s conversations about race, identity, and human rights; This is the only exhibition currently open to the public due to COVID-19, but it’s arguably the most important.
RVers can stay at the Misty Mountain Camp Resort located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Next stop: Roosevelt’s Little White House State Historic Site, Warm Springs, GA
Photo courtesy of Georgia State Parks
The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, initially went to Warm Springs, Georgia, searching for a cure for his polio. Though he didn’t find one, he created a haven in the small town that would inspire many New Deal Programs during his presidency. Visit Roosevelt’s Little White House, and you’ll experience exhibits showcasing everything from his 1938 Ford convertible to the “Unfinished Portrait” he was posing for when he had a fatal brain aneurism. The home has been remarkably preserved so visitors can experience the home precisely as Roosevelt did. Though the pool museum is currently closed for renovations, you can still explore the theater, guest cottages, and original servants’ quarters.
If traveling by RV, you can spend the night at the Pine Mountain RV Resort, which features amenities from a fitness room and steam-showers to an on-site concierge.
Next stop: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Hermitage, TN
Photo courtesy of The Andrew Jackson Foundation
Making your way north, you’ll soon come upon Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. Known as “The People’s President,” Jackson purchased the 425-acre farm in 1805 that would grow to become what it is today. He drastically remodeled the mansion during his presidency in the 1830s, and it later suffered a devasting fire in 1834, having to undergo further rebuilding and remodeling. Even so, The Hermitage is considered one of the most well-preserved Presidential homes with most of the original furniture, wallpaper, and family-possesions.
Visit The Hermitage to enjoy wine tastings, museum exhibits, and to see the sprawling gardens where much of the Jackson family is laid to rest, including Andrew himself and his beloved wife, Rachel.
RVers can stay at Safe Harbor RV Resort. Located on a peninsula with beautiful views of Percy Priest Lake, it’s a premier RV destination in Middle Tennessee.
Next stop: Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail, Hodgenville, KY
Photo courtesy of Kentucky Tourism
Travel to Hodgenville, Kentucky, to see the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln! The 16th President of the United States had humble beginnings, growing up in Kentucky before being forced to leave in 1816. Follow the Kentucky Lincoln Heritage Trail to see recreations of the log cabin Lincoln grew up in, several Civil War battlefields, and the Lincoln Legacy Museum. Located in the Washington County Courthouse, the museum chronicles Lincoln’s life, including the connections he forged in Kentucky.
Those traveling by RV can spend the night at the Elizabethtown Crossroads Campground. The location is ideal for further exploring Lincoln’s birthplace and a variety of attractions, including
Next stop: Harry S. Truman Little White House, Key West, FL
Photo courtesy of Historic Tours of America
If you’re interested in making your way even further south, you have to check out Florida’s only Presidential Museum in Key West! Harry Truman became the 33rd President of the United States after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s sudden death in 1945, having served as vice president for a mere three months prior. Truman spent approximately 175 days of his presidency at the Little White House in Key West, taking eleven trips to the coastal getaway. Learn more about Truman and his presidency by stopping by.
RVers can spend the night in the luxury RV resort, Bluewater Key. You can spend the rest of your trip visiting sites like the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum or golfing a round or two at a nearby golf course.
Final stop: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
You can’t plan a Presidential road trip without visiting Mount Rushmore. As one of the most universally known historical landmarks, Mount Rushmore depicts George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln in the face of the Black Hill mountainside. The masterpiece was designed and executed by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who also sculpted Abraham Lincoln’s bust that sits in the rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
While South Dakota is small in population, it’s big in tourist sites and attractions. In addition to Mount Rushmore, there’s Crazy Horse Memorial, the Black Hills, Badlands, Devil’s Tower National Monument, Custer State Park, Wall Drug, Sioux Falls, and more.
RVers can stay overnight at the American Buffalo Resort in the Black Hills.