It may not top the list of anyone’s favorite holidays, but that does not mean that Presidents’ Day can’t be a great time for everyone. Begun as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday, Presidents’ Day came to include Abraham Lincoln’s as well, and now it gives the nation a chance to honor and celebrate its leaders. Set for the third Monday in February, this year it will fall on February 17th. One way to make the day a little more special would be to celebrate it in a place rich in history and fun.
It’s hard to walk around Philly without coming across some historical landmark or other, making it a great choice for Presidents’ Day. The city of brotherly love was not only the place where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed, but the first presidents, Washington and Adams, served there while the Capital was being built. There is no shortage of culture and history to make the long weekend a special one.
Visit Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers wrote the documents that undergird the republic today. There’s also the Museum of the American Revolution and the National Constitution Center having special events that weekend. And just outside the city is Valley Forge National Historic Park, where Washington and his troops played a key role in the American Revolution.
Of course, there is the Capital itself. John Adams was the first president to move there, and since then it has grown rich with presidential history, from the burning of the White House under Madison to the landmark speeches of FDR.
There are monuments to Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln and numerous others, and a riveting exhibit on the presidents in the National History Museum. Or visit the White House – an appropriate stop for Presidents’ Day! Of course, the National Portrait Gallery has plenty of famous portraits of past Presidents and First Ladies too.
South Dakota might not be the flashiest destination for a long weekend (especially in winter) but set into the beautiful Black Hills is the magnificent monument to the American presidency. Specifically, to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The pictures are great, but Mt. Rushmore needs to be seen in person. There are fireworks shows, knowledgeable tour guides, and the native beauty of the American wilderness.
The official celebration of President’s Day will take place at Mount Vernon, the home of the first president. The northern Virginia plantation will have a special wreath-laying ceremony, notable speeches and a salute from the Old Guard. Stick around for demonstrations of Revolutionary dress and warfare and listen to the stories told by the talented reenactors.
Disney’s Hall of Presidents
It hardly seems necessary to recommend a Disney park as a vacation spot, but they have one of the most unique presidential exhibits in the world. Both Anaheim and Orlando have the Hall of Presidents, an animatronic show that brings the previous presidents to life, including the current one. There is so much to do at Disney at any time, but don’t miss this quiet little gem, especially not on Presidents’ Day!