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Presidential history buffs, add these places in ‘flyover country’ to your travel plans

Here’s something you may not know: Many people in the Midwest actually like our region being known as “flyover country.” Why? Because it keeps our beautiful parks, regional attractions, and great RV campgrounds readily available for those of us who love to live here.

U.S. Presidents from “flyover country”

Here in “flyover country” we are proud of the folks who called the Midwest “home” and then they each went on to become one of the most powerful and well-known people in the entire nation: the President of the United States.

Presidential history buff road trip in “flyover country”

Depending on your available time and budget, you can visit the birthplaces or hometowns of 11 U.S. presidents throughout the Midwest region aka “flyover country.” Bonus: Many presidential libraries are located within the state of the president’s birth. (Note: The majority of U.S. presidents have established their Presidential Library within their home state. While this has become the custom, it is not mandatory. Each President, along with the advice of the Archivist of the United States, makes this decision.)

Arkansas

President Bill Clinton (christened William Jefferson Blythe III). Visit his birthplace in Hope, Arkansas, and see why it holds a special place in President Clinton’s heart: “In many ways, I know that all I am or ever will be came from here….” President Clinton’s library and museum are in Little Rock.

Illinois

Abraham Lincoln. Although born in Larue County, Kentucky, Lincoln spent his early life in Indiana. (Visit Lincoln’s boyhood memorial in Santa Claus, Indiana.) When Lincoln turned 21, the family moved to Illinois. Plan to tour: Lincoln’s New Salem village, Lincoln’s home, Lincoln’s Presidential Library, and Lincoln’s tomb—all in Springfield, Illinois.

Ulysses S. Grant. (The “S” doesn’t stand for an actual middle name. It’s due to a mistake on his application form to West Point.) Grant’s family moved to Galena, Illinois, in 1860. You can visit Grant’s home in Galena, but to see his Presidential Library, you’ll need to travel to Starkville, Mississippi.

Ronald Reagan. An upstairs apartment (over a bakery and a tavern) in Tampico, Illinois, was the birthplace of Ronald Reagan. You can tour the apartment and then go next door to see Reagan memorabilia. To visit Reagan’s presidential library, you’ll need to travel to Simi Valley, California.

Indiana

Benjamin Harrison. Born in North Bend, Ohio, President Benjamin Harrison was a grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, and a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison, a founding father who signed the United States Declaration of Independence. Visit his Victorian mansion in the Old Northside Historic District of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Iowa

Herbert Hoover. Hoover was born in a two-room cottage in West Branch, Iowa. You can tour the site along with his Presidential Library and Museum. The museum offers a self-guided tour via a free app and the staff is happy to supply younger visitors with a scavenger hunt for the museum.

Kentucky

Abraham Lincoln. Visit the log cabin and tour the beautiful surroundings in Knob Creek Farm. Lincoln lived here with his family while age 2 – 8 years old. This National Historical Park is seven miles from Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Missouri

Harry S. Truman. (As with President Grant, the “S” in Truman’s name is not an abbreviation for a middle name. It was a compromise between his grandfathers’ names: Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.) Born in Lamar, Missouri, Truman’s childhood home was a 1 ½ story clapboard dwelling. You can tour the home in Lamar and then drive to Truman’s Presidential Library in Independence, near Kansas City, Missouri.

Nebraska/Michigan

Gerald Ford. Although born in Omaha, Nebraska, Ford’s boyhood home is no longer standing. Instead, you can tour a Memorial Garden situated on the birthplace site. You’ll have to travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to tour President Ford’s Library and to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to tour Ford’s Presidential Museum.

Ohio

Rutherford B. Hayes. See President Hayes’ Library and Museum in Fremont, Ohio. The Hayes’ 31-room Victorian mansion is also located there. The spectacular home and the grounds around it reflect President Hayes’ love of nature, featuring all kinds of flowering plants. It’s not possible to visit President Hayes’ birthplace in Delaware. The site is now home to a gas station.

James A. Garfield. Visit President Garfield’s birthplace in Moreland Hills, Ohio. A replica of his 1830s log cabin also features historical pieces from that time. You can also tour a later home of this president at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, in Mentor. After Garfield’s death, his widow added a library wing to the home, setting the precedent for future presidential libraries.

Have you visited any presidential museums or libraries? What about any of these in flyover country? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Learn more about presidential libraries here.

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Drew V
17 days ago

Been to Lincoln’s plus the not to be missed Old New Salem reconstruction. Awesome! Couldn’t get enough of Reagan’s even after a full day there – such a great history story. Was just at Truman’s which was recently re-done with lots of impressive audio/visual. He was Prez when we were born but we knew little and learned so much!

Larry Lee
18 days ago

Presidential Libraries are on our bucket list for certain. We almost made it to Truman’s site but on the way there Sept. 2017 from our stay in Branson, MO our diesel engine “dropped a valve” which destroyed the engine. We drove home to Virginia in our Jeep and came back to get the motorhome after repairs which took 5 months! Still haven’t made it to a Presidential Library yet.

KellyR
18 days ago

Visit Eureka College in Eureka Illinois where Ronald Regan went to college and my wife’s grandmother lived and who did Regan’s laundry when he was going to school there.

Christine
19 days ago

I was born and grew up in southern Illinois. I have been to Lincoln’s home and tomb in Springfield, IL several times. They are both very moving.

Greg Bryant
19 days ago

President Truman also lived in Grandview, Missouri as a boy. The Truman farmhouse in Grandview is open for tours.

Billinois
19 days ago

Not mentioned is Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, IL.
https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/16408

Cat
19 days ago

I can recommend the Rutherford B Hayes and Herbert Hoover museums. Both are very well done. Learned way more about these men than my school history textbooks contained! Gerald Ford Library in Grand Rapids was great too!

Steve B
19 days ago

How can you forget President Eisenhower’s home, library and museum in Abilene Kansas?

Glenda Alexander
19 days ago
Reply to  Steve B

And his birthplace in Denison, Texas.

Julie M Koch
19 days ago

We have visited Lyndon Johnson’s in Austin Tx, George W Bush in Dallas Tx, Truman’s in Independence Mo, Clinton’s in Little Rock AR, John F Kennedy in Boston and Herbert Hoover’s in Iowa. This year we will go to Lincoln’s in Illinois and Eisenhower’s in Kansas. All are very interesting and beautiful. Some are showing their age, but it doesn’t take away from the history of the Presidents time in office.
The ones that stand out to us so far are; Clinton’s due to the unique layout of the building, and amazing and reasonably priced food. Herbert Hoover’s is an impressive building in a picturesque park like setting. Johnson’s is eight stories tall at the University of Texas. Kennedy’s is a beautiful setting on The Boston Harbor but the building is a little run down. Right next door is Ted Kennedy’s Learning center which is his legacy to educate students and adults alike about the inner workings of Congress. All are worth visiting.

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