Key West, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, the Jersey Shore, the Texas country, and Maine – all of these destinations have hosted vacationing Presidents. In the spirit of the current holiday, here’s some information on who went where and what they did to relax.
Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to decide he needed some time off from Washington D.C. His family had a cottage on the Jersey shore, at Long Branch, and they headed up there every summer. Their favorite activities included dancing, driving on the beach, checking out the horse races, and sailing.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Summer White House was Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, on the fashionable north shore of Long Island, New York. While at Sagamore Hill, the president fished, sailed, and hiked. Today, you can actually tour Sagamore Hill, since it’s a National Forest Service park. Teddy Roosevelt is also known for having spent a lot of time out west, ranching. He made it popular for wealthy Easterners to pay western ranchers with names like Curly for the opportunity to ride a horse all day, sleep under the stars, and learn to rope cattle.
Harry S. Truman headed south to Florida’s Key West to get away from the cold winters in the nation’s capital. He spent so much time there, that the house they stayed in at the Key West Naval Station became known as the Little White House. As for recreation, President Truman didn’t do much of that while on vacation – apparently, he was still signing his name to between 200 and 600 official documents a day.
John F. Kennedy famously vacationed with his family in Cape Cod, along the Nantucket Sound. He and his brother bought summer cottages adjacent to the one his father owned, creating what’s known as the Kennedy Compound. It was here that the Kennedy children learned to swim and sail.
Jimmy Carter is a man of the earth. He vacationed on his family’s farm in Plains, Georgia. This town hosts an annual Peanut Festival in September, in honor of its local crop. If you’re ever in Plains for the festival, you can also recharge spiritually by dropping in on a Sunday school lesson, taught by the ex-president himself at the Maranatha Baptist Church.
The quaint seaside town of Kennebunkport, Maine sees the George H. W. Bush family every summer. They stay at the family compound at Walker’s Point, in a large New England shingle style home. Besides the main house, the estate includes a guesthouse, a pool, a boathouse, a dock, a tennis court, and vast lawns.
Idyllic Martha’s Vineyard was Bill Clinton’s summer hideaway from Washington. He was known to fit in a round of golf at Farm Neck Golf Club and was crazy about the mango ice cream at Mad Martha’s. He still visits the island frequently, and its residents continue to welcome him even though he causes traffic problems on their small island.
Although George W. Bush stayed in Kennebunkport a few times a year throughout his presidency, he and Barbara spent most of their down time at Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas. On the ranch, the president relaxed by going fishing or clearing brush.
Finally, I can’t end this post without mentioning our current president and his Hawaiian roots. Will he make it his vacation spot of choice during the next four years? Islanders are hoping so!
If you could make one of these presidentially vetted locales your retreat, which would you choose?