Often when people think of the 37th President of the United States of America, they think of the way his second presidency ended.
For those who don’t recall it started with a simple burglary attempt in a Washington D.C. building complex called Watergate. What ensued was a growing scandal that eventually led to the president’s resignation to avoid impeachment. To this day many Americans still think ill of him.
But his presidency was so much more than that!
Nixon managed to overcome many challenges on the domestic and international fronts. In fact, his list of accomplishments supersedes his failures. Nowadays, the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum strives to highlight the president’s work while explaining the unfortunate chain of events that brought down his presidency. In today’s evolving political landscape we believe it is important for all families to visit the library and discuss the era with their kids.
What you will see
Located in the sleepy town of Yorba Linda California, the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum houses many historical artifacts. As fans of presidential libraries, the Nixon library had been on our bucket list for a while. The opportunity presented itself last month when we were visiting the Buena Park area. The drive was less than twenty minutes.
Unlike some other libraries that are semi-secluded, this one feels like an integral part of the city. In fact, the venue which underwent a major renovation last year is right in the center of town across from local homes and businesses.
Right off the entrance visitors are invited to watch a 15-minute movie about Nixon. The film ( a must see!) does an excellent job of depicting the era’s events in a matter of fact unbiased manner.
The museum is divided into multiple galleries that trace Nixon’s life from early childhood to his death. There are numerous photographs, documents, and recordings that help educate visitors about the former president’s life. There is even a mini-exhibit dedicated to his wife Pat and her flower gardens.
Also, Visitors can take a guided tour of the president’s childhood home located on the grounds as well as well as step inside the official presidential helicopter.
Though every presidential library features a replica of the Oval Office, this one decorated in blue and gold tones turned out to be our favorite.
The main difference was that here visitors could not only gawk at the decor but walk into the office, and even sit in POTUS’ chair!
Our son spent twenty minutes walking around looking at the paintings, statues and even playing with the old-fashioned phone. The docent took her time explaining the presidential seal to us and how the Eagle was changed to point towards the olive branch after WWII. Fellow visitors were taking selfies at the Wilson desk.
Communism and Cold War was another fascinating section that discussed the SALT agreement with Russia.Among the many artifacts, we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall and a replica of a Russian missile.
The library’s outdoor areas are noteworthy and shouldn’t be skipped.
After passing a stunning reflection pool, travelers can walk around a mini rose garden and visit the president’s and first lady’s gravesites.
Those interested in the Nixon family home can get a short docent tour. The home is quite humble and reminds people of his modest beginnings. The displays include the parents’ bed, dining room table and old fashioned kitchen.Our son loved the docent’s descriptions of how the president grew up poor and became a successful lawyer before running for office.
Saving the best for last, families can climb aboard Army One.
The Sikorsky military helicopter on display is the one that served four Presidents including Nixon. The aircraft though not as comfortable as an airplane could carry sixteen people on board in its hay day.
Hours and tickets
The library is open Monday through Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM. The helicopter exhibit closes early due to lighting. Please take note that the Nixon Library is closed on holidays such as New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Library has a small cafeteria that sells snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.Before leaving, guests should make sure that they visit the Museum shop. Here visitors can purchase many different souvenirs like t-shirts, bumper stickers, or even toys for the kids. There is something for every age at the museum shop. Our son fell in love with a pair of socks that had the Republican elephant on them.
Before you go
The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum offers many free educational resources for students and teachers on their website.Children can listen to speeches and learn quick facts about Nixon’s life. Parents who homeschool can take advantage of different lesson plans that teach children about Nixon.
Autism Travel Tips
The Nixon Presidential Library is wheelchair accessible.
There are four wheelchairs on hand for visitors to use on a first come first come basis. Guests can also bring their own. The facility does not have any lifts or employees that can help transfer guests though.
Due to weather, some of the outside exhibits such as Nixon’s birthplace and Army One helicopter may not be open. Visitors who wish to see the outdoor exhibits should check the weather conditions before arrival to avoid disappointments.
Throughout the Nixon Library and Museum, there are many different locations of restroom facilities. There are baby changing stations for guests with small children. Although, there are no changing areas for older children or adults.
There are multiple interactive displays for kids to touch and enjoy both in the indoor and outdoor areas.
The Nixon Library is large and entails quite a bit of walking on different terrains so comfortable shoes are recommended.
Have you taken your kids to a Presidential Library or Museum?
If so share your recommendations and tips with us.