A fascinating history of U.S. presidential vacation spots—collected for the first time in one guide that covers everything from Mount Vernon to Kennebunkport to Camp David.
Where do you go to relax when you’re the leader of the free world?
Even the president needs to get away from it all sometimes. From George Washington to Barack Obama, each of our presidents has sought solace from the tightly structured daily routines of the White House. As Ronald Reagan once said of his California ranch, “I do some of my best thinking there.” Peter Hannaford takes readers on a fascinating armchair vacation with each of our leaders, offering unique historical context for the why and the where of their chosen retreats.
Which president asked visiting foreign dignitaries to send him seeds to plant at his family home? Who called his vacation property “Sherwood Forest” because it was “a good place for an outlaw”? Which adventure-loving Commander-in- Chief set up a Summer White House in New York every year? Who liked to cruise aboard the presidential yacht when faced with momentous wartime decisions? Who polled the American people to help him decide where to vacation?
Presidential Retreats explores a side of the American presidency that we don’t often see—the downtime—as it offers an intriguing glimpse at the evolution of leisure time in this country.
There's much more to learn about presidential retreats than the location of Camp David, as Hannaford shows in his book on the places where the chief executives recharge and rest. Hanaford, president of the PR firm Hannaford Enterprises and senior communications adviser to President Reagan, explains the need to get away from the unending pressures of the White House and spending quality time with family, away from prying eyes. The tour includes George Washington's scenic Mt. Vernon estate, John Adams's quiet Peacefield in Massachusetts, and Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest plantation, where he found respite from "the hubbub of Monticello." Whereas Andrew Jackson fled to his island refuge, Rip Raps, at Hampton Roads Harbor, Va., Abe Lincoln found solace at his Soldiers' Home retreat just outside Washington, D.C. Franklin D. Roosevelt vacationed at his family estates at Hyde Park, N.Y., and Warm Springs, Ga., to clear his head. Other restful spots for presidents include JFK's stately Hyannis Port, Mass.; LBJ's raucous Texas ranch; and Richard Nixon's Key Biscayne, Fla., and San Clemente, Calif., retreats.. Hannaford brings everything up to date, including current tour schedules, with a pleasing format and anecdotes catering to Americans' taste for history and tradition. 8 pages of photos, 1 map.