Since the founding of our country, many U.S. presidents have decamped from the White House in summer, ditching the muggy heat of Washington, D.C., in favor of greener pastures. Historically, many presidents established summer White Houses, where they’d live and work all summer long; today, commanders-in-chief tend to come and go on shorter jaunts.
In honor of Presidents’ Day, we’ve rounded up five American destinations beloved by former presidents and their families—we’re hoping they’ll serve as some inspiration for your next vacation, too.
Forty-fourth President of the United States Barack Obama and his family frequently vacationed on Oahu, Hawaii, during his two terms in office. The Obamas typically made the trek over Christmas break, usually staying in the same rented home just south of a Honolulu military base. While in Hawaii, Barack was often photographed by paparazzi while playing golf and walking along the beach. The president’s love of Hawaii dates back to his childhood, which was partially spent in Honolulu.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
The Kennedys are synonymous with the Cape dating back to 1926, when Joseph P. Kennedy (father of 36th president John F. Kennedy) purchased the Hyannis Port seaside home, affectionately known as the Kennedy Compound. The nine Kennedy children spent their summers there, learning to sail and playing touch football. The Kennedy Compound was also where JFK staged his successful 1960 presidential campaign, and later, it became both a family sanctuary and a summer White House for JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy, and their two kids.
If you skied Vail in the ‘70s or ‘80s, there’s a chance you could’ve shared a chairlift with President Gerald Ford and his bevy of Secret Service agents (who were hand-picked based on their athletic prowess on the slopes). Ford, a former college football standout, was a devoted and enthusiastic skier. The 38th president of the United States wasn’t just a tourist in the Rockies—he purchased a home in nearby Beaver Creek and spent a portion of each year there, along with his wife Betty, for the last four decades of his life.
The Bush compound, known as Walker’s Point Estate, sits along coastal Maine near the quaint town of Kennebunkport. It’s been in the Bush family for more than a century. Forty-first president George H.W. Bush spent much of his childhood at the estate and turned it into a summer White House after he was elected in 1988. His son, and forty-third president, George W. Bush still visits the home several times a year.
Santa Barbara, California
President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy retreated to their adobe ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains outside Santa Barbara, California, any chance they could. Surrounded by gentle peaks and set just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, Rancho del Cielo hosted family as well as visiting dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II and Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan, who loved to ride horses and chop wood, was so enamored with rural ranch life that he once remarked if the ranch wasn’t heaven itself, it “probably has the same ZIP code.”