A Presidential Tour Through Northeast Ohio
You may have forgotten some of the history you learned in high school, so to refresh your memory: Eight U.S. presidents hail from the Buckeye State, which makes Northeast Ohio a haven for both history buffs and political junkies.
AM: CIVIL WAR TRIBUTE
Visit Downtown Cleveland’s Public Square to behold the 1894-built Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, a tribute to local residents who fought in the Civil War. Not only does the outer facade feature awesome bronze battle scenes, but there’s also an indoor Memorial Room with more sculptures that honor soldiers who perished due to sickness or bloodshed. Hours vary, so be sure to check in before visiting.
AM: TREASURE TROVE
Everyone knows Cleveland’s hosting the Republican National Convention (RNC), but did you know that the city also hosted the political party 80 years ago? The Cleveland History Center (in the Western Reserve Historical Society in the University Circle area has the scoop: Not only is it displaying the 1936 Cleveland RNC proposal, but they’ve also put together six videos detailing the Republican Party’s history here. Clips provide intel on modern political campaigns and esteemed, Ohio-born U.S. Presidents.
LUNCH: BOWLED OVER
Even heads of state need to let off some steam every once in a while. In fact, the relaxation method chosen by Presidents Truman, Johnson, Nixon, Clinton, and G.W. Bush was bowling! Honor this choice by lunching at Uptown's The Corner Alley and then knocking down some pins.
PM: NOTABLE RESTING PLACE
Besides being a gorgeous place for a stroll, Lake View Cemetery contains the James A. Garfield Monument. The 180-foot-tall memorial to our 20th president features scenes depicting his life’s work, along with his final resting place — the only commander-in-chief casket on public display. Other famous memorials include those of John D. Rockefeller and Eliot Ness.
PM: GARDEN STROLL
Rest your feet by driving through the Cleveland Cultural Gardens near University Circle, which hosts the American Colonial Garden, where you’ll see busts of famous influencers John Hay, Abraham Lincoln, Artemas Ward, and Booker T. Washington.
PM: PRESIDENTIAL ESTATE
You’ll clean up in the James A. Garfield category in trivia after touring Lawnfield, his family’s sprawling estate just down the highway in Mentor. Get intel on his teaching career, life as a soldier, and all-too-short presidency.
DINNER: GOT PIEROGI?
President Clinton loved his home-cooked foods, so it makes total sense that back in the day he dropped by the Tremont standby Sokolowki’s University Inn and scarfed down some Lake Erie perch. However, the city’s oldest family-owned restaurant is better known for its Polish, German, and Hungarian delights, including chicken paprikash, kielbasa, and pierogies.
As Carmen Sandiego taught us, history happens all over the place. So be adventurous. Hop in the car and head to Canton, Ohio — a mere 60 miles south of Downtown Cleveland — for more presidential fun.
AM: MOUNT MCKINLEY
Our 25th President, William McKinley, is the namesake of the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, which has an interactive science center, the president’s official library, gallery, and a planetarium.
AM: WHITE HOUSE LADIES
Behind every good man, there’s a better woman — especially if the man happens to be a president. That’s the takeaway from the National First Ladies’ Library, which aims to champion the accomplishments and impact of these White House women via an impressive research center and tours of the circa-mid-1800s Saxton-McKinley House.
LUNCH: GARDEN ESTATE
Architecture nerds, listen up: Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, a 65-room manor built just before World War I for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. founder F.A. Seiberling and his wife, is a Tudor Revival dream. Tour the hall and lush garden, and then grab a bite of lunch at Molly’s Café, which used to be the hall’s horse stalls.
PM OPTIONAL: THE ROOT OF IT ALL
Medina’s family-owned Root Candles has been lovingly crafting candles since 1869. See how the magic happens by touring their factory and then buying a candle or two in fun fragrances such as Candy Cane, Chocolateness, or Pumpkin Spice.
Day 3 - OPTIONAL
Up for more of Ohio’s presidential sites? Head 90 miles west to Fremont.
AM: THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum honors the life of our 19th president, who advocated for education for all, veterans and their orphans, civil service and prison reform, and the less fortunate. The Hayes Presidential Library — which celebrates its centennial in 2016 — has 12,000 books he personally owned, while a museum and a family estate, Spiegel Grove, give even more insights into the politician's passions. Note: Hours vary.