For most of us, the American Presidency is a distant concept and not one we're likely to experience firsthand. However, it is an extremely important part of our national identity and as such, it's important that everyone understand the lives behind those who lead in office. The homes of said presidents are often beautiful, wonderful estates that teach about the lives and legacies of these great men and are definitely worth a visit whether you're on a graduation trip or a school field trip.
George Washington - Mount Vernon - Mount Vernon, VA
The first president of the United States, George Washington, was a complex man beneath his white wig and intense demeanor. He owned his grand plantation home on the banks of the Potomac River with his wife Martha, and it is here that both are buried on the land that they loved. Washington actually strove to be a prominent agriculturist in his day and kept extensive documentation of all of his endeavors to innovate his farms. Today, Mount Vernon is a wonderful destination for groups and you're allowed to see all areas of the estate including the various rooms of the mansion, gardens, outbuildings, the livestock, distillery, and the tombs.
Thomas Jefferson - Monticello - Charlottesville, VA
Elegant and familiar, Jefferson's Monticello estate was designed by his own hand, the hand of an architect. Ever the learning soul, Jefferson's many ambitions have translated to his home and are visible through the exhibits on his own inventions and experiments and even in the archaeological digs on the estate grounds. Tour the house room by room, explore the furnishings and fixtures dating back centuries, then go outside and explore the gardens in bloom. Thomas Jefferson was also a known slave owner and you may explore the exhibits and landmarks dedicated to slavery education and memorials for those individuals. There are several different types of guided and self-guided tours, but a few hours at least is recommended to fully experience the estate.
John Adams - Peacefield - Quincy, MA
Located on Adams National Historical Park, which includes the birthplace homes of two presidents, Adams' Peacefield mansion wholly captures the life and legacy of this early president. Over 13 gorgeous acres, you'll find the Adams Mansion, the "summer White House," Adams Carriage House, and Stone Library. It's recommended that you start at the Visitors Center and watch the intro film then hop aboard the free trolley service which will usher you around the park's sites. The birthplaces of both John Adams and John Quincy Adams are here, alongside the piece de resistance, Peacefield. This gorgeous manor house is where the Adams family lived and died and where a great many of their possessions remain. P.S. If you're a book lover, look into the Stone Library where Quincy Adams collected over 14,000 volumes!
Andrew Jackson - Hermitage - Knoxville, TN
In the lovely southern setting of Tennessee landscape you'll find Jackson's Hermitage, a grand Georgian mansion that served not only as home to the president but also as a work space and meeting place for important people. Jackson was a bold kind of man, rising from humble beginnings to success as a General and finally leading a country as the President. The exhibits located in the Hermitage educate and illuminate on Jackson's legacy and life, with galleries like Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm. The house and grounds, and even the tombs where Jackson and his wife are buried, are open for a variety of themed tours. You may choose from the standard guided tour led by costumed interpreters, self-guided tours, ghost tours, and much more!
John Tyler - Sherwood Forest - Charles City, VA
The Sherwood Forest plantation is unique in that it is the only home to have been owned by two unrelated U.S. presidents: first William Henry Harrison under the name Smith's Hundred. After Harrison's death, Tyler purchased the plantation and renamed it Sherwood Forest, a tongue in cheek move based on his "outlaw" reputation in politics. The grounds cover 25 stunning Virginia acres and remains to this day one of the most complete plantation sites left in the country dating back to the late 17th century. Like many old plantations, there are tales of ghosts in Sherwood Forest and guided ghost tours are always a big hit, though you may go the more logical educational route and stick with the standard grounds and house tours, guided or self-guided.
James Buchanan - Wheatland - Lancaster, PA
Set among the trees and lovely green grounds of rural Pennsylvania, you'll encounter the calmingly beautiful brick Federal home of James Buchanan. Built in 1828 by a lawyer, Buchanan purchased the home in 1848 and lived there (excepting the time during his presidency and overseas ambassadorship) until his death in 1868. The house and grounds are now owned by the Historical Society and are open to the public as a significant historical site, not only as the home of a president. In the 17th century and earlier, the area was inhabited by Susquehannocks who were discovered in the area by John Smith. Tours and programs are available for student and adult groups to learn about Buchanan as a family man (though he didn't marry or have children of his own), a president, and a lawyer.
FDR - Springwood - Hyde Park, NY
Springwood, located in lovely Hyde Park, was the birthplace and lifelong home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Federal style farmhouse dates back to 1800 though the home had been expanded in succeeding years, and is today wholly preserved to remember FDR's time at this glorious estate. The house is full of the president's possessions, his work space appearing as he would have left it, and the grounds kept in pristine condition as it might have looked when he was alive. The house and grounds are open for touring as is the tomb where the President and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt found their final resting place.
Extra: Jefferson Davis - White House of the Confederacy - Richmond, VA
Though the Confederate president wasn't technically part of the American presidency, it's still fun to visit and learn about. In Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, you can visit the rogue state's version of the White House which once housed Confederate President Jefferson Davis from 1861 to 1865. The site is operated by the American Civil War Museum and acts as an extension of that wonderful attraction, educating visitors on the Civil War and the actions of the Confederacy.