As one of the 13 original colonies and the headquarters for many key Revolutionary and Civil War events, Pennsylvania is the perfect place to delve into our nation’s history — including the legacy of American presidency.
Enhance your journey through American history in Pennsylvania with a stop at one of these presidential places.
The Biden Trail
Follow in the footsteps of Pennsylvania native and sitting President Joseph R. Biden as he grew from a child in Scranton’s Green Ridge neighborhood to the Philadelphia college campuses where he and his wife, Jill — also a Pennsylvania native — watched their children and grandchildren receive degrees. The Biden Trail is the perfect way to spend a weekend learning more about President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and the places and activities that led them to become committed civic leaders and teachers.
Independence Hall National Historic Park
At this Philadelphia landmark, you can tour Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed by the Founding Fathers. Other notable attractions at the park include Congress Hall, where presidents Washington and Adams were inaugurated, and the famously cracked Liberty Bell.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort
Tucked in the Allegheny Mountains of southern Pennsylvania, the Bedford Springs Resort has hosted 10 U.S. presidents, including James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. At the National Historic Landmark, sit in the lobby where President Buchanan received the resort's first transatlantic table, and soak in the restored spring-fed indoor pool to find out why the property’s mineral waters have attracted visitors for more than 200 years.
David Wills House
The home of Gettysburg attorney David Wills was not only where Abraham Lincoln finished writing his monumental Gettysburg address, but also served as a headquarters for the immense cleanup progress after the devastating Battle of Gettysburg, which resulted in the most casualties of the entire Civil War.
Browse six galleries that tell the story of Lincoln and the battle, including two rooms restored to their 1863 splendor. View Wills’ office, where he received letters from families looking for loved ones who died in the battle, and the bedroom where Lincoln resided and penned his famous address.
President James Buchanan’s Wheatland
President James Buchanan’s country home in Lancaster offers a fascinating look at the life and times of the only U.S. president born in Pennsylvania. Buchanan, who served as the 15th president and was succeeded by Lincoln in 1861, is known for his struggles to reunite a nation divided by slavery, states’ rights, and popular sovereignty. Tours at the estate given by costumed guides offer insight into Buchanan’s career as an attorney and politician and family history, including his status as a lifelong bachelor. In-person tours are offered on Mondays - Saturdays from January 16 - November 9, 2024. Visitors should purchase tickets or check-in with pre-purchased tickets in LancasterHistory's museum building.
Eisenhower National Historic Site
The Gettysburg home of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, served as his weekend retreat and a meeting place for world leaders. Discover how the 690-acre farm offered a peaceful backdrop for meetings during the tense Cold War era, and admire the property’s original furnishings and features, including the garage that still houses the presidential limousine, Eisenhower’s prized cattle operation, and skeet range.
Pike County Historical Society and Columns Museum
View the American flag that was placed under Abraham Lincoln’s head after he was fatally shot at Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theater. Thomas Gourlay, a stage manager and actor at the theater, gave the blood-stained flag to his daughter Jeannie Gourlay Struthers, who eventually became a resident of Pike County. Other exhibits at the Columns Museum in Milford include a vintage clothing collection, World War II poster exhibit, and an original 19th century stagecoach.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
On the night of December 25, 1776, General Washington and his army courageously crossed the icy Delaware River and marched on to Trenton, New Jersey to achieve a resounding victory over the Hessians — an event that reignited the fight for freedom during the American Revolution. Learn the significance of the epic crossing at the visitor’s center and pay tribute to fallen Continental soldiers at the memorial cemetery near the Thompson-Neely House.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
General Washington and the Continental Army spent the harsh winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge. Here under Washington’s leadership, the army emerged as a cohesive fighting force. Highlights of the park include the Washington Memorial Chapel, Washington’s Headquarters, and several monuments.
More Places to Discover Presidential History:
Allegheny College in Meadville: Explore the institution attended by William McKinley, our 25th president.
Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park near Mercersburg: Appreciate the beautiful woodlands surrounding James Buchanan’s birthplace.
Lake Winola in Wyoming County: Visit the beautiful area where presidential candidate and former First Lady Hilary Clinton spent her summers.
Washington’s Trail: Follow this driving route through western Pennsylvania to commemorate young George Washington’s first military and diplomatic venture (1753-1754).
For more, check out our listings for history and heritage attractions in PA.