When people are planning a vacation in Southern California they are typically thinking about attractions in LA, Orange County, San Diego. Simi Valley usually flies under the radar, which is a shame. This small town houses one fantastic place that should be on everybody’s travel list – Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. This type of a museum is unique to the U.S. Our family have visited only 2 such museums so far, this one and Abraham Lincoln’s one (a separate post about it to be released soon) and both have been fantastic.
It does not matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or an Independent this museum is a great educational resource for kids and adults alike because it has a diversity of exhibits dedicated to the Office of the President in general, not just this president in particular, history and art. You can certainly learn a lot about Ronald Reagan from his birth till death in the museum, there are several exhibit halls dedicated to his career, but in addition to that you can see:
The Oval Office: it is the exact replica of the office the way Reagan had it, the furnishings, the trinkets, the lot. You see, every president that comes in decorates the Office in his on taste and style and it looks very different from one person to the next.
Collection of unique gifts given to the President by various dignitaries. In this section kids also can play a couple of interactive games: designing flower arrangements or Presidential china for a State banquet.
There is a hall dedicated to Nancy Reagan, mainly her elegant and graceful fashion style. You can see several pieces from her wardrobe and jewelry on display.
There is an exhibition about the fall of the Berlin wall, a piece of which you can see in the garden adjacent to the Museum.
The star of the museum is, of course, Air Force One hall. Which displays Presidential airplane, helicopter, cars and the security entourage. You can actually climb on board of the Air Force One and walk through it from beginning to end to see how it is designed. This specific airplane was the one carrying president Reagan for many years.
The Museum is surrounded by a beautiful garden, a piece of which is a replica of the rose garden at the White House and another piece is a replica of the White House’s South Lawn.
There in the garden is also a memorial to Ronald and Nancy Reagan built on top of their final resting place.
The exhibits described above are all permanent but there is also one big hall dedicated to special changing exhibits, not related to the U.S. Office of the President. When we visited it housed a huge exhibition of Vatican relics and as I am writing this post it houses an exhibition dedicated to Genghis Khan (the photo bellow is from Vatican collection).
The Museum will also start a new tradition this year – Holiday Lights at the Reagan Library. It is planned to be a big Christmas Event with thousands of lights, live entertainment, visits with Santa, etc. The event will be held in the evenings starting November 10, 2108.
The museum itself is located in a beautiful setting with sweeping views of rolling hills and vineyards surrounding Simi Valley. It sits right in between HW 101 and HW 5 with quick access to both so it is very easy to stop by no matter which route you are driving. Note that the Museum has variable ticket prices during the year. The cheapest tickets are for admission between August 20 and October 5.
Here are links to some great books to read with the kids before you go (for various age groups):
All members of our family from the youngest to the oldest enjoyed our visit to Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum and I sincerely hope you will enjoy it too. If you found this family road trip itinerary useful, please do me a little favor and share this information with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them with their travel plans. 🙂