There are 13 Presidential Libraries across the United States. The first Presidential Library was donated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after he used private funds to create a library. In 1955, Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act to establish privately funded and federally maintained libraries in a president’s home state. For those living in Southern California, there are two such libraries. One being the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.
Richard Nixon. The name, the person, the legacy – it is all very controversial. Despite the controversy, Richard Nixon is California born. He penned the name Western White House with a sprawling property in San Clemente that was the Presidential headquarters for his term. If you are living in Southern California, you are minutes away from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda.
Yorba Linda is where Mr. Nixon got his start in life – quite literally. In fact, on the property of the museum is his childhood home. You can go through his life – walk from the room he was born in, yards away stand in a reproduction of the Oval Office and see a piece of the Berlin Wall.
How to get there
Yorba Linda is about an hour north of the northside of Camp Pendleton along the I-5. Once off the 5, there are signs leading you to its location. You will drive into what feels like a small town – you are on the right track. The beautiful tree-lined lanes are lush and reminiscent of the California of the past.
Parking is plentiful in front of and on the sides of the museum. We went on a weekend and there was still plenty of parking. It is free to park.
Monday – Saturday: 10a – 5 pm
Sunday: 11 a – 5 pm
Active Duty Service Members are free
Children under 4 are free
Children 5-11: $6.00
Youth/High school and college students with ID: $10
Retired Military: $10
There are coupons for $1 off admission at California Welcome Centers, and both the Carlsbad and San Clemente Outlets when the MilMoms went recently.
What to see:
The Library and Museum is more than a building. There are gardens, grounds where the Nixon childhood home is and a Marine One helicopter you can walk through in addition to the library and museum buildings. Within the museum itself there is a theatre, and the entrance to a series of exhibits. Kiddos will enjoy running through these areas, but there is a plethora of information and historical facts to read. Along the way there are interactive areas that all ages will enjoy – the Oval Office where you can get a picture behind the desk and the “dollhouse” (aka – miniature of Nixon’s childhood home). There are places within the museum that will not hold a toddler or school age child’s attention, but there are many places that will. Take a stroll with them, read some facts, chase after them when you need to. And then run into the garden where loud noises are welcome. If you have older children, this is an impactful place outlining history and the people behind this dramatic political period. While I wrangled the kids, my husband managed to catch most of a long hallway exhibiting the Watergate scandal, the events that led up to it, and the aftermath in detail. He recommended it.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit. It is informative on the factual history over the lifetime of Nixon’s life – including his military service, how he played the piano, and all the places President and Mrs. Nixon traveled during her time as the First Lady. While a toddler may not totally understand the meaning of each exhibit, I guarantee they are watching you and going to a museum is a learning experience.
Will you head up to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum? Have you been? Let us know!