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Presidential Experiences

Inauguration 2013 welcomed President Obama to the White House for a second term, but Washington, DC has a storied history of presidential places beyond the present. These five suggestions will help you walk in the steps of the U.S. presidents.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery


Explore the portraits of all 43 U.S. presidents in this permanent exhibition.

View “America’s Presidents” at the National Portrait Gallery. This Smithsonian museum is the only other place outside of the White House that is home to official portraits of all the U.S. presidents. The museum, located in bustling Penn Quarter, houses portrayals of all 43 U.S. presidents, including Gilbert Stuart’s “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington, the famous “cracked plate” photograph of Abraham Lincoln and sculptures of Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush by noted caricaturist Pat Oliphant. President Obama’s famous “Hope” portrait, designed by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey, also resides in this permanent exhibition.


Dine like Thomas Jefferson at this highly rated restaurant.

Voted Washington, DC’s best fine dining restaurant by Zagat, Plume Restaurant features a menu inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen gardens at Monticello. Dishes reflect the harvest from the third president’s estate in Charlottesville, VA, while the restaurant’s more than 1,300 wine labels represent more than a dozen countries and years, including more than 50 wines Jefferson himself enjoyed. The high-end boutique hotel also has a private dining room. Guests who dine here will receive their vino from the wine cellar via a dumbwaiter, an invention of Jefferson’s that can also be seen at Monticello.


The D.C. outpost of this famous British museum features patriotic wax figures.

From George Washington to Barack Obama, The Presidents Gallery by Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C. gives visitors the photo opportunity of a lifetime. Pose for pictures with the U.S. presidents, as well as try out the Commander in Chief’s seat in a replica of the Oval Office. The family friendly presidential exhibit includes fun facts about each president and an intriguing way to bring history to life for your little ones.

The lesser known of Lincoln's official presidential residences is open to visitors following a $10-million renovation.


Discover where the Great Emancipator spent much of his time during his presidency.

Though just three miles from the White House, in Lincoln’s time his cottage was considered a retreat. Restored and now open for tours, President Lincoln’s Cottage served as the 16th president’s home away from home and often his office during his administration. Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation here and spent much of the Civil War here. Self-guided public tours are available as well as an in-depth tour exploring Lincoln’s role in emancipation.

Located conveniently in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, Topaz Hotel offers in-room spa service and is also a great venue for a corporate meeting or social event.


Rest your head where President McKinley once did…without an invite to the White House.

Stop in for a drink at the Topaz Bar at the boutique Topaz Hotel, otherwise known as the “Little White House.” The converted building once served as Teddy Roosevelt’s house during his tenure as President William McKinley’s vice president and for a short time before he officially moved into the White House, giving it its apt nickname. When you belly up to the bar, ask the bartender for a Gin Rickey, which was invented right here in Washington, DC.