The Museum of American Presidents
The Museum of American Presidents is a great destination when you are looking for an adventure driving up the Shenandoah Valley. From Verona, we chose to travel north on Route 11 instead of Interstate 81-this allowed us to skip the high speeds and tractor trailer trucks and enjoy passing through the small towns full of character and charm. Even better are the well-kept barns that signify the pride the farmers feel for their homes.
There are many places along the way to let your kids stretch. The New Market Battlefield Visitors Center is great if there is interest in the Civil War. If you want to see an incredible view of the Shenandoah River, check out the Woodstock Tower (also known as Seven Bends). You might lose an hour or more but my kids loved climbing up this tower and the view was spectacular.
The Museum of American Presidents is easy to find. Parking is free and right out front. Admission for one adult and three children cost a total of $9.00 ($8 with AAA). For its size, the museum houses an incredible amount of presidential memorabilia. What excited my 8, 10, and 11-year-olds the most was the one-room schoolhouse. This was completely hands-on, and there were lots of things they wanted their hands to be on. There were period costumes for girls and boys that made my gang happy because they were child-sized and actually fit. There was a pot-bellied stove. There was a blackboard and chalk. Best of all, there were the "Discovery Boxes." I counted 29 different boxes. Each box was cleverly organized with a theme, including: Mind Your Manners, Life on Plymouth Plantation, Indian Map Game, Presidents Game, Money, ABCs, Life in Colonial America, The World at War, and The Time Line Game. It made me wish my home learning centers were as well organized. It definitely inspired me and children had a great time.
When my kids were ready to move on from the schoolhouse, they enjoyed the rest of the museum. They learned lots of new information as they focused on the exhibits. Since I was ready to move on before they were, I roamed the rest of the museum and was able to enjoy the exhibits on a different level. I liked the way the museum was designed allowing me to hear my kids in the schoolroom while I walked through other exhibits.
After The American Presidents Museum, we visited The Stonewall Jackson Museum at Hupp's Hill (you can purchase "combo" tickets and save on admission fees). The Stonewall Jackson Museum was nearby and once again, the Children's Area excited my kids. Here we found even more child-sized costumes, this time Union and Confederate uniforms. There were wooden horses with authentic cavalry saddles, which they were allowed to "ride." Once again, we found the Discovery Boxes, though here, of course, the themes were different. These themes included: Victoria Wears a Corset, Home Textile Production, Jackson's Valley Campaign, Dyeing To Sew, Minorities in the Civil War, Pack a Haversack for a Month's Campaign, and Shortages and Substitutes. Credit for the Discovery Boxes goes to Babs Melton (Director) who said she got the idea from the Smithsonian.
When you purchase a combo ticket, there are other attractions in the area you might consider-the Jeane Dixon Museum and Library as well as Crystal Caverns. The hours for The Museum of American Presidents are Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Other times can be arranged by appointment.
Stonewall Jackson Museum: One mile south of I-81 (exit 298) on U.S. Route 11.
Woodstock Tower/Seven Bends:
Copyright 2003-Mary Alissa Wilson-All Rights Reserved