Vacation Like a President: 6 Holiday Destinations Visited by U.S. Presidents

This President’s Day, vacation like a president as we take a journey through history and luxury by uncovering six vacation destinations of past U.S. presidents. From the majestic views of the Grand Canyon and the quaint charm of the Sheridan Inn in Wyoming to the opulent Broadmoor in Colorado to the iconic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, these vacation spots offer a wealth of cultural significance and fascinating tales of presidential visits from the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Bill Clinton and more.

1. El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.

Photo courtesy Grand Canyon Lodges

Widely considered the crown jewel of the Historic National Park Lodges, El Tovar is located directly on the Grand Canyon’s Rim. The hotel first opened its doors in 1905 and was designed by Charles Whittlesey, who was the Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. He envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa to appeal to the tastes of the elite from that era, who at the time, considered European culture the epitome of refinement. The hotel, which is made from local limestone and Oregon pine, cost $250,000 to build and was widely considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. In 1987, the hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The hotel has hosted multiple presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton, along with luminaries such as Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey and countless others. 

2. The Sheridan Inn, Sheridan, Wyo.

Photo courtesy The Sheridan Inn

Constructed in 1892 as part of a railway extension program, The Sheridan Inn was designed by Omaha architect Thomas R. Kimball, who drew inspiration from Scottish hotels and included the iconic wraparound porch and dormer windows in his design. The Inn was constructed in a short six months, and upon completion, was the first building in the area furnished with electrical power and bathtubs, giving adventurous travelers a taste of Eastern luxury in the West. The Sheridan Inn was considered the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco.

Buffalo Bill Cody frequented the Sheridan Inn as part owner and soon turned the Sheridan Inn into the headquarters for his Wild West Show, from which he auditioned new members from the iconic front porch of the Inn. Local Sheridan cowboys and cowgirls were recruited, including George Gardner and Tode Bard, to join the show and travel to Europe with Buffalo Bill.

With a massive ballroom and a dining room table large enough to seat 165 people, the Sheridan Inn was the social hub for the area, hosting grand dances and dinners. The 64 hotel rooms hosted new residents of Sheridan who stayed at the Inn while their houses were being built, as well as ranchers who would spend their weekends at the Inn. Early prices at the Sheridan Inn were one dollar per night and fifty cents for lunch or dinner. Over the years, The Sheridan Inn drew notable guests from far and wide, such as Ernest Hemingway, President Hoover, Will Rogers and Bob Hope.

Today, guests can choose from one of the Inn’s 22 rooms, which have been uniquely designed and named after important figures in Buffalo Bill’s life. The Room Menu features options such as the “Sitting Bull Room” or “Annie Oakley Room.” The times and individual stories of historical people are presented through each room’s overall finish and furnishings, along with artifacts and exhibits.

3. The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Photo courtesy of The Broadmoor

From the Obamas to the Roosevelts, The Broadmoor has had its share of presidential stays in this uniquely Western resort, which spans 5,000 acres and is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains. The Broadmoor has hosted most of the U.S. presidents in its 106-year history, including Dwight Eisenhower, who would visit the resort regularly to play golf and learn from pro-Ed Dudley. The Broadmoor is also the location where George W. Bush gave up drinking after a big 40th birthday celebration at the resort’s The Golden Bee gastropub. Today, you can roam the hallway between Broadmoor West and the West Tower to see The Broadmoor’s photo gallery, which includes framed portraits of distinguished guests who have stayed at the resort over the decades, including U.S. presidents, Prince Harry and Bob Hope. 

4. The Oasis at Death Valley, Calif.

Originally called Furnace Creek, The Oasis at Death Valley is a true American oasis where 80,000 gallons of ancient water rise to the surface every day. The oasis was known by the Native Americans, prospectors, settlers and 49ers of the land. Eventually, the land was purchased by the Pacific Borax Company, which mined and hauled borax out of the valley with the famed Borax 20 Mule Teams of the 1880s. Their operations were based at Furnace Creek.  

The Pacific Borax Company later built a resort on the land in the late 1920s, which would become the getaway winter spot for Hollywood celebrities such as Clark Gable and Ronald Reagan. It is also where George Lucas filmed scenes from the original Star Wars movies due the area’s stunning natural beauty in daylight. 

Over the years, the Ranch was expanded and amenities and facilities were added for the enjoyment of travelers and vacationers, including casual lodging, restaurants, a general store, a golf course, tennis courts, a gas station, RV parking and a saloon. The destination also went on to get an official U.S. Post Office (92328).  

5. Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

Historical image of Old Faithful Inn,1904

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. The hotel itself was originally constructed upon the grounds of the former Upper Geyser Basin Hotel, which had collapsed during the 1890s. Its initial owner had been Jay Cooke, a prominent railroad tycoon who had long entertained the idea of preserving the area that now constitutes Yellowstone National Park. Cooke’s team at the Northern Pacific Railroad subsequently debuted the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel in 1883 and was thus obligated to construct a replacement when the former was destroyed a decade later. 

After opening in 1904, the newly-created “Old Faithful Inn” immediately became one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions. The hotel hosted many influential people over the following decades, including U.S. President Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Two former presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had also camped at the site long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. Additionally, First Lady Laura Bush stayed at this iconic inn in 2002. 

6. Town of Cody & Yellowstone National Park

Many presidents have been spotted in Wyoming’s northwestern region known as Cody Yellowstone, which includes the town of Cody, as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park. To start, Chester A. Arthur visited Yellowstone National Park in 1883 with a large entourage for an authentic Western experience. During his visit, Arthur kept in touch with the outside world while engaging in presidential business. He had one daily mail courier on horseback who delivered and received Arthur’s messages. President Calvin Coolidge also visited Cody on July 4, 1927, for the opening of the Buffalo Bill Museum, the first of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

President Theodore Roosevelt and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Major John Pitcher in front of the park’s Liberty Cap.

Theodore Roosevelt was also a big fan of the state. He made several trips to Cody Yellowstone during his presidential tenure and returned to Wyoming to vacation after he left Washington. In 1903, he made his final visit to the area for a two-week vacation where he visited the Norris Geyser Basin and spent two nights at the Norris Hotel. During that trip, he laid the cornerstone for the park’s Roosevelt Arch. Although the arch is in the state of Montana at the northern entrance to Yellowstone, Wyoming celebrates the grand structure too, as most of the park is in Wyoming.

Years later, Theodore’s fifth cousin Franklin took office and also left his mark on Yellowstone Country. When he visited the park, he avoided the park hotels and instead stayed with the lodge manager in his single-floor park home, which could better accommodate Franklin’s wheelchair and offer privacy from the public eye. 

Some other notable names that have made appearances in Cody Yellowstone include President George H.W. Bush, President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and his family, and First Lady Melania Trump. President Jimmy Carter dined at the employee pub at the park’s Lake Lodge where he signed the wall of the pub that is still visible to guests today. Lastly, President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923 shortly before he died. The staff in the park named a geyser after him in his honor.

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