Reagan Library: Exploring Air Force One, The Berlin Wall and The Lincoln Exhibit

Chandler is a quirky kid who loves history and had been begging me to take him to the Lincoln exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Library. (Well, maybe not begging. But asking insistently. And repeatedly.)

Reagan Library
Reagan Library Entrance

Marley and Dave were busy with other things, so I got the rare and wonderful opportunity to spend a Saturday afternoon with my 16-year-old son. Even though I had him trapped in a metal box with no escape for twenty minutes I was nice on the car ride over and didn’t ask him about girls.

We mostly chatted about his new classes at school and what we were looking forward to seeing at the museum. (And by chatted I mean I asked him questions and he gave me one – two word answers.) I told him I was most excited about seeing Air Force One. You can see the exhibit building from the freeway and it looks quite impressive.

The bulk of the museum of course is dedicated to Reagan’s presidency. There is a lot of memorabilia including many gifts given to Reagan, the outfits he and the first lady wore on the day of his inauguration, White House china, and even notes scrawled by Reagan when he was in the hospital after he was shot and instructed by his doctors not to speak.

Reagan-library-memorabilia

The museum has a replica of the oval office complete with actual items that were on his desk and the small bronze statues he had displayed during his presidency.

Reagan-oval-office

There are also a lot of interactive activities including “acting” in a movie with Reagan, “delivering” his inaugural speech, and “setting” the White House table for dinner. Chandler of course could not be bothered with standing on the podium, but I look very presidential, don’t you think?

inauguration-podium
Look out Hillary!

Air Force One was as cool as I had anticipated. Just the building itself is spectacular. And the plane inside the building is visually stunning. We were able to board the plane, but weren’t allowed to take photographs on board. But in case you were wondering, presidents fly a bit more comfortably than you and I do. (Even if you already fly first class.)

Air-Force-One

Air-Force-One-Reagan-Library

After exploring Air Force One and the other presidential vehicles we went on to the National Treasures Gallery where there is a steel beam from the World Trade Center. It’s amazing how moved you can be by a charred piece of metal.

beam-from-World-Trade-Center

Finally we got to what Chandler had been waiting for – the Lincoln Exhibit. A. Lincoln: From Railsplitter to Rushmore is a mash-up of over 250 original Abraham Lincoln artifacts and movie sets form Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” Movie.  Objects on display include President Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat, a bloodied pillow from the night he died, Mary Todd Lincoln’s bible, and coolest of all a Lincoln-signed Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln-memorabilia
Actual Lincoln Stovepipe Hat and signed copy of Emancipation Proclamation – does it get any cooler than that? (Sorry for poor quality of no-flash-allowed photos.)

My little (or rather big) history buff thought the Lincoln exhibition was fantastic and I have to agree.

We then moved on to the outside to see a piece of the Berlin Wall and Ronald Reagan’s grave. The views are just gorgeous. And again, it’s pretty cool to look at history right up close.

Berlin Wall
A piece of world history smack at the West End of Simi Valley.

If you are looking for a Los Angeles or Ventura County day trip and would like to experience some really cool history, I suggest getting yourself to the Reagan Museum before the Lincoln exhibit is gone. But you’d better get there quickly, because the exhibit only lasts through September 30th.

It’s a fantastic way to spend the day. And maybe you’ll even get lucky like me and convince your teenager to pose in a photo with you.

Mother-son
A rare mother-son picture.

Disclosure: I was given two tickets to the Ronald Reagan Library to facilitate this post, however all opinions, geeking out over Air Force One, and the thrill of spending the day with just my son are completely my own.

6 thoughts on “Reagan Library: Exploring Air Force One, The Berlin Wall and The Lincoln Exhibit

  1. This would be a perfect blog for LA Parent. Send them link so you could add to your portfolio for bigger fish.

    Sent from my little ‘ol iPhone

  2. This is something I sooooo have on my list to do someday! I was always a huge Reagan fan and can’t wait for the entire experience. I know they have their security reasons but I was soooo hoping for pictures inside of Air Force One! Great post! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Mike! If you are a big Reagan fan, you will definitely love the Reagan Library. (It’s all Reagan, all the time!) 🙂 And yes, I was bummed I couldn’t take photos inside of Air Force One. I guess you’ll just have to visit yourself!

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