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Take a Presidential Road Trip in Ohio

Tonya Prater, Owner
Latest posts by Tonya Prater, Owner (see all)

Did you know Ohio has been home to 8 U.S. Presidents, not to mention numerous presidential candidates?

It’s more than just bragging rights that come with being the home state of a U.S. President; there are many monuments and memorials to our Ohio Presidents, including several Presidential Libraries.

Why not plan a road trip this President’s Day to learn about these former U.S. Presidents while you visit beautiful memorials, unique libraries?

In the process, you’ll learn some presidential trivia to amaze your family and friends.

Some of the highlights along this road trip include the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library, the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, and the National McKinley Birthplace Memorial.

Plan a day to see the sites in one area or take a weekend or more to explore all that the Buckeye State has to offer when it comes to presidential history.

Let’s Learn About Presidents in Ohio

If you’ve ever wondered which US Presidents were born in Ohio, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of Presidents’ homes in Ohio, as well as other interesting attractions related to Presidents born in Ohio, as well as some Presidents buried in Ohio.  

William Henry Harrison

President from March 4, 1841, through April 4, 1841

Ohio Landmark: William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial

William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial

William Henry Harrison has several superlatives attached to his presidency.

Harrison was 68 at the time of his election, and the oldest person elected as President. He served the shortest presidential term in US history, as he died from pneumonia just 31 days into his term, making him also the first US President to die in office. 

Although he was born in Virginia and died in Washington, DC, President Harrison as an adult settled on land overlooking the river in North Bend, Ohio.

After stationed at Fort Washington (now Cincinnati) he returned to Ohio to serve as congressman, state senator, and a U.S. Senator before running for President. 

President Harrison was buried at the top of Mt. Nebo at the William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial.

In addition to the 9th President, the tomb’s vaults house 24 members of the Harrison family.

With an advance appointment, you can also visit the nearby Harrison- Symmes Memorial Museum

Ulysses S. Grant

President from March 4, 1869, through March 4, 1877

Ohio Landmark: U.S. Grant Birthplace

One of the most notorious Presidents in Ohio is Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States. Four years before he was elected to the presidency, he led the Union Army to victory in the Civil War. 

President Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, and raised in Georgetown, Ohio.

A legendary part of American history, there are countless memorials dedicated to Grant all over the United States.

Grant’s tomb is in New York City, so he is not one of the presidents buried in Ohio.

However, you can tour the Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace, in Moscow, Ohio.

Allow approximately one hour to tour Grant’s birthplace museum and learn about Grant’s childhood, involvement in the Civil War, and eventual Presidency. 

Rutherford B. Hayes

President from March 3, 1877 – March 3, 1881

Ohio Landmark: Rutherford B Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

The historic Rutherford B. Hayes Home is a treat to tour

After Grant left the office of President, another Ohioan was elected to the office.

Rutherford B Hayes, our 19th President, was born in Delaware Ohio and held many political positions before his highly contested election to the White House.

Rumor has it he even went to bed on election night, assuming he had lost to Samuel Tilden; the results were not finalized for several months. Sound familiar?

Hayes started his career as a lawyer in Cincinnati before serving in the Civil War and receiving several injuries in battle.

After the war, he went on to serve in Congress and was eventually elected as Governor of Ohio three times before serving one term as United States President. 

Spiegel Grove is a beautiful 31-room mansion that was built by Hayes’ uncle to accommodate Rutherford Hayes, Mrs. Hayes, and their 8 children.

It is where the Hayes family lived before and after his Presidential term.

While President Hayes was initially buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Fremont, he was eventually relocated to Spiegel Grove after the home and the land were donated to the state as Spiegel Grove State Park.

Today, The Hayes Home, museum, and research center are open to the public, as well as the grounds surrounding the home, including the tombs of President and Mrs. Hayes. 

James A. Garfield

President from March 4, 1881 through September 19, 1881

Ohio Landmarks: James A Garfield National Historic Site, James A Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery and James A Garfield Memorial Cabin

James Garfield was elected to the office of President in 1881, making him the 20th United States President and the third in a row of Presidents in Ohio.

Sadly, Garfield’s term was quite short, as he was shot just four months into his Presidency, and succumbed to his injuries two months later. 

Garfield is often hailed as the last President of the  “log cabin Presidents.” He was born into poverty in a log cabin in what is now Moreland Hills.

Despite his poor upbringing by a single mother after his father died when he was just two, Garfield prioritized education and hard work, eventually graduating from what is now Hiram College.

After a short stint teaching at the school, he entered politics as a state senator before joining the Union Army. He later served 18 years in Congress before his election to President. 

There are several places to learn about Garfield’s life and legacy in Ohio. 

  • The James A. Garfield Memorial Cabin is a replica cabin located at the site where Garfield was born. The site is open on Saturdays from June through September, or by appointment. 
  • The Garfield-Robbins-Zimmerman Home is where the Garfield family lived on the Hiram College Campus
  • The James A Garfield National Historic Site is a National Park Service property at the home where the Garfield family lived, and where he famously conducted his “front porch Presidential campaign.” The site has many educational activities and events.
  • After his assassination, Garfield was taken from the Capitol to Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery by train. The Garfield Memorial at Lake View Cemetery is free and open to the public during the summer months. The balcony offers impressive views of Lake Erie and Cleveland. Check out our post of other reasons to visit Lake View Cemetery.

The Garfield Trail of Ohio links all of these sites together. 

Benjamin Harrison

President from March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893

Ohio Landmark: William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial

William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial

Our 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison, has the distinction of serving one Presidential term sandwiched between the two terms of Grover Cleveland, who ironically, was not a President from Ohio.

Harrison narrowly beat Cleveland in 1888, but could not pull off a second win against Cleveland four years later. 

Of course, Benjamin wasn’t the first Harrison to serve the highest office in the United States.

His grandfather was William Henry Harrison and Benjamin was born in North Bend, adjacent to his grandfather’s acreage, which is now William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial.

While Benjamin was one of the Presidents born in Ohio, he spent the majority of his adulthood and political career in Indiana, where he served as State Senator for six years. 

While North Bend does have a historic plaque commemorating the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is located at his former home in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

William McKinley

President from March 4, 1897 through September 14, 1901

Ohio Landmarks: McKinley Birthplace Home, William McKinley Presidential Library And Museum, William McKinley National Monument, William McKinley Monument, McKinley Memorial Museum

After Grover Cleveland’s second term as President, another Ohioan was elected to the office.

McKinley is best known for a tumultuous term in office that saw the States go to war with Spain and increased tariffs to protect industry in America. 

McKinley was born in Niles and spent his later childhood in Poland, Ohio, where he later became a teacher.

After serving in the Civil War, he set up a law practice in Canton before embarking on a political path to the White House.

He served as Governor of Ohio before his election to President.

McKinley was assassinated six months into his second term.

There are several places to learn about Garfield’s life and legacy in Ohio. 

  • In Niles, you can visit the McKinley Birthplace Museum, a replica house containing memorabilia from McKinley’s childhood and political career. Tours are available by appointment only. The McKinley Memorial Museum is just a block over from the museum.
  • The William McKinley Presidential Library And Museum in Canton is the best place to learn about his legacy. The exterior is open to the public year-round, while the interior is open seasonally, from April through October.  
  • After his assassination, McKinley was initially buried at Westlawn Cemetery in Canton and moved when the William McKinley National Monument was finished in 1907. The Monument is open to the public daily and managed by the National Park Service. 
  • The William McKinley Monument stands in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. The outdoor sculpture is viewable at any time. 

William H. Taft

President from March 4, 1909, through March 4, 1913

Ohio Landmark: William Howard Taft National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

William Taft, our 27th President, was the first (and only) President to later serve as Chief Justice of the United States.

Taft was the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery and had the unenviable position of following Theodore Roosevelt’s two popular terms. 

Taft was born in Cincinnati and later attended Cincinnati Law School after graduating second in his class at Yale.

An early career in law spawned political ambitions, and Taft served several judicial positions at both the state and federal levels. 

Today, you can learn more about Taft’s legacy at the William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati.

The site, managed by the National Park Service, was the birthplace and childhood home of William H. Taft. The site is open daily for self-guided tours.

If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to pick up a Jr. Ranger booklet in the Visitor Center. Upon completion, your kids will earn a fun badge.

President Warren G. Harding

President from March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923

Ohio Landmark: Warren G Harding Home

The last of the Presidents from Ohio is Warren G. Harding, the 29th President, born in Blooming Grove, Ohio. He enjoyed a rather popular, if not scandelous Presidency until his early demise two years after his election. 

Warren Harding spent most of his childhood in rural Marion Ohio, Harding bought the local newspaper and used those connections to launch a career in politics, and remains the only U.S. President to have had a full-time career in journalism. 

The Warren G Harding Home in Marion is the most “modern” of presidents’ homes in Ohio.

Harding built the home in 1890, and in 1920, he launched a front porch campaign from his home. His family lived there until relocating to the White House.

The home is open for tours; check with the National Park Service for current operating hours.

Harding is buried in Marion. Originally, interred in a receiving vault in the Marion Cemetery, the bodies of he and his wife were moved to the Harding Memorial once the construction had ended.

The Harding Tomb, or memorial, is a short drive from the home and is open to the public 24/7.

When I was homeschooling, we took several field trips to Marion to see the presidential sites.

First Ladies National Historic Site

Canton, OH | Website

As the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman.

This is especially true for our First Ladies who stood by their husbands during sometimes grueling political careers.

The First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton pays homage to the First Ladies of the United States. Set in two Canton Ohio locations, this is a great “bonus” stop to add to your Presidents in Ohio road trip.

The Saxton House is where William McKinley lived with his wife, Ida Saxton. The Education Center has more memorabilia from the First Ladies.

Have you visited any of these sites that are important to Ohio’s history?

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