Visiting the Reagan Library with Kids
A visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, had been on my mind for some time. Living in Southern California, I occasionally hear about people visiting and the reviews are always stellar. I love to visit new places and if there is an educational component to it, I love it even more!
We recently got the chance to visit the Reagan Library on a California road trip. On that same trip we also went to Channel Islands National Park and Hearst Castle. Simi Valley is a bit off the beaten track, located near Thousand Oaks and in between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. But visitors will be rewarded with an American historical treasure trove, gorgeous scenery and a great outing for the family.
The museum is chalk-full of memorabilia of Reagan’s life both on the silver screen and in the oval office. Adults who remember his glory days will be delighted in the informative and nicely displayed exhibits located throughout the museum. You’ll walk down memory lane with his especially nostalgic life moments such as telling Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” or his “Reaganomics” policies that boosted the US economy during his years in office. Even the exhibit on the assassination attempt made on his life, will bring back memories if you are old enough to remember that.
But for your kids who may not even know who Ronald Reagan was, is there enough to keep them interested? The answer is an absolute YES! And what better way to introduce your kids to one of our country’s most popular presidents, than to visit his presidential library? We visited with another family so in all we had five children ranging in age from 4 to 12 and everyone enjoyed it! We spent about 2.5 hours at the museum.
Air Force One
As we made plans to visit the museum this was probably what everyone was most excited about. We were actually going to be able to board Air Force One! This flying White House served seven U.S Presidents from 1973 to 2001. Among them were Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush. Ronald Reagan himself flew to 26 countries and 46 states in this plane for a total of 660,000 miles.
Aboard Air Force OneJelly Bean Portrait
Kids love candy! It turns out so did Ronald Reagan - jelly beans that is. And not just any jelly beans, he especially loved Jelly Bellies. The Jelly Belly factory is located near the California State Capitol and he discovered them while he was Governor of California. Reagan said, “You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans” and didn’t think much of someone who just grabbed a handful and ate them all at once. He was known for always having these sweet treats around.
Yep! All made out of jelly beans!Get Active
While a good portion of the museum includes exhibits full of historical information, economical and foreign policy and more, there is quite a bit that kids can get active with and participate in. Giving a speech using the teleprompter was fun! - and much harder than we thought it would be, even for the adults. Our kids also enjoyed acting in a movie with Reagan that was recorded and then watch it. They also got to set the table for a state dinner and play other interactive games.
A Piece of the Berlin Wall
This outdoor exhibit is amazing to see and a great addition to the museum, knowing that Reagan played a heroic role in this historic event. Younger kids will notice the stark contrast between the two sides; one being bright and happy while the other is dull and plain. With older kids, this can spark a good discussion on the differences between Communism and Democracy. On December 10, 1986 Reagan said, "A violation of human rights anywhere is the business of free people everywhere." I love this quote!
A Look in the Oval Office
This replica of the Oval Office was fun to see. Each president is invited to decorate the Oval Office to reflect his own personal style. President Reagan, was inspired by the West, adding western art, saddles, earth tones and, of course, a jar of jelly bellies for his desk!
Tips for Visiting
40 Presidential Drive
Simi Valley, CA. 93065
Parking is free, but limited. Overflow parking is available along the road leading up to the museum and shuttles are available to take you up the hill. We almost made the mistake of parking before we even got to the museum because we saw a lot of other cars parking on the roadside and assumed the parking lot was full. We were glad we had driven all the way up and checked. Since we were arriving around noon, and some guests were already leaving, there were spots available in the parking lot.
The museum is open seven days a week from 10am-5pm. Admission prices are $21 for adults and $15 for children. Senior and military discounts are also available.
Reagan’s Country Café and the Ronald Reagan Pub are available in the Air Force One Pavilion and have various sandwiches and snacks. There are also picnic tables outside if you want to bring your own food.
Ronald Reagan Bio for Kids
I love these Ducksters for kids - informative and concise.
Books for Kids