Celebrate presidents of the past by visiting those who shaped the U.S. Tennessee was home to three presidents and today, you can visit the humble beginnings, homes and even burial grounds of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson. Start planning your pilgrimage to Tennessee’s presidential sites.
An orphan at 14 years old became a general, then president. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Nashville tells this story and more about the “tough as old hickory” 7th president of the United States. The Hermitage is one of the most authentically preserved presidential homes in the nation.
You can visit Andrew Jackson’s log cabin, mansion, the on-site slave sites, gardens and final resting place next to his wife, Rachel. Start in the Visitors Center to browse the museum and get an overview of Jackson in the award-winning exhibit “Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm.” Purchase tickets for a guided tour led by a docent in period-costume who tells lively stories of Jackson, what life was like in his two-story log cabin and then in the 1821 mansion. You’ll see the entry hall’s famous printed scenic wallpaper, hundreds of original artifacts throughout the mansion, the extensive library, the room where Jackson spent his last days, portraits of family members and more.
Tours are $20 for adults, $7 for seniors (age 62 and older), $15 for students ages 13-18, $10 for children ages 6-12 and $10 for U.S. veterans. Free admission is given to active military. VIP tours that include special access to the mansion balcony are available ($50 per person) as well as tours by wagon where you can see what life was like on the 1,000-acre cotton plantation.
Visit the Ancestral Home of James K. Polk – Columbia
Columbia, a 45-minute drive south of Nashville, is an authentic experience of Main-Street America. Here you'll find cool restaurants, murals for that perfect vacation photo-op, shops filled with vinyl records, boutique fashions and antiques, and a live music scene. The town’s history, though, is especially impressive. Here you can step inside the ancestral home of James K. Polk, the 11th U.S. president.
Carve out time to see the home which is the only surviving residence of Polk other than the White House. The Federal-style house is full of Polk's original possessions, Mrs. Polk's furniture, paintings, White House china pieces and more. You can catch a tour 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday April-October; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday November-March. Tours of the main house, sisters' house (which includes a museum room and shop), the kitchen and gardens are $10 for adults, children ages 13-18 are $7, children ages 6-12 are $5 and seniors (age 60 or older) can get $8 tickets.
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site & National Cemetery – Greeneville
An hour south of Bristol, the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery in Greeneville showcases the life and presidential career of tailor-turned-president Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the U.S. Follow his political footsteps as he became president shortly after President Lincoln’s assassination, attempting to unify a war-torn nation. Take a free, guided tour any day of the week 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. While there’s no charge, be sure to go into the Visitor’s Center and get a ticket no later than 15 minutes before the tour begins. Inside the Visitor’s Center is the orientation film and the Eastern National bookstore. The Memorial Building next to the Visitor Center is where you can browse the presidential museum and see Andrew Johnson’s original circa 1830s tailor shop.
The early home of Andrew Johnson and wife Eliza is open on the first level and basement. You can find a family photo album, timeline of national events, music of the era and more. In the Homestead, you can see period furniture and artifacts such as the silver set presented to Johnson from Nashville citizens. Original dishware, toys and decor pieces are also on display. Make your way to the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, one of only two active National Park Service veteran burial grounds. Have a moment of silence and pay respects to the 17th president as well as the many men and women who have served in the U.S. military.
You don't have to travel around the nation to hear the Soundtrack of America. Just come to Tennessee where it was born and bred.