A Picnic at FDR’s Library

Last weekend we had a picnic at FDR’s Library.

The presidential museum in Hyde Park, New York, is a must-see historic site. It’s also a perfect spot for a packed lunch.

That’s my old “I can’t find a parking spot” bag from when I lived in Manhattan. There’s an updated version here.

The grounds are vast, serene, and mostly empty. Picnic tables are spread throughout. A cafe with an outdoor patio is steps away, but our packed lunches were much more fun. Plus, we couldn’t help but to feel a bit virtuous. Except for the Monster. Monsters are not virtuous, but they are our road trip guilty pleasure that I pine for on every drive.

Presidential Library/Museum

As for the site, FDR’s library is preserved just as it was, including his chair. His Oval Office desk is also on display along with his 1936 Ford and his extensive collection of model battleships.

The exhibition itself is exceptional. There are a number of primary sources on display — actual letters, artifacts, and various documents from the top secret Map Room. The descriptions do a great job of giving context without being tedious. It’s a great place to bring older kids. There are interactive stations, short documentaries, and rooms made to look like a Depression-era American home where you can listen to an actual recording of a fireside chat. There is also a room devoted to Eleanor’s many accomplishments.

Hiking Trails

The grounds are connected by hiking trails (<– link to the PDF map). Pictured above is the Vanderbilt Loop that connects the FDR library with the Vanderbilt mansion (also a great day-trip). Sadly, we made it about twenty steps and turned around. Downhill now means uphill later, and we were tired from the drive and museum. But you can really make a day of it for the $10 entry fee (seniors $6; kids under 15 free). There’s even a New Deal Store in the Visitor Center.

As we exited the center, I noticed folks signing a log book and stamping a document. What were they stamping? Upon further research, I learned this might be a geocache site. If you’re not familiar, geocaching is like a treasure hunt in nature. I had never heard of it before this week. I’m all in. Heading to one of the parks this week to pick up my passport for the 5/28 start on the Taconic Regional.

We don’t always make the time, but when we do, a picnic lunch makes these day-trips even more delightful.

Have you visited Hyde Park? What did you think? Did you bring your lunch? 🙂

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Thanks for reading! If you liked this post about a picnic at FDR's library, you might like this one about walking over the Tappan Zee Bridge and this one about hiking in Fahnestock Park.

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