Visiting Springwood in Hyde Park, New York has been in my bucket list for years. I have tremendous respect for Franklin D. Roosevelt and the legacy he's left on this great country, and knowing his house is a mere hours drive has meant it's been calling to me to come and visit. But, I have four small reasons I hadn't made it yet, ages 7, 5, 3, and 1. I worry about my kids breaking things when they go to my parents’ house, let alone the home of a great American president!
One morning in March, we woke up to unseasonably warm temperatures and I decided today was the day we make the trip! We packed up lunches for a picnic on the grounds and hit the road! Our first stop was the visitor center to purchase tickets, pick up maps, and sign the kids up for the Junior Ranger program! Admission is $10 for the house tour and $10 for the museum, but children are FREE [including the ranger program], so I purchased a joint ticket and our whole crew had access for the day. My three older children received Junior Ranger Booklets and miniature pencils, which we all know are every child’s favorite thing! We brought our lunch out to the picnic tables in front of the museum and enjoyed our sandwiches overlooking the beautiful estate. While we ate, we checked out the Junior Ranger material to see what we should look for in the museum and home.
After lunch, we went to the museum. It had a lot of exhibits that offered hands-on, or at least things kids could touch exhibits, and my kids loved it. In true kid fashion, they moved from exhibit to exhibit before I had the chance to really enjoy what I was seeing, but I was happy they were having fun! The museum also housed multiple videos, which held my kid's attention for a few minutes before they ran towards the next flashing lights!
At the time of my writing this, the Roosevelt’s house is closed due to coronavirus, but was intending to close for renovations and will reopen in the fall. This meant that during our visit, a lot of the artifacts had already been removed from the home. My first impression of the inside was that the house felt a bit dark, and I could see how renovations were needed, but I loved seeing FDR’s bird collection, and the great room, which was once lined with books.
Knowing that this house held such significance to FDR during his childhood and throughout the rest of his life truly made it a memorable experience [and much-needed material for my next book, but shhhh, don’t tell!]
My kids really could care less about the house, and most of the significance I cherished was way over their heads. Plus, the tour was during my one-year old’s naptime, and I had hoped he’d fall asleep in the baby carrier…. But you know how that goes! We resulted in hanging back from the rest of the tour group as to not disturb them, and snapping filtered selfies.
After the tour, my kids finished their Junior Ranger Book’s and we returned to the visitor center to get their badges. Receiving the badges was a truly memorable part of the trip for everyone, then, we hit the bathrooms and the road home!
As we were driving, I asked what everyone’s favorite part of the day was, and my three-year-old yelled, “The donuts!” No, those aren’t included in your Hyde Park Tour, but there’s a Dunkin Donuts down the road if you need to use some bribery to enjoy your day too!
I’m counting the moments until we can go back, I can explore the archives, and check out the walking trail that leads from Springwood to the Vanderbilt’s estate... and maybe enjoy the view, sans the kiddos ;)
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.