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National News / Travel

Saturday, 9 April, 2011 12:56 PM

The Ronald Reagan Museum is a must-see attraction in Simi Valley, CA

PHOTO BY MELISSA GILLER

AmericaJR.com's Jason Rzucidlo gets ready to board Air Force One at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

|

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. So it make sense that his Presidential Library and Museum is located at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley, Calif. It is about halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. His museum is considered to be the most visited out of all the presidential museums and for good reason. A section of the Berlin Wall, an Air Force One airplane used by seven presidents, a Marine One helicopter, a replica of the Oval Office and an F-14 Tomcat make up some of the artifacts on display.

Construction began on the library and museum on Nov. 21, 1988. It opened its doors to the public on Nov. 4, 1991. Five presidents attended the dedication ceremony: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. All five First Ladies were there with Lady Bird Johnson in attendance as well. It was built entirely with private donations at a total cost of $60 million.

"There's some great things to see including Air Force One behind us, it flew seven U.S. Presidents," said Melissa Giller, director of communications and programs at the Ronald Reagan Foundation. "People that come to the library can actually walk on it and be a part of history. We have a full-scale replica of the Oval Office decorated to President Reagan's era, a real piece of the Berlin Wall and obviously, President Reagan is buried here so his memorial site is here as well."

The Ronald Reagan Library and Museum is the largest and most visited  presidential library in the nation. 

"I think for a couple of reasons--Ronald Reagan is one of the most respected presidents in U.S. history," she continues, "and everyone wants to see Air Force One. That is really what drove up our attendance when we got it. We also have Marine One, it is actually a President Johnson-era Marine One. We also have a presidential motorcade."

How was a section of the Berlin Wall delivered to the library in Simi Valley, Calif.?

"We've had the Berlin Wall here almost since we opened," the director of communications and programs at the Ronald Reagan Foundation explained. "When the wall came down, there was a foundation in Germany that broke off large chunks and made sure important museums across the world had a piece. They reached out to President Reagan and offered to donate it to him."

The museum also offers a place for visitors to get their picture inside the Oval Office.

"Once again, we have a full-scale replica of the Oval Office dedicated to President Reagan," Giller added. "The way the rails are angled, you can take a picture and look like you are standing right inside it."

What's the story on the miniature White House exhibit?

"Our temporary exhibit right now is the White House in miniature," she said. "It's a 1 ft. to 1 in. scale replica dedicated to the Obama Administration. Anytime any administration changes the decorations, the guy who built it actually goes and changes the decorations to match the White House. It's incredible."

The Reagan Library hosted a special NASCAR event on Monday, March 28.

"We're really fortunate with the donations from Curb Records and Richard Childress Racing," the director of communications and programs at the Ronald Reagan Foundation explained. "There's actually now a Ronald Reagan Centennial NASCAR. It raced in Fontana this past weekend Clint Bowyer's No. 33 car. Now Austin Dillon's No. 98 car is going to race it. Our next temporary exhibit from May until October actually will feature NASCAR, Indy Car, NASCAR Truck Series. We'll have a whole bunch on display."

Two restaurants are located on site for those who get hungry during their visit.

"One is more of a full-service cafe--hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, salad, soups, the whole thing," Giller explained. "You actually sit on this indoor balcony patio and you have gorgeous views of the Conejo Valley. The second one is inside this Air Force One pavilion, a really fun story. In '84 President Reagan visited Valley Queen, Ireland and visited a pub called O'Farrell's. He did so because there was a room in there called Ronald Reagan. The Ronald Reagan closed their doors in 2004. They shipped us their contents. The actual taps, signage, the actual bar you're sitting at originally came from Valley Queen, Ireland. You can get a beer or glass of wine or just have a sandwich or a salad."

What's Ahead? The Reagan Library will host the first Republican primary debate for the future 2012 Republican candidates on Sept. 14, 2011. It will be co-hosted by NBC News and Politico.

I would highly recommend you to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum during your next visit to southern California. It is definitely worth it! I think you could easily spend a whole day at the museum. How often can you step inside an Air Force One plane? Not everyday. But you can at the Ronald Reagan Museum. GO THERE!

The Ronald Reagan Library and Museum is located at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93065. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. It is only closed on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission prices are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors (62 and above), FREE for children under 10 years of age and $6 for children 11 to 17 years of age.

For more information about the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation, visit www.reaganlibrary.com.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A large piece of the Berlin Wall located on the library's grounds.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A full scale replica of the Oval Office is a prominent feature of this museum as well.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A President Johnson-era Marine One helicopter

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A recent acquisition to the museum is this steel beam that survived the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Following his passing on June 5, 2004, President Ronald Reagan was laid to rest at the Reagan Library on June 11, 2004.

 

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