Design People & Places

Winter Retreats of Presidents Past and Present

When presidents want to escape the hustle and bustle of our nation's capital, they don't check into a nearby bed-and-breakfast. Instead, they head to secluded estates in warm climates to bask in the sunshine, throw off the burdens of the Oval Office, and unwind. Check out these 11 winter retreats that current and former American presidents have called their second home.

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Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland

Wikimedia Commons via Karl H. Schumacher

Though Camp David lies in Catoctin Mountain Park, you won’t find it on a map. Its location is guarded to protect the privacy and security needs of its high-flying guests. The military installation turned winter retreat, located a mere 62 miles from our nation’s capital, serves as the official country home for all U.S. presidents.

Related: 21 Crazy But True Facts About the White House

Dixie White House in Pass Christian, Mississippi

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith

In December 1912, President Woodrow Wilson celebrated his 56th birthday with Mrs. Thomas Herndon and her daughter Alice at this six-bedroom Colonial-inspired estate, whose gracious columns and arches are reminiscent of the real White House.

Related: 15 100-Year-Old Houses That Haven’t Aged a Day

Reynolds Mansion in Sapelo Island, Georgia

Georgia Department of Natural Resources | State Parks & Historic Sites 

This imposing residence rose up from the ashes of a sugar plantation that had been practically destroyed during the Civil War. Rebuilt in the early 20th century by automotive innovator Howard Coffin, the property was later purchased by tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds. Now known as the Reynolds Mansion, this 13-bedroom home played host to President Calvin Coolidge in 1928 and President Herbert Hoover in 1932.

Related: America’s 50 Most Famous Houses

Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia

Wikimedia Commons via Jim Clark

This cozy home in Warm Springs served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s personal retreat from 1933 to 1944. “The Unfinished Portrait,” a painting of FDR that artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff abandoned after the president passed away, still hangs in the six-room colonial-style dwelling.

Harry S. Truman Little White House in Key West, Florida via Roman Boed

As a naval command headquarters during the Spanish-American War and both world wars, the Little White House saw its fair share of conflict. But the estate also enjoyed a quiet second life as the winter White House of President Harry S. Truman, who made 11 visits between 1946 and 1952.

Eisenhower Cabin in Augusta, Georgia via Shannon Hurst Lane

After reportedly remarking to the press that his 1948 trip to Augusta National Golf Club was his best vacation in years, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a cabin built near the 10th tee to serve as his presidential retreat between 1953 and 1960. A local architect designed most of the three-story structure, but the Secret Service had a say in the security of the digs.

La Guerida in Palm Beach, Florida

Wikimedia Commons via The State Library and Archives of Florida

This Mediterranean Revival-style estate skyrocketed from a humble price of $120,000 in 1933 to a whopping $38.5 million in 2014. The steep increase was largely due to the property’s notable pedigree as the winter retreat of John F. Kennedy and his family from 1961 to 1963.

Florida White House in Key Biscayne, Florida

Wikimedia Commons via Karl H. Schumacher

First Lady Pat Nixon’s desire for privacy is believed to be the cause of the lack of photographs of President Richard Nixon’s winter White House in Key Biscayne. But the sprawling waterfront compound, outfitted by Pat with tropical motifs, was such a desirable destination for family Christmas vacations and solo weekend trips that Nixon visited it over 50 times during his tenure from 1969 to 1974.

Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas

White House photo by Shealah Craighead

The 1,583-acre ranch dubbed the “Western White House” hosted George W. Bush and numerous visiting heads of state from 2001 to 2008. A three-mile no-fly zone surrounded the premises for the entirety of Bush’s presidency to keep him and his guests safe during these retreats.

Related: 35 Strange But True Facts About America

Plantation Estate in Kailua, Honolulu County, Hawaii

President Barack Obama’s story came full circle when he made his winter White House on Oahu, the same Hawaiian island where he was born. The Obamas celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Day at the five-bedroom Plantation Estate in Kailua, less than 20 miles from Honolulu, between 2008 and 2011.

Related: Island Living: 20 Tropical B&Bs That Are Only an Airplane Away

Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida

In a curious twist of fate, the same mansion that General Foods owner Marjorie Merriweather Post left to the government in 1973 to serve as a winter White House did, in fact, become the winter White House when Donald Trump assumed the presidency in 2017. But Trump actually acquired the property—with Post’s vintage furnishings and all—back in 1985 for the price of $5 million.

Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions