Between days of hiking in Hot Springs National Park we took a quick day trip detour to President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site. We haven’t done an official check, but that has to be one of the longest names of all the units in the National Park Service–it’s a mouthful!
The birthplace site was the 88th of 419 national parks on our #parkchasing list. It was also the fifth national park stop on our Midwest National Park Road Trip. About a 90 minute drive from Hot Springs National Park and just a few minutes off Interstate 30, it’s an easy trip and a must-see stop for anyone interested in presidential history!
All About President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site was established on December 14, 2010 to preserve the home where our 42nd president spent the first four years of his life. Built in 1917, the home belonged to Clinton’s grandparents, Edith Grisham and James Eldridge Cassidy Clinton. Edith and James cared for the infant Bill after his father passed away while his widowed mother worked in New Orleans.
Today, President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site includes both the birthplace home and an adjacent home converted into the park’s current visitor center and museum. Both buildings include documents, photos, and memorabilia of President Clinton’s childhood.
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What to See at The Clinton Birthplace
1. Start at the Visitor’s Center.
The visitor’s center sits adjacent to the birthplace home. You’ll want to make it your first stop when you arrive at the site. Inside you’ll find your park passport stamps, a small museum area with Clinton-related exhibits, and pick up a unigrid.
You’ll also want to check in with the park ranger for the next ranger-led tour of the birthplace home. Visitors are not allowed into the home unless on a guided tour which leave several times per day.
2. Watch the park film.
We don’t always list the park film on our list of ‘what to see’, even though we almost always take the time to do see it during our park visits. We do recommend taking some time to watch the park film “From Hope to History” here though. The film captures Clinton’s early life and some of the family history that later shaped his politics and presidency.
3. Take a Ranger-Led Tour.
A visit to the birthplace site wouldn’t be complete without a guided ranger tour of the Clinton’s home. Tours leave every 30 minutes from the visitor’s center and allow you to view the main living areas and bedrooms in the restored birthplace home.
It’s fun to imagine the growing mind of a future president watching the trains out the upstairs bedroom windows and returning here to visit his grandparents after he’d left home.
Some of our favorite views inside the home:
4. Enjoy the Gardens.
Like most of the presidential homes we’ve visited, the National Park Service takes great pride in maintaining the property and surrounding gardens. We visited on a rainy, spring morning but still enjoyed a few minutes in the gardens around the visitor’s center and birthplace home. The trees and spring flowers were in full bloom, a welcomed treat from our snow-covered views back home in Minnesota.
The gardens are a good spot to reflect on many of the themes that President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site aims to share with visitors:
- Even the most powerful and influential leaders in the world can come from humble beginnings.
- Bill Clinton grew up with his grandparents in Hope because his young widowed mother made sacrifices to ensure his later education and success. Families come together in unique ways to support and care for one another.
- Communities like rural Hope, Arkansas are where many of us learn the lessons and values that shape who we become later in life.
- Much of the lands surrounding Hope and the Clinton Birthplace once belonged to the indigenous communities of the Quapaw and Osages tribe. Long before the Clinton family moved to Hope, there’s another history to be told of these lands.
5. Visit the rest of Hope, Arkansas.
Hope, Arkansas not only lays claim as the birthplace of our 42nd President but also the hometown of many other influential political leaders including Mike Huckabee who ran for president in 2008 and 2016 and former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The city’s downtown historic district offers a few spots for lunch and a chance to experience the quiet life in smalltown Arkansas.
If you happen to plan your visit to President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site during the summer, be sure to check out the watermelons. Some of the state’s largest melons are grown in the area and there’s a world-famous watermelon festival every August to celebrate.