Illustration depicting Ohio presidential sites (illustration by Laura Weizer)

Take a Presidential Road Trip Across Ohio

These nine locations tell the stories of the eight men from our state who held the nation’s highest office as well as the role of our country’s first ladies.

Eight times in United States history, an Ohioan has held our nation’s top office. From William Henry Harrison, who lasted just 31 days before dying in office, to the legendary Civil War Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who spent two terms in the White House due to his incredible fame from his battlefield successes, presidential history runs deep in Ohio. 

Our presidential road trip also takes travelers to the McKinley National Memorial, which sits atop a Canton hillside at the end of a 108-step climb, President Rutherford B. Hayes’ and first lady Lucy Webb Hayes’ estate in Fremont known as Spiegel Grove and the Marion home where President Warren G. Harding conducted his front-porch campaign in 1920 to become the last Ohioan to win the White House. 

The McKinley National Memorial in Canton (photo by Ohio Images)
William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton
Although the 25th president grew up in Niles, Ohio, he is most associated with Canton, which is where a towering monument to McKinley can be found today. Accessible by a 108-step climb, the monument crafted from American granite and marble is the final resting place of both President McKinley and his wife, first lady Ida Saxton McKinley, and their children. It overlooks the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, which features life-size animatronics of the McKinley’s as well as artifacts from their lives. The museum is operated by the Stark County Historical Society and includes a planetarium and historic streetscape. 800 McKinley Monument Dr. NW, Canton 44708, 330/455-7043,

Ulysses S. Grant Birthplace exterior
U.S. Grant Birthplace, Point Pleasant
President Ulysses S. Grant’s humble birthplace stands nestled along the Ohio River. The three-room house where Grant was born in 1822, was built as a one-room cottage in 1817 and rented by his parents in 1821, when this part of the state was nothing more than uninhabited countryside. Following Grant’s presidency and eventual death in 1885, people wanted to make the journey to see his birthplace. The house was moved to Cincinnati and Columbus before returning to its original spot where today people can visit and explore artifacts from the 18th president’s life. 1551 St. Rte. 232, Point Pleasant 45153, 800/283-8932,

James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor (photo by Maureen MacGregor)
James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Mentor
James A. Garfield became famous for his front-porch campaign where thousands of voters would visit to hear him speak about his point of view regarding issues of the day. Now, visitors to Mentor can explore that very porch, as well as the nine-room farmhouse that Garfield and his wife, Lucretia, called home during his candidacy. Although the house underwent several additions after the president’s assassination and eventual death in 1881 (including the addition of a library holding 1,400 books), the property feels authentically Garfield’s, with more than half of the artifacts on display belonging to him or his family. 8095 Mentor Ave., Mentor 44060, 440/255-8722,

Harding Home exterior (photo by Sam Kendall)
Warren G. Harding Presidential Sites, Marion
William G. Harding was the last president of the United States from Ohio, and his Queen Anne-style home in Marion welcomes those who want to learn more about the front-porch campaign our 29th president conducted here in 1920. (It was a throwback to the style of Republican presidential predecessors like William McKinley and James A. Garfield.) Tours allow visitors to walk through the 2,500-square-foot home filled with artifacts. A presidential museum that opened on the property in 2021 delves into Harding’s life and time in the White House, which ended with his death in 1923 during a cross-country train tour. 380 Mount Vernon Ave., Marion 43302, 740/387-9630,

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums in Fremont (photo by Ohio Images)
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, Fremont
Even while serving in the Civil War, Rutherford B. Hayes envisioned one day having a museum dedicated to his legacy. His dream came true in Fremont at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums. Tours are available of the 31-room home that Hayes and his wife, Lucy Webb Hayes, lived in mostly following their time in the White House. (They are also buried on the 25-acre estate known as Spiegel Grove.) The on-site library and museum opened in 1916 under the direction of Hayes’ son, Webb, and was added to in 1922 and 1968. A renovation completed in 2016 modernized the museum experience. 1337 Hayes Ave., Fremont 43420, 419/332-2081,

William Henry Harrison Tomb, North Bend
Although William Henry Harrison is known almost exclusively as the shortest-serving president (dying just 31 days after his 1841 inauguration), prior to that he was a military commander during the War of 1812 and a pivotal player in the nation’s westward expansion. He was also an Ohioan, and his final resting place can be found in the southwest Ohio town of North Bend. He was originally buried in Washington D.C., before being moved to his current tomb on land his family once owned. The limestone tomb faces out toward the river and is marked by a 60-foot obelisk added in 1924. 2 Cliff Rd., North Bend 45052, 844/288-7709,

William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati (photo by Ohio Images)
William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Cincinnati
Even before he came to occupy our nation’s highest office, William Howard Taft grew up among the elite in Cincinnati’s Mount Auburn neighborhood. The hilltop residence that our 27th president called home up until his college years was sold by his mother, Louise, in 1899 and repurposed into apartments in the 1940s. The property’s exterior went largely unchanged for decades, keeping the original spirit of the home alive. Eventually, restoration efforts took the inside of the home back to its original appearance, and in 1988 it opened as a museum dedicated to Taft’s life and presidency. 2038 Auburn Ave., Cincinnati 45219, 513/684-3262,

Harrison-Symmes Memorial Foundation Museum | Cleves
Just eight years before William Henry Harrison was elected president, his grandson Benjamin Harrison was born in North Bend, Ohio. The nation’s 23rd president was born and raised in the same town as his grandfather, attended Miami University and then moved with his family to Indianapolis in 1854. The grandson of the United States’ shortest-serving president went on to fight in the Civil War and serve in the White House himself, a term during which two national parks were founded and six states were added to the union. History buffs can learn about his life and legacy at the Harrison-Symmes Memorial Foundation Museum in Cleves. 112 S. Miami Ave., Cleves 45002, 513/236-3889

First Ladies National Historic Site, Canton
Ohio is known for producing presidents, but the nation’s first ladies are honored at two places in downtown Canton known collectively as the First Ladies National Historic Site. One is the childhood home of first lady Ida Saxton McKinley. The house is also where William McKinley and Ida lived between 1878 and 1891 while he served in the U.S. House of Representatives. A block away, the National First Ladies’ Library Education and Research Center features rotating exhibits, which often showcase clothing and teach about the impact that the nation’s first ladies had while their husbands led the country. 205 & 331 Market Ave. S., Canton 44702, 330/452-0876,,

A previous version of this story ran in our March 2016 issue. It has been updated.