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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Are you a US History fan? Have you discovered presidential libraries? We love them. They are full of information about a specific historical time, and all the ones we’ve visited are interesting. We especially loved visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

As we traveled on our California discovery road trip, we wanted to stop at as many places as we could. We road-tripped along the Pacific Coast Highway and I-5, and did a lot along the way.

We loved the national parks and historical sites, like Manzanar, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Channel Islands. And we also loved some of the smaller places like Santa Paula and Ojai. California is a huge state and boy have we had fun exploring it.

One of the many stops along this trip was to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Regardless of your political affiliation, presidential libraries capture a moment in time. They are definitely worth a stop if you are in the vicinity.

Ronald Reagan was president of the United States during a critical period in US history. He was, perhaps, the most hated and loved president up until the present. Regardless of how his legacy is viewed, there’s no denying the history and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library has one of the largest collections of artifacts on exhibit from the time, and is one of the many hidden gems in Southern California.

In this article:

A statue of Ronald Reagan greets you at the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Library.

Elected president in 1980, and serving his eight years throughout that decade, Ronald Reagan was party to and a witness of some of the most interesting events in history. For us, it was a time when we were living in Germany, and the East Germans and West Germans would tear down the Berlin wall and make steps towards reunification. Reagan was present during some of the critical points of this journey, and I have to admit, these are the parts of his library that spoke to me the most.

Manicured lawns and gardens welcome you to teh Ronald Reagan Library.

Exhibits in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

There are so many things to see, read, and experience in the library that it’s easy to spend at least two to three hours. There’s even a café on-site so you can either buy food there or bring a picnic to eat in the gorgeous gardens.

The library is laid out in a time-line walk through Reagan’s early life, his time as the California governor, and then of course into his presidency including the assassination attempt, the Berlin Wall and the Cold War, his wife, and post-presidency.

A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in the garden of the Ronald Reagan Library.

Among the fascinating things on display, one of our favorites was the full-scale replica of the Oval Office complete with the famous jar of jelly beans. Another standout was the collection of Nancy Reagan’s dresses. She was quite the fashionista!

From a historical perspective, the section covering the Cold War was by far the most fascinating for us. Reliving our time in Germany during the 1980s through the artifacts and photographs on display really brought back memories. Perhaps the most fun we had in the museum was “escaping” from East Berlin by crawling through a tunnel in the wall!

Of course, the most surprising thing to find in the Library was a little further into the museum. In a massive, glass-faced aircraft hanger, Air Force One and Marine One are parked looking out towards the California hills. I never expected to find aircraft in a library! Walking through the static displays really brought the past to life.

The Oval Office mock-up in the Ronald Reagan Library.

How to Get There and Parking

From I-5: At Mission Hills exit, take Highway 118 west to Viewline Drive in the Simi Valley. Then take exit 22A, following the signs and Madera Drive all the way to the library.

From LA: Take Highway 101 north until it intersects with Viewline Drive, then follow the directions above.

Parking: There is ample free parking near the library, and oftentimes there are tents and activities set up to peruse before you even enter. While we were there, the Ham Radio Operators had some info tents set up that were pretty interesting.

If you are driving an RV, you must park along Presidential Drive.

A walk-thru of Air Force One as it was during Ronald Reagan's time in office was a highlight of the Ronald Reagan Library.

Things to Do Nearby

California is a huge state. To get from one end to the other, it definitely will take a couple of days, and we’ve tried to cover as much ground as possible.

Some of the nearest places to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library are:

And a little further afield are:

A jelly bean portrait of Ronald Reagan.
It is well-known that Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans. So, this portrait of him made all in jelly beans was quite a hit.


We really enjoyed the history lessons we learned at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. As we lived in Germany during the 1980s, we loved revisiting the Cold War and Berlin Wall exhibits.

Author Bio: Jim Vail, is an avid traveler and explorer. He’s been to all fifty states and traveled around the world. He’s happiest shooting wildlife photography, camping, and hiking in the mountains, or fishing on the side of a river in Alaska.