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Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
The Orange County museum offers a fascinating look at a turbulent time

Walk through this presidential library to explore a tumultuous time in American history—but also to glimpse a piece of Orange County’s agricultural past. Located on the former citrus farm where Richard M. Nixon was born, the museum near Anaheim first opened in 1990 under private ownership, but it broadened its scope in 2007 when a partnership with the National Archives increased the library’s holdings of documents and politically charged tape recordings. When the Yorba Linda museum got a $15 million makeover in 2016—under the guidance of the Thinkwell Group, which has reshaped such museums as the Museum of Science+Industry, Chicago, and Elvis Presley’s Graceland—the Nixon Library became a more interactive and sharper-edged experience. 

The overhaul included 70 new exhibits, more than 300 artifacts, and a replica of Nixon’s Oval Office (decorated by First Lady Pat Nixon in California colors of yellow-gold and deep blue). The museum covers many milestones from Nixon’s early days—like photos from his Navy service during World War II, and from his courtship with Pat, whom he met while acting in a community theatre production.

But overall, the presidential library and museum offers a pretty unvarnished look at the Nixon years, from the social strife of the late 1960s, when he was elected, to the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency. Along the way, the exhibits look at other parts of Nixon’s legacy—such as his creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, his signing of Title IX, and his groundbreaking trip to China in 1972.

The museum takes pains to illuminate the complexities of those years. One interactive station, “Tough Choices,” lets you act as an advisor (one with the benefit of hindsight, however) in helping the president decide whether to, say, end the draft, or provide assistance to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Another area allows you to examine different arguments for and against the Vietnam War. Outside, you can see the actual bungalow where Nixon was born—built by his citrus farmer father in 1912— as well as the helicopter that he boarded in 1974 after he resigned and left the White House in disgrace.

The whole point of presenting his legacy is to look at him as he was,” John Barr, of the Nixon Library Foundation, told the press at the museum’s 2016 reopening. “Warts and all.”

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Southern California

Discover Orange County

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18
May
Average (°C)
Mar - May
26°
High
5°
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June - Aug
35°
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Sept - Nov
31°
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Dec - Feb
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Whether it’s manicured beach towns or celebrated theme parks, all framed by oceanfront towns and luxury yachts, “The OC” stands out as one of the state’s most iconic destinations. The always-amazing Disneyland Resort, roughly a 1-hour drive south of L.A. and 2 hours north of San Diego, continues to be one of the best-loved theme parks in the world, while Knott’s Berry Farms and other OC attractions amp up the fun meter.

“Surfing is like golf. . . it keeps knocking you down. But when you stay with it and catch that wave. . . magic.”  --actor Dennis Quaid

Shop at spectacular South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, or get the surfer look in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, USA. 

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Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776, was the first winery in California.
The magic of Disneyland, walking through the tunnel underneath the train station to Main Street, it just transports you to other places and other times.
John Lasseter
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Spotlight: Anaheim

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Amazing attractions, shopping and dining in the one-of-a-kind Orange County town

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Trip 4-5 days 10 stops

Pacific Coast Highway - South

Beach Towns, Iconic Theme Parks
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Start your coastal cruise in this elegant city hugging the coastal mountains, where classic Spanish architecture gives the region a sun-washed European look straight out of the Riviera. The Santa Barbara, nicknamed “the American Riviera,” may have a burnished antique look of much of the...

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End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village—pedestrian-friendly...

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Orange County is the cultural center of the surf world and Huntington Beach is like the heartbeat.
Corky Carroll (Orange County surf legend)
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O.C. Shopping

Discover boutique brands and bargains

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July/August

With a nickname like “Surf City, U.S.A.,” Huntington Beach is the obvious place for this 9-day, sun-and-wave extravaganza, the world’s largest surf event. Top pros including Kelly Slater and Rob...

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Orange County's Luxury Resorts

Live like a star at posh getaways

The good life might have been invented in “The O.C.”—especially when it comes to resort destinations. With spas, elegant dining, posh lodgings,...

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Get into the coastal vibe

Maybe it’s the sun-streaked hair, the frequent smiles, the eyes always gazing west, looking to the horizon to see when the next set might roll in. It’s the unmistakable look and vibe of a...

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Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
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Crystal Cove State Park

Stroll a perfect beach with an intriguing past

In 1912, an early Laguna Beach artist described finding a rugged coastline “with cove after cove and headland after headland, golden cliffs and...

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Tee up at top courses, with some ocean views

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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

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Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Courtesy of Orange County Great Park

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Explore an impressive urban park

Turning former military land into a roughly 1,300-acre/526-hectare green space, this Irvine park is as ambitious as it is...

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Every year, the Orange County Great Park Balloon dons a smiling jack-o-lantern mask, marking the unofficial start of fall in Orange County.