America’s 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was shot while riding in a convertible in his presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Here are five places you can visit to honor JFK’s legacy.
On a sunny November morning in 1963, Air Force One landed at Dallas’s Love Field carrying John F. Kennedy and his entourage. Running a bit behind schedule, the passengers quickly migrated to the presidential motorcade. Three cars began a slow, meandering 10 mile (16 km) course through the city so that the charismatic 35th president had more exposure to the crowd of approximately 200,000 people who lined the route to greet him.
Protectively sandwiched between an unmarked white Ford hardtop carrying Secret Service and law enforcement personnel and a third car carrying presidential aides, President John F. Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally, and their wives rode in an open-top convertible. Just five minutes away from the Trade Mart, where a luncheon was planned, the motorcade turned in front of the Texas School Book Depository and slowed for the crowds gathered in the grassy area of Dealey Plaza. Shots rang out, leaving the president dead and the governor seriously injured.
Whether the leader is cherished or chastised, revered or reviled, a country is shaken when he or she dies in office. And when that leader is assassinated, it’s even more unsettling. On the 55th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, here are five places to visit to honor JFK’s legacy.
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1. John F. Kennedy Birthplace in Boston
The well-maintained, century-old homes along Beals Street in Boston’s Brookline neighborhood look like many other beautiful, tree-lined neighborhoods in Massachusetts’s capital city. But the three-story home at 83 Beals Street stands out, with the American flag bunting draped from the second-floor balcony and the small group clustered around a park ranger on the front porch. For it was here in 1917 that JFK was born.
Pro Tip: Fuel up with one of these best breakfasts in Boston before exploring JFK’s hometown.
A few years after JFK’s violent assassination, his mother, Rose, repurchased the family’s former home. Perhaps as a way to cope with the tragic death of another of her children, she spent several years lovingly restoring it to how it looked in 1917 when her second son was born in the master bedroom in the bed closest to the window. Donated to the National Park Service in 1969, on what would have been JFK’s 52nd birthday, the president’s birthplace is the second smallest historical site managed by the NPS.
To Honor JFK’s Legacy by Visiting Kennedy’s Birthplace
Location: 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts
Hours: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, between May and October
For the latest information, including special events at JFK’s birthplace, visit the NPS website.
2. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas
At the intersection of N. Houston and Elm, flanked by train tracks and a tree-rimmed green space in the heart of downtown Dallas, an infamous red brick building stands out. For it is here on the sixth floor that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots that assassinated President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
Related Article: What You Need to Know BEFORE You Visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
From Air Force One’s arrival at Love Field to Vice President Johnson’s swearing-in, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in the Texas School Book Depository leads visitors through the events of that fateful day. The self-guided tour includes an audio narrative by Pierce Allman, the first reporter to broadcast from the book depository the day Kennedy was shot.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for more to do and see around The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, here are 10 things to do and see in Dallas.
To Honor JFK’s Legacy by Visiting The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Location: 411 Elm Street in Dallas, Texas
Hours: Noon to 6:00 pm on Mondays and 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Tuesdays through Sundays.
Cost: $16.00 for adults with discounts offered for seniors and children 6 to 18. Admission is free for children 5 and under. Or, skip the line and save money by purchasing a CityPASS for Dallas’s top attractions. How much will you really save with the Dallas CityPASS? I did the math.
For the latest information, including special exhibits and events, visit The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza website.
3. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston
At the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, visitors wind through exhibits documenting the 35th president’s life, from his early years in the Boston neighborhood of Brookline to his college years at Harvard and from his military service in the Navy during World War II to the Oval Office. But each step through the museum takes us one day closer to November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
The Kennedy Presidential Library makes nearly no mention of the fateful day when:
- the nation lost its leader,
- Jackie her husband, and
- Caroline and John Jr. their father.
Instead there is a curved, ivory wall with this quote:
“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
~ John F. Kennedy
To Honor JFK’s Legacy by Visiting His Presidential Museum and Library
Location: Columbia Point, Boston, Massachusetts
Hours: Open Daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, although the museum closes for a few holidays during the year
Cost: $14.00 for adults with discounts offered for veterans, seniors, college students, and teens. Admission is free for children 12 and under.
For the latest information, including special exhibits and events, visit the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website.
4. John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame in Washington, DC
A Navy Veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during World War II, President Kennedy visited Arlington National Cemetery to honor America’s soldiers on Veterans Day 1963. Two weeks later, with one million people lining the funeral procession route, JFK was buried at the US military cemetery. With dignitaries from around the world paying their respects and millions of viewers watching on television at home, JFK’s widow, Jackie, lit the eternal flame that still burns at the head of JFK’s grave.
According to the woman narrating our tour of the cemetery, a tradition rose to popularity during the Vietnam War where a single coin is placed on military graves:
- A penny shows that you knew them
- A nickel says you trained with them
- A dime says you served with them
- A quarter says you were there when they died
However, when you honor JFK’s legacy by visiting the Kennedy family gravesite, you’ll likely observe people throwing handfuls of coins of all kinds at the grave. I found the scene so upsetting that I discussed it with a nearby guard. He explained that the family feels that the coin tossing is incredibly disrespectful, and that the coins are removed and donated to charity a few times each year.
Related Article: 12 Graves to Visit in Arlington National Cemetery (After You’ve Paid Respect to JFK)
To Honor JFK’s Legacy by Visiting Arlington National Cemetery
Location: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Hours: Open Daily from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm April to September and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm October through March
Cost: There is no admission fee. However, I highly recommend you purchase tickets to the trolley that winds its way through the 624 acre site. Otherwise, you’ll spend most of your day at Arlington National Cemetery walking from one spot to another.
For the latest information, including special exhibits and events, visit the Arlington National Cemetery website.
Related Article: Best Places to Stay in Washington DC Based on Your Itinerary
5. Many Other Destinations Around the World
From two cities to a space center, from bridges to buildings, from schools to streets, there are hundreds of places around the world named after JFK. Here are some other destinations you can visit to honor JFK’s legacy.
Elsewhere in the US
In Massachusetts, visit the JFK Statue at the State House in Boston.
- Massachusetts – JFK Memorial in Hyannis
- New Hampshire – JFK Bust in Nashua
- New Jersey – JFK Bust in Military Park in Newark
- New York – JFK Bust in Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn
- Oregon – JFK Memorial in Portland
- Puerto Rico – JFK Statue in San Juan
- Texas – JFK Memorial in Ft. Worth
Elsewhere in the World
- Canada – JFK Bust on President Kennedy Avenue in Montreal
- England – JFK Bust outside the International Student House on Great Portland St. in London
- England – JFK Mosaic Memorial in Birmingham
- Honduras – JFK Statue in Kennedy City in Tegucigalpa
- Ireland – Artwork Inside the Galway Cathedral
- Ireland – Eyre Square (AKA JFK Memorial Park because he gave a speech there) in Galway
- Ireland – JFK Statue in New Ross
- Israel – JFK Peace Forest
Frequently Asked Questions About John F. Kennedy
Where is JFK buried?
President Kennedy is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Northern Virginia.
Who is buried next to JFK?
President John F. Kennedy is buried next to his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy. Their two children — Arabella and Patrick — who died as infants are also buried with JFK and Jackie.
Have You Visited Any of These Places that Honor JFK’s Legacy?
Which places have you visited? What did you think? Share your experiences in the comments section below.