The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Richard Nixon Presidential Library
If you’ve already done the Disneyland thing, or just want a foil to the empty-headed fun, there is one other Orange County attraction you really shouldn’t miss: the Richard Nixon Presidential Library (18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., 714/993-5075, daily, $11.95 adults), 10 miles northeast of Disneyland off Hwy-90. The library is built on the very ground where the former president was born in 1913; it’s also where he and his wife, Pat, are buried, side by side next to the restored Craftsman-style bungalow where Nixon grew up. No matter what your feelings are toward him, the spare-no-expense displays do a fascinating job of putting his long career into the distorted perspective you’d expect from the only president ever forced to resign from office.
Highlights are many, such as the pictures of the pumpkin patch where Whittaker Chambers concealed the microfilm that Nixon used to put Alger Hiss in prison as a Communist spy, next to photos of Nixon and JFK as chummy freshman U.S. senators sharing sleeping compartments on a train. The best-selling item in the gift shop? Photographs of Nixon greeting Elvis Presley, also available as mousepads, china cups, and fridge magnets.