Ford’s Theatre was an amazing stop on our trip and we would highly recommend it! We learned so much about President Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency, his last day, and the effects his assassination had on our country. If that sounds like a bit much for young kids, well–it was a lot to learn. BUT all of our kids (ages 10, 7, and 5) LOVED it. They each took something different away and multiple times since our trip, they have talked about it and asked questions about it. In fact, recently our five-year-old came home from Kindergarten so excited that they had learned about President Lincoln that day and she knew exactly who he was.
Tickets are free in person on the same day, and every visitor needs a ticket, but we suggest reserving them online ahead of time (about 3 months in advance) for $3.00 per ticket. We went at the end of September, definitely off season and not at all crowded. However, in the summer months it gets VERY crowded, so plan accordingly. Entrance times are every half hour beginning at 9 a.m. and they absolutely will not let anyone in after 4:30 p.m. Plan to block out approximately 2 hours for this. Also note that not every ticket time gives you access to all four sites (the Museum, Theatre, Petersen House, and Aftermath Exhibits). We really had a lot of fun at all four so we would also suggest you choose a time that allows you access to them all.
The tour begins with the museum in the basement of Ford’s Theatre. Here you’ll learn different facts about Abraham Lincoln, the USA and the events leading to his Presidency.
After that, they will open the doors leading to the Theatre. As you walk along through this hallway (pictured above) it has an outline of President Lincoln’s day as well as John Wilkes Booth’s day. It’s very interesting so take time to compare and read.
When you enter the Theatre, you will notice that there is an American Flag over one of the private boxes just to the right of the stage (pictured above). That is the box President Lincoln was sitting in the evening of April 14th. You can sit above in the balcony (we sat here and had a great view!) or below and listen to a National Park Service Ranger briefly tell about President Lincoln and the assassination. It was very interesting and our kids actually sat still and listened to the entire speech.
After that, we crossed the street and toured the Petersen House, where President Lincoln was taken after he’d been shot. This was a very quick self-guided tour, and very interesting as well.
The Aftermath Exhibits immediately follow the self-guided Petersen House tour. Our favorite thing was this book tower (pictured above). It gave us goosebumps as we looked at the many books written about this beloved president.