Grant Cottage State Historic Site (Roadschool Guide) - Fulltime Families

U.S. Grant spent his last days sitting on this porch while writing his memoirs and waving to passersby.

Grant Cottage State Historic Site

Location: Gansevoort, NY

Reciprocal: None

Full Price Admission Cost: $6 adults; $5 kids; 62+ $5; under 6 free; active duty military free

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ulysses S. Grant isn’t a president we hear a whole lot about these days. That said, he was a fascinating man who led a highly interesting life. Additionally, while the man did have his flaws, he is quite underappreciated, considering his successes. For this reason, a visit to Grant Cottage in Gansevoort, NY is highly recommended in order to dig deeper into the life of this intriguing president.

Every visit begins in the visitor center, which is home to an excellent movie everyone should take the time to view. After the visitor center comes the main attraction: the cottage tour.

The tour starts with an informative talk that acts as a great introduction to our 18th president, and an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Because the talk takes place on the front porch of the cottage, it’s a great opportunity to get a look at the grounds and enjoy the outdoors for a bit while learning something new.

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Grant's deathbed and clock

The room in which Grant died, preserved exactly as it was when he passed.

After the talk, guests are shown the interior of the cottage. This part is absolutely amazing. Because it was made a memorial within months of his passing, the cottage includes all of the furnishings and most other items that were in the home at the time of Grant’s passing, making it a truly unique and remarkable experience. Some of the most notable items in the home include the clock that Grant’s son stopped at the time of his death, the flowers from the former president’s funeral, which were preserved through the use of beeswax, and the many notes he used to communicate with his family when he couldn’t speak.

Funeral arrangement at Grant Cottage

Grant’s Funeral Arrangement, preserved for over 130 years.

Possibly the most interesting artifact was the jar of liquid cocaine that still sits on the shelf over 130 years after last being used. Grant had lost all his money shortly before being diagnosed with throat cancer, and knew that completing his memoirs was the only way to ensure his family’s solvency. Because of his dedication to that goal he was unable to take most pain relieving medication of the time and remain lucid enough to write, so he used topical cocaine for pain relief.

Grant's sleeping chairs and medicinal cocaine

The arm chairs Grant slept in sitting up in front of the cabinet containing his personal items and a jar of liquid cocaine for pain relief.

Although this tour is on the short side, it is well worth experiencing in order to get a better handle on who President Grant was as a devoted family man, as well as what he did to change our nation.

Quick Tips

  • Food is not available for purchase on the premises. Outside food and drink is allowed though, and a grassy area is available for picnics.
  • A parking lot for large vehicles is available down the road from the visitor center. Call ahead for directions.
  • Watch the movie in the visitor center.
  • Walk to the overlook (less than half a mile, round-trip).
  • Plan for about 1.5 hours of time spent on the grounds in order to get the full experience.
View of Catskills, Green Mountains and Adirondacks from Eastern Outlook of Grant Cottage

The Eastern Outlook, with views of the Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Catskills.

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Books to Read

For Littles

For Middles

For Bigs

Videos to Watch

Activities to Do

Things to Discuss

  • What is one of the most important things President Grant did for the country?
  • If you were president in the late 1860s and early 1870s, what would you have done differently?
  • If you were around when President Grant ran for president, would you have voted for him? Why or why not?

Other Area Attractions

Below are some of the other great attractions in this area. We try to keep things affordable, sticking to free and cheap attractions and/or museums and zoos on reciprocal lists. If an attraction is affiliated with a reciprocal program or offers free admission, I have noted that beside the attraction listing. To learn more about saving money using reciprocal programs, see this post.

Closest Places to Stay on a Budget

For information on camping memberships, see this post.

Related Attractions in Other Areas

For more great roadschool guides written by Chelsea Gonzales have a look around our blog or visit Wonder Wherever We Wander. A wanderer and lover of new experiences, Chelsea enjoys traveling full-time in her RV while writing about her experiences and roadschooling her son.

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