It's hard to remember that California used to be a hotbed of Republicanism, that Tricky Dick got his start here and Ronald Reagan followed not far behind — and even served two terms as governor of this now deeply blue state. But if Los Angeles today seems hopelessly removed from the Gipper's heyday, you need only visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley to understand just how much a creature of this place he was. Reagan loved the West, and it was the West that made him the man he would become. He came here a decent athlete and (of all things) a radio announcer and left a movie star, a governor, a president and a world leader who dared to tell Gorbachev to take his Wall and shove it. His library is suitably luxurious — Hollywood's idea of what a presidential library should look like, from the soaring atrium holding an actual retired version of Air Force One, to the grand displays hyping his record, to the sweeping vistas that greet you at lunch. Nixon may have been the more complicated — and therefore more interesting — Republican from California, but this library is the one to visit. Enjoy the amazing story and try not to tell Mom and Dad what you really think. 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, 93065. (805) 522-2977, reaganfoundation.org. —Sarah Fenske
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