Visiting historical sites can sometimes include places where people, including kings, queens, and presidents, lost their lives. These spaces are sacred sites in history and can be a memorable place to visit. While in Dallas, Texas for a college visit, I had to visit the Texas School Book Depository, the site of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza which is dedicated to the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.
One of the most shocking and horrific days in American presidential history is November 22, 1963. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, visited Texas with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and his wife, Lady Bird. On that fateful day, the presidential motorcade rode through downtown Dallas, and as it passed the Texas School Book Depository building near Dealey Plaza, shots rang out. President Kennedy was killed, and we all remember the grief-stricken picture of Mrs. Kennedy standing beside now-President Johnson as he was sworn in on Air Force One.
The building was swarmed with FBI and police and eventually, the killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was found. He was killed before standing trial, leading to even more speculation and conspiracy theories on the event.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza preserves the site where Oswald stood and is now an informative museum on the assassination and its aftermath.
The Sixth Floor Museum is very popular so be sure to buy your timed entry tickets ahead of time here. Once you arrive, you’ll queue for the elevator ride to the sixth floor.
The floor contains many exhibits about President John F. Kennedy, the 1960 campaign, and the fateful trip to Texas. There are many pictures, memorabilia, and videos that add to the haunting story.
As you work your way through the exhibits, you’ll come to the corner where Oswald fired the fatal shots. It has been preserved and can only be viewed through glass. The scene has been recreated just as it was when Oswald stood there. It is chilling.
Beside the glass-enclosed space, you can view the road below through the windows, using computer screens to understand the trajectory of the bullets and traffic.
As you glance out the windows, you’ll note the large Xs on the road that mark the spots where the shots hit JFK.
Continue through the museum to see some fascinating memorabilia such as the suit worn by the policeman handcuffed to Oswald as he was shot by Jack Ruby.
The infamous Zapruder film from the “grassy knoll” on Dealey Plaza is discussed.
Teens will be fascinated with the FBI model of the event as you can discuss the various angles and theories that abound.
You can even view Oswald’s wedding ring and learn more about him and his Communist political beliefs.
After finishing the exhibits, don’t miss going up to the seventh floor where you can stand right above the exact spot where the shots were taken. This perspective on the road below gave me goose-bumps.
Go back down to the ground level and don’t miss the gift shop before you leave. Your tour isn’t done, however. Make sure to cross the street and walk around Dealey Plaza where you feel as if you’re walking in history.
Your kids will be fascinated with the infamous grassy knoll.
Visiting the site where one of the most pivotal events in the 20th century happened is important for all Americans. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a place that’s not-to-be-missed on any trip to Dallas.
- Cost: $18/adults; $14/youths; free/5 and under
- Recommended: 12 and up
- Tour time: 1 hour
- Gift shop located onsite and online
- Transportation: The museum is walkable from many downtown Dallas hotels and the Dallas-area buses and trains. There is a paid parking lot adjacent to the museum.
- Dining options: There are many options in downtown Dallas including the nearby family-friendly Ellen’s. You could also do the short drive to Uptown Plaza and its restaurants.
- Nearby hotels: Downtown Dallas has dozens of hotels. Check out its tourism site for recommendations. We stayed near Highland Park at The Highland Dallas.
- Nearby attractions include: Dallas World Aquarium, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
- Other Kennedy presidential sites include: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and JFK National Historic Site (both in Boston, MA) and JFK Hyannis Museum (Hyannis, MA)
Books to Read:
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