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Presidential Suite

George W. Bush Presidential Center
2943 SMU Blvd., Dallas
Southern Methodist University
Hours: 9am–5pm Monday–Saturday; noon–5pm Sunday.
Admission: $16 adults; $10 for ages 5–12.
Parking: $7 at the Bush Center parking lot; metered and garage parking on the SMU campus.

A digital clock inside the new George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas begins a four-minute countdown, and you – yes, you – must decide how to handle the ongoing quandary of suspected weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: seek another resolution with the U.N. Security Council, lead an international coalition or take no action.
Your children already know President Bush as 43rd in the long list of leaders they study in school, but interactive features in the center’s museum such as the Decision Points Theater, aptly named for Bush’s 2010 memoir, give visitors a glimpse into the decision-making process as well as the personal life of the two-term president.
The presidential center – the third in the state and one of 17 nationwide – is home to a public policy institute, library and museum with more than 43,000 artifacts, ranging from jewel-inlaid silver stirrups from the king of Morocco to a mangled piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
No matter where your own political views lie, the museum’s 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit space is well worth a visit for a unique history lesson about the No Child Left Behind Act, efforts to combat AIDS in Africa and what became known as the War on Terror.
A touchscreen war table – positioned low enough for most upper elementary-aged kids to access – allows visitors to delve into the military strategies used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Swipe your fingers across the board to enlarge, for example, a photo of airmen installing precision guidance systems onto bombs.
Not all the interactive features focus on war, however. Find a decidedly more lighthearted game in the White House section of the museum called Barney’s White House. Help the Scottish terrier earn treats by batting in a T-ball game on the South Lawn and helping to make President Bush’s favorite lunch, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, with the chef in the kitchen.
Best of all, you can visit a full-scale replica of the place where Bush spent much of his time, the Oval Office. Bring a camera to snap a photo of the kids sitting behind the Resolute Desk. Eyeing that red button to alert the Secret Service? Feel free to push it. We promise you won’t summon the Men in Black.
Outside the office lies a Texas version of the White House Rose Garden with magnolia trees, bluebonnets and drought-tolerant plants, reminiscent of the Texas flair Bush brought to his presidency.