Whether you’re into US history or you just like quirky attractions, President Heads is worth a visit.
Imagine walking among 20-foot tall sculptures of 42 president’s heads in the middle of a vast field.
It sounds a little surreal. Doesn’t it?
Let’s find out more!
What is President Heads?
It started as an attraction called Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia. The park was an open-air museum where people strolled among the heads, gazing at their stately postures.
But a lack of visitors caused the park to close just six years after opening in 2004.
The location of the park wasn’t easy to find. It was hidden behind a motel and wasn’t very close to other colonial Williamsburg attractions. Location certainly is everything!
Who Created the Sculptures?
David Adickes, a Houston-based artist, sculpted the steel and concrete busts beginning in the late 1990s. A trip to Mount Rushmore inspired him to start the project.
The President Heads was not Adicke’s first venture into monumental structures. In 1983, he created a 36-foot statue called Virtuoso, depicting a trio of string players.
But unlike his other works, he didn’t have a place to display the heads for the public to view.
That’s when Williamsburg entrepreneur, Everette Newman, came into the picture. He raised 10 million dollars from fellow investors to commission the statues and create the space for Presidents Park.
Where Is President Heads?
The busts are currently located on a private 400-acre farm in Croaker, Virginia, owned by Howard Hankins. They were moved from the closed Presidents Park 10 miles away to avoid being demolished by new owners of the property.
Hankins owns a Williamsburg concrete recycling business. He was contacted by the new owners of the Presidents Park site asking him about crushing the heads and removing the debris. Hankins didn’t want the sculptures destroyed, so moving them to his land was the only option to save them.
Unfortunately, many of the busts sustained damage during the relocation. Some have sections missing from their heads, while others have started decaying from weather and age.
One of the more eerie busts is that of Abraham Lincoln. Not only does it have a hole on top of the head, but the back is also missing. The symbolism of the President’s death is striking.
Pro Tip: Want to see more unique sites while exploring Virginia? Discover why The Mothman Statue is West Virginia’s Strangest Road Trip Destination.
Can You Still Visit President Heads?
You can still visit the president’s heads but only by reserving a ticket. The property isn’t open to the public except for scheduled tours.
Photographer John Plashal coordinates the tours and offers educational talks about the busts. You can also participate in a Presidential Trivia contest to test your historical knowledge.
A limited number of “Dusk Passes” are offered for sunset tours. The natural lighting at this time of day creates some dramatic imagery for photographs. There’s even a lighting professional on hand to help photographers get the best shots.
Oddly enough, people seem more interested in visiting the decaying president’s heads now than when Presidents Park was open to the public. Bizarre tourist attractions often have an appeal that the more conventional destinations may not have.
Best Hikes Near President Heads
While you’re in the Williamsburg area, check out these hikes in nearby York River State Park. An entrance fee is required to enter the park for day-use parking.
Dogs on leash are welcome on both trails mentioned below.
A few paved paths allow access by wheelchair to an arboretum and picnic shelters.
Woodstock Path Trail
This 1.9-mile trail provides views of the York River and is rated as moderately strenuous. There’s even a beach to sink your toes into the sand and take a dip in the water. The trailhead begins on the right side of the Visitor Center building.
Fossil Beach Trail
This is an easy 2.3-mile loop trail. Less than a mile into the hike, you’ll reach Fossil Beach. You’ll find fossilized shark teeth and an extinct scallop known as Chesapecten Middlesex on the beach. Visitors are even allowed to take home one fossil per person.
Pro Tip: While exploring Virginia make sure to swim in these 7 Best Lakes in Virginia (And Nearby Campsites).
Best Camping Near President Heads
After all the walking and sightseeing you’ll be doing, you can get a good night’s rest at one of these campgrounds. If you don’t have an RV, you can rent cabins and cottages at both locations.
This campground is big rig friendly with 30/50-Amp full hookup pull-through and back-in gravel sites available.
There’s a pool, playground, and even a free arcade/game room for families to enjoy. Busch Gardens is nearby for a fun day of riding roller coasters.
American Heritage RV Park
Also big rig-friendly, the sites at this park are paved and have 30/50 Amp full hookups.
A pool, mini-golf course, and nature trails are available for guests to enjoy during their stay. A visit to The Historic Triangle is sure to please the history buffs in your group.
Is President Heads Road Trip Worth It?
We highly recommend this road trip as there are numerous things to see and do in the Williamsburg area.
A visit to the President Heads will provide great photos and stories to share with friends and family. Nowhere else can you do a photoshoot with a 20-foot tall Jimmy Carter, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt!
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