Before there was Camp David or air conditioning, Presidents looked for way to get away from the hot and humid Washington swampy summers. From 1857 to 1883, some used a house on a hill about three miles from the White House. The most notable, and the one who used it the most, was Abraham Lincoln from 1862 to 1864. He moved his family there in summer, but commuted to the White House daily. It took about 35 minutes on horseback, and that may be faster than driving in rush hour traffic today.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has restored the house and gives hour-long guided tours to small groups. The interior is sparsely furnished and focuses on what life was like there and the decisions Lincoln had to make during the Civil War. There is also a small museum in the visitor center building, which dates from 1905.
The cottage is on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, which was there when Lincoln was. See Lincoln Cottage web site for information about visiting.