As the Obama family packs up and prepares to leave the White House, it’s time to reflect on the two terms that Barack Obama served as President of the United States. Despite your political view on the Obama administration, the First Family certainly brought a level of class and fun to the White House.

Michelle Obama made an elegant First Lady and America got to watch Barack and Michelle’s two daughters grow up into sophisticated young women. One of the more fun things that we watched the Obamas do was go on vacation each year during their annual holiday visit to Hawaii.

Fun in the Sun

For the past 8 years, the Obamas have traveled to Hawaii for their annual holiday vacation. As Obama says, “I am an island boy”. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and spent much of his childhood in America’s 50th state, which explains why he’d want to vacation there throughout his adult life. Michelle Obama also noted that “you can’t really understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.”

The family normally stays in a town called Kailua and packs their itinerary full of family activities. Obama fits in multiple games of golf, eats shave ice snacks, hits the waves on a surf board, catches up with his sister and visits the grave of his grandfather, all while spending much needed quality time with his daughters and his wife.

President Obama also fits in some Presidential responsibilities, like visiting members of the military at Anderson Hall at the Marine Corps Base in Hawaii on Christmas Day. He spends time with these marines that can’t be home with their families and often joins them for Christmas dinner, reminded them that the whole country is supporting them. The family also visits Pearl Harbor and Michelle Obama spends some time on the phone with children talking about what they want for Christmas.

This past year, the Obamas spent their final vacation as the First Family on Martha’s Vineyard, where Obama also played a lot of golf and the family enjoyed meals out, fireworks, fundraisers and beach days.

A Presidential Escape

This annual trip to Hawaii is a little bit more expensive and grand than most normal US citizens could afford, but it’s safe to say that the President of the United States deserves at least a little bit of relaxation away from the demands of running an entire country. And Hawaii is probably the best place to get away, since it is very far away from Washington, D.C. and has its own culture and time zone.

The first family’s vacations often affect more than just their family. When they are in Hawaii, there is typically temporary flight restrictions in place for the surrounding areas and Secret Service is in full swing protecting the family.

During one vacation, a golf game that the President had scheduled happened to be at the same time that a couple was supposed to get married at the 16th hole, so the couple was forced to relocate their entire wedding to a different hole than they had planned. The President placed a phone call apologizing to the couple and everybody was very lighthearted and kind about it.

President Obama also extends the holiday and vacation spirit to his workers by granting all federal employees time off on Christmas Eve and Christmas with pay. This allows them to also spend time with family and friends.

Obama’s Presidency

Obama had 8 years of vacation in Hawaii and 8 years as President of the United States. He accomplished a lot during his time in the White House so it’s only fitting to look back on some of the highlights. Perhaps the most controversial accomplishment was the passing of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, which was meant to allow more Americans to receive health insurance.

He pulled all troops out of Iraq and dramatically cut down on the number of troops in Afghanistan, as well as eliminating Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader. He tightened sanctions on Iran with the help of other Western countries. President Obama invested in renewable technology and expanded Wilderness and Watershed Protection areas. Under his administration, same-sex marriage was made legal in all 50 states and he also repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which allowed gays to openly serve in the military. Michelle Obama worked on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act which improved school lunches and she also pushed her Let’s Move! campaign which was designed to combat childhood obesity.

This list is really only the beginning of the long list of things that Barack Obama did during his 8 years as President. With so much on their plate and a lot of work to be done in the White House, it’s no wonder they took a yearly vacation to faraway Hawaii. They certainly deserved the time to spend as a family.

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Holly Whitman

Holly Whitman is the author behind Only Slightly Biased, a freelance journalist and striving to be one of the best women political writers on the web. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Fortune, Politicus, Bust and Feministing. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman.

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