US Presidents with the Strangest Hobbies 

Aaron Edwards
Updated June 14, 2019 2.5k votes 436 voters 29.1k views 14 items

List Rules Vote up the strangest hobbies US presidents have had.

Let’s face it, it takes a pretty uncommon person to become president. That probably means that there are going to be more than a few US presidents with weird hobbies. Given that a good number of presidents didn’t have television or even radio, they had to find something to do with all their time. Some of the hobbies of US presidents were more ordinary, like playing piano or collecting stamps. But some great men just can’t have regular hobbies. No, those men have to do things to the extreme. Some take up recreational violence (sports like boxing and wrestling) on the side, or eccentric rituals, or even creative pursuits. Sometimes, great men need great hobbies to occupy their time.

So, if you’re curious check out the list of weird hobbies of US presidents below and vote up your favorite presidential hobby. Just keep one thing in mind: no one, president or otherwise, will ever be able to match the pastimes of Teddy Roosevelt. 

Lyndon B. Johnson Liked to Scare His Guests During Joyrides
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Video: YouTube

Remember that scene in the A Spy Who Loved Me with Bond’s submarine car? Well, LBJ beat him to it by about ten years. The president had an amphibious car he often used to drive his guests around his ranch. As he drove, he’d pretend to lose control of the car (and its brakes) as it sped into a lake. This, of course, scared the hell out of his guests - who were reportedly delighted to learn the car was amphibious shortly after. It was as much a morbid pastime as it was a way to test the character of those he drove around. 

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John Quincy Adams Regularly Skinny Dipped
John Quincy Adams Regula... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list US Presidents with the Strangest Hobbies
Photo:  George P.A. Healy/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

John Quincy Adams had a lot of history attached to his name. He was the son of a founding father, he died on the floor of congress, and he was the sixth president of the United States. He also loved to swim around naked. It’s been reported that he would wake early every day and swim nude in the Potomac River at 5 a.m. The first female journalist ever to interview a president, Anne Royall, accomplished this historic feat by withholding Adams’ clothing until he agreed to a discourse. 

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Calvin Coolidge Rode a Mechanical Horse
Calvin Coolidge Rode a M... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list US Presidents with the Strangest Hobbies
Photo: edwarddallas/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

President Coolidge really loved riding horses, but developed an allergy that meant he was unable to ride them. So, when someone gave him a mechanical horse as a joke gift… he didn’t really see the joke. He put it in a dressing room right next to his bedroom so he could always keep it close. He rode the apparatus regularly while wearing his hat, which amused his wife and their guests to no end. At the end of the day, no one had a problem with the practice because it let the president get some exercise. 

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Thomas Jefferson Invented Spy Gadgets
Thomas Jefferson Invente... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list US Presidents with the Strangest Hobbies
Photo: Ryan Somma/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

When he wasn’t leading a revolution, Thomas Jefferson loved to invent gadgets. He helped advance the science of agriculture by inventing a plow that was easier to pull. He also created an updated sundial in the form of a sphere. But his coolest work was to help out American spies during the Revolutionary War. He invented the “wheel cipher,” which was an iron pin containing 26 spinning wooden disks that could be used to decipher coded messages. That way, The British couldn't read intercepted messages. 

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