You can tour all of the museum, including the McKinley Gallery (a long hall packed with McKinley furniture and artifacts) on your own, but guided tours are available at no additional cost (check with the ticket office when you arrive). This is the preferred way to see the museum, especially if you're lucky enough to have Carl Patton for your guide. Patton is a goofy fellow: He's not as polished as your typical tour guide but his vast knowledge of McKinley trivia is incredible and his enthusiasm for the museum's collection is practically contagious. You'll want him with you to recap McKinley's career and point out the juciest artifacts, like a 3-D picture of Ida McKinley on a really bad hair day. There's more to this museum than just McKinley. You can't leave without a visit to the Street of Shops—a life-size diorama of a 19th-century Midwestern town. It's a blast to wander (except for some creepy mannequins in the doctor's office), and there's a super-cool model train exhibit near the back that will entrance even the most bored museumgoer. Don't forget to try the firepole. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, especially if you have little ones with you. Pictures are allowed but flashes aren't. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children (2 and under are free) and $7 for seniors.
On the grounds is a domed mausoleum that looks like it belongs n the National Mall. Inside, President McKinley, his wife and two young daughters are buried. You'll have to climb 108 steps (or find someone to show you the elevator) to reach the mausoleum. Once there, you're pretty much on your own. It's easy enough to find the president's sarcophagus and to read the biographical information included on plaques throughout the monument, but there are lots of architectural and symbolic details about the memorial that can go unnoticed (ask for a pamphlet in the ticket area before making the ascent so you don't miss anything). While exploring, make sure to look up; the stained-glass rose window at the top of the dome is beautiful. Pictures are allowed in the memorial (although there's not much to photograph). McKinley's daughters are entombed in the back wall; look for stones engraved with their information. You're not likely to learn much new information here, but it's right next door to the museum and skipping it seems silly. If nothing else, climb those steps for a view of the park. Admission to the monument is free.