George W. Bush, wanting to get away from the East Coast elite image that his father had, eschewed his family's scenic home in Kennebunkport, Maine and spent his down time at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, about two hours south of Dallas.
"Most Americans don't sit in Martha's Vineyard, swilling white wine," Bush said in 2002 when asked why he chose the hot and humid locale for his presidential vacation spot, deemed the "Western White House."
Bush fully embraced the dust and heat of central Texas, driving a pickup truck around his property, showing off the vast land to world leaders and providing the press with photo opportunities of him getting down and dirty clearing brush.
During his presidency, Bush spent a total 490 days at his beloved ranch, according to figures compiled by the unofficial White House statskeeper CBS News' Mark Knoller. In his first nine months in office, spent over 90 days at either his ranch or the presidential retreat at Camp David, Knoller notes.
Bill Clinton did not own a vacation home, so he and Hillary and their daughter Chelsea spent several summer vacations on Martha's Vineyard, staying with a wealthy Democratic donor. Clinton was ostensibly there to recharge his batteries but he was also a fixture on the social scene, bouncing from fundraisers to parties to local establishments.
George H.W. Bush holed up at the family compound in Maine and Ronald Reagan would spend a month at his ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif. Richard Nixon had a "Western White House" of his own in California and a "Florida White House" in Key Biscayne.
Presidential historian Fortier said presidential vacations have evolved with media and technology.
"In a way, the president's vacation has become something more of an issue today where the presidency is much more of a 24-hour job where the media follows the president around -- follows the president on vacation even," he said.
Obama heads to the Vineyard with the press in tow, but White House officials expect the president to remain largely out of sight with his family and some close friends.
Despite reports, there are no plans for the president to visit Sen. Ted Kennedy who is staying at his family's compound at Hyannis on Cape Cod, a White House official said.
ABC News' Alice Gomstyn and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.