MountVernonUpCloseMount Vernon, the home of George Washington, is a sprawling estate that encompasses five farms and nearly 50 acres to explore.  It’s grandness put it up there with the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace in Florence Italy, one of my favorite Italian historical sites.  It is one of the nation’s most heavily visited historic sites, with peak visiting season during the spring and summer. With smart planning, a family can make the most out of a trip to the plantation, finding the perfect mix of things to do and see.

Planning Your Visit

Before arriving at Mount Vernon, it is worth spending some time exploring  Mount Vernon online to scout out all that there is to see and do once you are there. From activities and tours, to special events, to self guided explorations of the plantation, the over 50 acres of land can be overwhelming. Although Mount Vernon’s website suggests that a visitor could see the estate in two-three hours, families should plan on closer to four-six hours especially if you are visiting during the peak season.

JumpingOffTheHaHaWallGetting There & Buying Tickets

My daughter and I went to the estate on the first day of spring break in the Washington DC area, arriving there around 10:45 in the morning. I knew to expect large amounts of people, but I was not fully prepared for driving through three different parking lots before finally finding a space.

Inside the estate, you do not notice the large number of visitors as the estate is so vast, until it comes time to get your ticket for the mansion visit.  Our ticket to “enter the line” for the mansion was at 1:50 pm, giving us several hours to explore on our own. The good news is although the line into the mansion looked long, it only took fifteen minutes for us to make our way into the mansion.Had we been smart, we would have purchased our ticket online.

ViewOfPotomacRiverPlan for Down Time

Another thing to plan for is some down time. If you are traveling with children, you know that even the most curious of youngsters will need to rest and relax, especially if your ticket for the mansion is not for several hours. The good news is that there are plenty of grounds where you can take a piccolo riposo (small rest). There is even the Ha-Ha Wall where children can run and play, jumping over the wall to get out some of their wiggles. There is also an education center where you can escape the heat of the day (or rain) with exhibits and films.  Although food is not permitted on the estate, you may bring water bottles, or get a bite to eat in the food court to break up your visit.

There is so much to see on the estate, depending on your available time and energy level. The gardens make for a wonderful place to stroll and sit, as does the the grassy area over looking the Potomac River.  Having just recovered from surgery I knew that walking down the hill (and then back up) to the Pioneer Farmer Site, the dock, andWashington’s Tomb would be too much for us.

The good news is that because we took a rest, and paced ourselves, we left excited about what we had seen and learned, and looking forward to the “prossima volta” (next time).

Elena shares her stories about living life, one moment at a time at Ciao Mom.