A day spent exploring Mount Vernon, the historic home of our first president, is like traveling back in history to the year 1799, when George Washington died. There is much more to see than just George and Martha Washington’s mansion when you visit the plantation.
What to See & Do
The Gardens and Grounds: The grounds of the estate are stunning. The 18th century gardens are well maintained and are home to a wide variety of flowers, plants, vegetables, and herbs.
The Outbuildings: More than a dozen outbuildings are open on the estate, demonstrating the inner workings of the estate. Some of our favorites were the slave quarters (it was great to compare how different they were than the rooms in the mansion), the Blacksmith, and the Salt House.
The Mansion: The mansion visit takes you through two floors of the house including several dining rooms, bed rooms, and parlors. From the ornate canopied beds to the vistas over the Potomac River, the mansion tour reminds us of how different life was during the 18th century. My seven year old daughter’s favorite part of the mansion, and the thing she was most surprised about was that there was a bowl in each room so that people could get washed.
See the Animals: George Washington planned his estate so that it could be fully self sufficient, which meant having animals that could be raised for meat, milk, butter, wool, leather, fertilizer and more. Children were lined up along the rails of the fence containing hogs, sheep, cows, chickens, turkeys, and more.
The Adventure Map: (Our favorite) I always appreciate when a museum or historic location tries to engage children in authentic ways. So I was thrilled that the estate offers an Adventure Map to children to guide their exploration, where they look for clues to riddles. Children that complete the map can take it to the gift shop for a special prize.
Additional Tours: There are several tours that might appeal to families that are looking for more in depth information. Tours like the self guided audio tour, the Slave Life Tour, and the National Treasures Tour. Two other tours that sound perfect for families are the Character Led Tour and the new Dinner for the Washingtons that ends in the Greenhouse with a tasting.
There is so much to see on the estate, depending on your available time and energy level. Smart planning is key to making your trip enjoyable and educational for the entire family. You might get a head start on your trip with a virtual tour that is part of the estate’s detailed website.
Elena shares her stories about living life, one moment at a time at Ciao Mom.