Visiting Mount Vernon in Virginia is a whole day experience. Plan at least a half day to visit George Washington’s property. The large estate has many buildings to explore and includes a tour of the house and a museum of Washington’s artifacts. The estate and mansion are beautiful and are definitely worth a visit.
Make sure to pick up the kids scavenger hunt when you arrive. Our boys loved looking for answers about George Washington. When they completed the page, they received a prize in the museum.
Buy tickets for the house tour either before you go or at the gate. The tickets are a few dollars cheaper if you buy online before arriving. The tour is the main reason for going to Mount Vernon. The old mansion is really impressive and has been restored to its 18th century origins. We learned a lot on the tour about Washington’s tastes. He loved brightly colored paint, and two rooms in the mansion are hideous shades of green.
George Washington was also all about appearances, so he maintained a large lawn in front of the mansion which was a rarity in its time. He also covered the wooden mansion with adobe shaped like bricks so that it looked a little more imposing. The best artifact in the mansion is the key to the French prison called the Bastille, which was presented to General Washington as a gift.
Walk the Grounds
There are plenty of places to explore on the grounds. The many buildings include slave quarters, carriage sheds, a smithy, and storage buildings for kitchen items and food. Be sure to walk around and peek in each of these buildings. Sometimes there are surprises. In one, we listened to a character actor portraying one of Washington’s slaves talk about life on the estate. In another “Martha Washington” spoke to our boys and took a picture with them. This made the visit a little more special.
There are beautiful grounds and trails to explore. Mount Vernon sits right next to the Potomac River and has an amazing view of the area. We loved walking through the gardens and reading the informational signs throughout the grounds. We weren’t able to see everything in our half day, so we would definitely plan longer next time we visit.
The last thing to visit on the grounds is Washington’s Tomb. There is an old tomb down by the water, which is empty, but was the first tomb he was buried in before being moved. The actual tomb where George Washington is laid now is in the middle of the property. Through bars you can see the tomb of both George and Martha side by side. It is a casket fit for a king, which Washington never wanted to be.
The museum at Mount Vernon has many things to see. It tells the real story of Washington from his time as a boy to the end of his life in 1799. Our boys were fascinated to see the false teeth that were on display (Spoiler: they aren’t made of wood). The museum is placed so that you exit the grounds through this building. This is where you turn in your scavenger hunt.
Tips for Families
Mount Vernon is an amazing stop on your visit to Washington, DC. Don’t miss it!
- Buy tickets online to save a little money.
- Plan a route of where to go so you aren’t retracing your steps around the grounds. We used the map a lot, so make sure to grab one when you arrive.
- Do the Kids Scavenger Hunt. This made the visit lots of fun for our boys. They were excited for the smashed penny they received as a prize.
- Check the schedule to see if there are any characters around. It was so fun to listen to the time period people talk about George Washington.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking a lot.
- Water bottles are allowed, but no other food and drink.
- There is a lot of great information on Mount Vernon’s Website, such as this itinerary ideas page.