Mount Vernon is really the house that started it all for me. I remember learning about George Washington's magnificent estate as a child and eventually making a pilgrimage like so many before me. The estate was the first I ever toured and its majesty has captivated me ever since. Mount Vernon is very close to Washington, D.C., perched gracefully on the Potomac River. During our visit to DC, a trip to the estate seemed quite natural.
Before visiting, I recommend researching the layout of Mount Vernon as well as special events and tours. Additionally, you will want to reserve your tour time ahead of time. One million visitors tour the mansion each year, so you can imagine it is quite popular!
Forever a tourist site:
Historically, Mount Vernon is no stranger to crowds. The estate saw a steady stream of guests after Washington's retirement with as many as 677 guests in one year (1798). During the Civil War, Mount Vernon remained non-partisan, respected grounds and continued to welcome guests including soldiers that were asked to not dress in uniform. Mount Vernon is open 365 days a year. So, the estate is never lacking for guests!
Touring the estate:
Mount Vernon began in 1735 as a one half story farmhouse constructed by George Washington's father, Augustine. Today, the grounds are populated with both original buildings and reconstructions. The mansion is original therefore making impressive to tour!
The mansion appears to be brick. In actuality, it is wood made using a special technique. This is just one intriguing tidbit you will learn while exploring the mansion. The tour of the mansion is about 20 minutes in a flow-through style where guests flow through the mansion and are greeted by individual tour guides in each room or set of rooms. This type of a tour may be a bit easier on children as it is pretty quick. I was impressed by how much detail was included in such a short time!
|Amazingly, George Washington had tropical plants in his greenhouse! The greenhouse was heated by this Stove Room.|
|A peek into the Gardener's House.|
|Peaceful garden at Mount Vernon.|
|View of the Potomac River from Mount Vernon.|
|Another view of one of the gardens at Mount Vernon. They are quite expansive--and enjoyable!|
- Definitely tour the mansion.
- Spend time ambling through the estate admiring the natural landscape.
- Take pictures of the estate, but not inside the mansion--they are prohibited!
- Plan ahead--there is a lot to see and if you want to see everything you will need to afford enough time. There are sections that we have not seen yet due to time constraints but give us reason to go back!
- There is a Pioneer Farm on the estate. We did not have a chance to visit it but is worth checking out with the kids!
- Visit the Orientation Center and the Museum to learn about George Washington, his family and his estate.
- Check out the shops--they have many Made in U.S.A. items to pick up!
- There is a food court at Mount Vernon as well as a sit down restaurant.