Mount Vernon, Virginia - Explore The Historical Beauty - My Family Travels

Celebrate Independence Day and experience America’s founding on a Mount Vernon weekend. The Mt. Vernon estate is George and Martha Washington’s home and farm in Virginia. Take the kids to learn about the Washingtons’ 18th-century lifestyle. Discover the day-to-day duties of America’s first president and what democracy meant in that era.

Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac River, boasts beautiful landscaping at any time of year.
Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac River, boasts beautiful landscaping at any time of year. Photo by Rob Schenk for MVLA.

History of Mount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon was constructed by his father in 1734 on the banks of the Potomac River. Conveniently, it is just 15 miles south of Washington DC, the capital today. It wasn’t always so convenient.

General Washington spent years away from his family fighting for independence against the British. Then, in 1789, he was elected the first president of the new United States. The family relocated to the new capital, New York City. They moved again to Philadelphia for his second term as president. Not until he retired did they spend more time at Mount Vernon.

Visiting During Summer Weekends

Summer, especially weekends, is a busy time to visit Mount Vernon. Nightly fireworks are over the estate during the July 4th Weekend and other special events. We suggest spending a few days in the area to better understand how America’s first president, his family, and the slaves who supported his enterprises lived.

Explore the 25 galleries and theaters, more than 700 artifacts, and interactive displays that introduce visitors to the real George Washington. Don’t miss the three life-size models of Washington created from a forensic investigation. Get personal with the most famous dentures in the world (made of hippopotamus ivory) — on permanent display.

Pick up the free audio guide and allow time to listen to costumed interpreters near the historic area and at the tomb. There are several themed tours. Older kids and adults who are devoted fans of the musical “Hamilton” will enjoy a special hour-long guide tour. Hamilton the Musical Tour is given on weekends from April through October.

Visitors can easily spend 6 to 8 hours at the riverside estate, so consider breaking up your visit. History buffs often buy an annual membership ($159 for family of four) because it includes free entry to the grounds and free tickets to all the guided tours. Midweek visits are the least crowded, and there are special visits for guests with disabilities and those on the autism spectrum.

Black History at the Home of the Man who believed “All Men are Created Equal”

Mount Vernon restored sitting room, photo by Gavin Ashworth.
Imagine how the President and his family received guests at Mount Vernon’s restored sitting room. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

Join historical interpreters at the estate’s Slave Quarters to talk about the lives and achievements of its former slaves, a difficult topic that the estate has come to terms with. Daily throughout February, which is Black History Month, there are many special programs on the grounds and at the slave memorial.

During the Washingtons’ lifetime, the slave quarters stretched across the five farms on property to house 317 enslaved peoples. When George Washington died, his will asked that all slaves be freed. However, slaves who belonged to his wife or her family’s estate were kept in bondage and passed on to their heirs. Book ahead for the special 60-minute Enslaved People of Mount Vernon Tour held year-round, at least once per day; at no charge.

Presidents Day at Mount Vernon

Of course, many families associate the February Presidents Day school break with Washington. The holiday commemorated Washington’s birth date of Feb. 22, 1879. For consistency, the celebration date was moved to the third Monday of February in 1968. Many states decided that the holiday should be renamed Presidents Day since it fell between Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays.

His birthday has been celebrated at Mount Vernon for many years with what was, according to records, his favorite breakfast: “hoecakes swimming in butter and honey,” followed by a parade. One day of this weekend is usually free to the public. On this day, see a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Washington’s Tomb, followed by patriotic music and military performances on Bowling Green.

Year-Round Events at Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon's back lawn is often the site of special festivals and events.
Mount Vernon’s back lawn is often the site of special festivals and events. Photo c. MVLA.

Among the many festivals held there year-round, the annual Colonial Market & Fair brings the estate to life. It is usually held the weekend after Labor Day each September.

Dozens of artisans, performers, and historians (all in period dress) entertain and educate visitors to bring the historic site to life. Traditional colonial recipes are dusted off, too, providing tasty treats for the whole family.

Skilled craftsmen working in tin, ceramics, glass, and wax are at work all weekend, answering questions, conducting demonstrations, and selling some wares. Watch as uniformed militia march and speak with them in their camp. Of course, President Washington’s home’s ground floor is open for tours as usual.

Whenever you go, try to visit the reconstructed distillery producing small-batch spirits. There are frequent whiskey tastings on the calendar. Kids enjoy the noisy, working gristmill which is located less than 3 miles from the estate’s main entrance.

Best Times to Visit the Washington’s Home

Newly refurbished breakfast room at Mount Vernon. Photo by MVLA.
The newly refurbished breakfast room at Mount Vernon. Photo by MVLA.

Mount Vernon sits amidst 500 acres of rolling fields and beautifully manicured lawns. Spring is a special time to visit because the grounds are in bloom. Visitors also encounter the new baby lambs born on the estate, a popular activity that can be very hectic.

Even in the dead of winter, Mt. Vernon is a worthwhile site. The holiday season, Christmas, and winter weekends bring opportunities to admire the festive colonial decor. Chat with soldiers at an 18th-century winter encampment, study the activity inside an active blacksmith shop, peruse the crafts at the estate’s gift shop, and snack from the on-site food truck.

In addition to the daily Mansion tours, allow extra time to explore the 45 acres open for touring. Explore the Pioneer Farmer’s 16-sided treading barn and stroll a quarter-mile through oak, holly, and laurel woods, past Washington’s cobble quarry and a Native American site.

Trip Planning Details for Mt. Vernon

The Morrison-Clark Historic Inn has a 1 bedroom duplex suite in a colonial-era carriage house.
The Morrison-Clark Historic Inn has a 1 bedroom duplex suite in the back, located in an old brick carriage house.

Admission to Mount Vernon includes special programs and events; children under 5 are always welcome free of charge.

The Viator site is great for discovering unusual attractions in advance of arrival and booking online sure saves time waiting in line.

If you, like most families visiting Mt. Vernon, choose to stay overnight, consider nearby Washington DC. There are so many other presidential things to see and do with the family. And a big bonus: take a Potomac Riverboat Company cruise excursion weekends to Mount Vernon from DC or Alexandria — including time for sightseeing.

There are two historic hotels we like in the District. The Morrison-Clark Historic Hotel is a charming landmark near Chinatown. Many rooms have pull-out sofas to accommodate families; suites are available. The Lombardy Hotel is just a few blocks from the White House and has suites and full kitchens.

For more choices, contact your travel agent or Washington, DC C & VB. Remember that many chain hotels and budget motels offer lesser-priced accommodations in neighboring Maryland and Virginia. or deals on a local rental car, explore discounts from

Mount Vernon is a private, non-profit museum supported by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union and donors.


Is Mount Vernon wheelchair accessible?

Yes, Mount Vernon is wheelchair accessible. They offer special visits and accommodations for guests with disabilities. Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Are pets allowed at Mount Vernon?

Only service animals are allowed on the estate. Pets are not permitted inside the historic buildings or on the grounds.

Can I buy tickets online in advance?

Yes, you can purchase tickets online in advance through the official Mount Vernon website. This is a convenient way to skip the ticket lines on the day of your visit.

Are there dining options at Mount Vernon?

Yes, there are dining options available on the estate, including the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant and the Food Court. You can also bring your own picnic lunch and enjoy it in the designated picnic area.

How long does it take to explore Mount Vernon?

The time it takes to explore Mount Vernon can vary depending on your interests. Visitors often spend 6 to 8 hours exploring the estate. To see everything, plan a full-day visit.

Can I bring my own guided tour group to Mount Vernon?

If you plan to bring a large group or an organized tour, contacting Mount Vernon in advance is recommended to arrange group visits and guided tours.

Are there any special events or programs for children?

Mount Vernon offers children various educational programs and events, including interactive exhibits and special tours. Check the events calendar for details on family-friendly activities.

What is the best time to visit to avoid crowds?

Midweek visits tend to be less crowded than weekends. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during non-peak seasons or during the winter months.

If you find this article helpful in planning your visit to Mount Vernon, Virginia, consider checking out these other articles as well – 

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