You don’t need to be a fan of the founding fathers, or even a huge history buff, to appreciate a visit to the Mount Vernon estate. George Washington’s former homestead, located just south of Washington D.C. in Virginia, boasts a museum, gardens, farm, and even the tomb of our first president. Of course, that’s all in addition to the actual house. Well, “house” might be a bit of an understatement. It’s a stately mansion of 21 rooms and more than 11,000 square feet.
The Museum and Education Center are just as impressive, with 23 theaters and galleries that tell the story of Washington and his legacy. Between the historic artifacts, exhibits and movies, and even a miniature version of Mount Vernon, you could easily spend an entire day here alone. Kids will especially appreciate the interactive pieces, but there’s truly something for everyone.
The Pioneer Farm provides a proper peek into a day in the life of Washington. There’s a 16-sided barn, a recreation of the estate’s slave cabin, and even live demonstrations of agricultural practices — like wheat winnowing and field plowing — from April through October.
Two more attractions not to be missed are the Gristmill and Distillery. The mill, which processed grains, was a major innovation of its time and is still fully functioning. The distillery still works as well, and you can even sample its rye whiskey during your visit. Both the Gristmill and Distillery are only open from April 1 through November 1.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the property, there are plenty of dining options right on site. You can opt for a quick bite at the food court, or enjoy a more leisurely meal at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.
Before you go, make sure to pay your respects to George Washington and his wife Martha at their tombs. There are special wreath-laying tributes twice a day, every day, so check the schedule when you arrive.
Mount Vernon is open 365 days a year, making it easy to plan your visit. If you want a sneak preview or to map out your day before you go, you can even take a virtual tour on the official website, http://www.mountvernon.org. Going at a popular time of year like spring or summer? Get your tickets online and bypass the long lines.