If you haven’t been to George Washington’s Mount Vernon—or even if you have—you’ll want to put it on your family’s list of must-go places for this summer. Located in nearby Virginia, the iconic estate of our nation’s first president covers hundreds of sprawling acres along the banks of the Potomac River. Just a short drive from D.C., Mount Vernon offers a glimpse into the world of “The Father of His Country” and life as it was in colonial times.
Mount Vernon is a destination where past truly meets present. Washington’s Mansion and many of the estate’s original structures, including the spinning house, kitchen, and washhouse, still appear just as they did over two hundred years ago. A four-acre working farm, complete with heritage-breed animals, offers demonstrations of Washington’s innovative farming practices. You can even talk with people who knew George Washington at one of the interpretive character programs.
There are also modern attractions that bring history to life and offer a break from the summer sun. Included with general admission, the museum features exhibits filled with hundreds of artifacts detailing the history of Mount Vernon and the legacy of George Washington. While there, don’t miss the two high-tech theatres that let you experience history in uniquely interactive ways.
A fun way for families to explore Mount Vernon is with the Adventure Map that takes them on a puzzle-solving scavenger hunt. The maps can be picked up in the Ford Orientation Center, and written clues and colorful pictures guide families on an exploration of nine locations across the estate. Kids who complete the hunt and solve the puzzle even receive a special prize.
Another unique way to experience Mount Vernon is on a River Cruise along the Potomac River. The 45-minute ride offers a different perspective of the estate during a narrated excursion that offers stories of the people and animals that have inhabited its shores, as well as an explanation of the river’s vital role in the Civil War.
While Mount Vernon is great to visit any time—it’s open 365 days a year—summer is an especially good time to go. On June 24 & 25, the estate hosts Independence Fireworks, a family-friendly evening that includes fireworks, patriotic music, and even an 18th century ice cream-making demonstration. On July 4th, you can experience An American Celebration, where you can meet General Washington and watch him inspect the troops, observe a moving naturalization ceremony for new citizens, and enjoy a concert by the National Concert Band, all followed by made-for-daytime fireworks over the Potomac River.
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George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Where: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
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