Spending the Day at Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon, in Alexandria Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C., is a sprawling estate that encompasses five farms and nearly 50 acres to explore that brings you back to 1799 when George Washington died. Exploring and enjoying the many things to do at Mount Vernon is a perfect way to bring history to life for children and families. The good news is that you can get a sense of things to do at Mount Vernon before you visit the plantation.
Things to do at Mount Vernon
The Adventure Map
(Our favorite) I always appreciate when a museum or historic location tries to engage children in authentic ways. The estate offers an Adventure Map to children to guide their exploration, where they look for clues to riddles. Children that complete the map can take it to the gift shop for a special prize.
The mansion is the main attraction for many visiting Mount Vernon. The guided tour takes you through two floors of the house including several dining rooms, bed rooms, and parlors. My daughter’s favorite part of the mansion, and the thing she was most surprised about was that there was a bowl in each room so that people could get washed. (This requires a timed ticket for entry that you can also purchase online.)
More than a dozen outbuildings are open on the estate, demonstrating the inner workings of the estate. Some of our favorites were the slave quarters (it was great to compare how different they were than the rooms in the mansion), the Blacksmith, and the Salt House.
George Washington planned his estate so that it could be completely self sufficient, which meant having animals that could be raised for meat, milk, butter, wool, leather, fertilizer and more. Children were lined up along the rails of the fence to see the hogs, sheep, cows, chickens, turkeys, and more.
The Gardens and Grounds
The grounds of the estate are stunning. The 18th century gardens are well maintained and are home to a wide variety of flowers, plants, vegetables, and herbs. The Ha-Ha Wall was another of our favorite spots, where children can run and play, jumping over the wall to expend some energy. On a nice day, it is also worthwhile to take a stroll through the fruit garden and nursery to visit Washington’s Tomb where the President and First Lady are buried. On a rainy day, families might visit the education center with exhibits and films.
Mount Vernon is a very popular destination for families visiting Alexandria or Washington, D.C. so it is a good idea to get started early in the day and prioritize what is most important to see, so that the kids (or adults) stay engaged and excited during the visit.
If you’re looking for a hotel in Alexandria, consider Hilton Alexandria Old Town, which is about eight miles from Mount Vernon in the historic King Street District of Alexandria and is within walking distance of the King Street Metro and Alexandria waterfront.
Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!