Last Updated: July 8th, 2020
Visiting George Washington's Mount Vernon
Located just 17 miles from Washington D.C. , our first President’s home is definitely worth the visit! George Washington’s Mount Vernon is a great family destination and absolutely full of history.
Mount Vernon was originally called Little Hunting Creek Plantation and was owned by John Washington ( George Washington’s Great Grandfather). In 1726, George Washington’s father purchased the estate and built the main part of the plantation house.
When you think about Mount Vernon as one of the most visited homes in America, it’s hard to believe it was almost in ruins when the Mount Vernon Ladies Association was formed to buy and preserve it. Remarkably, Mount Vernon was almost lost to history.
Interestingly, during the Civil War both sides declared Mount Vernon to be neutral ground and thereby saving it from potential destruction. George Washington’s Mount Vernon was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and it’s also listed on the The National Register of Historic Places
George Washington's Mount Vernon Basics
Tickets are pretty reasonable: $20 per adult and $12 for children ( 6-11), children under five are free.
TIP: A military discount is offered and Purple Heart Recipients are admitted free
There are several “add-ons” available when you purchase tickets. One of the most popular is the “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” guided tour. We opted not to do this, but we’ve heard really good things about this particular extra tour. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what this tour will cover.
TIP: Buy your tickets for Mount Vernon online before you leave. It will save you a little bit of money and you won’t have to stand in line for tickets. We went right to the will call booth and began our day. As part of the reservation process, you must select a specific time for the home tour. We recommend that you arrive AT LEAST 30 minutes before your scheduled tour time.
Note: Mansion tours will not be given January 27th – February 9th, 2020 due to preservation work on Mount Vernon. However, you will be able to tour the rest of the grounds during this time and tickets are 25% off. Click HERE to receive more information regarding purchasing tickets
UPDATE: Mount Vernon has reopened and is currently is Phase 1. Click the above link for the latest on safety protocols and requirements.
Mount Vernon Gardens
Once you’re through the welcome area, you are on the property of George Washington (how cool is that?!) We were surprised how much land there was and with our tour time not starting for a while, we took the opportunity to walk around a bit.
I think one of the underrated aspects of Mount Vernon are the upper and lower gardens. One garden is more formal and the other was made to be more like an English garden. We were so impressed by its beauty and the large greenhouse. Washington’s greenhouse is the second largest building on the property and was quite advanced for the time. Like Jefferson, Washington was very involved in garden and landscape design.
Mount Vernon Home Tour
At Mount Vernon, you are taken in a large group basically single file and you rather quickly walk through the house. On a positive side, you are allowed to take pictures inside Mount Vernon. There are so many amazing artifacts in Mount Vernon that we would’ve preferred to have gone at a slower pace. However, just being able to tour Mount Vernon was special. The interior furnishings are either original or replicated to look authentic to the period.
One of our favorite items in the house was an ACTUAL key to the Bastille! This particular key was presented to George Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington thought so highly of the gift that he placed it in this case for display at Mount Vernon.
After the home tour, go to the back of the home and enjoy the amazing view of the Potomac. It will be easy to see why having this view was so important to George Washington.
After marveling at the view of the Potomac, walk to the original and new tomb of the Washingtons’. After George’s death, he was placed in a small tomb that eventually began to crumble. In 1831, the new tomb was complete and George and Martha were moved there permanently. The new tomb is surrounded by trees and it seems a lovely place to have their final rest.
Other Property Features and the Treading Barn
Just walking the grounds at Mount Vernon is a treat. Along the paths, you’ll see markers for plants and trees and it’s fascinating to read how long some of the trees have been on the property. Allow plenty of time to walk the grounds and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.
The famous 16-sided barn was designed by Washington in 1792. It was an ingenious design that protected wheat from rain and mud, thus making a more stellar product that would fetch more money. This barn was recreated in the 1990’s from Washington’s own handwritten design plan. If you visit in late summer or early fall, there are daily demonstrations at the barn.
The museum and education center is truly remarkable! If your kids don’t like museums, this one will change their mind. There are immersive activities and interactive displays that your kids will really enjoy. There is a 4D movie that you can watch and all movies are included with your Mount Vernon general admission ticket, so no extra cost. Yay! There are over 700 objects on display for visitors to see, including George Washington’s famous teeth!
After going through the museum, you must visit the gift shop. The gift shop is very large and there are a lot of great items you and your family can buy to remember your visit. Don’t forget to pick up a Christmas ornament for your family travel tree.
Where To Eat
After touring Mount Vernon, your group will be hungry. We chose to eat at the Mount Vernon Inn after reading its amazing reviews. Given it’s location by the front entrance to Mount Vernon, it’s easy to walk to.
The restaurant lived up to its reputation as the food and service were simply outstanding! Prices were reasonable ($5-$26) and I had the best fried green tomatoes ever! The Mount Vernon Inn is famous for its peanut and chestnut soup. We wanted to try it, but it was a warm day and soup wasn’t going to “hit the spot”. We meant to take a picture of our food, but we were so hungry we started to eat right away.
It’s easy to book a reservation through your phone with Open Table. If for some reason plans change, you have the restaurant number handy to call.
- Tea with Martha Washington ( Feb 1 & 15, March 7, Aug 8, and November 14) *Additional Fee
- Washington’s Birthday Celebration ( February 17, 2020 — 9:00am – 5:00pm) Included in Admission
- Revolutionary War Weekend ( May 2, 2020 – May 3, 2020 — 9:00am – 5:00pm) Included in Admission
- James Monroe’s Highland ( 104 Miles)
- James Madison’s Montpelier ( 81.7 Miles)
- Shenandoah National Park ( 77 Miles)
- Washington D.C. ( 17.4 Miles)
- Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello ( 123 Miles)
- Colonial Williamsburg ( 142 Miles)
I’m so glad that we visited Mount Vernon as George Washington has become almost mythical over the years. To see and walk where Washington lived was pretty remarkable. When visiting Virginia, the choices for historical homes, battlefields and museums are endless. We hope to go back to Virginia to visit the homes of James Madison & James Monroe in the near future.
Overall, visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon was very kid friendly and provided a great opportunity for our boys to learn even more about our first President & Founding Father.