“It’s our duty as parents to take you to places like this, because when you’re grown up and you’re a garbage truck driver, you won’t be able to afford to do these things.”
That’s what the mother behind me was telling her son as we were waiting in line for the tour of the Mount Vernon mansion. Her husband had been reading a Mt. Vernon guidebook to the family of four for the previous ten minutes. The pre-teen kids were rolling their eyes, but were laughing.
Mt. Vernon, the plantation home of George Washington, is in remarkably good shape. There are still original pieces of furniture there that our first president used. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association has preserved the plantation the way it was about 200 years ago, so you can see the mansion, slave quarters, gardens and farm from 1799.
- You will need a full day to visit Mount Vernon. They have a nice food court and a full-service restaurant on site to make your day more comfortable.
- Before you go, check the Calendar of Events on the website to see if there is a special event you can take advantage of while you’re there.
- Start your visit at their new orientation center, then proceed to the tour of the mansion. During the summer, lines can be long to get into the mansion, but the tour isn’t long.
- Use your time waiting for the mansion tour to study the map. After the tour of the mansion, it’s up to you to decide what parts of the plantation you’d like to see, and it’s a bit spread out.
- There is LOTS of green space for kids with energy to run around, and the Mt. Vernon staff is pretty liberal about letting kids run. Enjoy.
- There are some fabulous views of the Potomac from the back of the mansion, a wonderful place for photos.
There are a couple of cruise lines that will take you there by boat, a trip which adds to the fun. We took the Potomac Riverboat Company from the Torpedo Factory dock in Old Town Alexandria. The open-air boat has plenty of seating, an air-conditioned level and a snack bar. Yes, there were even rest rooms on board. A tour guide provided a narration of sights along the river that corresponded with our visit of Mt.Vernon. The boat left Alexandria at 10:15 a.m. and returned at 5:30 p.m. Once you get to the dock at Mt. Vernon, you can either walk up the hill or take a shuttle bus. I recommend taking the bus, regardless of your energy level, since this will drop you off at the new orientation center, and you’ll be able to see a great little film that’s been put together about George Washington, and experience Mt. Vernon in the ‘right’ order.
Keep in mind that Mount Vernon is privately owned, and there is a reasonable admission fee.