Mount Vernon with Kids

mount vernon.pngWe spent a lovely spring Sunday afternoon at George Washington’s former farm residence, Mount Vernon. This popular Virginia attraction has a great number of different activities and things to see. When you buy your ticket, you will be given a timed entry ticket to tour Washington’s main house, the centerpiece of the property. You can also buy tickets for special tours and a boat cruise. You can purchase tickets online in advance which is always a good idea-especially if you plan to visit at a popular time.

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We started our visit by leisurely wandering the grounds near the main house as well as the upper and lower gardens. Near the upper gardens you can find the slave quarters which are set up to resemble what they would have looked like while in use. Depending on timing, you may also have a chance to meet Lady Washington (Martha Custis/Washinton) herself. There is a character actor portraying the original First Lady, recounting her life, how she met George, about her children, etc. She’s very friendly, interactive, and even brought my kids up to take a picture with her. You may also find other members of the Washington family wandering the grounds ready to converse with you about the family history and Mount Vernon itself.

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Upper Gardens with the former slaves’ quarters in the background.

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Sometimes playing in the dirt is more exciting than history.

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Getting to meet and take pictures with Lady Washington!

Our tour of the residence was interesting with informed employees in the various areas of the house explaining what you were looking at and answering questions. You are kept on a path through the edges of rooms or in the hallway, which I was actually grateful for because it meant my kids probably couldn’t cause any trouble that way 😉 The tour is long enough to peak your interest but not so long that little kids can’t make it through. I was nervous that they would have a hard time or be disruptive, but I didn’t find this tour to be overly stuffy or lengthy and the kids did just fine.

You can also feel free to hang out on the back patio of Mount Vernon relaxing in a chair and taking in the views of the Potomac River. I visited Mount Vernon as an 8th grader on a school trip, and my one memory is sitting out there looking at fireflies.

In addition to the main house, you can also see the stables where we found hogs, sheep, and new baby lambs. You can also walk or take the shuttle down to the Pioneer Farm. If you’re lucky you’ll be there on a day where there are demonstrations of colonial life taking place. There wasn’t much going on during our visit but we did get to learn about fishing in the Potomac and salting fish to preserve it. My daughter really enjoyed interacting with the colonists and getting to try some hands on activities with them.

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Kids talking with a colonist about fishing for shad and salting it to preserve it.

The final thing we did was a boat cruise on the Potomac. The cruise was about 45 minutes and took us to see Ft. Washington down the river a bit. For whatever reason we were on a boat that was similar to a commuter boat/ferry, but our friends who visited another time were on a more luxurious looking yacht. Our boat only had popcorn and drinks available but apparently the fancy boat had full meals you could order.

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Osprey nest near the boat dock, I’ve decided they must be named George and Martha 🙂

We bypassed Washington’s tomb and the memorial for the slaves. We also missed out on the education center which I hear is wonderful! There is a children’s room that has a doll house sized version of Mount Vernon, story time, crafts, puzzles, and other activities. We just ran out of time. We got there mid day and to really enjoy everything, a full day would have been best. Just writing this I’m already thinking I need to find a day to go back!

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Blowing dandelions on the Colonial Farm.

Mount Vernon hosts many special events throughout the year so be sure to check out their events calendar to see what will be going on during your visit! Who else has been to Mount Vernon? What did you love about it and what tips do you have? Please leave your input in the comments below!