Take an Educational Field Trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon this Summer

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Love history? Recently we were fortunate enough to send KAG contributor Lacey Keigley to visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Her family loved their visit to the plantation home of the first United States President. This estate offers history, nature and more. Plus it’s only a short trip from Greenville.

Complimentary tickets were provided for this review. Looking for more travel ideas? Check out our travel page.

About George Washington’s Mount Vernon

It was a bright Monday morning and we actually arrived at Mount Vernon before the sun had risen to its highest midday point.  (And for a trip with five kids, I’d say that was a good start!)

Traffic to the historic site wasn’t at all bad and the brown road signs marked the turns clearly. Parking was simple but we struggled a little to find the entrance once we got out of the car. The signs are sufficient but they are small and we wandered a few minutes before we found the path leading to the main entrance to pick up our tickets.

George Washington's Mount Vernon

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The Estate at Mount Vernon

After picking up our tickets – a few complimentary media passes plus a few paid passes – we headed through the museum entrance in order to head to the historic home itself. Our tickets had a time stamped on them for when our tour was scheduled to begin. We examined the giant model of George Washington’s home but we did not linger in the museum because we didn’t want to miss our tour time.

The kids (as well as myself and my sister-in-law who was visiting with us) loved the giant model – all of the perfect interior features were fun to examine. There were even little rolled towels on the shelves and perfect cutlery on the dining room table.

The walk up to the home is flat and easy to traverse and the grounds were not at all crowded on our visit. You see the lawn of the back of Mount Vernon as you walk and I realized after the visit was complete that I always assumed that was the front of the home, but actually the side facing the Potomac River with the long porch type setting looks more like the front to me.

We had to wait only a short time for our tour to begin and the line moved quickly and the waiting was spent almost entirely in the shade – for which we were all grateful as the day was getting considerably warmer with each passing minute. Very professional and polite, the staff and tour guides worked seamlessly together and presented their information in easy conversational tones.

The home is simple and elegant and lovely and extravagant, all at the same time. Unlike some mansions and historical sites our family has visited over the years, Mount Vernon feels accessible and welcoming. Livable – I think. Which seems like the very feeling George Washington and his wife Martha wished the home to have actually.

The grounds at Mount Vernon

The grounds are in perfect condition and made for a lovely morning of strolling. My kids were especially enthralled by the gigantic Tulip Poplar that was planted in 1766 by George Washington himself. (This tree also was the background for my favorite picture from our trip.) It feels a little magical to touch a tree the first president planted.

poplar tree planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon

Had the day been less on the warm side I think we all could have strolled for another hour. As it was, however, the kids welcomed the opportunity to ride the shuttle from the house to the wharf. We were not allowed to walk onto the wharf, but it looked so lovely and peaceful there on the Potomac that I really wanted to spend some quiet minutes closer to the water’s edge.

The sixteen-sided barn near the wharf is a clever creation by Washington to allow draft horses to do the burdensome work of separating the wheat berries from the stalks. A costumed interpreter was at the barn and the kids all were able to take wheat stalks, pull off the wheat berries, blow away the chaff in their hands and crunch on George Washington’s wheat.

We walked back through the woods on the trail to see Washington’s tomb – as well as his wife’s. A short walk brought us back by the house where we had already visited the blacksmith shop and the gardens and the animal pens. My seven-year-old thought the piglets especially cute.

The museum at Mount Vernon

Just as the day’s heat was reaching uncomfortable levels, we stepped inside the museum. At first the kids, hungry and hot, moaned at my suggestion of walking through and seeing the exhibits. They all quickly changed their tune though as we entered the building. Immediately you learn about a group of historians creating life-like wax figures of George Washington at various ages. Then you get to see those figures up close and personal. The museum is also filled with family-friendly exhibits that engage both grown ups and kids. There is a hands-on history room where kids can reconstruct artifacts and read books and play with a model home of Mount Vernon, dress up in costumes and even take coloring pages and activities home with them for the drive back south.

Our family spent about two and half hours at Mount Vernon. We could have probably spent another hour had we watched the museum’s film or lingered longer at some of the outbuildings around the house. It’s a beautiful location – certainly picturesque, but also a starting point of American history that is absolutely worth your family’s time to take in on your next trip to the DC area.

Plan a trip of your own

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA
703.780.2000
Open 365 days per year
www.mountvernon.org

Ticket prices:
Kids 6 – 12 years old, $12
Kids 12+ and adults, $20
Kids 5 and under are free
Save a buck or two buy purchasing tickets online.

What would your kids love the most about a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon?

About the Author
Lacey Keigley is the mother of six children - five of whom she homeschools. She thinks old wooden crates make the best bookshelves. She hangs worn out barn tin on her walls and calls it art. She believes raising her six children is the scariest and the wildest journey she has ever taken. She likes the magic of sunlight through the old bottles on her kitchen shelf. She blogs about education and parenting and grace and unexpected adventures on her blog SoEveryDay. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest.

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