Have you often thought of visiting George Washington’s Mount Vernon but never got around to it? If so, now might be the best time of the year to visit. That’s because the estate of the first American president is hosting its annual Revolutionary War weekend on April 30-May 1. In the event you can’t make it right away, a visit should absolutely be on your wish list. After all, this is one of America’s most treasured sanctuaries and a true reflection of its historic past. And besides, it’s just a short trip from Alexandria, in Northern Virginia.
Where To Stay In Alexandria
The best and most practical places stay to are in Old Town Alexandria. In fact, there is a cluster of outstanding hotels within walking distance of the King St./Old Town Metrorail station. For instance, Hilton Alexandria, Hyatt Centric Old Town Alexandria and Lorien Hotel & Spa are on King Street. Of course, there are other options closer to the waterfront. In short detail, there are the Alexandrian, Morrison House and Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, VA 22121
Hours: April-October, Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, November-March, Daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets: Adults (12+) $28, Youth (ages 6-11) $15, Children (0-5) free,
$2 discount when purchasing tickets online and at least three days in advance
Admission includes admittance to the estate and an audio tour. Tours of the mansion require a timed ticket. Therefore, to guarantee yourself entry, it’s best to make reservations in advance.
On busy days, you can expect to wait a short time in before entering the home.
The Former Residence Of America’s First President
Less than a 30-minute drive from Alexandria, Mount Vernon was the former residence of George and Martha Washington. The 500-acre property resides along the banks of the Potomac River and dates to 1758. Across the land are several points of interest, including a garden and over 30 buildings. In fact, the mansion is the most recognizable structure of this National Historic Landmark. Since 1860, this historic property has been maintained as a museum by the non-profit Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA).
How To Get There From Alexandria, Virginia
From Alexandria, head south on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Stay on the Parkway for approximately 9 miles until you see the signs for George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Continue following the signs that lead you to the public parking area. There is no charge for parking. The main entrance is a short walk from the lot.
CityExperiences by Hornblower operates boat trips beginning in May from Alexandria City Marina. You can find the boarding dock behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The price of admission for a three-hour roundtrip boat ride includes entry to Mount Vernon. Along the way, you can enjoy a narrated tour as you travel along the Potomac River. Boarding times for the boat are at 10 a.m., with departures at 10:30 a.m. On the return trip, boarding is at 2:45 p.m. and departures at 3 p.m.
The majority of bus tour operators depart from locations within Washington D.C. Indeed, there does not appear to be a bus operator that originates from Alexandria. On the other hand, some operators like Gray Line have stops in Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon. If you’re traveling with a larger group, charter buses are also available by advance reservation.
Because of the short distance from Alexandria, you might want to rent or take your own bike. In fact, Alexandria is very bike friendly with several shops offering rentals. What’s more, you can pick which type of bike you want and length of time. For example, Big Wheel Bikes offer rentals starting at $35 for a basic hybrid or mountain bike. Additionally, another bike shop, Unlimited Biking, offers rentals as well as a bike and boat tour from May to September.
What To See
By all means, you should visit the former home of the first American president George Washington and his wife Martha. However, you are not free to roam about once you’re inside the mansion. Instead, you must follow a marked pathway. Please note that you are not allowed to touch objects and there are signs posted. On the other hand, you will be able to see many sections of the home, including the study room and President Washington’s bedroom. The tour doesn’t take long, as others are following behind you. Once back outside, you will notice renovations of the East Front of the mansion along the Potomac River.
There are actually not one, not two, but four gardens onsite, in addition to other green spaces. Of the four, the one that may be of particular interest to you is the Fruit Garden and Nursery. This was the area where George Washington grew an assortment of fruits and vegetables. For example, there were and apple and pear trees, as well as corn, potatoes and wheat. It’s also important to remember that this was a much larger plantation during Washington’s time here, covering 8,000 acres.
The Washington Family Tomb
About one half mile from the mansion is the Washington Family Tomb. Shielded by an iron gate, this is the final resting place for President George Washington and his wife Martha. On most occasions, no one is allowed entry to view the two marble coffins. On the other hand, there are times when special guests are allowed inside during special events. Although you can see just two coffins, other family members are also entombed here. This tomb is not the original burial site. Instead, the remains were relocated from the Old Vault in 1837.
While George Washington is revered as the first American president and Revolutionary War here, he also owned a plantation. In other words, he was a slave owner who had slaves to work on his enormous estate. At a time, over 50 people were enslaved here to perform certain duties. For instance, some may have worked on the farm and cared for the farm animals. Others may have worked on building the mansion or caring for the mansion. These historic outbuildings still remain on the property. In fact, you will pass the slave quarters before you reach the mansion. If time permits, you may also wish to visit the Slave Memorial and Cemetery.
Revolutionary War Weekend
Each year, George Washington’s Mount Vernon hosts a Revolutionary War Weekend. During this time, hundreds of people participate in a reenactment on the 12-acre field of a battle. In other words, you will see men dressed as American revolutionists as well as others dressed as British soldiers. You’ll also get to see military parades and a military camp with women and children dressed in 18th century clothing. If that’s not enough, you can also see George Washington himself, as he addresses his troops. Needless to say, this is one of the busiest weekends at Mount Vernon.
About The Author
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.