I grew up in one of those families where history was important…very important. So important, in fact, that while my friends were at the beach, well, I would usually be with my parents touring Civil War Battlefields and historic homes. And, no, I wasn’t always all that happy about it, a fact of which my mother never fails to remind me.
While other families were heading to the “rivah,” well, my brother and I were in the car with our parents, riding down country roads, stopping to read every historic marker along the way.
Although I didn’t fully appreciate that complete immersion into the past at the time, one historic home in particular made an impression on me and that was the home of America’s first president, George Washington. I think I was probably 12 or 13 years old when we first visited Mount Vernon — I fell in love with it then…and love it even more today. It is still kind of hard to believe we live just down the road – it’s only 8 miles south of Old Town Alexandria and well, can go there anytime we want. Imagine!
Open 365 days a year – yes, including all holidays, even Christmas – there is enough to see and do here, you could easily spend a couple of days at Mount Vernon just exploring the grounds – there is so much more than just the Mansion to see, although I wouldn’t blame you if you only want to sit in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch and just soak in the beautiful grounds and sweeping views of the Potomac River.
There are more than one dozen outbuildings, a 16-sided treading barn (part of the four acre working farm), beautifully maintained gardens, a Forest Trail and of course, the tomb where George and Martha were both laid to rest – and where there are wreath-laying ceremonies every day.
Two of the newer additions to Mount Vernon are the Ford Orientation Center and Donald Reynolds Museum and Education Center, which include 25 new theatres and galleries that tell the story of George Washington’s life, with more than 500 original artifacts, History Channel videos and immersion theatre experiences. While it may not sound too exciting, let me tell you, we visited both of these facilities last year and had that been ALL we did that day, I would not have been disappointed.
And now, there is even a “National Treasure Tour” which is a one hour “behind the scenes” walking tour that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know (and then some!) about the areas where “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” filming took place.
From a wide array of interactive experiences for children to a multitude of ever-changing events like the Fall Wine Festival and Colonial Market and Fair, Mount Vernon has a little something for everyone. If you live in Northern Virginia, it’s a wonderful place to visit time and time again.
Coming to Alexandria on a house-hunting trip? Do yourself a favor, make some time and put this spectacular home at the top of your “must see” list of places. You won’t regret it – and if your kids complain about spending time at some “boring” old house, don’t worry…they will love it. I promise.
Spend a Day – or two – at Alexandria’s historic MOUNT VERNON ESTATE AND GARDENS