Washington DC with kids: Touring Mount Vernon

While you’re in Washington DC with kids, a stop en route to the city (or on your way out) at Mt. Vernon is definitely worth your time. We visited Mt. Vernon on our way into DC at the start of our trip, and spent approximately three hours. It’s definitely possible to spend more time.

mount-vernon

Travel tip: If you’ll be pairing your Washington DC itinerary with some time at the beach, consider a Virginia Beach vacation rental. Kids can have some downtime on the shore after studying history!

George Washington’s Mount Vernon includes a state-of-the-art museum, beautiful grounds, a working farm with animals, Potomac River access, outbuildings and living history events, and of course, the mansion where Washington lived and died.

Tickets include entry to all of it. We started with the 20-minute film depicting the highlights of Washington’s life, then proceeded to the grounds where we had a guided tour of the house via timed entry. We visited during a busy summer day, so we did wait in lines, even though we’d purchased our tickets online in advance. (The timed entry marks the time to get in line for the house tour, not the time you’l actually go in.) Bring plenty of water, as you’ll be waiting in the sun.

mt vernon gardens

The tour of the house takes about 25 minutes to go through, and shows Washington’s formal entertaining rooms, dining room, personal study, and several bedrooms, including the one he shared with Martha Washington and died in. You’re deposited outside, where you can tour the outbuildings on your own. During our visit, a team of university students were actively excavating an area behind the house, trying to find the site of the original well and other structures. It was nice to talk to them about their findings.

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We toured the stables, smokehouse, and kitchens, then the final resting place of Washington and slave memorial (Washington owned many slaves). There’s a wooded trail to a slave cabin that I remember being very interesting from a previous visit, but the day we were at Mt. Vernon, it was too hot to make the trek. The farm (adjacent to the grounds) is also a good place to go when the weather cooperates. During our visit, baby pigs had just been born, and young sheep jumped in the pastures.

washington-dc-with-kids

We saved the museum for last, relishing the air conditioning after so much time outside. Allow at least an hour for this space: there’s a lot to see about Washington’s life and American Revolution history. If you have young kids, look for the children’s activity room run by museum staff about halfway through the museum. They have daily crafts kids can do if they need a break.

potomac-river

Date last visited:

July 2014

Distance from the interstate:

Not far from I-95.

Admission:

Adults are $17 (12 and up), and kids are $8 (7-11). Under seven is free. When buying tickets online (recommended in summer to avoid long waits), select your tour time.

Hours of operation:

8 am to 5 pm, or 9 am to 4 pm, depending on the season. Open 365 days per year.

Dining:

Mt. Vernon has a food court, and the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, which serves Colonial style food. We packed a picnic, and ate it on the grounds before realizing we weren’t supposed to bring in outside food. If picnicking, eat before you head inside.

Directions:

The estate is located 15 miles from the city, at 3200 George Washington Memorial Parkway. Follow the parkway out from Alexandria.

This post written in partnership with VacationRoost.com.

About the author

Amy Whitley

AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. We agree! Since its in our backyard, tween has grown up playing on George Washington’s lawn. We love this place any time of year.

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