Arlington National Cemetery
If you’re looking for an interesting, family-friendly day trip from Washington, D.C., it’s hard to beat the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. Mount Vernon was the home of George and Martha Washington from their marriage in 1759 until President Washington’s death in 1799. Today, the estate and gardens provide a fascinating look at life on an 18th-century plantation.
Visitors can tour the 21-room mansion and more than a dozen outbuildings, including the slave quarters, kitchen, stables, and greenhouse. Stroll four gardens, hike a forest trail, or explore a four-acre working farm on the estate grounds. Wreath-laying ceremonies are held daily at the Washingtons’ tomb, and visitors can explore a slave memorial and burial ground nearby.
The estate offers a kid-friendly, interactive “Hands-on History” exhibit from May through September (check web site for dates), and a distillery and gristmill, open April through October, features millers in colonial attire who explain how the mill works and the role it played in Washington’s farming operation.
Mount Vernon offers more than enough activities to make for a full day’s visit, so you’ll want to allot ample time.
One of the estate’s most popular activities is the “National Treasure Tour,” an hour-long walk that includes behind-the-scenes information about areas where filming for “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” took place, and how these locations were used during George Washington’s time. The tour is offered from March through December 2010; booking ahead is recommended.
Forty-minute, narrated boat excursions along the Potomac River are another popular option. Tours are offered from April through September; check web site for times and fees.
Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
Hours: Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, on the following schedule: April through August, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; March, September and October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and November through February, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Admission: There are different fees for different tour options (check web site) but general admission rates are as follows:
Parking: Mount Vernon is located 16 miles south of Washington, D.C. at the southern terminus of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. There is ample, free visitor parking on site. Check web site for driving directions.
Metrorail: Mount Vernon is not accessible by Metro.