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Tips for Visiting Mount Vernon with Kids
Explore a tangible piece of history with your family when you visit George Washington’s home. Here are some handy tips for visiting Mount Vernon with Kids!
Several years ago, Lily came home from school and was so excited to tell us that in school her class had taken a virtual field trip to Mount Vernon. She loved the experience and has talked about a real visit to Mount Vernon many times since that day. Last month when we planned out our weekend at Gaylord National Resort, we realized that National Harbor was only about 20 minutes by car from Mount Vernon.
So on a foggy, pretty dreary day in early December, we checked out of our hotel and headed towards the former home of George Washington. I had no idea what to expect once we arrived, and we went with the plan to explore the estate for a couple hours before starting the drive back home. Here’s an idea of what to expect when visiting Mount Vernon with kids.
What’s Included in Admission to Mount Vernon?
Parking is free at Mount Vernon.
You can purchase tickets to Mount Vernon online or in person. Sometimes they offer discounts for purchasing online. Also check their social media accounts to see if any special discounts are running. When we visited, they were offering a discount on their Facebook page. I was able to pull up the page at the ticket office and it was honored.
Kids 5 and and under are FREE!
When you buy admission to Mount Vernon, you get a timed entry for the guided mansion tour. We LOVED this tour!
Stuff to Do at Mount Vernon with Kids
In short, there is a lot of cool stuff to see and do at Mount Vernon that are appropriate for all ages. Here is a rundown of some of our best tips and suggestions for how to spend your time at Mount Vernon with the younger crowd.
1. Be prepared to do a lot of walking. Mount Vernon is a sprawling estate spanning many acres. Most of the ground is pretty stroller friendly, though I am not sure if strollers are permitted in the actual mansion. We logged many steps during our visit and were only there for about 2-3 hours.
2. Scavenger hunt for kids. Upon arrival, our kids were each given a kids’ scavenger hunt to complete as we toured the grounds. This was a fun way to keep them engaged as we explored. Lily is 10 and was able to find most of the answers on her own. Landon (5) needed some help. After they completed their scavenger hunts, we got them checked at the guest services desk and then each kid received a pressed penny at the gift shop as their “prize.” (Personal opinion – this was a fairly intense amount of work for a pressed penny. LOL Maybe the folks at Mount Vernon could consider something even a little more exciting? A pencil? A keychain? My kids love pressed penny machines and I prepared them for a very small prize, but I could see other kids being disappointed.)
3. Tour the mansion. Included in your admission is a mansion tour. This guided tour allows you to actually go inside the house where George Washington lived (and died). We learned so many cool tidbits and facts about Washington and the house itself as we went from room to room. As I’m sure you would expect, certain parts of the house are off limits to the tour and you are not allowed to touch things inside or take pictures. We were on the tour with a couple of kids from another family who were loud and extremely disruptive to the tour guide and made it hard to hear things at times. If you don’t think your kiddos can be respectful of the space, you might want to consider having someone stay outside with them instead. Just my two cents.
Our mansion tour lasted approximately 30 minutes.
4. Tour the outbuildings, gardens and grounds. As I mentioned before, Mount Vernon is a sprawling estate! Make sure you take some time to explore all of the outbuildings and gardens. We visited during the cold months, so there wasn’t much to see when it came to the gardens. It was also so foggy the day we were there, you could barely see the Potomac River from the house! We still had fun exploring and much of the property is accessible via brick or paved path.
5. Visit Washington’s grave site. You can visit the Washington family burial site and view the tomb where George and Martha Washington were laid to rest.
6. Tour the museum and education center. Your visit to Mount Vernon is not complete without checking out the amazing museum. There are many hands-on exhibits and displays. It reminded me a lot of the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The exhibits were bright and engaging – they really drew the kids in and taught them a lot!
7. Grab lunch before you head out. We were pretty hungry after touring Mount Vernon and had a 4 hour car ride home ahead of us, so we decided to get some food before we left. We ate at the food court at Mount Vernon and they had a lot of good choices! From pizza to deli sandwiches to salads and pulled pork – there were many tasty options. We thought lunch was really good and it wasn’t cheap but wasn’t highway robbery either. There is also a restaurant at Mount Vernon! We didn’t even see the restaurant on our trip, but from what I understand, it’s not far from the mansion.
Mount Vernon is a Great Day Trip with Kids!
We were so glad that we decided to visit Mount Vernon. We felt that it was well worth the visit and that every member of our family had a memorable experience there! Lily was able to put together a short Google Slides (like Power Point) presentation for her class and told them about some of our trip highlights. Landon was excited to tell his teacher that he got to visit George Washington’s house.
I definitely recommend visiting Mount Vernon with kids. It’s a short drive from National Harbor and Annapolis, MD. If you are spending some time in Washington, DC, this would be the perfect way to spend half a day (or more)!
See some video footage from our trip to Mount Vernon:
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