One of our kids is absolutely obsessed with presidents and so visiting Mount Vernon in Virginia (George Washington’s home) was top on our list. Unfortunately as you can see above they were remodeling so we didn’t get the best view of this historical location. However our little Sarfari Ltd. TOOB George Washington Bust came along which made it more fun for the kids. You should also know ticket prices are a little steep ($17 / adults and $9 for kids) so keep that in mind if you’re on a tight budget or have a larger family.
The day we went it was 96*, HOT, and fairly miserable because of it! We’re still glad we went but if you’re going be prepared for a LOT of walking (it’s a huge area!) and a lot of waiting for any tours you are going on. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing your tickets for everything at least 2 weeks in advance as the National Treasure Walking tour sold out while I was actually purchasing tickets 2 weeks before we visited. Thankfully we got the last set of tickets for that day but there were a lot of unhappy people who tried to buy tickets while they were visiting. There are MANY options for specialty tours but at the very least you have to visit the house.
Unfortunately no photos are allowed inside of George Washington’s house during the tour and the tour itself is surprisingly short. You walk through a few rooms with narration from a tour guide and you find yourself right out the back door on the amazing porch with a view of the Potomac River. (also a location featured in the National Treasure movie) All rooms on the main floor are included in this tour (but NOT the basement – if you want to go down there you’d better grab those National Treasure Walking tour tickets (only $5 per person and worth it for the price).
On the property there are plenty of shady locations to stand under on a hot day which is nice but make sure you carry along some water as the closest drinking fountain is in the museum area. The actual house tour is handicap accessible but not the basement tour.
There are many beautiful trails on site to walk down and although we did not get to all of them because of the heat we had to make a stop at George and Martha’s grave where every day they have a wreath ceremony.
Continuing further down one of the trails you arrive at the Potomac River on your way to the on site farm.
There are animals out on the farm as well as a several large gardens and workers to talk with as you walk through the property. If you’re not up for quite as much walking you can jump on the free shuttle bus that Mount Vernon provides to help you go to each location.
Our favorite part of our visit to Mount Vernon however was going down into George Washington’s basement on the National Treasure Walking Tour. We let the kids watch National Treasure for the first time on our drive over from Iowa so they were thrilled to see some of the same historical locations they saw in the movie. While the movie had a section based in George Washington’s basement the actual filming location was rebuilt and filmed elsewhere. What you see above is the entire basement from one end to the other with small cellar rooms off to the side.
Although not the original cornerstone “LW” stands for Lawrence Washington, George’s brother. Our tour guide was absolutely phenomenal and gave us a historically packed tour full of information not only about filming scenes and tips from the movie but also accurate historical information that you won’t hear about on the main house tour. It was just fascinating.
We had plenty of time to roam around the basement during the tour which we were thankful for because it was so hot when we visited! We even learned that there was a secret passageway way from the basement that led straight into Washington’s study!
The kids thought it was pretty cool to bring our George Washington bust into the basement with us.
Although the walk is not for nor difficult it takes you around different locations on the property where National Treasure was filmed or referred to including the original ice box – a hole dug down into the cliffside and modified in the movie to show a “getaway tunnel”.
There are daily additional tours and events for free at Mount Vernon so make sure to check the schedule before you visit. We made sure to schedule our tours and activities around the children’s time where our kids were able to create their own tri-corn hats and help sew the American flag.
Before we visited Mount Vernon we read the book George Washington’s Teeth which is an absolutely fantastic children’s book. It’s hilarious and quite clever and teaches kids about the myths and truths surrounding George Washington’s famous toothaches and supposed wooden teeth. After reading this book actually viewing one of the only remaining sets of George Washington’s teeth were high on my children’s list. In fact they pretty much ran through the museum searching for them.
If you stand behind the display and stand in the right spot it looks like you are wearing George Washington’s teeth! Best photo opp ever for kids! The museum was actually split into two different sections. George Washington’s personal things (photos were OK here) and Washington’s historical timeline (no photos allowed).
Another fun idea for kids that we did as we visited all of the top presidential sites in the Virginia and Washington, D.C. area was to let the kids take photos of themselves holding up president masks. We got these at Oriental Trading.
A few more ideas that we bought for the kids other than the President TOOB, George Washington’s Teeth and presidential masks were presidential ducks, president fact bracelets, and the children’s book Let’s Play Soldier George Washington.