We visited Mount Vernon while we were in the greater Washington, D.C. area this weekend. Mount Vernon was the home and plantation of George Washington. It is roughly 50 acres and contains numerous original buildings that are maintained to reflect what the estate looked like in 1799 when Washington died. George and Martha and several of his relatives are buried on the grounds of the estate. It is a national historical site and draws a million visitors every year.
This was not my first trip to Mount Vernon, but it was for the rest of the family. In the mid 1970’s I visited Mount Vernon as a small child and apparently caused a bit of a stir. Although I have no recollection of the incident, my father likes telling the story of how I slipped under a rope barrier while touring the house and ran over to a 200 year old chair, climbed up on it and looked out the window at the Potomac River. My father ran over to get me, and in doing so, tripped a security alarm. That sent guards scurrying over to investigate. Apparently everybody had a good laugh when they saw it was just a toddler trying to get a better view of the river.
Fast forward to this past weekend and I was half-expecting to be denied entry into Mount Vernon over my past indiscretion or in the very least I thought one of the guards might say, “Oh, it’s you again – I remember the last time you were here!” But I was able to slip past security unnoticed (I guess I have changed a bit in the last 37 years), although I did have a sinking feeling that either Finnegan or Declan could pull the same stunt I did – or worse Rosalita might get into mischief. That’s right – we brought Rosie to Mount Vernon as it is pet-friendly. Given that a significant portion of a visit to Mount Vernon involves strolling the grounds and touring gardens and other outdoor areas, there is much you can see and do with your dog accompanying you. Dogs are not allowed to visit the inside George Washington’s house so you will have to skip the tour, but they are welcome in all of the outdoor areas including the famous back porch. More than one person came up to me and said that they wish they had known the site was pet-friendly as they too would have brought their dogs along to visit.
We opted to skip the tour of the house, not only because we had Rosie, but also because I do not think the boys would have survived a 40 minute tour that would have been a bit cramped. When you enter Mount Vernon your ticket has a time stamp that designates the tour of the house to which you are assigned. That is the only tour you may attend. When our assigned tour rolled around, the boys were getting ready for a snack, so we headed to the food court instead. Although it would have been nice to see the house and some of the short films offered to learn more about George Washington, that will have to wait for another day. Finnegan already knows a bit about George Washington, mostly because we live very close to the spot where he crossed the Delaware River en route to turning the tide of the Revolutionary War. George’s legacy looms large in our neighborhood, even to modern day.
It does not take long to see why George loved Mount Vernon. From the manicured gardens to the majestic views of the Potomac River, the country estate had everything a country gentleman could want: a blacksmith, a horse stable, an ice house, a cobbler, salt house, spinning house, several pens of livestock and many other necessities of the times. There were also slave quarters and a memorial to the slaves that served there. Touring the grounds is an enriching way to spend several hours. There are even boat rides that dock at a wharf along the river that would be fun, but we were not in time to take one. The two and a half hours we spent at Mount Vernon was certainly not enough to see everything, but it kept the boys’ attention and Rosie loved it too. My hope is we will return to Mount Vernon when the boys are older and begin learning about the great man Washington was and the remarkable things he accomplished in his life.