Posts Tagged ‘Mount Vernon’

Springtime always brings houseguests to our home and many of our visitors are first-timers to Washington DC. Although each person has their own particular interests/dislikes, and depending on their length of stay, there are sights I suggest everyone should see during their maiden journey into the city. My top 10 Washington DC (and surrounding area) must see list is as follows:

  • The Monuments at Night ~ The monuments are spectacular anytime of day but when they are lit up, they become magical. Bonus if there’s a full moon.
  • The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage Performance ~ There are free performances of music or dance every night at 6 pm.For a schedule, click here.

Capitol Building from the top of the Washington Monument
The National Mall ~ Smithsonian Museums, National Gallery of Art and The US Capitol

  • Smithsonian Museums ~ It would take weeks to explore all the wonderful and free museums in Washington DC. Visitors should “speed-date” by walking along The National Mall and ducking into each museum to see the highlights. Visitors can return to the museum they liked best for a deeper dive into all the treasures. Some of the more popular displays are: the Hope Diamond at the Natural History Museum, the Star Spangled Banner flag at the American History Museum and the Kitty Hawk at the Air & Space museum. Click here for more information on all things Smithsonian.
  • The National Gallery of Art ~ My personal favorite. Again, this could take weeks to explore but it’s worth popping into the gallery for a few hours to gaze at the paintings and sculptures which spans from the middle ages to the present. Don’t miss the: Little Dancer (Degas)Self Portrait (Rembrandt van Rijn), and the paintings by the masters such as Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and many more. For information on hours and directions, click here.

Capitol Building with scaffolding

  • The U.S. Capitol Building ~ Take a tour of the Capitol building and stop in to see the Senate in session.
  • The Library of Congress ~ The building is gorgeous especially the Reading Room. There’s an original copy of a Gutenberg Bible (circa 1455)  on display in the lobby. It’s the first bible (major book) printed in Western Europe using movable metal type and was one of the turning points from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance era.
  • Mount Vernon Estates ~ Mount Vernon is located 14 miles south of Washington DC along the GW Parkway. The house and grounds are lovely. Give yourself about four hours in order to tour the home, wander the grounds and visit the on-site museum. Mount Vernon is accessible by public transportation, boat, biking and private vehicle (parking is free). For directions and assistance on getting there, click here.

Arlington Guard

Washington Monument

  • Washington Monument ~ Tickets are free but have a $1.50 service charge per person and anyone two years and older are required to have a ticket to go to the top of the monument. Tickets go on sale three months prior and I highly recommend purchasing them online the day they go on sale. Tour buses snap them up quickly. Click here for more information. If you’re unable to get tickets online, there are a limited number of Same Day tickets distributed at 8:30 am at the National Park Service building located at 15th street near the monument. These are free same-day, timed tickets and one person can get up to six. The line forms much earlier than 8:30am so get an early start.
  • Georgetown ~ It’s a dynamic area of DC to wander around; parts of it are serene and parts are packed with people. Stop in to see the gorgeous Georgetown University campus, take a peek at The Exorcist stairs (and run up them if you’re in great shape), walk along waterfront park and stop in for coffee/pastries at Baked and Wired.

Please note: All buildings in Washington DC have security at the entrances and be prepared to go through a scanner. There are lists of prohibited items on each website. It’s best to pack lightly when touring around DC.

I’ve used my list for the last five years for about thirty first-time visitors. Only one houseguest went rogue. She preferred to visit the National Cathedral, Catholic Basilica, the Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum. That’s the great thing about Washington DC ~ there’s something for everyone!

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Despite the continued cool temperatures, I’ve been getting glimpses of spring. Most recently I saw the lambs at Mount Vernon. Such sweetness:

Peeking around the corner


Lamb III

The Rear View (lambs at Mount Vernon)
“Rear View”

Mount Vernon is requesting name suggestions for these adorable lambs. Go to their Facebook page here to give your clever names. Someone has already suggested Charles and Camilla in honor of the recent Royal visit.

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George Washington paid 18 shillings (a lot of money back in the day) for a camel to visit Mount Vernon Estate for Christmas in 1787. General Washington was known for his interest in all kinds of animals including the then rare camel. Mount Vernon continues the tradition by bringing Aladdin the Camel to Mount Vernon Estate for several weeks during December. I’ve enjoyed seeing him over the past few years and highly recommend it to everyone. Especially children.

Camel Alladin with Baby
Aladdin is very friendly. This baby giggled the whole time Aladdin slobbered kisses on her.

Camel Alladin

Patti and Alladin II

Camel and Leslie at Mount Vernon

After visiting with Aladdin, we took a tour of the main house. As many tours as I’ve been on, I still learn something new each time. Our guide Donald, retired from the Army where he was in the Pipe and Fife Band and he had a lot of interesting stories about the house. Another bonus when visiting this time of year is the lack of crowds. There were only 6 people on the house tour and the third floor was open. Usually it’s close because there are too many people going through the house.

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Mount Vernon Estate

George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Northern Virginia is a favorite place of mine. I love the history and the serene setting. It’s only 14 miles south of DC and can be reached by car, bike, bus or boat. There’s always an interesting event happening. Here are the events coming up this fall:

  • September 12  Gentleman Distiller: Whiskey Tasting and Dinner 6-9 pm $125.00

  • September 20-21  Colonial Market and free Potomac River Sightseeing cruises  9am to 5pm (included in general admission price)

  • October 2,4,5   Fall Wine Festival 6-9 pm $38  (Saturday already sold out)

  • October 11    Slave Commemoration Ceremony  11 am  (included in general admission price)

  • October 24   Brewing History: Beer Tasting, Tour and Dinner   6-9 pm  $95  

  • October 25-26  Fall Harvest Family Days  9 am-5 pm   (included in general admission price)

  • November 11  Mount Vernon Salutes Veterans  9 am -5 pm  (included in general admission price)

  • November 15  Our American Girl  1 pm  $30 for youth, $20 for adult

To reserve any of the above, go to their events page.

Mount Vernon, VA

Mount Vernon Tea on the grass

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I always enjoy taking visitors to Mount Vernon Estates. There seems to be new things going on all the time and it’s such a beautiful place to walk around with my dog. I’ve written about previous visits here and here but wanted to share my photos from my most recent visit.

Mount Vernon view
Lovely views at Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon 16 sided barn
16-Sided Barn

Magnolia at Mount Vernon
Lovely Magnolias

Logan Maya Black and White Mount Vernon
Daughter and Dog

Mount Vernon Paint Cellar
Paint Cellar

Mount Vernon Pioneer Farmers
Pioneer Farmers

Mount Vernon Sail boat
Sailing on the Potomac

Mount Vernon Tea on the grass
Morning Tea on the Lawn

Mount Vernon Tobacco

Mount Vernon Vegetable garden II
Artichoke Plant/Flower

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Mount Vernon Estates is offering free admission to the estate today, Presidents Day 2014 and to celebrate George Washington’s 282nd birthday. It’ll be an all-day birthday salute with the gates opening at 8 am. No doubt the grounds will look especially beautiful with the recent blanketing of snow. My past visits have been when the weather was a little warmer…

Mount Vernon Estate

The Beautiful Home of George Washington

Mount Vernon Camel

During the Holidays, Mount Vernon brings in a Camel which is what George Washington did when he lived there.

Mount Vernon Grounds

16-sided Barn

Mount Vernon with Geroge and Martha Washington

There won’t be any wine today but the twice yearly wine festival is always a lot of fun


Walking along the trail at Mount Vernon. Dogs are welcome on the grounds


Heading to the water/dock on the Mount Vernon grounds

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Mount Vernon Estate

With Mount Vernon Estates only a couple of miles down the road, we’ve been there many times since we moved to Virginia. I’m glad we purchased the annual entry passes ~ at only $28.00 per person for the year, it has saved us a lot of money.  Mount Vernon is very dog friendly and allows dogs anywhere on its grounds but not in the buildings.  We’ve been there with most of our visitors so I usually skip the house tour.  The regular house tour consists of the first and second floors but during the Christmas holidays, they open up the 3rd floor for viewing.

Recently, we attended the Spring Wine Festival and Sunset tours.  This time the basement/cellar, which is rarely open, was available to visitors. It was small and oh, so musty but I enjoyed seeing it.  The festival featured 17 Virginia wineries.  Unfortunately, I was the designated driver so I only tasted a couple of wines early on in the evening.  As we were leaving, there were lots of taxis waiting for fares so we will surely go that route next time.  Speaking of next time, that’ll be in the late September when they host the Fall Wine Festival.

The tickets cost $35.00 per person so it’s not an inexpensive evening but it sure was fun to attend with a large group. We set up our lawn chair in between the wine/food tent and the house.  Perfect spot with easy access to the wine tasting and we could still hear the band.

Here are some tips if you decide to attend:

  • The festival occurs rain or shine
  • The Mansion, Wine Cellar and outbuildings are open but the gardens, Wharf, Tomb & Museum are closed
  • Security will search backpacks/purses
  • No outside food/beverage allowed
  • Bring a blanket & lawn chair ~ folding tables not allowed
  • Pets not allowed during the wine festival (way too many people)
  • No smoking except at the designated area near the restrooms
  • Photo ID will be requested
  • The festival is an adult event
  • If you’re a designated driver, you’ll get complimentary soft drinks throughout the evening
  • Wine valet is available for case purchases.
  • The festival starts at 6:00 pm and ends promptly at 9:00 pm

Mount Vernon has a lot to offer and I highly recommend it ~ anytime of year.

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