Sitting high on the banks of the Potomac River not far from Washington, DC, step back in time to the days of the Revolutionary War and the birth of this nation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the home of the Father to the Nation and America’s first president.
Once a thriving 18th-century plantation that does not shy away from telling different facets of its history, Mount Vernon is open year-round and is one of the most visited historic sites in the country.
A sprawling estate of 500 acres (estimated to be 8,000 in the 1700s), you could easily spend an entire day exploring Mount Vernon’s museums, historic buildings, gardens, tombs, farm, distillery, gristmill, and wharf.
Fun Fact: The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the oldest national historic preservation association in the country, acquired the estate from the Washington family in 1858 and has maintained it ever since.
Ready to visit? Purchase a $28 grounds pass and get access to a timed ticket tour of the mansion, outbuildings such as the blacksmith shop, smokehouse, and spinning house, the tomb, exhibits in the education center, and strolls through several gardens and trails. Not to be missed, a sweeping view of the Potomac that’s hard to beat. The Washingtons sure knew how to pick a spot!
Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center
As you enter the estate grounds, you’ll be directed into the fully wheelchair-accessible Museum and Education Center that also serves as the welcome center with information.
Tip: We recommend asking a museum guide to review the accessibility of the estate with you. While you can visit most of this historic site, you may encounter some limitations.
The Museum and Education Center offers 23 galleries, theaters (including 4D and interactive), and hundreds of artifacts to learn about George Washington's life and Mount Vernon's history. The recommended visit time for each is one hour.
The Mount Vernon Mansion
Your grounds pass includes a tour (stamped with a timed entry) of Washington's mansion. The first floor, which is accessible, consists of the New Room, front parlor, little parlor, central passage, downstairs bed chamber, dining room, study, and butler's pantry.
The second and third floors, which contain six bedrooms, storage rooms, and access to the cupola, are not accessible. Visitors are provided with a photo book with detailed photographs and descriptions of the rooms. You can also take a virtual tour of the mansion.
One should take advantage of the opportunity to stand on the piazza. This two-story covered patio extends the entire side of the house, facing the Potomac River. Admire the view that George Washington himself enjoyed.
Exploring the Grounds
The extensive grounds, which consist of hard-packed dirt paths that are uneven and hilly in areas, are home to several gardens, a pioneer farm, and the many various trade buildings that supported the estate, some of which are accessible. Also on the grounds are the old and new tombs of George and Martha Washington.
A shuttle bus from April to October with room for up to two wheelchairs provides transportation with stops just outside the historic area entrance/exit, the pioneer farm site, and the wharf.
Tip: A lot of your exploration of Mount Vernon will be outside, so watch the weather and dress accordingly!
George Washington's Distillery & Gristmill
Located a few miles from the estate, the fully functioning distillery and gristmill are open Saturdays & Sundays from April - October and are included in the admission ticket or can be purchased separately for $10. While we have not visited these two places ourselves, it appears the distillery is at least partly accessible.
So, now that we've got you ready to plan your visit, here's one last tip. Keep an eye on Mount Vernon's calendar. It hosts several festivals and special events throughout the year. On one visit, we saw revolutionary war reenactments, and on another, a colonial market and fair. Plan accordingly for added fun!
*This guest blog is the result of a collaboration with www.photoswithaspin.com. Check out Abe & Maggie's suggestion for an accessible weekend getaway in Fairfax County. This includes the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and the National Museum of the United States Army. Check back each month for more in our accessible travel series with Abe & Maggie!*