Did you know that Presidents Day originated as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday? What better way to celebrate this former Fairfax County resident (and the dozens of leaders who have followed in his footsteps) than to dive into some of the presidential history found in the Capital Region? There are plenty of things to do in the DC area and in Northern Virginia for Presidents Day weekend.
Here are a few activities and events to attend to make the most of Presidents Day Weekend:
Celebrate with George at Mount Vernon
Image courtesy Mount Vernon
General Washington’s beloved home, Mount Vernon, sits atop a hill along the Potomac River in the southern part of Fairfax County. Presidents Day Weekend is one of the only times throughout the year that you can visit this famous estate for free. On February 17, witness a presidential tribute featuring honored guests and a wreathlaying at the Washingtons' Tomb, stay for military re-enactments, storytelling from the Washington family, and musical salutes on the Bowling Green.
On Washington’s actual 288th birthday, February 22, join Mount Vernon for a Punch & Judy Puppet Show, a meet and greet with George himself, listen in to the U.S. Air Force Strings, and savor a piece of birthday cake (while supplies last). Admission to the estate and grounds is free.
Explore the Life of George Washington Through Art
Image courtesy Patch.com / Shutterstock, Everett Historical
A traveling exhibition on the life of George Washington will be on display at the Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center in Fairfax City from February 14 through March 15, examining the man behind the myth through graphics of photographs, paintings, and iconic objects from Mount Vernon's collection. The exhibition presents the many different facets of Washington's leadership and coincides with his 288th birthday. Free admission and the museum is open from 9am to 5pm.
Do a Tour of the Presidential Sites in DC
Washington, DC is intrinsically linked to presidential history, so during your long weekend, take a tour of some of the city’s key presidential sites, including:
- The White House
- Lincoln Memorial
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
- The Washington Monument
- Ford’s Theatre
- Woodrow Wilson House
- President Lincoln’s Cottage
Salute Washington at the Annual Birthday Parade
Image courtesy Washington's Birthday Parade
The George Washington Birthday Parade is the largest parade in America celebrating the birth of George Washington. Find a spot along the parade route in Old Town Alexandria to celebrate our Founding Father’s 288th birthday. Parade details found here.
What are your favorite presidential spots to visit around the National Capital Region? Tell us in the comments below or join the conversation on social media using #FXVA and @VisitFairfax.
Originally published February 2019, updated for February 2020.