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Mount Vernon was the home of the first President of the USA, George Washington. Located 16 miles south of the city, the gorgeous setting and beautiful gardens overlooking the Potomac River are worth a visit alone, but any history buff should not miss this chance to learn more about Washington’s life.
An old tobacco plantation, the Washington family owned Mount Vernon for generations before General Washington inherited it in 1754. Visitors can start with a tour of the main house, which has been restored to what it would have been like during that period. Many original items of furniture and gifts are still available and can be seen in the house, and a highlight is the President’s deathbed.
There is also a small museum that offers more insight into Washington’s life and the challenges he faced as President holding the newly-formed nation together. Washington owned a number of slaves and this issue is well-addressed in the museum. The slave quarters near the main house can also be visited.
The all-round views are incredible. The back porch of the house overlooks the water and you can see the trees across the river on the Maryland side. These views alone make it fantastic to visit anytime of the year. Visiting in the spring is beautiful and lush, summer sees a lot of boats on the water, and fall with changing colors of the trees is magical too.
Washington also experimented with various farming techniques – crop rotation, plowing practices and more, so a stop at the farm is necessary. Tour the four-acre farm and view the recreated barn.
There is a fantastic enactment of the American Revolution, presented by volunteers who come to the estate, set up camp as they would have in 1776, and re-enact the battles fought, complete with authentic uniforms and real muskets. This event only happens a few times a year, so make sure to check the calendar.
Finally, a visit to the distillery and gristmill, located a couple of miles from the main house is also a must-do. The distillery was one of the most successful of its kind in 1799, producing over 10,000 gallons of rye whiskey. The reconstruction is a fully functioning version and entrance to this is included with the general admission tickets.
A shuttle service at the Mount Vernon makes it easy to get around the various areas (including the distillery), so as it’s just a short drive from DC, make a plan to add Mount Vernon to your sightseeing list.