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    Insider Tips for Your Visit to Mount Vernon

    Many military families plan trips to Washington, DC, especially if stationed at nearby bases like Fort Belvoir and the Pentagon. While most people have monuments and museums on their minds, I recommend spending the day at Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington in Alexandria. The quaint property is less traveled than DC’s Mall area.

    Once inside the iconic Texas Gate entrance, you can tour the museum and exhibits or walk the expertly maintained grounds. Sometimes the weather will decide for you! Use these insider tips for unique knowledge and helpful suggestions to maximize your time at this historic and charming home.

    Insider Tips for Your Visit to Mount VernonPlanning Your Trip to Mount Vernon

    During the peak season, you should know that not only do tourists fill travel buses, but local students from surrounding schools board yellow buses for scheduled field trips. You’ll be in good company when you’re exploring the grounds. 

    Seasonal Considerations

    Each season offers a unique experience at Mount Vernon. Crowds are fewer in the colder months, and Mount Vernon often offers reduced pricing for off-season tickets.

    Spring and summer showcase the gardens in full bloom, but be prepared for heat and humidity. Fall is spectacular at Mount Vernon, and breathtaking colors frame the mansion and the Potomac River.

    view of Mount Vernon through surrounding woodsPhoto from Canva

    Mount Vernon Hours and Admission

    Mount Vernon is open 365 days a year. Operating hours for the property, eateries, and gift shops vary from season to season. 

    Before your visit, explore Mount Vernon's website, which features activities, events, and special attractions. It's descriptive with lovely photography and designed to help visitors make the most of every moment on the estate. Be sure to sign up for emails for news about upcoming events with limited availability, such as the president’s annual Birthnight Supper and Ball. Follow Mount Vernon on social media to discover other special events, such as subject-specific tours and engaging lectures.

    Admission is required to enter the grounds and can be purchased on the website, by phone, or in person. Buying tickets ahead is recommended. The grounds pass provides an immersive experience, including an audio tour and self-guided exploration of the historic area, outbuildings, gardens, tomb, farm, trails, and the Museum & Education Center. During weekends from April through October, visitors with a grounds pass can also explore the Distillery & Gristmill site.

    If you plan to visit more than once a year, consider purchasing a membership or annual pass. The savings add up quickly, as do the perks, such as early ticket access and discounts at the gift shop and restaurant. 

    Mount Vernon Parking and Dining Options 

    The two main parking lots are free of charge, but they fill up quickly. Travel just beyond the traffic circle to find the parking lot shared with the post office. It's less visible and often has spaces available. All are a short, easy walk, but curb drop-offs are allowed.

    Dine at the Mount Vernon Inn, a restaurant inspired by the food served during the days of the Washingtons’ residence. There's also a casual food court with burgers, pizza, and sandwiches.

    Mount Vernon and grounds with Potomac River in background

    Photo from Canva

    Mount Vernon Perks

    Mount Vernon is dog-friendly, as President Washington loved dogs and raised many on the grounds. Dogs may enter the gates on leashes but are not allowed in any buildings. 

    Mount Vernon gift shops are easily some of the best in all DC area museums. These outlets are open to the public without the price of admission.

    The nearby George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon provides a scholarly haven. Located across the street from Mount Vernon, it is accessible to researchers by appointment only and is not open for public tours. 

    Mount Vernon's Distillery and Gristmill Site 

    Mount Vernon’s Distillery and Gristmill site is a few miles away but not walkable. This historic property takes about two hours to explore fully, complete with a narrated tour. A picnic on the river bank is highly recommended if the weather is agreeable.

    Both the distillery and the gristmill are operational and produce grain flour and small-batch distilled spirits. George Washington was once America's largest whiskey producer. The gift shop sells limited quantities of whiskey and other spirits. Due to the distilling schedule, the shop is only open to the public from April through October.

    Mount Vernon with fireworks in background

    Photo from Canva

    Mount Vernon Military Connections 

    Military members often hold ceremonies at Mount Vernon, which offers a poignant backdrop for events like promotions and retirements.

    Additionally, located approximately five miles away, Fort Belvoir is a valuable resource for military members and their families. This vast Army base may be useful for vacation lodging and emergency medical care. Fort Belvoir also offers access to many amenities, including a well-stocked Exchange, a commissary, several shoppettes, and MWR.

    You could easily spend a full day exploring Mount Vernon. It’s expansive but not so large that you’ll miss any hidden gems!

    Get your free guide to military discounts, lodging, and more for your upcoming travel: 

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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