See George Washington’s life and legacy unfold before your eyes as you discover an abundance of information, see historical structures and delight in the beauty of the gardens at Mount Vernon.
Ford Orientation Center
Start your time in Mount Vernon in the Ford Orientation Center. Here you can get an overview of the Mount Vernon experience and see We Fight to Be Free, an 18-minute action film that introduces the real George Washington.
The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center
Boasting 25 theaters and galleries, the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center tells the detailed story of George Washington’s life through interactive displays, over 500 original artifacts, 11 video presentations and an immersion theater experience where it snows 12 months a year!
Reconstructed as it was in 1799, the last year of George Washington’s life, visit the Mansion the Washington family called their home for over 40 years. See the Mansion’s original furnishings, decorative features, items owned by the Washington family, 18th century objects and a small number of reproductions throughout the first and second floors. Interiors reflect President Washington’s entire adulthood and leave clues about Washington’s character, taste and accomplishments.
Over a dozen outbuildings carefully designed by Washington himself are also opened to view. Each organized in a way which reflects both the practical and aesthetic side of Washington’s nature. Explore the blacksmith shop featuring a working smithy and daily demonstrations of the trade. See where those who managed the estate lived including the gardener’s house and the slave, overseer and clerk’s quarters. Other outbuildings opened for view include a greenhouse, spinning house, salt house, kitchen, storehouse, smokehouse, washhouse, seed houses, a coach house and stables.
The gardens alone at Mount Vernon stretch for six acres. Divided into four separate gardens; vegetables and fruits, lavish displays and beautiful flowers can be admired throughout.
Once a fruit and nut garden, the Upper Garden later became a pleasure garden and is full of flowers neatly divided among three large planting boxes to this day. In the center of each bed are cultivated vegetables of all types and each box is surrounded by fruit trees, shrubs, roses and perennial flowers. Don’t forget to look for the recreated boxwood parterre in the shape of a French fleur-de-lis. Scholars at Mount Vernon speculate Washington’s parterre was his way of honoring his friendship with Marquis de Lafayette and a way to pay tribute to the French for helping America win the Revolutionary War.
Across from the Upper Garden, guests can find the Lower Garden, often called the “Kitchen Garden." Delight in a delectable selection of fruits and vegetables. From rows of asparagus, beets, beans and peas to the apple and pear trees, discover the produce that once appeared on the Washington’s table.
Washington’s own private garden throughout the 18th century, the Botanical Garden can be found tucked behind the Upper Garden and was where Washington experimented with growing a number of plants.
Fruit Garden and Nursery
First used by Washington in 1771 as a four-acre garden, he later turned the ground into an orchard which covered over two-thirds of the area. Marvel in 11 different varieties of pears, four different types of apples, three different varieties of peaches, two varieties of cherries, and a number of plum trees. The fruit seen today is the same fruit that once provided the Washington family with fresh fruits six months out of the year.
Pioneer Farmer Site
While George Washington was known as Commander-in-Chief, he thought of himself foremost as a farmer and was one of the first Virginia farmers to recognize inadequacies in 18th century farming techniques. Stretching over four acres, today the Pioneer Farmer Site invites guests to watch as horses tread wheat, a farming technique which Washington was first to experiment with.
Heritage Breed Animals
Used in the 18th century as work animals and to provide wool, leather, meat, milk, butter, and fertilizers for the farm, not any part of the animal went to waste. Even the animal’s bones were used for buttons, toothbrushes, eating implements and decorative items. Today you can see some of the same breeds raised at Mount Vernon two centuries ago: Ossabaw, Island Hogs, Hog Island Sheep, Bronze Gobbler Turkeys, Dominique Chickens, Red Devon, Cattle horses, mules and oxen.
The Forest Trail
A quarter-mile trail starting at the Pioneer Farmer Site allows you to explore the wooded grounds of Mount Vernon. Walk down the tranquil trail in a forest largely unexplored for over 200 years. As you venture through woods of oak, holly and laural trees, you’ll learn about the animals that once roamed the forests of Mount Vernon and discover the ones that still do.
Pay your respects to one of the great Founding Fathers of the United States. In Washington’s will he requested that he be buried at his beloved Mount Vernon Estate in the brick tomb that can be visited to this day.
Designed and built in 1983, Slave Memorial was once the burial ground for slaves and free blacks who worked for the Washington family during the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.
George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill
Three miles from the Mansion, Washington’s large stone Gristmill was erected in 1771 to increase production of flour and cornmeal. Years later, Scottish manager James Anderson encouraged Washington to build a whiskey distillery adjacent to the Gristmill. Both reconstructed and fully functional, today guests can visit the Gristmill and Distillery and delight in costumed interpreters as they give enthralling demonstrations. Don’t forget to stop by the Gristmill Shop where Washington’s limited whiskey, cornmeal, flour and other products produced in the Distillery and Gristmill are available to purchase.
Shopping at Mount Vernon
Including the George Washington Bookstore, the largest and best George Washington bookstore in the world, Christmas Corner, where you can deck the halls 12 months a year, the Lady Washington Shop and the Wharf Shop, you won’t just find souvenirs in Mount Vernon, but remembrances of a historic journey.
Dining at Mount Vernon
Reenergize in Mount Vernon’s Food Court offering quick and delicious alternatives for every meal. Choose from a selection of savory goods from the French-style café like gourmet burgers, subs, fresh salads and pizzas. Or treat yourself to something sweet at Mrs. Fields offering cookies fresh out of the oven and hand-dipped ice cream cones.