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Mount Vernon Welcomes Spring and Summer Visitors with New Civil War Walking Tour, Restored Upper Garden & More

Thu, 03/17/2011

For Immediate Release 
March 17, 2011 
Digital images available  

Media Contact:
Melissa Wood (703) 799-5203

Mount Vernon Welcomes Spring and Summer Visitors with New Civil War Walking Tour, Restored Upper Garden & More

MOUNT VERNON, Va. – Signs of spring are appearing all around Historic Mount Vernon. Along with budding trees and baby animals, visitors will discover a fresh lineup of seasonal activities.  New this spring, Mount Vernon will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War with a walking tour, debuting April 2.  On May 20, the Estate will also unveil a new look for Washington’s Upper Garden, which was recently restored following an extensive archeological excavation. 

The arrival of spring also marks the return of seasonal favorites, including George Washington: Pioneer Farm site and George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, which reopen April 1. Potomac River sightseeing cruises, special walking tours focusing on slave life and gardens, and a daily tribute at the tomb of George and Martha Washington also resume on April 1. 

As one of the few early-opening attractions in the Washington, D.C. area, Mount Vernon will open its doors at 8:00 a.m. daily, giving visitors an extra hour to explore the Estate.  For visitors looking to save a few “Washingtons,” Mount Vernon is also bringing back its special money-saving and value-added admission packages featuring audio tours, river cruises and more.

New in 2011
  • Beginning April 2, visitors can experience a unique side of Civil War history at George Washington’s home through a new walking tour, Mount Vernon in the Civil War. Explore historic locations and listen to dramatic Civil War stories – from the life-risking efforts of the estate’s earliest caretakers to battlefield cannon fire rumbling the Mansion!  The Mount Vernon in the Civil War one-hour walking tour takes place on Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. through October 30. These special tours are limited in capacity and cost $5 in addition to Estate admission: $15 adults; $7 children (6-11); free for children 5 & under.
  • After an extensive excavation and study, George Washington’s Upper Garden will re-open on May 20 with a new design that accurately reflects its appearance in 1799.  During the three-year, forensic-style study, archeologists unearthed evidence showing how the garden had grown and evolved under George Washington’s care, and how it had changed in the 150 years since his death.   The restored garden is both creative and practical, just as it was during George Washington’s time, with three large planting beds for produce framed by beautiful flowering trees and perennials. 
  • Springtime is here and Mount Vernon’s newest additions have arrived! Seven adorable lambs are now on display at Mount Vernon’s paddock and stable area. The lambs are Hog Island sheep - a rare heritage breed that dates back to the 1600s. Mount Vernon has one of the largest flocks of these sheep.
  • Visitors also have new options for visiting the Estate—by Bike and Boat. Start your day in Old Town at Bike and Roll Alexandria where you will be fitted for a bike and provided with a lock, helmet, and trail map to navigate your way along the Mount Vernon Trail to the Mount Vernon Estate. Lock your bikes and spend the day exploring George Washington’s home. In the afternoon, board the Miss Christin for a narrated boat cruise back to Old Town. Price ($53 adults; $30 children ages 6-12; $20 children ages 2-5) includes bike rental/bike pick-up at Mount Vernon, admission fee to Mount Vernon and the return boat ticket.  For more information, please visit
Classic Favorites
  • George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill reopens April 1. Demonstrations by costumed distillers take visitors through the historic process of whiskey-making in this reconstruction of the largest 18th-century distillery in America. George Washington’s Distillery is adjacent to his reconstructed Gristmill, a water-powered mill where Colonial millers grind corn into meal and wheat into flour just as it was done more than 200 years ago. George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill are located three miles from Mount Vernon.  Open daily from April to October, 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m.  Admission to the site is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11, and free for children 5 and under.
  • Throughout the month of April, Mount Vernon offers free wagons rides to visitors! Visit the George Washington: Pioneer Farmer site Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., to ride in a wagon pulled by Mount Vernon's livestock.
  • Potomac River sightseeing cruises offer a refreshing opportunity to explore Mount Vernon from a different view with a 40-minute narrated excursion aboard the Spirit of Mount Vernon or Miss Christin Tuesday through Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Tickets for sightseeing cruises are $9.00 for adults and $5.00 for children (6-11) in addition to Estate admission. Children ages 5 and under are free. Please visit for sightseeing cruise schedules.
  • At the George Washington: Pioneer Farmer site, visitors can tour the re-created 16-sided barn George Washington designed.  This four-acre site also features rare-breed farm animals (oxen, mules, roosters, sheep, and chickens) similar to the varieties Washington had at his farms. The cultivated area includes eight fields, and illustrates Washington's advanced farming practices and crop rotation scheme. Included in Estate admission.
  • During Mount Vernon’s Tribute at the Tomb, visitors recite Washington’s “Prayer for his Country” and the Pledge of Allegiance as part of this daily program offered at the tomb of George and Martha Washington at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Included in Estate admission.
  • Tours of slave life and gardens enrich the visitor experience by providing in-depth knowledge of these fascinating subjects during 30-minute guided walking tours.  The Slave Life at Mount Vernon daily tour at 2:00 p.m. explores the lives and contributions of the slaves who lived at Mount Vernon.  The daily Garden and Landscape Tour highlights Washington’s creative design for his gardens at 11:00 a.m.
Can’t Miss Events
  • Experience the estate with its picture-perfect gardens in full bloom Mother’s Day weekend, May 7-8. Join the "Mother of Our Country," Martha Washington, and her granddaughter "Nelly" as they celebrate this special weekend with visitors.  Enjoy “Lady Washington’s” reminiscences of motherhood and her sage advice to her youngest granddaughter.
  • Mount Vernon invites visitors to spend Father’s Day weekend, June 18-19, with the Father of Our County! "General Washington" greets visitors and poses for photographs on Father’s Day weekend.  Washington also discusses his role as husband, stepfather, and Father of Our Country in the program “Father to the First Family”. With a purchased ticket to Mount Vernon, fathers visiting the estate receive complimentary admission to George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill.
  • Historic Mount Vernon salutes our first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event!  Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River.  The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the "first" first couple, "General and Mrs. Washington." 
Deals & Discounts
  • Three money-saving admission packages will be available beginning April 1 through October 31: The Farmer ($21/adult, $12/youth), The Commander ($17/adult, $8.50/youth), and The President ($28/adult, $16/youth). 
  • The Farmer package includes admission to the Estate and George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill for a savings of $2 dollars per adult and $.50 per child.
  • The Commander package includes admission to the Estate, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, and an audio tour for a savings of $4 per adult and $3 per youth.
  • The President package, available Tuesday through Sunday only, includes admission to the Estate, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, audio tour, sightseeing cruise, and 10% off at The Shops for a savings of $6 per adult and $4 per youth.
  • Add a guidebook to any package for $6 and save another “Washington”!

Regular admission to the Estate is $15 for adults; $7 for youth ages 6-11; and free for children five and younger.


Since 1860, more than 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America.  Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”  Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.  A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital.

Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Regular admission rates: adults, $15.00; senior citizens, $14.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $7.00; and children under age 5, FREE.  Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon.