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10 Things Every American Should Do At Mount Vernon

For over 160 years patriotic Americans have been visiting the home of Washington to pay tribute to the Father of our Country and learn about the founding era.

Today guests can explore over 180 acres of the Mount Vernon estate.  For those looking for a very patriotic experience, we have ten things every American should do while visiting George Washington's home. 

1. Attend a Tomb Ceremony

Held daily, this 20-30 minute moving experience is an opportunity for all guests to pay their respect to President Washington and wife, Martha for their sacrifice and public service.  The event is held daily at the New Tomb, where visitors can see the two marble sarcophagi that are the final resting place for our first President and First Lady.

Historically the tomb has been the first destination for guests visiting Mount Vernon.  Many famous visitors from the Marquis de LafayetteThe Prince of WalesThomas EdisonFranklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill have all paid their respects to General Washington.

Guests visiting the tomb during one of the ceremonies will recite the Pledge of Allegiance, General Washington’s prayer for his country, and place a boxwood wreath made of clippings from plants at Mount Vernon.  For those interested, private wreath layings are also available.

Plan Your Visit to the Tomb


2. Sit on the Piazza and Admire Washington's View

The Potomac River was George Washington's highway, it connected him not only to neighboring Alexandria and Georgetown but also the world.  Washington's life revolved as much around Maryland as it did Virginia, often crossing the river by ferry to visit Thomas Marshall II at Marshall Hall.

Washington also maintained one of the largest fishery operations, harvesting over one million shad, herring, perch, carp, and sturgeon from the river for export and to feed the estate's enslaved and non-enslaved workers.

The view that you see today is largely the same as in Washington's time, thanks in part to the hard work of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association and our preservation partners across the river.  This peaceful spot has been enjoyed by many guests over the years as they take a moment to quietly reflect as Washington did.

Learn About Our Viewshed Preservation

3. Attend a Ceremony at the Slave Memorial

At the end of his life, George Washington managed 317 enslaved people at Mount Vernon.  Washington's accomplishments in the founding of this nation were largely due to the long hours and back-breaking labor from those enslaved.

Mount Vernon holds daily tributes to those who helped shape Mount Vernon, we honor their sacrifices and hardships that enabled Washington to prosper.

Additionally, Mount Vernon hold an annual Slave Memorial Commemoration event in the fall with dramatic readings, performances, and uplifting music to celebrate the contributions the enslaved made to our nation.

Learn about the Memorial

4. Be Washington

There's no better way to understand the decisions General and President Washington had to make than to make them yourselves. 

The Be Washington Interactive Theater at Mount Vernon is a 6K cinematic experience where guests are challenged to face four scenarios, two from the presidency and two from the revolutionary war.  

Hear from advisors that Washington would have consulted and see if you would make the same decision he did.

Learn About Be Washington

5. Watch the Revolutionary War 4D Experience

Have you ever wanted to know what it felt like to cross the Delaware River on Christmas eve?  To fight the British at Yorktown?  Or hold together a tired, underpaid, and fatigued army?

The Revolutionary War 4D Theater provides a unique perspective of Washington's involvement in America's war for independence complete with 4D effects that make you feel like you are there with him on the battlefield.

Showtimes and Location

6. Explore the Exhibit Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon

On view in the Museum, Mount Vernon: The Story of an American Icon explores the evolution of Mount Vernon's landscape, from Native settlements 10,000 years ago, to John Washington’s 1674 land patent, to George Washington’s dramatic overhaul of the house and grounds in the late 18th century.

Through this exhibit, meet the people who shaped Mount Vernon, including Washington and Custis family members, enslaved and hired laborers, and Vice Regents of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which has owned and preserved Mount Vernon since the 19th century.

Learn More About the Exhibit

7. Read the Rules of Civility

At about the age 14, George Washington wrote out a copy of the 110 Rules of Civility in his school book.  These maxims originated in the late sixteenth century in France and were popularly circulated during Washington's time. This exercise, now regarded as a formative influence in the development of his character, included guidelines for behavior in pleasant company, appropriate actions in formal situations, and general courtesies. 

Guests can now pick up a commemorative printing of the Rules of Civility in our gift shop.  Today we encourage guests to find a bench in our gardens or a chair on the Piazza and reflect on the important lessons that made Washington into the leader of our nation.

Purchase a Copy

8. Visit the Distillery & Gristmill

Washington always thought of himself first as a farmer.  His pursuit of agricultural technology influenced our early farming techniques and began to shift the country's dependence on British trade.

Washington's transition from tobacco for foreign export to wheat which could be sold domestically lead to inventions such as the 16-sided barn and adopting U.S. patent #3, the Oliver Evans Automated Gristmill system.  A full working replica that is available to see today.

Washington also was the nation's largest distiller and a full reproduction of his distillery was created after an extensive archeology excavation found the original footprint of the structure.

The Distillery & Gristmill site is just 2.3 miles from the estate and open seasonally.  Shuttles run every 15 minutes from the estate and admission is included with your visit.

Visit the Distillery & Gristmill

9. Enjoy a Very Washington Meal

George and Martha Washington enjoyed a reputation among their contemporaries for keeping "an excellent table". And in the last 20 years of their life, there were only two occasions that they dined alone.

This tradition of hospitality continues today at the Mount Vernon Inn.  Guests visiting Mount Vernon can try original and inspired recipes that were served at Mount Vernon.  We recommend the following to have a uniquely Washington meal:

Guests can also try Washington's Rye Whiskey or take home a bottle.  Grains processed at the gristmill can be purchased from the Shops at Mount Vernon.

Make a Dining Reservation

10. Attend a Patriot Event at Mount Vernon

While every day at Mount Vernon is a great time to celebrate the birth of our country, there are some days that are a little more special than others.

July 4th

Each year leading up to Independence Day we celebrate with two nights of evening fireworks and a full day of activities on July 4th, including military re-enactments, military band concerts, and the swearing-in of new citizens.

Revolutionary War Weekend

Held each year in the spring, Revolutionary War Weekend brings hundreds of re-enactors to the Mount Vernon estate.  Experience what a battle would have been like with horses, cannons, infantry, and camp life.

Washington's Birthday Celebration

Each year in February we honor Washington's birthday.  The day's event includes military band parades, demonstrations, a presidential wreath-laying ceremony at the Washington Tomb, and free admission to all guests. 

Purple Heart Commemoration

On August 7, 1782, George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart.  Each year Mount Vernon, in conjunction with the Military Order of the Purple Heart holds a special ceremony to new Purple Heart recipients.  It is the best way to pay respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

Plan Your Patriotic Visit

Spend the entire day with us, our helpful guidebooks, sample itineraries, and website provides great tools to get the most of our your visit to Mount Vernon.

Plan Your Visit