After about six months of planning, we finally hit the road. The plan for today was to leave New York and drive to Mount Vernon, Virginia. This was our earliest morning as we left at 5 am to beat the traffic around New York City. With the exception of a few short slow downs, it was a smooth trip and we arrived at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, around 11 am.
In researching the best way to tour Mount Vernon, I found that twice a day they offered a premium tour of the house. With admission, you received a time entry to do a self guided tour the main floor and second floor. With the premium tour, you would have a guide and also be able to visit the third floor and the basement. The premium tour was $15 per person so I decided we would give that a try. The two times available were 11:15 am and 2:30 pm. I didn't know if we would arrive in time for 11:15 am so I reserved 2:30 pm.
We had plenty of time to explore before the tour started so we started out by going to the education center where there was a museum and 4D movie.
The museum told the life story of George Washington. It was easy to navigate and had mix of displays and text. One the highlights was a display of George Washington's "wooden" teeth. The movie was good though calling it "4D" was stretching it. Other than a snow effect for the crossing of the Delaware, it was mainly some lighting and loud cannon shots.
We left the education center and finally got our first look of the house itself. With plenty of time still before our tour, we explored the grounds. Our first stop was Washington's tomb where he is buried with Martha Washington. We then started going from building to building, taking a brief look into each. One of my favorites to visit is the blacksmith shop. Today he was making nails.
We wanted to get a bite for lunch but first wanted to find out where our tour started. This was a bit of a challenge. The printed ticket said to get in the mansion line, but that didn't make sense as that was the line for the free self guided access. It took asking three people until we finally find someone who lead us in the right direction. We had time to share a personal pizza from a food court type area and then went to our meeting spot.
The tour started right at 2:30 with a group of 15 guests and our guide. We were lead to the front of the self guided line and then an employee waited for the first room to clear out before sending us in. They also held up any more guests doing the self guided tour so that we had the first room all to ourselves with the guide. This was how the entire tour went and it was funny to hear our guide's walkie talkie say things like "The premium tour is now entering the New room. Leave a buffer."
The tour was well worth the $15. Our guide was excellent. She was very knowledgeable on the history of the house and property as well as the life story of George Washington. There were no photographs allowed inside the house due to make of the paintings and furniture being originals. The master bedroom still contains the original bed of George and Martha Washington. George Washington passed away in the same bed. Our guide had many interesting facts about each room and was able to answer questions about items we saw.
We ended our stay at Mount Vernon at that point, besides a quick stop in the gift shop. In total, we spend about 4 1/2 hours there. Some activities that we didn't do were to take a shuttle to the distillery as well as some activities that can be found on the official Mount Vernon app. One activity that stood out was a game in which you are a spy and need to find different items around the property. The description seemed like it uses bluetooth technology to interact with your phone. We started it when we arrived and watch the introduction video but didn't get to actually try it out.
The early morning was catching up to us so we decided to check in at our hotel which was only about 10 minutes away. We had 90 minutes to regroup. Chris napped and I caught up on some work.
Then it was time to head back to Mount Vernon for dinner. The full property closed at 5 pm but the restaurant that sits right outside the gates was open. We had 6:30 pm reservations and were seated right away.
I had planned to take food pictures for this trip. It isn't something I normally do but I always like looking at other people's so I wanted to do it for this trip. Well, I am not off to a good start.
We were both pretty hungry and the skillet cornbread hit the table and we dove in... before I could get a picture. So forgive the half eaten picture, but it was so good! It was warm and the butter on top was a honey butter. Chris had the jambalaya and I tried the shrimp and grits. I have never had grits before and I really enjoyed these. We then shared bread pudding... which I remembered to take a picture of when we were finished. I need to work on food picture skills.
It was about 8 pm when we arrived back at our room. I wrote this blog and we got organized for tomorrow. Thankfully, we don't need to be up super early. We plan to leave around 9 am for city #2... stay tuned to find out where we go!
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I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.