Museum Nerd Series #3 George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Like other Hamilton musical fanatics, My interest in the history of the revolutionary war and the founding of the United States has piqued as a result of the many lyrics of the musical bouncing around my brain at all hours of the day and night. Perhaps the greatest gift Lin-Manuel Miranda has given me – other than The Room Where It Happens – is discovering the biographer Ron Chernow, who wrote the massive and excellent biography on Hamilton that inspired the musical. Earlier this year, I listened to the audiobook on Hamilton, as well as his book on Ulysses S. Grant, and I’m now listening to his biography on George Washington, which inspired today’s post.

Mount Vernon (wikimedia commons)

It’s impossible to learn about the history of George Washington without also learning about his home in Northern Virginia, Mount Vernon. Many of us who live on the east coast of the U.S. have been there as kids or teens on a Washington, D.C. trip, and it’s well worth revisiting as an adult. I went most recently with my TrekSimple co-author Caren sometime in the last five-ish or so years, while she was living in Northern Virginia. And, since joining the board of the Historic Stranahan House Museum here in Fort Lauderdale, I’ve tried to visit as many historic house museums as possible, out of genuine interest as well as a curiosity as to how other similar museums operate.

Mount Vernon is located 17 miles outside of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Virginia, a very charming town with deep colonial roots. 

The base (non discounted) cost to visit the grounds of Mount Vernon is $23, plus another $2 to add a mansion tour – a must do. Notably, Purple Heart recipients get free admission, likely an homage to Washington having created the honor – things you learn in the biography! 

There are other specialty add-on tours including a “Hamilton The Musical Tour,” a “National Treasure Tour” and “The Enslaved People of Mount Vernon Tour,” among others. Though we didn’t take the slavery tour on our visit, I have been impressed as an adult with the frank manner the curators of Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Gunston Hall – home of founding father George Mason, strive to tell the unvarnished history of slavery at these historic homes that served as plantations.

A photo I took of George Washington’s iconic Gilbert Stuart portrait at the National Portrait Gallery

Depending on your plans for the day and any special tours you may have booked, I would plan on spending three hours at Mount Vernon to see everything. The website doesn’t explicitly say so, but it seems that mansion tours and specialty tours could be at reduced capacity due to the pandemic, so as with everything these days, plan in advance. 

For more information and to plan your visit, see https://www.mountvernon.org/

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


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