DC Holiday Event: Christmas at Mount Vernon

Christmas at Mount Vernon is not very Christmasey. I enjoyed our visit and I definitely recommend visiting, but I thought I should warn anyone thinking about going that your goal in visiting should be more to see the estate and less to see the holiday decorations. There are plenty of Christmas decorations in the visitor center, but not really any in the mansion or on the estate grounds.

Now, this next recommendation might sound like a contradiction, but I’ll explain: If you only plan to visit Mount Vernon once, I recommend that you visit around Christmas.

Why?

Here are the reasons:

For the same price as you would usually pay for entrance (at present, it’s $15 per person), you also get to see several Washington-esque Christmas trees in the visitor center.

You also get to see a beautiful gingerbread replica of Mount Vernon created by Chef Roland Mesnier (White House Executive Pastry Chef, 1979-2004).

And you get to see some gingerbread houses made by local schools.

And you get to see a chocolate-making demonstration that includes a sample of a traditional chocolate holiday drink (although the demonstration tent gets a bit crowded so we weren’t able to see much).

And you get to see the presidentally-pardoned turkey.

And you get to see Aladdin, the Christmas camel.

And best of all, you get to see the third floor of the Mount Vernon mansion, which is only open to the public during the holiday season (this is the main reason I recommend going during the holiday season). On asking why, we found out that the third floor still has the original flooring, so it wouldn’t hold up to year-round traffic. The third floor has the room that Martha Washington lived and died in in after George Washington died. It also has a couple more guest rooms and an interior view of the cupola.

Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside the mansion, but you can take all of the pictures you want everywhere else on the mansion grounds. If you’re curious to see the interior of the mansion before visiting, the official website has a great virtual tour of the mansion.

You can also visit the original burial place of Washington…

…and the new burial place of Washington as of 1831.

I also recommend checking out the dock near Washington’s original burial, as it has a beautiful view.

And if you visit the visitor center, check out the inverted relief sculpture of Washington’s head that seems to turn as you walk around it, and make sure you watch the video in the next room that explains the process that was used to create life-sized replicas of what Washington is thought to have looked like at various stages in his life. The replicas themselves are spread throughout the visitor center.

One last tip: During the holiday season, you can also go on a candlelit tour led by Martha Washington that includes hot cider and cookies and a few stations with people dressed in period giving explanations and demonstrations. However, these tours are an extra $20 per person on top of the $15 estate admission fee, and I’ve heard both from a friend who visited in previous years and from reviews on tripadvisor.com that the candlelit tour isn’t worth the extra money. And I believed them, considering that it would have to be a pretty amazing tour for me to feel like it was worth a $35 visit. So we just visited during the day.

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