Fourth of July at Mount Vernon

We visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon on the Fourth of July to see the Independence Day festivities. I hadn’t been to Mount Vernon since a Christmas visit in 2005 when the visitor center was still under construction, so I was interested in seeing the finished estate.

Orientation Center

We arrived early enough to get a decent parking spot, passed through the new orientation center to get timed-entry tickets for the mansion tour, and walked up winding paths to the designated “Historic Area.”

Historic Area
Fourth of July at Mount Vernon

An “Inspection of the Troops” reenactment was underway on the Bowling Green.

Fourth of July at Mount Vernon

At George Washington’s mansion a tour guide was nice enough to let us into a group about to go in, an hour earlier than our timed entry passes. Still no photos allowed inside.

George Washington's Mansion

We also walked around the gardens, where some girls in period costume were running about, and butterflies sipped nectar from daisies.

Upper Garden
Upper Garden

As the day got hotter toward noon we retreated back to the visitor center to look around the museum and get an early lunch at Mount Vernon Inn. Healthy spinach salad for me, with the Inn’s signature peanut-and-chestnut soup on the side.

Spinach Salad and Peanut-Chestnut Soup

And to drink, Mount Vernon brand bottled water.

Mount Vernon Bottled Water

Highlight of the afternoon was daytime fireworks over the Potomac River behind the mansion, introduced by George and Martha Washington reenactors.

George and Martha Washington Reenactors

Daytime fireworks aren’t much different from nighttime fireworks, but they use more colored smoke to make up for the flares and explosions being almost invisible in the daylight. The explosions are no less deafening than at any other time of day.

[Flickr video page]

We also went down the hill to see George Washington’s tomb, the slave memorial, and wharf.

Washington's Tomb
Slave Memorial

Just a bit farther down the riverbank was a farm with some kind of round wheat threshing barn devised by Washington. And sheep smiled at us.


At the end of the day we bade farewell to President Washington and drove home to watch more fireworks over Vienna from the roof of the parking garage.

Fairfax Fourth of July Fireworks (long exposure)

Full Fourth of July Flickr photoset here.