Things to Do

Weekend Wonder: A Candlelight Tour of Mount Vernon

Get in the holiday spirit—and delight out-of-town guests on Thanksgiving—with this festive annual tradition.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Vernon.

You’re finished with the Thanksgiving bird. You’ve shopped ’til you dropped. Yet you still have a house full of guests for the holiday weekend. What’s a host to do?

Consider taking a candlelight tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The tours begin for the season on November 28, and are offered on various Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights through December 21. The timed tickets cost $22 for adults, $15 for children 11 and under. Tickets can sell out, so it’s recommended you buy them online before going.

Don’t expect elaborate Christmas decorations—the mansion is done up for the holidays as it would have been during George and Martha’s day, meaning just a bit of greenery here and there. Instead, the tour is an atmospheric chance to hear stories about the estate and the family’s life there (fun fact: George Washington, an avid dog lover and breeder, is father of the American Foxhound). Visitors get to see the first and second floors of the mansion—with costumed interpreters scattered throughout, including an animated Martha Washington. Much of the guided tour—which takes at least half an hour—is outside, so be sure to dress for the weather.

After the tour, you can enjoy hot cider and a ginger cookie by a kettle fire; explore the many outbuilding exhibits; check out the resident camel, Aladdin; and watch Colonial dancing in the greenhouse.

Want to visit Mount Vernon this weekend but can’t make it there at night? Take advantage of special admission prices Wednesday, November 26, through Sunday, November 30 (excluding Friday)—yes, it’s open Thanksgiving Day—when adult and youth tickets are 25 percent off. Use the online discount code 20142611 or mention the offer, which is good for up to six tickets, at the box office.

And if you can’t make it to Mount Vernon at all this year, check out the terrific virtual tour.

Meet Aladdin the resident camel on your tour. Photograph by Joe Sliger.

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.