On our way down to Williamsburg, we stopped off at Mount Vernon to see where George Washington lived. Before you go, know that you have to buy timed tickets in order to get in.
We spent a beautiful afternoon exploring the grounds of this historical house. There are more than a dozen out buildings, as well as, the mansion to explore. We were fortunate enough to see several period actors giving historical talks while walking around the property.
George Washington began running Mount Vernon in 1754, and over the next 45 years slowly enlarged the dwelling to create the 21-room residence we see today. Washington oversaw each renovation, advising on design, construction, and decoration, despite being away much of the time. Conscious that the world was watching, Washington selected architectural features that expressed his growing status as a Virginia gentleman and ultimately as the leader of a new nation.
In 1799, more than 50 enslaved men and women were trained in trades and skills necessary to keep this mansion functioning. These individuals used their skills to make tools and textiles, care for livestock, process food, and construct and repair many of Mount Vernon’s buildings, including the Mansion itself.
George Washington died in his bedchamber at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. His last will outlined his desire to be buried at home at Mount Vernon. Washington additionally made provisions for a new brick tomb to be constructed after his death, which would replace the original yet quickly deteriorating family burial vault. In 1831, Washington’s body was transferred to the new tomb, along with the remains of Martha Washington and other family members. Today, the gently wooded enclosure that surrounds the Washingtons’ final resting place is a lovely, fitting space to pay homage to the Father of Our Country and the first First Lady.
Visiting Williamsburg was my choice for this trip. Unfortunately this is was first day of really hot weather we had so it was a bit uncomfortable. What makes Williamsburg so unique is it’s the largest outdoor living museum in the country. It immerses you into 18th-century colonial life. With live actors working a craft or trade, it brings history to life. They are more than happy to answer questions or show off their workmanship.
We started at the east end with R. Carlton’s Coffeehouse where we had coffee and hot chocolate with a local resident who talked to us about the politics of the day. We continued down the street to the apothecary, bakery, and silversmith. At the Milliner and Mantua-maker we encountered several ladies in need of new frocks. The girls and I especially liked the weaver and wig maker. Watching them actively ply their craft was fascinating. After lunch we saw the print maker, blacksmith shop, tannery and armory and strolled around market square. Each actor that we came in contact with was very nice and very informative. We loved talking with a young women who spent a whole year hand-stitching a quilt with the scraps given to her by the milliners. She was just finishing up the last block and then she was done.
We ended our day with a carriage ride around the Williamsburg seeing all the buildings we were able to tour in a day. Many of the employees of Colonial Williamsburg live right on site in one of the 100s of restored buildings and homes. This working museum is a marvel at how history can live alongside this modern world to teach us how blessed we are as a nation.
The King's Arms
Our second dinner splurge for this trip was eating at the King’s Arms. We were all ready for a good dinner after spending the day exploring the grounds.
Originally opened by Jane Vobe in 1772, this authentic reproduction public house serves up a transporting experience for the senses in Colonial Williamsburg. Everything is true to the time period at King’s Arms Tavern, from the fashion sported by servers to the pewter candlesticks—all adding to an air of colonial elegance. Inspired by 18th-century recipes, but with updates to suit 21st-century tastes, tuck in to a chophouse menu featuring prime rib, pork chops, and more.
After tying huge napkins around our neck to catch wayward vitals, we all started with George Washington’s favorite dish: Peanut Soup. Even though I was a bit skeptical, it was actually really good. I had Mrs. Vobe’s Tavern Dinner which was prime rib with potatoes and Joe had chef’s catch of the day with vegetables. Mom and the girls had the Hunter’s game pie that included venison, rabbit and duck in a fine port wine sauce with vegetables. To make sure we were truly stuffed we topped off the meal with a seasonal berry crumble.
This was such a fun way to end our time in Williamsburg and we were all filled to the brim and on our way back to the hotel to sleep it off.