Mt. Vernon has a "new" Visitor's Center - it's actually called an education center and museum, but my brain can only remember it as a visitor's center. It is WAY cool and SO worth the trip if you haven't been there in a while. They have three movies (four if you count the orientation movie you can see when first entering). I surprised my husband by taking him to the "experience" movie on the Revolutionary War. While they tell the story of those 8 years, the cannons boom (lights flash and the seats rumble) and when they tell the story of the storm and fog that Washington escaped New York in, a fog machine creates a fog bank near the bottom of the stadium seating. Then, when they tell the story of the Crossing of the Delaware (in caps because that's a cool story) and Valley Forge - a SNOW MACHINE - blows snow over the audience. My husband thought it was WAY cool and I expect kids think it's pretty neat too. There are lots of things in the museum, including poor George's dentures that you can see close up - displayed much like the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian.
|Mt. Vernon in Gingerbread - Roland Mesnier|
Secondly, the Grist Mill and Distillery aren't on the Estate-proper. During the "season" they have a shuttle bus that will do the driving for you, but if you go, it is south (of the Mansion and Museum) on the GW Parkway between Route 1 and the Ft. Belvoir gate that is on the Parkway. It's on the north side of the Parkway. Sits next to Douge Creek. The funny thing is that I used to commute that way everyday when I lived in Woodbridge and worked for a law firm in Old Town Alexandria. The "Guy" yesterday said that the mill isn't the original one (the original burned down about a century and a half ago), but it is a reproduction that was built in the 30's. It was privately owned then, acquired by Mt. Vernon in the early '90's. But still, it was there when I was commuting and I have absolutely NO RECOLLECTION of it at all. Of course, that was when I was in my mid-twenties and more interested in boys than mills. So, I probably drove by there every day, twice a day, and didn't give it a second thought. But I did get pulled over for speeding on the Parkway once by a motorcycle cop who just looked so HOT in those boots they wear - we just had to go out for coffee! Oh, my, those WERE the days! Told my husband that story yesterday - he said "so, little girl, would you like to see MY boots?"
Speaking of Mt. Vernon reminds me of Woodlawn. I've already read some stuff about people preparing to go in March to the Needlework Show there. Here's the link. I think I'm going to get my stitchy gals to make a day trip out of it. Oddly enough, I was raised in Fairfax County and spent a good deal of my adult life there too - but have NEVER been to Woodlawn! SHOCK! I know! It's about time I went, don cha think?