George Washington was the first President of the United States and one of our nation's most respected founding fathers.
Washington's birthday (February 22nd) is celebrated on Presidents Day, a public holiday that creates a long three-day weekend in mid-February. It's a great opportunity to take time to learn more about the man who was such a key figure in our fledgling country.
Mount Vernon, VA
The prettiest tourist attraction in the DC area, Washington's beloved Mount Vernon mansion, and the 500-acre estate is beautifully restored and furnished with original objects dating back to the 1740s. Families can explore the mansion, grounds and gardens and a museum to learn about the life of America's first president and his family. (The National Treasure Tour is highly recommended.) Just three miles away, you can also visit Washington's Whiskey Distillery & Gristmill and learn about the role whiskey played in Washington's farming operation.
Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States, and it was here that Washington lived, worked, fought, and slept. Don't-miss attractions include Independence Hall, where Washington was given command of the Continental Army and later presided over the Constitutional Convention; Congress Hall, where Washington stepped down from the presidency to make way for John Adams; and City Tavern, still a popular dining spot.
Washington Crossing, PA
About 35 miles northeast of Philly, you can visit Washington Crossing Historic Park at the site where Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River and turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. From the parking area at the Thompson-Neely House, it’s a short walk across the Delaware Canal to the memorial cemetery where an unknown number of Continental soldiers who died during the December 1776 encampment in Bucks County are buried.
Colonial Beach, VA
On the Northern Neck of Virginia, you can learn a lot about our first president at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. The house in which Washington was born was destroyed by fire in 1779, yet this landscape forever shaped Washington's life. You can visit the Washington family burial ground and a living colonial farm that features heritage livestock and tobacco, as well as special events, offer costumed interpreters and demonstrations.
Valley Forge, PA
In December 1777, when Washington's army marched into camp at Valley Forge, tired, cold, and ill-equipped, it was lacking the training necessary for sustainable success on the battlefield. After a six-month encampment here, this same army emerged to beat the British at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey. The ranger programs at this site include walking tours and historical talks.
The national capital didn't move to the first president's namesake city until 1800, four years after Washington had left the office. Still, there are plenty of places to learn more, including the Washington Monument and the National Portrait Gallery, where the second-floor American Presidents collection includes Gilbert Stuart’s famous “Lansdowne” portrait of Washington.
America may have declared independence in 1776, but it took another five years to win it. That day came in October 1781, when the British surrendered in Yorktown to Washington, after a siege that had cut off food and ammunition. In Yorktown, you can visit the battlefield and Moore House, where General Cornwallis signed the articles of capitulation. Yorktown Battlefield also offers a junior ranger program for kids.
Saratoga Springs, NY
After the Revolutionary War ended, Washington and Alexander Hamilton took a trip to Upstate New York to visit General Philip Schuyler, who took them on a tour of Saratoga Battlefield, site of the turning point in the war. During their visit, Schuyler took them to some of the mineral springs in the area. Washington was so impressed with High Rock Spring and its medicinal waters that he attempted to buy the spring and surrounding land but was unsuccessful.