Presidents Day weekend brings to mind how many sites and activities in the area bear the footprints of the relative few who have led our nation. We needn’t go far to begin at the beginning. George Washington’s Mount Vernon and nearby Alexandria, Va., mark his birthday with a host of activities.
Alexandria celebrates most of the month of February with free admission to historic sites and a self-guided walking tour tracing Washington’s footsteps in town. There’s a cherry-themed competition among local restaurants through Feb. 11, a 10K run on Feb. 14, and the mile-long Washington’s Birthday Parade on Feb. 15.
Mount Vernon holds its birthday activities Feb.13–15 and Feb. 22, including free admission each day. The Feb. 13–14 events include wreath-laying ceremonies at the New Tomb at 10:00am and 3:00pm. You can meet George Washington all day and costumed characters sharing their memories of him 11:00am–1:00pm. Country dancing demonstrations take place on the Bowling Green at 1:45pm.
On the traditional Feb. 22 Washington’s Birthday, you can meet the great man himself 10:00am–2:00pm, attend a noon wreath-laying at the New Tomb, and enjoy birthday cake celebrating Washington’s 284th birthday. In the mansion, the Nellie Custis bedchamber will be re-opened and George Washington’s swords will be on display in the museum.
George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument near Fredericksburg, Va., will hold celebrations and special living history programs Feb. 15.
Other nearby presidential homes include the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C. (Wilson was the only president to live in Washington after he left office.) Montpelier, in Orange County, Va., the home of James Madison, will take advantage of the joint Valentine’s Day-Presidents Day weekend with a program on the private relationship and public partnership of James and Dolley Madison. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, near Charlottesville, offers a special program Feb. 13 at 3:00pm on Jefferson’s penchant for gadgets that will include re-creations of many of his inventions.