Presidential Pursuits: Exploring Virginia’s Historical Gems

Explore the legacy of eight U.S. presidents with visits to their Virginia homes.

As Presidents Day approaches, originally dedicated to Washington’s birthday, this blog highlights noteworthy George Washington-related sites in Virginia for educators planning a long weekend of exploration.

As Presidents Day approaches, this blog highlights noteworthy George Washington-related sites in Virginia, as well as other presidential monuments, for educators planning a long weekend of exploration. Presidents Day, originally established to honor George Washington’s birthday, is a federal holiday in the United States that celebrates all U.S. presidents, past and present, and will be observed this year on Monday, February 19th. It serves as a time for reflection on the contributions and legacies of the nation’s leaders, with various activities and events taking place to commemorate their impact on American history. Below are sites across Virginia related to the Commonwealth’s presidential history.

  1. Mount Vernon, of course. Did you know admission on February 19th is free? Get there early since tickets are limited. 
  2. George Washington’s birthplace, Colonial Beach. The original home burned down but a replica house has been built on Pope’s Creek. The house and kitchen are closed until March but the nature trails provide access to the creek and a peak at Washington’s childhood home.
  3. Ferry Farm, Fredericksburg Washington’s boyhood home is closed until March but put it on your “must visit” list!
  4. George Washington Masonic Memorial, Alexandria Learn more about Washington the Mason in this beautiful hilltop museum. Finish your tour on the roof with breathtaking views of DC across the Potomac.

Eight U.S. presidents were born in Virginia, offering a rich historical tapestry for exploration across the Commonwealth. Here are some notable sites:

  1. Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential Library and Museum, Staunton: Located in the heart of Staunton, explore the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, and don’t miss the museum, where a visit to the basement provides a poignant journey back to the trenches of WWI.
  2. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Charlottesville: Immerse yourself in the grounds of Jefferson’s iconic home.
  3. James Monroe’s Highland, Charlottesville: Situated just uphill from Monticello, Monroe’s mountain retreat offers a unique adventure, with the option to hike up from Monticello for the more adventurous.
  4. James Madison’s Montpelier, Orange: The house and grounds have been meticulously restored from the grandeur of the Dupont family to the serene elegance of Madison’s time, offering visitors four distinct tours.
  5. Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond: A must-visit for history enthusiasts, this cemetery provides an opportunity to explore the final resting places of Presidents Monroe and Tyler, along with Supreme Court justices, governors, and Civil War soldiers. Be sure to stop by the visitors’ center for a map.

For classroom resources, explore the Presidents Day collection on eMediaVA!

Anne Walker is a social studies teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools and an eMediaVA Ambassador.

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