Presidents’ Day: Virginia’s Presidents

Monday, February 18, marks Presidents’ Day.

Virginia is home to more presidents that any other state. Eight to be exact.

Can you name them?

George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. James Madison. James Monroe. William Henry Harrison. John Tyler. Zachary Taylor. Woodrow Wilson.

Here is a look at a few places you might want to check out around the state to honor the men who have helped shape our country’s history, and have called Virginia home. No president has been a Maryland or DC native– yet.

George Washington: His name rings out all over the state, particularly in Northern Virginia.

  1. The first president’s home, Mount Vernon, hosts a a few events on Presidents’ Day, and admission to the historic home is free. Expect crowds if you go, but it will likely be something you’ll always remember. More information on the day’s events at Mount Vernon are available here.
  2. Visit George Washington’s Birthplace, a National Monument in Colonial Beach. The site includes a one-mile nature walk and living colonial farm.
  3. Head over to Washington’s Boyhood home east of Fredericksburg, Ferry Farm. Celebrate the president’s 281st birthday with cake and a visit from the president.

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Thomas Jefferson: Our nation’s third president, and main writer of the Declaration of Independence.

  1. Head to Charlottesville and check out Jefferson’s beloved home, Monticello. We’ve been down on Presidents’ Day before, and have found the crowds more manageable than near DC. You can also check out his University of Virginia. Check out some of my tips for visiting Charlottesville here.
  2. If you’re looking to take a drive further into the country, check out Poplar Forest. I’ve got tips for visiting this site here.

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James Madison: 4th President of the United States.

  1. His presidential home and burial place, Montpelier is a National Historic Landmark. On Presidents’ day the site will host an Enslaved Community Tour. You can hear stories of individual slaves and Madison’s view of slavery. More information about the tour is available here.

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James Monroe: 5th President of the United States. Nearby neighbor to both Madison and Jefferson.

  1. Ash Lawn-Highland, Monroe’s home is open for visitors on the 18th. The site will host a special Presidents’ Day Eve event on February 17, including a visit from Monroe himself. More information about the event is available here.
  2. Visit the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library in Fredericksburg. Funny story, but I have gotten lost twice trying to visit this library. I need to just type it in my GPS next time, and not try to rely on the signs leading the path.
  3. Monroe’s remains are now in his home state at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. Walking tours of the cemetery are available.

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William Henry Harrison: 9th U.S. President

  1. Although he spent most of his adult life in the Midwest, Harrison was born in Charles City County at Berkley Plantation. The home is believed to be the oldest three-story brick mansion in Virginia. During the winter months, the home is open from 10:30 am- 3:30 pm. More information about visiting the plantation is available here.

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John Tyler: 10th President of United States

  1. Also born in Charles City County, Tyler was raised at Greenway Plantation. He later sold the property and purchased nearby Sherwood Forest Plantation. Greenway Plantation is a private residence today, but information on viewing the exterior is available here.
  2. Sherwood Forest Plantation is a National Historic Landmark, and still maintained by Tyler’s descendants. Tours are available by appointment. A self-guided walking tour of the grounds is available. Information about visiting is also available here.

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Zachary Taylor: 12th President of the United States

  1. Born in Barboursville, at the Montebello Plantation. A historic marker notes the location of where the home is believed to have stood. Taylor moved with his family to Kentucky as an infant.

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Woodrow Wilson: 28th President of the United States

  1. Born in Staunton, his birthplace, museum and library are open to the public. Information about visiting is available here. Staunton typically seems like one of those little tiny antique towns you drive through on your way to the Shenandoah Mountains, but I totally recommend getting out to stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat here. I’ve never stopped at the museum, but WILL the next time I drive through.
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