It’s not surprising that Presidents Day is a big holiday ’round these parts. There are scores of events and activities happening this weekend to celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. So many that I decided give them their own post. Here’s where you can pay tribute and have some fun with the kids.
Party at Mount Vernon – Every Presidents Day weekend, George Washington’s former estate hosts special festivities in celebration of our first POTUS’ big day. This always includes his favorite breakfast of “hoecakes swimming in butter and honey” served to guests during the morning hours among other activities that recall his 18th-century life. This year, they are taking it up a notch with four award-winning local chefs presenting cooking demos of the dish. Chef Cathal Armstrong from Restaurant Eve, Chef David Guas from Bayou Bakery, Chef Christophe Poteaux from Bastille Restaurant, and Chef Robert Wiedmaier from BRABO will be cooking their versions of the breakfast over open fire for “George Washington” at 12pm. Later on, guests can join characters from the 18th century as they help visitors surprise General Washington with rousing birthday cheers. At “George Washington’s Surprise Birthday Party”, the first president will be presented with gifts, which he will describe and react to during a speech to his birthday visitors. All activities on Saturday and Sunday, February 18 & 19, are included in regular Estate admission: $15/adults, $7/kids ages 6-11, children under 5 are free. Hours are 9am – 4pm.
There’s even more on Monday, February 20. Along with the surprise birthday celebration mentioned above, there will be a traditional wreathlaying ceremony at Washington’s Tomb followed by patriotic music and military performances on the Bowling Green (however, the hoecakes will not be served). And as a special present to visitors, the Estate will open one hour earlier at 8am and admission on Monday is FREE.
Presidential Family Fun Day – The National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum will celebrate our nation’s presidents on Saturday with a special Family Day. Guests can explore U.S. history through craft activities, stories, patriotic music, and special guests. Drop in for the free event from 11:30am – 3pm.
Celebrate GW at Tudor Place! – The historic estate’s collections include the largest assemblage of Washington artifacts outside of Mount Vernon. On Monday, February 20, visitors can take self-guided tours through the mansion and a special exhibit of rare Washington-related objects, including George Washington’s 1775 letter to his wife, Martha, one of only three such letters known to exist. There will also be 18th-century gaming, dancing, and crafts led by costumed interpreters. Admission is $5/member adults, $10/non-member adults, $5/children. Register in advance online.
Presidents Day Open House at Ford’s – On Monday, February 20, Ford’s Theatre will celebrate Presidents Day with a free open house featuring a variety of programming and activities. Over the course of the day, visitors can enjoy an author discussion, ranger talks, and performances of Papa Day, Tales of the Lincoln with storyteller Jon Spelman and One Destiny. They can also view the exhibits at the new Center for Education and Leadership, participate in workshops with the Education Department, and enjoy scavenger hunts and prize drawings. The Ford’s Theatre Museum will be open for visits on the hour beginning at 9am. Tickets to the event are free and will be available at the box office beginning at 8:30am that day.
George Washington Birthday Parade – On Monday, Old Town Alexandria hosts the largest parade in the country celebrating George Washington’s birthday with marching bands, historic re-enactment troops and more. The procession will travel through Old Town from 1 – 3pm. See the website for more info and route details.
Presidents Day at The Launch Zone- Little ones will have fun at the National Children’s Museum as they learn about past presidents with finger puppets and other resources. They can also learn how to make their own official Shrinky Dink inaugural badges (while supplies last). This free event runs on Saturday, February 18, from 11am – 4pm.
President Lincoln’s Cottage – There’s no special event, but this seems like a good way to honor Abe for Presidents Day. Located on the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) campus in northwest DC, the cottage was Abraham Lincoln’s country home and workplace, where he spent one quarter of his presidency. Tickets are $12/adults, $6/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under. Admission includes the Signature Cottage Tour, an innovative small group tour in which a professional guide uses “historical voices” and images through multimedia technology to bring the stories of Abraham Lincoln and his family to life. Hours are Monday – Saturday 930am – 4:30pm, and Sunday 10:30am – 4:30pm.
Wax Presidential - Get up close and personal with all 44 POTUS at Madame Tussauds in downtown DC. The Presidents Gallery, exclusive to that location, is comprised of 14 themed rooms that include interactive exhibits along with the sculptures. If you plan to go, be sure to get in on one of several deals: Groupon has one for $10, Goldstar is offering discount tickets, or you can book through the venue online for a 15% discount.