Plantations of the Potomac
Visiting Alexandria, Prince William & Manassas
Steeped in historical significance, catch a glimpse into the past as you explore the grand plantations from the 18th and 19th centuries. These homes lined the Potomac River in Alexandria and Prince William & Manassas, Virginia and were a vital part of the area’s economy and history.
Once you arrive in Alexandria, VA, your first stop will be the Carlyle House. Built is 1753, the house was built buy a British merchant for his lovely bride. Take a tour of this pre-revolutionary Palladian-style stone house then look out for PBS’s newest drama Mercy Street which takes place at the Carlyle House! (Suggested time: 45 – 60 minutes)
Your journey continues with a delectable lunch at Gadsby’s Tavern, where George Washington would hold important meetings with the founding fathers and his masonic lodge brothers. After lunch, head over to the Gadby’s Museum where the tavern was the setting for dancing assemblies, theatrical and musical performances, and meetings of local organizations and frequented by George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette. (Suggested Time: Lunch plus 30 minutes)
After lunch, hit the road to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to learn about Mount Vernon’s rich history and how acquiring the land and keeping it together sparked the creation of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Then discover why George Washington himself opened his estate to guests year-round just as is done today. (Suggested time: 2.5 – 3.5 hours)
Continue on to see Woodlawn, a plantation that was once part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon but gifted to George Washington’s nephew and Martha’s Granddaughter before they wed. The estate was designed by the architect of the U.S. Capitol. (Suggested time: 60 – 90 minutes)
Make Occoquan, VA your dinner stop today, less than one mile from Interstate 95. You can see and feel the charm of this quaint 18th century town which sits along its namesake river, Occoquan. Take advantage of the popular Dine-Around Program for an on-your-own meal. Guests will receive a map listing all the restaurants in town, most of which offer a discount on food and drinks. Additionally, the motorcoach driver receives free bus parking and a complimentary meal! (Suggested time: 60 – 90 minutes)
After dinner, meet the former Mayor of Occoquan, Earnie Porta, for a guided tour through the historic district. A noted author, historian and entrepreneur, Mr. Porta will share stories and facts of the town’s rich history as a bustling port and mill town as it developed throughout the 1800’s. Be sure to ask him why the building in the middle of town is called the Artists Undertaking Gallery. (Suggested time: 45 – 60 minutes)
Begin your morning by visiting Rippon Lodge, a former plantation known for tobacco, wheat and other commodities. Built in 1740’s and the oldest known home in Prince William County, the property overlooks the Potomac River and is close to the former bustling port town of Dumfries. The owners used their proximity to the waterways to export their goods to England. (Suggested time: 45 – 60 minutes)
Travel on to Manassas, VA for a tour of one of the largest plantations in Western Prince William County at Liberia Plantation. Built in 1825, the house was originally situated on 1,660 acres and produced grains, vegetables and livestock, including sheep, horses, cattle and hogs. Today, the home is under restoration and you may be able to see graffiti from Civil War soldiers! (Suggested time: 45 – 60 minutes)
Following your tour, spend a leisurely afternoon enjoying lunch in Historic Downtown Manassas. Your dining options include familiar favorites such as Philadelphia cheesesteaks and barbeque while adventurous palates may want to try Cajun, Greek, or Portuguese cuisine. (Suggested time: Lunch plus 1 – 2 hours)
The last stop on today’s tour is Ben Lomond Historic Site, a plantation turned field hospital during the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run. The plantation was owned by a descendant of the very powerful Carter family and was leased to the Pringle family during the Civil War. Both families helped the plantation produce corn and wheat, as well as care for the almost 500 Merino sheep. A tour of the home will illuminate what it was like for the Pringle family during the Civil War. You will also see the recently preserved graffiti left behind by the soldiers! (Suggested 45 – 60 minutes)
What to do next:
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