Washington Birthplace buildings

Northern Neck Road Trip to George Washington Birthplace

Northern Neck Road Trip

We love winter road trips because they let us explore new areas of Virginia from the warmth and comfort of the Funness-mobile. Recently, we headed to the Northern Neck, a peninsula east of Fredericksburg, bounded by the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.

Northern Neck is large, with over 1100 miles of shoreline, state and national parklands, and many small towns, marinas, and farms. In honor of the upcoming President’s Day, we decided to make the George Washington Birthplace our primary destination, with a few other stops along the way there.

Heading southeast on route 218, we made brief stops at Fairview Beach and Caledon State Park. The Smoot house Visitor Center at Caledon is closed for the winter, but there are several hiking trails through the woods and out to the Potomac.

Caledon SP Visitor Center

Caledon SP Visitor Center

 

We had planned to have lunch at the highly rated Lighthouse Restaurant in Colonial Beach, but it was closed. Instead we enjoyed delicious steamed shrimp, properly coated in Old Bay, at the casual Kelsea’s Kitchen.

Kelseas Kichen in Colonial Beach

Kelseas Kichen in Colonial Beach

 

George Washington Birthplace

Geo Washington Birthplace NM

A bit further south, George Washington Birthplace National Monument recreates the setting of George Washington’s first three years and establishes his upbringing and future as a Virginia gentleman farmer. The site is impressive, with a large Visitor Center, recreations of the homestead, natural trails and farmland, and beautiful views of the tidewater lands similar to what George would have experienced.

View of Pope's Creek

View of Pope’s Creek

 

As you enter the park, you’ll drive toward a one-tenth size replica of DC’s Washington Monument.

Replica of Washington Monument

Replica of Washington Monument

 

We arrived at the Visitor Center just in time for the 15-miunte film highlighting the rhythms of life on a tidewater farm, and the Washington family’s role in Virginia aristocracy. The center includes interesting displays of life on the farm plus the history and myths surrounding our first President. The small store is worth a look too.

Behind the center, a deck offers beautiful views of Pope’s Creek, and the Potomac River in the distance. We were lucky to enjoy a close-up view of a bald eagle perched in a tree right next to the deck.

Bald Eagle at Washington Birthplace

Bald Eagle at Washington Birthplace

 

From the deck, follow the path 300 yards to the Memorial House and surrounding buildings. The original farm house burned in 1779, and was reconstructed in 1930 on a site mistakenly thought to be the original farmhouse site. The true foundation was later discovered, and its outline is now marked with oyster shells.

Washington Birthplace Memorial House

Washington Birthplace Memorial House

 

A Park Ranger took us into the house to view rooms stocked with period and reproduction pieces, including three items that belonged to the Washington family. In the Withdrawing Room, you’ll see as round tea table that was in the Washington’s house when it burned. Outbuildings include a kitchen, workshop and weaving room.

Washington Birthplace withdrawing room

Washington Birthplace withdrawing room

Bedroom at Washington Birthplace

Bedroom at Washington Birthplace

 

If you have time and it isn’t too cold, walk past the house, down the hill and across the bridge over Pope’s Creek. From here you can hike the 3/4 mile Dancing Marsh Loop Trail, or extend it with the 1 mile Nature Loop Trail. You’ll find lovely views of the creek and marsh, plus a log house and picnic area. We plan to return for these hikes when the weather warms up.

Bridge over Pope's Creek

Bridge over Pope’s Creek

Moon over Pope's Creek

Moon over Pope’s Creek

 

As we walked back to the Visitor Center, we passed through a small flock of the farm’s heritage sheep, and we saw newborn twin lambs (one of two sets born that day). The sheep and cows, along with the birds in the trees and the creek, create a lovely pastoral setting.

Washington Birthplace heritage sheep

Washington Birthplace heritage sheep

 

Before you leave the park, turn at the obelisk to visit the family burial ground. Washington’s half brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather are all buried here.

Nothing goes with history like a glass of Virginia wine, and Ingleside Vineyards is just a few miles away. Ingleside was the first winery on the Northern Neck, opening in 1980, and they host many festivals and events year-round. We particularly enjoyed their Viognier, made with Virginia’s state grape.

Ingleside Winery

Ingleside Winery

 

There is so much of the Northern Neck left for us to visit, including a return trip to hike at George Washington Birthplace and more stops on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail. What is your favorite Northern Neck highlight?

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

1732 Pope’s Creek Road
Colonial Beach, VA 22443
804-224-1732
Map

 

 

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