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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Fall harvest festivals at historic properties in Northern Virginia

There is always so much to do in the D.C. area during the fall months. The weather is beautiful and the opportunities for weekend (or weekday) outings are many. We tend to focus most of our time in Virginia during the fall because there are so many terrific events going on at the farms, parks and historic properties. Today I want to highlight some of the things taking place at the local historic areas.

Fall harvests have played an important role in Virginia’s history and many of the historic properties in the region celebrate this tradition. If you are looking for an outing that blends history and fun, these might be exactly what you are looking for:

Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon


Every year Mount Vernon hosts its Fall Harvest Family Days. In addition to admission to the property and mansion for regular tours, 18th-century dancing, a straw bale maze, apple roasting and corn husk doll making are also offered. There are also historical presentations (when we went, General Washington himself was floating about talking to his guests, along with a more formal talk) and lots of other hands-on activities. It’s a fun family day out. This event typically takes place in the second half of October, approximately a week before Halloween from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Want to know more about Mount Vernon? See my post on visiting this historic site]

Oatlands Harvest Festival


This is a harvest festival I haven’t been to yet but picked up a flyer during a September visit to Oatlands. The property is hosting hayrides, music, entertainment, games, Oatlands wine and more. 

Also, there will be u-pick pumpkins in the Oatlands Pumpkin Patch (by Wegmeyer Farms). This one usually is scheduled to take place on either the second or third weekend in October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (in 2017 it's on Sunday, Oct. 22). The admission price also includes a tour of the house ($20 per family or $10 per person). I’m not sure what would be blooming in the gardens this time of year, but the expansive gardens are beautiful in any event.  If you haven’t toured Oatlands yet, I do recommend it, even if not during this event. It has deep ties to early American history, so if this is your interest, I think you'd enjoy this tour.

Sully Historic Site


Not exactly a harvest festival, I wanted to include this event because based on my experience, Sully
Historic Site offers some interesting one-day events, especially around the holidays. In 2017 the site is hosting “Historic All Hallows Eve” on Sat., Oct. 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be storytelling, fortune telling, fall foods and family gatherings. House and grounds tours will be offered by lantern. Visit the Parktakes website to register.

Gunston Hall

Gunston Hall has been adding many events to its calendar in recent years. During a 2014 visit to the home, I noticed they were planning a fall harvest event. We attended and had a great time, it was open from 4 to 7 p.m. and had lots of kid-friendly fun and admission included a tour of the house. When checking their website’s 2017 calendar, I don’t see this event listed this year. Hopefully, this one will make a return, I do believe one was held in 2015 but not in 2016. [ Want to learn more about one of the lesser known Founding Fathers and his home? Check out my more detailed post about Gunston Hall ]

Harvest festivals are a great way to spend a day! Looking for additional types of fall family fun, check out the events local farms are hosting.

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