Gunston Hall Plantation

Historic Site
Gunston Hall Plantation photo
Larry Kobelka for The Washington Post

Editorial Review

George Mason, author of Virginia's Bill of Rights (whose words "all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights" struck a chord with another Virginian), built this plantation house.

The interior is fancier than Mount Vernon, with wonderful carved wood details. You can see the house only as part of a tour, so for kids bored with decorating, explore the grounds, including a reconstructed schoolhouse (with a switch on the teacher's desk and a chamber pot under the bed of the sleeping loft) and kitchen yard. The impressive boxwood gardens tower over grown-ups, let alone children, and are fun to run through. Every family gets a "Plantation Detective" booklet that older kids may enjoy filling out. A big kite festival is held every March.

-- John Kelly and Craig Stoltz