Gunston Hall Plantation

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