If you’ve lived in the D.C. metro area for two seconds, your family has probably dropped in on one or both of the most visited historic homes in the country–George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the original abode of the first President, and Pennsylvania Avenue’s The White House, the home of every U.S. President since. Dig a little deeper by exploring the DMV homes and getting an up close look at some of lesser known (but just as significant) figures in history. These tours are super family friendly, featuring everything from a living history demonstrations and an oratorical contest just for kids

Photo: Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
It took two generations to establish and restore this spot as a National Historic Site. Cedar Hill, the Northeast D.C. home where escaped slave turned preeminent orator and scholar, Frederick Douglass, lived his final years. Now serving as an educational center, Cedar Hill runs tours, and sponsors a children’s oratorical contest every December for kids in grades one through twelve. Other family-friendly events are offered throughout the year, including Douglass’s birthday celebration and a ceremony acknowledging the launch of a Frederick Douglass quarter by the U.S. Mint on April 4.

1411 W St., SE (Anacostia)
Online: nps.gov

Photo: NCinDC via Flickr

Gadsby’s Tavern
The City of Alexandria, Virginia is a history buff’s dream hang-out, and a visit to the town’s historic Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, known also as a modern day restaurant, is one of the best examples of finding the past in the present. Serving up everything from period food to period dancing, Gadsby’s also hosts 18th Century birthday parties, and offers a unique opportunity to students in grades four to six to act as volunteer junior docents; they’ll don period garb, give summertime tours on Sundays, and participate in special events. Click here for more information and to apply. The deadline is April 27!

134 N. Royal St. (Alexandria, Va)
Online: alexandriava.gov

Photo: Gunston Hall

Gunston Hall
The former digs of Colonial Statesman George Mason, Gunston Hall offers an array of family friendly programs in Mason Neck, Virginia, where the town’s namesake served as the State’s first governor. April marks the start of the museum’s living history programs in which kids age 8 to 14 volunteer as Young Historic Interpreters. Get set also for an annual Kite Festival on April 1, and Summer Saturdays beginning in June all the way through August, featuring costumed interpreters and interactive programming just for kids and families.

10709 Gunston Rd. (Mason Neck, Va)
Online: gunstonhall.org

Photo: Hillwood Museum 

Hillwood Museum and Gardens
Learn about cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather-Post, her incredible Russian and French decorative art collections, and not to mention her gardens where young garden party-goers are welcome throughout the year, particularly for elegant Family Fun Days appropriate for the season. April features the Fabergé Egg Festival and new in May is a Family Movie Night. Opportunities to tour the house with your toddler are also available as part of the Preschool Series.

4155 Linnean Ave., NW (Van Ness/UDC)
Online: hillwoodmuseum.org

Photo: Lincoln Cottage

President Lincoln’s Cottage
Washington had Mount Vernon, and Jefferson Monticello, but Honest Abe had a more local escape from what he called the “iron cage” of the White House, though because of its proximity to a home for war wounded, Lincoln did not always find respite there. Now a museum, the Cottage offers regular tours, lectures, and a Family Day in September that makes use of the full grounds with Civil War encampments, and other activities. Museum staff also host teacher workshops and school group programs, in addition to Students Opposing Slavery, a worldwide program engaging teenagers around the issue of human trafficking.

140 Rock Creek Church Rd., NW (Petworth)
Online: lincolncottage.org
Photo: Outlands

Oatlands
The Oatlands, once ran as a plantation in rural Leesburg, now works to educate visitors of all ages about all aspects of the historic home, and activities of its inhabitants, including what was believed to be up to 133 enslaved people just before the Civil War. See the Oatlands Special Events page, including a schedule of themed Afternoon Teas (think: Mother’s Day), a Strawberry Festival on May 21, and a special World War I and II weekend in July featuring children’s activities. Unique Summer camps for kids in grades three through eight, and even a paranomal investigations tour of the house are also part of the fun.

20850 Oatlands Plantation Ln. (Leesburg, Va)
Online: oatlands.org

Photo: Tudor Place

Tudor Place
First opened to the public in 1983, this once Presidential granddaughter-owned estate in Georgetown is a landmark of urban conservation with over 400 trees on the property–several believed to have been planted by the original proprietorsTudor Place offers year round tours and programming for Tudor Tots through school-aged kids, along with special events like Eggstravaganza or the Father’s Day Kite Flight on June 18. Enjoy a special once a year only free day at Tudor Place, the Annual Earthday Plant Sale and Picnic on April 29.

1644 34th St., NW (Georgetown)
Online: tudorplace.org

Have you visited any of these historic homes? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

–Carolyn Ross