How it all started here.

National Harbor was founded on George Washington’s vision to create a thriving city of trade, culture and government on the banks of the Potomac River. Located just across the water from his Mount Vernon estate, National Harbor is exactly that: a destination that offers people a place to appease every need.

Modeled after the vision of a founding father.

A guided tour through our history.

National Harbor is situated at the start of the South Potomac Heritage Corridor; a 10-mile stretch of the Potomac River that extends to the south of the Washington DC metro area. It ends at National Colonial Farm on the Maryland side of the river, and at George Washington’s Mount Vernon on the Virginia side.

Oxon Hill Manor

Your National Harbor tour begins at stately Oxon Hill Manor, perched high on a hill with a picturesque view of the Potomac River and the Waterfront District of National Harbor. The Manor was home to John Hanson, who in November 1781, became the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled, under the Articles of Confederation. This issue is debated to this day by historians – most notably, the ones just downstream at the estate of another famous founding father. Today, the Manor’s lush grounds, expansive views and stately rooms make it an immensely popular site for meetings, conferences and events. The grounds include formal English gardens, a reflecting pool surrounded by rose bushes and a large brick patio for outdoor entertaining. Each exquisitely appointed room features wood floors, crystal chandeliers and fireplaces. A sweeping circular staircase ascends from the first floor hallway.

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Fort Foote and Fort Washington

Continuing along the Maryland side of the river by either vehicle or by water taxi, you can marvel at the historic fortresses at Fort Foote and Fort Washington. Both were used to defend the Capital against invasions from enemy ships coming up the Potomac.

National Colonial Farm

Next, wind your way down Bryan Point Road, through the lush greenery of one of the area’s largest natural preserves – the farms of Piscataway Park.  No matter what your story is, you’ll find something to connect with here. The park is open daily to offer a quiet landscape for recreation and reflection. At National Colonial Farm, see what life was like for a typical Maryland tobacco farm family in the 18th century. Tour historic buildings or visit endangered heritage breeds of livestock. Walk the woods and fields to experience the beauty and diversity of the traditional homeland of the Piscataway People. Travel back in time with hands-on history demonstrations and a museum theater, or create your own adventure with geocaching. Help restore this sacred landscape by clearing invasive plants or picking up trash along the Potomac River shoreline. Plan your visit today.

The Accokeek Foundation partners with the National Park Service to steward 200 acres of Piscataway Park, which encompasses 5,000 acres along the Potomac River. An effort that began out of a desire to preserve the view across the river from George Washington’s Mount Vernon has preserved much more. The full conservation area now protects a wealth of environmental, cultural and historic resources, from wetlands to farms to nationally significant historic sites.

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Mount Vernon

From National Colonial Farm, cross the Potomac to visit Mount Vernon. Referring to his home perched high above the Potomac River, George Washington once said that “no estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this.”  Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, you can still visit the home of our first president and sit on the famous piazza while wondering at the breathtaking view he knew and loved.

During your visit, wander through the beautiful landscape and nearby gardens. You can also visit the final resting place of George and Martha Washington – a place of international pilgrimage for more than 200 years. Historic outbuildings showcasing various trades from the 18th century, heritage breed farm animals, two museums, a gristmill, distillery and a working farm site are all a part of the experience at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

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Learn more about the history of the Potomac

 

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