Families and Kids

Visit
 

Montpelier is fun for all ages!

Its 2,650 acres give kids a chance to run, play, and enjoy the country. For restless children under six, the house hosts a “Children’s Getaway” with educational toys, books, and a rocker for mom and dad. The Exchange Café in the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center offers a kids' menu and high chairs so the whole family can enjoy a bite to eat; there's also a shaded area behind the Visitor Center with lots of picnic tables. Explore the South Yard and Stable Quarter, the Madison family and slave cemeteries, the cellars, and more. All of our tours are family-friendly!

Family- and kid-friendly events include:

Kids are FREE through September 2!

Discovering Montpelier: A Family-Friendly Tour: How do we know what we know about the past and the people who live here? On this hands-on tour for children and families, discover the artifacts, documents, paintings, and the house itself to learn about Montpelier, the Madisons, and the enslaved community. See full schedule on the Tickets and Tours page.


Hands-on History (select days, 11am-5pm): Look for the tan tent and the Hands-on History banner to join these free activities!

  • July 28: Colonial and Early American Games. Roll a hoop, learn the game of Graces, take a swing at Trap Ball, and try your hand at other fun games popular during James and Dolley Madison's lifetime! Located along the front walkway to the house.
  • July 30: A Letter from Montpelier. Write a letter to a friend or family member with a quill pen and ink just as James and Dolley Madison did. Learn how to fold your letter to create its own envelope and close it with a wax seal. Drop your letter at the 1910 Train Depot. Located along the front walkway to the house.
  • August 4: Once Upon Our Walls. The Madisons decorated several of Montpelier's rooms with fashionable "paper hangings," or wallpaper. Learn how wallpaper was created in the 19th century, and design and print your own pattern to take home. Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 6: Fill in the Frames. Dolley Madison's niece wrote that the south entrance hallway of the house was "hung entirely with oil paintings." After James Madison's death, a list was created of the paintings referencing only the titles. Choose a title from the original list and create your own version of the painting to take home. Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 11: Paint Your Montpelier. Before the advent of photography, many artists captured Montpelier through the medium of painting. Look at examples of these historic paintings then, from the same vantage point, paint your version of the Montpelier house. Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 13: "Journeying James" and "Dashing Dolley." Color a cut-out of James or Dolley - similar to Flat Stanley - and make a journal to record your travels with them. Take photos of the Madisons on your journeys, and wear a James tri-corner hat or fashionable Dolley urban you can also make. Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 18: Threads of the Past. From the back of your chair to the shirt on your back, textiles are everywhere. Learn how fabric was spun, woven, sewn, worn, and used at Montpelier. Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 20: Colonial and Early American Games. Roll a hoop, learn the game of Graces, take a swing at Trap Ball, and try your hand at other fun games popular during James and Dolley Madison's lifetime! Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 25: A Letter from Montpelier. Write a letter to a friend or family member with a quill pen and ink just as James and Dolley Madison did. Learn how to fold your letter to create its own envelope and close it with a wax seal. Drop your letter at the 1910 Train Depot. Located at the back lawn of the house.
  • August 27: Once Upon Our Walls. The Madisons decorated several of Montpelier's rooms with fashionable "paper hangings," or wallpaper. Learn how wallpaper was created in the 19th century, and design and print your own pattern to take home. Located at the back lawn of the house.

Daily free family- and kid-specific activities include:

  • Dolley’s Cellar: Interactive, touchable exhibits help children learn how food was prepared, stored, and cooked for Dolley's backyard BBQs and stately dinners without the help of present day appliances.
  • Kid-Sized Archaeology: At the archaeology lab, children are invited to dig for history like a real archaeologist! Explore the drawers of discovered artifacts and use the touch screen to learn how archaeologists work to understand and contextualize the artifacts they find in the field.
  • Nature Trails: Did you know that James Madison was one of America's first environmentalists? Take your kids on an adventure through Montpelier's old-growth forest, where trail signage helps children learn about Virginia's native flora and conservation techniques both in Madison's time and today. The Montpelier-Grelen Trail, a recently designated "Virginia Treasure," links the trail systems of Montpelier and Grelen Nursery, offering nearly 4 additional miles of hiking trails.

Offered free April through October:

  • Gilmore Cabin: (Saturday & Sunday) This restored freedman's cabin teaches children about the arc of African American citizenship from slavery to emancipation and reconstruction, and offers hands-on activities that reflect this time period. Don't miss the vegetable garden!

Homeschool Day at Montpelier (March 28, 2016) 

Hands-on activities, games, guided lessons for families with children. Admission covers house tours and full access to Montpelier grounds and regular offerings.

Constitution Day Celebration (September 17, 2016) 
Each year, Montpelier celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. Admission is FREE for everyone!

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Kids Hands On Tent