Families and Kids


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:

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

May 7: Letter from Montpelier. Write a letter to a friend or family member with a quill pen and ink just as James and Dolley did, close it with a wax seal, and drop it at the historic 1910 Trail Depot outside Montpelier's main gate. Located on the back lawn of the house.
May 8: 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 print your own pattern to take home. Located on the back lawn of the house.
May 28: Fill in the Frames. Montpelier researchers are hard at work, but w need your help! Dolley Madison's niece wrote that the house's south entrance hallway was "hung entirely with oil paintings." Choose a title from the original list and create your own version to take home. Located at Mr. Madison's Temple.
May 29: "Journeying James" and "Dashing Dolley." Color a James or Dolley cut-out (similar to Flat Stanley) and make a journal to record your travels with them. Take photos of the Madisons on your journey, and wear James' tri-cornered hat or Dolley's fashionable turban. Located at Mr. Madison's Temple.
May 30: Paint YOUR Montpelier. Before the advent of photography, many artists captured Montpelier through the medium of painting. Look at several examples of these historic paintings and create your own version. Located at Mr. Madison's Temple.

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 treasure 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. Families are invited to gather round for music, balloon rides, children's activities, and fireworks.

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Kids Hands On Tent