Exploring the Grounds

Are you interested in visiting the grounds, only?  Choose one of three ways to purchase your grounds pass:

  • Purchase a pass online
  • Put cash or a check in the pay box mounted under the large map outside of the visitor center
  • Purchase a pass from a staff member in the visitor center.

Your grounds pass is good until the gates close at 6 p.m.

For a more complete experience, purchase a general admission ticket.  General admission tickets include 

  • All-day access to hiking trails and the rest of the grounds 
  • All-day access to the Visitor center exhibitions
  • A timed ticket for a guided tour of the historic area

 

Consider a membership, for a year’s worth of free general admission and unlimited grounds use.

Whatever way you visit, please keep in mind the following:

Social distancing and masks: In consideration of others, we ask that you adhere to social distancing, maintaining a 6-foot distance from other guests.  Please do not proceed any further if you feel sick. Whenever entering  the restroom, and when you are unable to maintain a 6-foot separation from other guests, please wear a face covering.

Restrooms: Follow the sidewalk next to the flagpole to walk along the building and reach our restrooms.  Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before leaving the space.  Also, please note that our water fountains are not available at this time.

Discover More

There are many ways you can explore the site today.  Scout the historic area, including the burying ground of the Mason family, go on a hike, or enjoy a picnic.

Historic Area: Use the QR codes throughout the historic area to learn more about the people who lived at Gunston Hall and their lives.  You can also start your experience by following the links at the bottom of the page to discover additional spaces and stories.

Go on a Hike:  Gunston Hall is home to scenic trails. Go on a picturesque hike down to the Potomac River (hiking shoes recommended), or follow the bluebird trail around the perimeter of the fields.

Where to Picnic: Spread a blanket on the grass in the historic area, or use the picnic tables near the parking area.  Please remember to pack all of your trash and take it with you.

Begin your historic area experience here:

Would you rather listen than read? Click on the audio file below.


George Mason came from a long line of Virginians. Born in 1725, he inherited great riches, including 25,000 acres.  Some of his wealth was in people: he inherited about 35 enslaved men, women, and children.  This prosperity helped make Mason an influential member of his community.  

George Mason’s marriage to Ann Eilbeck solidified his place in the community, adding to his fortune and social connections.  Within a few years, George and Ann moved their young family to a luxurious and fashionable new house they called Gunston Hall. There, George lived the life of a country gentleman, managing his businesses and crops, directing the labor of free, indentured, and enslaved workers, while also deepening his knowledge of law and philosophy and dabbling in politics.  Ann carried on the business of running a complicated household, managing the work of more than a dozen enslaved and indentured people, ordering the household supplies, planning menus, and organizing the couple’s entertainments.  All the while, Ann carried, gave birth to, and supervised the care of twelve children.    

By 1776 George had developed a reputation as one of the leading political minds in Virginia.  Ann died a few years earlier, never recovering from the birth of their last two children, twins who survived only a few days.  After Ann’s death, George was deeply distressed, and he spent most of his time in the seclusion of Gunston Hall.  However, the growing conflict with Great Britain persuaded him to be an active participant in colonial government.  He accomplished his signature work in Williamsburg, Virginia, in May and June 1776.  There, he served as the primary author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the new Virginia constitution.  

Through the Virginia Declaration of Rights, George Mason established protections for individual rights and against government corruption.  He held true to these principles throughout the rest of his career, pushing successfully for a federal Bill of Rights.  Yet, in his personal life, he offers a contradiction.  As he advocated for rights for some people, he continued to enslave others.  By some estimates, at the end of Mason’s life, he held 300 people in bondage.