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DAY TRIP

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: : Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, Va. 22309

When: : Through Jan. 6

What:: A daytime program highlights themed decorations (including 12 Christmas trees), a gingerbread Mount Vernon by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier, historical chocolate-making demonstrations and 18th-century dancing. There is also an appearance by Aladdin the Christmas camel. George Washington was fond of unusual animals and plants, and he paid 18 shillings in 1787 for a camel to temporarily live at Mount Vernon for his guests during Christmas.

Visitors can also tour the rarely seen third floor of the mansion where Martha Washington lived after her husband died. She never returned to their shared room and instead lived the rest of her years in a garret chamber, which has been refurbished. The third floor is open only during "Christmas at Mount Vernon."

How much: : Admission is $15 for adults, $7 for children ages 6-11 and free for children under 6.

What's nearby: : The Shops at Mount Vernon offer a large Christmas section, with dozens of ornaments, snow globes, food gifts and wooden advent calendars.

Information: : mountvernon.org

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