When it comes to living history in Washington, D.C., stunning views of Mount Vernon, a nature center and a series of trails to explore, you can’t go wrong with the National Colonial Farm. Located on 200 acres of Piscataway National Park, where hiking and fishing abound, this historical site and Ecosystem Farm is proving you can live off the land while still utilizing sustainable practices.
In our effort to highlight all of the best historical sites, national parks and museums in Washington, D.C., we spoke with Casey Harlow, Marketing Manager at the Accokeek Foundation- National Colonial Farm in Accokeek, MD to share what makes this colonial farm and park special, why you should visit, and what you need to know before you go.
Where is the museum located?
Location: National Colonial Farm at Pascataway Park, 3400 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek, MD 20607
What topics does the museum cover?
Our focus is on history, agriculture and environmental education.
What is your museum’s claim to fame?
Located in a national park on the Potomac River, the National Colonial Farm has a spectacular view of George Washington’s Mount Vernon located just across the river. Also of note are the farm’s historic buildings and heritage breed animals.
What is your favorite exhibit or artifact in the museum?
The heritage breed livestock conservation program allows visitors to meet and learn about several species of endangered animals, including American Milking Devon cattle, Ossabaw Island hogs, Hog Island sheep, and various breeds of poultry.
What kinds of special exhibits and events do you host throughout the year?
- Hands-on History demonstrations
- Guided nature hikes
- Piscataway Park Fairy Trail
- Museum theater performances
- Escape Farm tours: the outdoor version of Escape Room
- Lattes with Lambs: a festival featuring the new barnyard babies
- Twilight Tours: Halloween ghost tours of the historic site
- Winter’s Eve: a holiday celebration on the farm
Are there guided tours available?
Guided tours are offered on various dates throughout the summer, and feature the historic buildings, the fields and gardens, and the heritage breed animals.
Special versions of this tour are offered from the perspective of Cate Sharper, a woman enslaves in the 18th century in Prince George’s county. Tickets for these tours can be purchased in advance online, or at the Visitor Center gift shop on site. As of right now, these tours are only available in English.
How much time should someone plan to spend at the museum?
You could spend one hour to a whole day, depending on how much of the national park you want to explore. Picnic areas are available for those wishing to pack a lunch and eat on our grounds.
What should someone bring with them and what items are not allowed in the museum?
The museum is outdoors, so come prepared to spend the day outside. We recommend comfortable walking shoes, sun protections, bug spray, and refillable water bottles to keep hydrated as you explore the farm and park.
Prohibited items can be found on the National Park Service’s website for Piscataway Park (along with the park rules and regulations).
Is photography allowed inside (without flash)?
Yes, photography is allowed and encouraged.
What should parents of young children know before visiting the museum?
- Visit the animals
- Self-guided adventures (including scavenger hunts)
- A Fairy Trail
- A Bird Watching Adventure pack (which can be rented at the Visitor Center)
- Wander the 5000 acres of Piscataway Park
- Nature programs
- Special family events throughout the year
What’s the coolest item for sale in the gift shop?
Prints, textiles and jewelry created by local artists in the community.
Is there a museum cafe or restaurant?
Snacks and refreshments are available for sale at the Visitor Center, but there is no cafe or restaurant on site. We recommend packing a lunch at home if you plan to eat a meal while you are visiting Accokeek Foundation National Colonial Farm.
What should teachers planning a field trip know before reaching out to you?
The Accokeek Foundation offers educational tours that supplement social studies and environmental education in the classroom. Through interactive experience-based tours, students examine the differences between past and present time, and learn how decisions about our daily lives can impact the environment. These programs help to show the effects of human interaction with the land while encouraging physical activity in an outdoor living classroom.
School tours are scheduled: March to December, Monday through Friday between 10 am and 1 pm.
What else should a visitor know before visiting?
Piscataway Park is the sacred homeland of the Piscataway people. Members of Piscataway tribal associations are active in the community and provide special educational programs at various times during the year.
Is the museum Accessible?
All visitors, including school buses, should follow the signs for visitor parking located near the Education Center. Parking spaces designed to accommodate visitors with accessible needs are available.
The distance from the parking lot to the Visitor Center is less than 300 feet, and the distance to the fishing pier is less than 500 feet. The distance from the parking lot to the boat dock is 1363 feet.
The boat dock is not universally accessible. The grades are gradual, and the gravel pathways are relatively well packed.
Wheelchairs are available at the Visitor Center for temporary use by visitors with the park. Loans are first come, first served. A driver’s license or state ID is required.
Accessible restrooms are available at the Visitor Center, and are open daily from dawn to dusk. Additional restrooms are available at the Education Center during special events and activities only.
What are your normal days and hours of operation?
The park is open to the public from dawn until dusk year round. The Visitor Center is open March-December, Tuesday-Sunday, 10am to 4pm
Does the museum have a bag check or coat room?
Is there parking available?
Is there an admission fee?
The park is free to visit. Credit cards are accepted at the Visitor Center gift shop for shop merchandise and tickets to special tours and events.