Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello – Charlottesville, Virginia
Monticello, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the perfect escape for a morning or afternoon. You can’t beat the Virginia countryside and the tour of the home itself is a can’t-miss. The house is located at the top of the mountain, so you’ll park at the base and buy your tickets, then a shuttle will drive you the final few minutes. That being said, be sure to get there in time to park, purchase your tickets and then make your shuttle for the 10-15 minute drive … so, don’t arrive just 10 minutes before the last tour of the day at 4:10pm.
If you’re just interested in the basics, the Monticello Day Pass and House Tour is the one for you ($25 March-October, $18 November-February, $8 for kids under 11). With this ticket, you can tour the first floor of the 33-room house as well as all day on the grounds. If you want a more in-depth experience, you can purchase the Behind-the-Scenes Tour and Day Pass ($45 year-round for all ages). This tour includes all of the Day Pass plus the upstairs. But, be careful, this tour is only offered at 11:30am and 2:30pm daily.
Once you’ve parked, you’ll walk just a little ways up-hill to the Thomas Jefferson Visitors Center. After you’ve purchased your tickets, head up the steps to the shuttle stop.
Monticello is one of those historic places that takes you back in time… and then makes you feel like you’ve been among the greats… Although not all would classify Thomas Jefferson as one of “the greats,” none can argue that he was years – centuries – ahead of his time. And there’s no better illustration than the home that he designed and orchestrated every little detail. The gorgeous mansion (the only American home to make the prestigious UN’s World Heritage Site’s list) stands on top of the hill as a reminder of the time gone by, but mostly as a reminder of the pure genius of Jefferson. And, even though the US is only just over 300 years old, this house stands as a reminder of the long history our country has seen.
The house, designed by our third president, is a jaw-dropping museum. Not only is the house absolutely breath-taking, but also the details and ideas that Jefferson thought to add to the house more than 300 years ago would be surprising even in today’s technology-driven era. First, there’s a “great clock” in the entrance hall. Not only does the clock go from ceiling to floor and then back up again (on the other side of the room), but it also keeps track of the days. A conversation-starter, for sure. Then, because Jefferson liked to write so much, he used a polygraph machine to copy what he was writing almost simultaneously using a set of mechanical pens.
Bottom line? You have to see this place firsthand. And, there’s a bonus. There are plenty of vineyards within a stone’s throw from the mansion. So, when you’ve tired of wondering how he thought of every last detail, head through the countryside to spend what’s rest of your afternoon tasting Virginian wine with a view.
Check out photos from our trip to Monticello below.