Weekend Away: Monticello

21 Apr

TJ's house

A couple months ago my dad and I visited Monticello, aka the estate of Thomas Jefferson, aka our third president, aka the author of the Declaration of Independence. It’s roughly a 2 ½ to 3 hour drive, depending on where in the DC area you’re coming from and, of course, traffic.

Monticello is a great weekend getaway because it’s right outside of Charlottesville, which is in-and-of itself a great place to visit. And I recommend visiting the University of Virginia, which is in Charlottesville and is, along with Monticello, a UNESCO Heritage Site. PRETTY impressive. But anyway, back to Monticello …

So when my dad and I went it was actually snowing. The good aspect of this was that there were virtually no other tourists. We were able to get tickets for the house tour right away. Tickets are $17 in low season and $22 in high season. I recommend paying in cash. Why? Because they give you TWO DOLLAR BILLS in change!

The house tour lasted about 45 minutes and was quite interesting—we saw the very place where Jefferson died—but I can only imagine the long lines and mayhem in the summer. The good thing about going in the summer, however, is that—judging by the postcards—the estate is absolutely beautiful at that time of year. It’d be a great place to meander, take a picnic, etc.

In addition to the standard House Tour, you can also take a Behind the Scenes Tour or a Gardens and Grounds Tour, among others. There’s an introductory film at the Visitor Center, but I wasn’t too impressed by that, to be honest. I did quite enjoy the Discover Room, which is meant for kids. I tried my hand at Jefferson’s polygraph invention, which isn’t what you think it is (unless you’ve already been to Monticello, then it is what you think it is).

Monticello is most definitely worth a visit, but if you go during the warmer months, take some time to plan in advance to make the most of your visit.

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