Monticello Well Worth a Visit
Definitely make time to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and the nearby Visitors Center if you’re near Charlottesville, Virginia. It is a must-see.
It’s not just the house and beautiful grounds, but the life and history of our country’s third president that is so intertwined with Monticello.
Our suggestion is to go first to the Visitors Center, taking a couple hours to see the free exhibits and watch the film. The film and the exhibits will prepare you for the visit and tour of the house and grounds. Please make sure you check the Monticello website to get the time schedule for the film and tours.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has beautifully restored Monticello. The restoration was possible because Jefferson kept meticulous records of the buildings built, what furnishings he had, what crops were planted, the weather, what was produced by the blacksmith shop, and who produced it.
Another stoke of luck was the survival of Jefferson’s architectural drawings used in the construction of the house and out buildings, as well as the later remodeling of the house.
The combined tour ticket includes a house tour, a garden tour and a plantation tour. Allow time to do all three – all are well worth it. During the guided house tour, your guide will point out that some of the furnishings and items you see are originals or are correct for the period. Visitors are encouraged to ask question about the house, Jefferson or how people lived.
As we walked the grounds of Monticello, we felt transported back in time and experienced what Jefferson and his many guests might have seen while walking the grounds. Our visit to the Visitors Center paid off – we were able to relate the layout and the historical importance of what we were seeing.
One of the many things that impressed us were the stunning views of the surrounding hills. A few years ago a developer bought land on a small hill that overlooked Monticello and was going to put up a housing development. Luckily for us, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation stepped in and paid 15 million dollars to stop the development and maintain the views for all of us to enjoy.
Visiting Monticello, reading and hearing about Jefferson’s life provides insight into the contributions and many facets of this great man. Not being students of history, and only vaguely remembering what we learned in school about Jefferson, it was a fascinating lesson. We left Monticello wondering about the dichotomy of the man who wrote such beautiful words into the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal,” yet depended on slavery for his very existence.
Take advantage of the exhibits and tours for your own adventure and discovery. It is time well spent. The bookstore offers a wide assortment of books for a more in-depth view of the life and times of Jefferson. And if you have more time , there are a bunch of other tours in the area. The Visitors Center has all the details and tickets.
We made the trip to Monticello in our tow car, about an hour’s drive from our Thousand Trails Park in Lynchburg . Other campgrounds near Charlottesville include the Charlottesville KOA and Misty Mountain Camp Resort. There are also numerous campgrounds in and around Shenandoah National Park.
We usually take advantage of our Thousand Trails park membership whenever there is a park in the vicinity of our travels.
(By the way, if you sign up for the Thousand Trails Zone Camping Pass, be sure to note that Jose & Jill Ferrer are the referring Thousand Trails members !)
By the way, we took the Skyline Drive in the motorhome on our way to Lynchburg. It was a lovely drive, but we offer a few caveats.
One, plan for a slow journey. The 105 miles are slow going at 35 miles per hour, so go with the mindset that it will be a leisurely drive. Or plan to stay at one of the park campgrounds for a day or so. Two, try to make the drive on a very clear day. Visibility is limited in a haze, and you won’t get much of a view. Three, there are a few places where you need to take extra caution to avoid tree branches, so do mind the slower speed limit.
Our next stop – Tennessee.