Earlier this month, my mom and I drove up to Pennsylvania for the shop, gathering all the Christmas goodies (which I can't wait to share in a couple of short months.) But to switch it up we took a left turn at D.C. towards Charlottesville, Virginia. I have mentioned it before, but I am a history lover. And with that, I have always been fascinated with the Founding Fathers (before the hit musical Hamilton.) So Monticello has been on my list for quite some time. If you ask my mom, the visit was my second, but at age two it doesn't count. I could do a whole series on "places I went in a stroller and don't remember."
I was excited to see the home of the writer of the Declaration of Independence, and our third president Thomas Jefferson. Honestly, I was so excited that it could have been the simplest house, and I would have thought it was lovely. Monticello exceeded my expectations and took my breath away with the beauty and ingenuity. From the entrance room clock that tells you the day of the week, to the dumbwaiter hidden in the dining room's fireplace walls down to the wine cellar. Jefferson put everything into Monticello, and it really shows. One piece of information we found very fascinating was the history of Monticello after Jefferson. Monticello's history of abandonment and restoration is just as impressive as the stories of the people that lived there and made it originally famous.
Have I piqued your interest to plan a visit? Well, here is what you should know before! Number one thing is getting your tickets ahead of time. You can order tickets online. To make sure you get the tour time you want, you will need to order at least a day in advance. The only time you have to work around is your house tour time, which starts every 15 minutes or so. They say you need to get there 30 minutes in advance of your tour time and that is 100% true. We were driving from Pennsylvania, so we picked a midday tour time and arrived precisely 30 minutes before, and got to the starting point right on time. You ask, what did you do for 30 minutes? Well, you have to park which can be a little hike, then you have cut across the museum to take a bus up to the house and grounds. They run like a well-oiled machine, so if you are late, they will not wait, do not take the 30 minutes notice as a suggestion.
We purchased the Day Pass which gives access to the first-floor tour of the house along with several other tours that run on the hour every hour on the property including garden and slavery tours. Due to the time constraints, we decided to do the house tour this trip and plan to the Behind-The-Scene Pass, which includes the second floor during a more extended visit next time! Along with the other walking tours. (We still had to drive the rest of the way to South Carolina that day!)
We only spent about two hours there, but seriously you could easily spend a majority of your day exploring the grounds, touring and roaming the museum and exhibits! Since I was last there, at age two, so much has changed (via my mom's memory and not mine.) So many interactive exhibits and family friends things to do; it is not just another house tour.
If you haven't been to Monticello, I highly recommend it. It is a bucket-list destination, to learn about a Founding Father, the individuals that lived and worked Monticello, and the architecture that makes it a breathtaking.
Blessings from Hartsville,