Are you thinking about visiting Monticello? Awesome! Thomas Jefferson's historic home Monticello is worth a visit!
I love the east coast historical sites. Monticello has been on my list for years! We recently were able to go and tour Monticello. I am excited to share all the fun things we learned when visiting Monticello Virginia.
In this post, I will give you an overview of all things to do in Monticello, including the best Monticello tours and which Monticello tickets to buy. I will also include different sites on the property worth checking out.
Let's explore why visiting Monticello is a great idea and which Monticello tours are right for you.
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Where is Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Plantation?
Where is Thomas Jefferson's house you ask? Thomas Jefferson's Monticello plantation is located in Charlottesville, VA.
Directions to Monticello
Monticello is 2.5 hours from Washington DC. Some people like to do a Mount Vernon to Monticello tour. This is fun if you have the time.
Monticello to Richmond is 1 hour or Monticello to Williamsburg is 2 hours.
We actually drove from Washington DC/Mount Vernon to Monticello and on to Williamsburg.
Where is Monticello Located?
1050 Monticello Loop
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Parking is free and very easy. There is a large lot near the visitor center where you will enter and park.
Touring Monticello is a highlight in the Charlottesville, Virginia area.
When is the Best Time to Visit Monticello?
How Much Time Should I Spend While Visiting Monticello?
I would plan half a day. Your tour time will be 45 minutes. You will need to arrive early and give yourself enough time to park. You can also watch a 7 film at the visitor center before your tour if you give yourself enough time.
If you want to go on a few more tours around the grounds, hit the cemetery, and explore the visitor center, you will need to plan at least 3-4 hours.
History of Monticello and Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd president of the United States and the author of the Declaration of Independence. He was a very well-rounded man with lots of interest and expertise.
He loved architecture and spent 40 years building his architectural dream house. He had seen some of the designs while in France and wanted to replicate them. It was completed in 1809.
The Monticello plantation consisted of over 5000 acres of land. Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia is incredible!
Fun Facts About Monticello
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage site
- It is the only house on US currency (Dime)
- Monticello means “hillock” or “little mountain” in Italian
How to Make your Visit to Monticello Better
I highly recommend reading a historical biography of Thomas Jefferson before going. Honestly, we saw Hamilton on Broadway and that got our teenagers pretty excited for the visit.
Visiting Monticello Visitor Center
You will arrive at the visitor center where you can purchase Monticello tickets, however purchasing your tickets ahead of time online is a much better option.
The Monticello tickets are timed. This means that you will come at a specific time for a specific tour. Some of the more popular tours and times can sell out. It is good to get your tickets ahead of time.
One thing I liked about purchasing my tickets ahead of time was that I was able to read and research the different Monticello tours. (I will lay those out for you here)
Monticello Visiting Hours
8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Visitor Center Area
The visitor center area is the starting and ending stop of your visit to Monticello.
There are lots of things to do in this area, you can look around or if you are like me, you might want to take the Monticello tour and then come back and enjoy all this area has to offer later.
Things to Do at the Monticello Visitor Center
- Thomas Jefferson World Film (7 minutes)
- Monticello as Experiment Exhibit
- Making Monticello Exhibit
- Monticello Farm Table
- Monticello Shops
- Griffin Discovery Room (Kids Area)
There is a shuttle bus that will pick you up at the visitor center and take you to where your Monticello tour group will meet. You can ride it back or you will have an option to walk to the cemetery and hop on at that point. (The bus stops at the cemetery.)
Download the app. The app will give you a better experience while you tour Monticello. You can learn more about Jefferson and his plantation, and hear some pretty cool stories.
This app will help you on your Monticello house tour.
There are a lot of different Monticello tour options. Each one has different prices and lengths of time. I'm going to break them down so you can make the best decision on how you want to tour Monticello.
1. Monticello Highlights Tour
Tour Time: 45 minutes
Monticello Admission Price:
Children 12-18: $13
Tickets are required for younger children however admission is free.
Highlights Monticello Tour
This is the most popular Monticello tour type. This tour includes the 1st-floor spaces in the Thomas Jefferson home. You will also have access to the grounds, gardens, exhibits, family activities, and additional walking tours.
2. Self-Guided Monticello Tour
Tour Time: Up to You
Monticello Admission Price:
Children 12-18: $10
Self-Guided Monticello Tour
This isn't the tour we chose however as I was touring the home, I noticed QR codes throughout the areas. I scanned them and read about the different rooms.
Personally, I would pay $10 more and get a guide to share all the historical knowledge they have.
3. Family-Friendly Monticello Tour
Tour Time: 45 minutes
Monticello Admission Price:
Children 12-18: $13
Family Friendly Monticello Tour
This is the tour we chose because we have 4 kids ages 7-15. We felt that our kids were too old for this tour. Even our 7-year-old was on the older end of being able to enjoy this tour. We thought it was geared towards 5 and under.
One thing that was disappointing to the adults and teenagers in the group was that the tour was so geared toward a younger audience we didn't feel like we learned hardly anything. (That is why I was scanning QR codes trying to read as I toured.)
45 minutes was long! I think if the tour had been for an older audience as well as the children it wouldn't have felt so long.
The tour guide did have a bag full of fun objects that the little kids got to touch and hold.
4. Behind the Scenes Day Pass
Tour Time: all morning or all afternoon
Monticello Admission Price:
Ages 7+: $85
Behind the Scenes Day Pass
This Monticello tour will allow you access to all 3 floors. This tour gives a much more in-depth tour and historical background on Thomas Jefferson. This tour really gets you inside Monticello!
This is Monticello tour is great if you have already taken one of the other tours and want to learn more. It is also for those who have the time to spend most of their day in Monticello Virginia.
This is the tour I know I would enjoy the most!
What to Do at Monticello Virginia
After you tour Monticello, there are still things to do. In fact, there are even more tours.
- Meet Thomas Jefferson
- Slavery at Monticello Mobile Tour
- Guided Slavery at Monticello Tour
- Guided Garden and Grounds Tour
- Self Guided Exhibits
- Life of Sally Hemmings
1. Meet Thomas Jefferson
Days Available: Tuesday – Saturdays
Times: 11 am, noon, 2 pm, and 3 pm
A historic actor will meet you near Monticello and give a 20 minutes presentation about Thomas Jefferson. We came in at the end of the presentation. Thomas was very kind to answer any questions and give historic background.
This is one of the fun things to do at Monticello with kids!
Explore Monticello Grounds and Gardens
There are many exhibits around the house that you can check out. Touring Monticello is easy. In fact, Thomas Jefferson created all-weather passages so that you could access the kitchen, basement, various store rooms, and the wine cellar easier.
2. Mountain Top Activity Center
After you finish your Monticello tour and meet Thomas Jefferson you can head to the Mountain Top Activity Center. Typically I think this is located outside but when we went it was raining.
Fun Activities for Kids
This is a fun thing to do at Monticello for kids. There are hands-on activities.
- Write with a Quill Pen
- Crack a Code (Wheel Cipher)
- Explore Mystery Object (Guessing Game)
3. Get Some Ice Cream or a Snack
After you play for a little while, you can grab a snack! There is ice cream and some fun colonial-style food choices. There is a little Farm Shop right next to the activity center.
- Ice Cream
4. Visit the North Wing
You can also check out the icehouse on the north wing. There are also bays for horses and carriages you can check out.
There is a map that shows the route Jefferson would take to visit Washington DC in his 1802 horse-drawn phaeton (sports car of the colonial times.)
5. Explore the Main House Basement
The main house basement exhibit is pretty cool. There are lots of underground passageways to and from the house. The basement connects the passageways.
Wine and Beer Storage
You can visit the storage areas and wine cellars. Jefferson was instrumental in forming the American wine industry.
There is a crossroads exhibit along the passageway. This was an area where the Jefferson and enslaved workers would cross paths.
6. South Wing of Monticello
You will have to walk a little bit to get to the south wing. The south wing has the 1809 kitchen, smokehouse, living quarters for enslaved workers, and the diary.
Life at the Monticello
We enjoyed looking at all the areas on this side of the house. There is a Sally Hemming exhibit that gives a little more insight into her life.
There is also a tribute to Martha Jefferson, the wife of Thomas. She died at age 33 after 10 years of marriage.
There are also other areas such as the kitchen and a cook's room that you can explore.
7. Learn About the Slavery at Monticello
After touring Monticello and around the house, you might be up for another tour that is included in your ticket. The Slavery at Monticello Tour is offered on the hour.
Mulberry Row is the area where many slave quarters are. The hemmings cabin, the stable, the textile workshop, and the storehouse for iron were all along this area.
Slavery at Monticello Tour
You can take a guided tour and find out more information about this area. During the tour, you can hear about individual stories of the slaves that lived at Monticello. Some families were separated. You will also hear about in-depth daily living conditions on the plantation.
This tour is not recommended for those under the age of 12. This tour is 45 minutes.
The older members of our family went on the tour. The younger viewed the areas but did not take the guided tour.
8. Gardens at Monticello
The gardens at Monticello were not only a source of food, but Thomas Jefferson loved experimenting with different plants from around the world.
There are vegetable, fruit, and flower gardens throughout the entire estate of Monticello.
Gardens and Ground Tour
Times: 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm – Daily
There is a garden and grounds that is included in your ticket. If you have time and have an interest in plants this is a great option.
9. Monticello Cemetary
Thomas Jefferson died July 4th, 1826. In fact, I think he did that on purpose! He was the author of the Declaration of Independence. He believed in religious freedom and was the father of the University of Virginia.
He was a scholar and loved learning. His grave is located at Monticello at the cemetery. It is worth a stop to honor one of the founding fathers of the United States.
10. Saunders-Monticello Trail
The grounds around Monticello are beautiful. There are lots of trails around Monticello.
The Saunders-Monticello trail is about 2 miles and can be accessed right from the visitor center. Most of the trails near the visitor center have a boardwalk. There actually is a more extensive trail system near Monticello. It is a great place to hike.
11. Monticello Scavenger Hunt
The Monticello scavenger hunt is a great thing to do at Monticello with kids. It is really easy to do!
Scan the QR Code
Scan your QR code and you will be given a few options. You can Snap it, Learn it, or Find it! This will make touring Monticello with kids more fun and enjoyable!
12. Visit Monticello Exhibits and Films
Once you wrap up touring near the house, you can head to the visitor center and enjoy more exhibits. You can take a self-guided tour and explore.
If you didn't get a chance to watch the film before your Monticello tour you can do it after.
13. The Griffin Discovery Room
The Giffin Discovery Room is located near the visitor center. It is an area for kids. There are hands-on activities your kids will love.
Activities at the Griffin Discovery Room
- Dig and Analyze Artifacts
- Create an Oral History
- Block Table
You can spend 10-15 minutes enjoying the activities and learning more about Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.
Visiting Monticello Shops
The Monticello Shops are awesome! There are some fun souvenirs. It is fun to walk around and check out all the merchandise you can also grab a bit to eat at the Farm Table.
14. The Shops At Monticello
The shops at Monticello is the main gift shop for Monticello. They have some cute merchandise. There are many colonial items to choose from.
Items at the Shops at Monticello
- Virginia Wine
- Home Decor
- Gourmet Food
- Games and Toys
15. Farm Table
If you are hungry, the Farm Table has snacks but it also has a full menu. There are primarily soups and sandwiches.
You can enjoy eating inside or outside. It is a cute little area to enjoy a meal.
Are you Ready to Visit Monticello Virginia?
Hopefully, this guide to visiting Monticello will help you know which Monticello tour you want to take! We really enjoyed our time visiting Monticello and viewing the home of Thomas Jefferson.
More Historic Sites Nearby
When you finish touring Monticello, make sure to head over to Michies Tavern. You will be able to have one of the best 17th and 18th-century pub southern-style meals.
You can also jump over to Montpelier and see James Madison's home. The James Monroe Highland is also worth checking out.
If you love colonial history Williamsburg is only 2 hours away!
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