Visiting Monticello Virginia
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The Best Guide to Visiting Monticello (Best Monticello Tours)

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?

Monticello Tour

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?

Address:

1050 Monticello Loop

Charlottesville, VA 22902

Parking

Parking is free and very easy.  There is a large lot near the visitor center where you will enter and park. 

Visiting Monticello

Map of Monticello

 Touring Monticello is a highlight in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Monticello?

The best times to visit Monticello is August – September. The crowds during these times are lower. April tends to be busier.  The summer months are the busy season at Monticello. If you are planning on visiting Monticello in the summer book your tickets before 11 am or after 3 pm.

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

Visiting Monticello Vistor 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. 

Monticello Tickets

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)

Shuttle Bus

Monticello Shuttle Bus

 

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.)

Monticello App

Visit MOnticello App

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.

Tour Monticello

Tour Monticello

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 Monticello Thomas Jefferson House

Tour Time: 45 minutes

Monticello Admission Price:

Adults: $42

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

visiting Monticello

Tour Time: Up to You

Monticello Admission Price:

Adults: $32

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

Monticello Tour

Tour Time: 45 minutes

Monticello Admission Price:

Adults: $42

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

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Tour

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

Monticello Tour

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

Meet Thomas Jefferson at Monticello

Days Available: Tuesday – Saturdays

Times: 11 am, noon, 2 pm, and 3 pm

Thomas Jefferson

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

Wine cellar at MOnticello

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

Touring Monticello with kids

 

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

Monticello Virginia Ice cream cart

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. 

Top Snacks

  • Ice Cream
  • Chips
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Candy

4. Visit the North Wing

Monticello North Wing Carriage

You can also check out the icehouse on the north wing.  There are also bays for horses and carriages you can check out.

Jefferson's Travels

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

Visit Monticello 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. 

Crossroad Exhibit

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 MonticelloSouth Wing of Monticello Tour

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

Tour Monticello Slavery History

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

Mulberry Slavery at Monticello Tour

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

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

Visit Monticello Cemetary Thomas Jefferson's Grave

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

Trails at Monticello

The grounds around Monticello are beautiful.  There are lots of trails around Monticello.  

Boardwalk Trail

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

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

Visit Monticello Exhibits

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

Griffin House at Monticello

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

Shops at Monticello

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

 

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
  • Books
  • Home Decor
  • Gourmet Food
  • Games and Toys
  • Posters
  • Ornaments
  • Collectables 
  • Souvenirs

15. Farm Table

Farm Table at Monticello

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?

Visiting 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!

You can also go to Washington DC and see more of Thomas Jefferson. You can enjoy the monuments in Washington DC as well as all of the best museums in DC

Facebook Community

Join my Travel Community on Facebook.  This is a great group that can help answer any travel questions you might have.  I also try to add any deals that companies send me as well!

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33 Comments

  1. What an amazing place to visit! Fun for the whole family! I’m going to visit the next time I’m in the area!

  2. I loved our time visiting Monticello. Our kids found the gardens and grounds fabulous, and I loved the wine I bought at the gift shop. I still have a few bottles and remember my visit when I drink one. I want to do the slavery tour next time I’m in the area.

  3. This is a great guide to Thomas Jefferson’s historic home, Monticello. I love visiting historic homes and haven’t been to this one yet.

  4. Thanks for taking me to Monticello & the tour! I’ve never been and looks to be an amazing historical site to visit!

  5. I love visiting historical sites! I was just in DC but didn’t get out of the city. I’d love to visit Monticello next time I’m out East.

    1. I love visiting historical sites too – so fascinating! I think I visited Monticello as a kid, but I can’t really remember anything, so thanks for the refresher 😊. This may be a sign that I need to plan another visit soon! Xx Sara

  6. Such a helpful guide, thank you for sharing. I love exploring places I don’t know a whole lot about, I’ll definitely be saving this

  7. I loved Monticello! I was so bummed that at the time of our visit, you weren’t allowed to take pictures in the house. Then I found out that’s changed! I guess I’ll have to go back and get my interior photos. Maybe I could do a more in-depth tour next time.

  8. I have been to Colonial Williamsburg, which I really loved. never been to Monticello.
    looks like there is a lot to explore there. You provided and awesome and thorough guide. Thanks

  9. Nice body of information. We took the Self-Guided recently; it was a time specific entry with a walk-through form, unguided. That said, guides were rotating through the rooms to answer questions and help the flow of guests.

    We’ve also taken the premier tour, Behind the Scenes. Also time specific and, wow – very informative 90 minutes.

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