Monticello Unplanned – Jefferson’s Palace in the Spring & Tips For Your Visit

Our family was reunited with spring last weekend in Charlottesville, VA as we went on a quick trip to visit my brother and his family. I love Charlottesville! If you have not been there, you should go. Home to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is vibrant cultural hub and the region’s hilly, lush landscape is reminiscent of European countrysides. family, travel, virginia, spring, monticello

Long overdue family time happily took center stage for our trip so all of our explorations and adventure’s were a hefty side-dish but definitely not the main course.

As long-time residents of Charlottesville, my brother’s family is well acquainted with Monticello, President Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent home. However, my immediate brood had ever been before.

Now, normally I would do the usual plan ahead, research the trip, yadda yadda yadda. But because this trip was focused on family (and because I have been “coming-in-on two-wheels” crazy, busy lately) there was NO pre-planning. No books were read, no maps were checked, no tickets bought. Nothing. Nada. And I am just fine with that.

I was so unfocused on Monticello before our trip that when we got there, we were in for a complete and welcome surprise.  The fascinating home, slave quarters and lush gardens provide a colorful backdrop from which to serve a heaping helping of American history and culture. Not to mention Thomas Jefferson was a fascinating individual and his collections from the all over the world were enthralling. From books, to taxidermy to his clever innovations, our family was captivated and curious.

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Checking out Jefferson’s Polygraph Machine.


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Playing Chess in the Griffin Discovery Room

My quick Six Tips for Monticello:

1. Plan a little. Or a lot. At least hop on their website to discover your options. Lots of great resources and links for you and your family.

2. Go early or late. When we were there, the tour busses were lining up starting around 10 am.

3. Ask what time you need to be in line to take the bus to Jefferson’s home. When you purchase your Monticello tour ticket, you are given a tour time. There are busses that bring you up the hill to the home and if you miss the bus you miss your tour and the bus lines can be LONG! Although we were fine for time, we did hear several stories of people missing their tour because they didn’t plan enough time. You can also walk to the top, but it can be a haul with kids.

4. Walk back down the hill from the home to the visitor’s center so you can check out the graveyard and the beautiful scenery.

5. Pre-purchase your tickets. Tour time slots are limited and by purchasing your tickets online ahead of time, you can be sure to get the time slot that suits your agenda.

6. Visit the Griffin Discovery Room. Even if you are not with kids. This hands-on discovery center lets you try Jefferson’s Polygraph Machine, sit in his swivel chair and see how much strength you need to “keep a fire burning” with a giant bellows.

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