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Attractions Across Virginia

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello: Visitor Tips

The home of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello has an aura unlike so many other historical attractions -- still and quiet on the small mountain where it stands outside of Charlottesville.

Visitors park on the mountainside, buy tickets at the massive visitor’s center and either walk or take a trolley up to the majestic white mansion at the top.

It’s best to go in the mornings to photograph the front of the mansion and the surrounding countryside while the sun is still rising. Allow at least two hours for a visit.

Garden Tours

Mansion tours take place according to a schedule. Visitors with time on their hands before the mansion tour can walk through the gardens while they wait or tour them after they see the mansion.

Go to the left of the mansion to visit the flower gardens, vegetable garden, fruit gardens and cemetery.

Each garden represented Jefferson’s fascination with botany among his many interests. The fruit garden alone had more than 130 varieties of 31 different fruits, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

The vegetable garden had 330 varieties of more than 70 different vegetables. The 1,000-foot-long garden lies along a terrace on the mountainside.

The path that leads to the gardens continues downhill toward the small, quiet and fenced cemetery with the remains of Jefferson and his relatives.

Another attraction outside of the mansion is Mulberry Row, which was a plantation street and center of life for slaves and free workers alike. It had more than 20 workshops, storehouses and homes.

Mansion Tours

Although the Monticello grounds are interesting in their own right, it is the interior of the mansion that reveals the mind of the nation's third president and author of the Declaration of Independence.

The rooms show Jefferson’s interest in design, architecture and other subjects. Two of the most interesting rooms in the house are the hall with Jefferson’s “great clock” and the library, which produced a massive donation of books that led to the creation of the Library of Congress.

Paintings and sculptures throughout the house show people who stimulated Jefferson’s intellectual interests rather than ornamental or artistic interests.

Tour guides offer many anecdotes and an in-depth history of Jefferson’s accomplishments during the mansion tour.

Best Time to Go

The best time to go to Monticello is when the wait for the mansion tour is short. Sometimes the wait can last more than two or three hours.

Monticello is a popular tourist attraction in Charlottesville with children when schools are in session. It also is popular around the time of graduation at the University of Virginia. These times often lead to long waits for the mansion tour.

Crowds tend to be smaller during the cooler winter months and the summer months when schools are out.

The winter months mean few if any flowers are in bloom. The summer months mean warm if not uncomfortably hot temperatures, especially during the afternoon.

One of the best times to go is mornings in the summer when temperatures are not too hot and the sunrise faces the mansion’s front. Gates often open at 8:30 a.m., but hours do vary, so it is wise to consult the Monticello website for hours of the day to visit.

Hours and Location

Hours: Hours vary, but it usually opens at 9 a.m. and closes between 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Location: Charlottesville
Address: 931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, 22902
Telephone: (434) 984-9800
Web site:
Cost: Adults $17 from November through February and $24 from March through October; children 6-11 years old are $8 year round; children under 6 are free.
Latitude: 38.005404
Longitude: -78.456343
Categories > Central Virginia > Charlottesville > Educational > Historical

State Attractions

Jefferson’s Poplar Forest
Lewis Ginter Garden Tour
Hampton Roads Attractions
Northern VA Attractions
National Museum and White House of the Confederacy
Maymont Park and Estate
Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall
Luray Caverns Tips
Busch Gardens
Washington’s Mt. Vernon
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