Virginia’s Monticello is the sprawling Thomas Jefferson–designed estate turned UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum. Its extensive gardens and impressive buildings inspired by French villas are popular with history buffs and visitors looking to delve into America’s past and the life of America’s third president.
Children and adults alike enjoy exploring Monticello’s manicured gardens and learning about how the plantation came to be. The estate was Thomas Jefferson’s residence for decades, and he is buried here. Archaeologists working to preserve Monticello unearthed a slave cemetery on the grounds, and Jefferson’s ownership of slaves and believed relationship with Sally Hemings is one of the topics discussed in the many educational tours and museum exhibits.
You can visit Monticello independently or as part of a Jefferson-themed full-day tour from Washington DC. The estate offers myriad guided tours focusing on varied aspects of Jefferson’s life and work.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Monticello is a must for Jefferson and American history buffs.
- Plan to spend at least three hours and up to a full day at Monticello.
- Children under 5 years old enter for free.
- Weather can be extreme in Virginia. Check the forecast and dress appropriately, including layers and comfortable walking shoes for walking around the vast estate.
- There is a café on-site as well as a shop with an expansive selection of Jefferson-related books and other souvenirs.
- Most of the Monticello estate, including the first and lower levels of the house, are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. Loaner wheelchairs are available at the visitor center.
When to Get There
Monticello is open every day year-round, except for Christmas. Check the website for up-to-date opening times. Virginia weather can be downright frigid in winter and steamy in summer, so consider a spring or autumn visit, when the gardens are alive with color.
How to Get There
Monticello is located in Albemarle County in Virginia, just outside of Charlottesville proper. Driving is the best way to arrive, and visitor parking is free. You can hike the half-mile (0.8-kilometer) from the visitor center to the house or ride the free shuttle.
Monticello with Kids
Monticello has a variety of activities and exhibits designed specifically for children. The Griffin Discovery Room has replicas of objects and inventions made by Jefferson for kids to inspect and 18th-century clothes to try on. The Mountaintop Hands-on Activity Center invites visitors to write with a quill pen and play 18th-century games. The estate also offers day camp programs in the summer.