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How To Get the Most Out of Your Trip to Monticello

April 5, 2019

This year, for my Spring Break, I was lucky enough to get to spend a few days in Washington DC. While there, I decided to take a little day trip to Monticello! I have a love old house, and US presidents, and history, so this was the perfect place to spend the day!

 

I would definitely recommend starting out early since it is about a two hour drive to get from DC to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.

 

Once there, we trooped up to the check-in and were informed that we could either walk up to the house, or take the shuttle. The walk is less than a mile, but rather steep and gravely, so we opted for the shuttle. If it had been a little warmer we probably would have walked, but with the snow, we chose the warmth of the shuttle. 

 

Once we got to the top of the hill, we had a few minutes to explore before our hose tour started. We explored some of the rooms under the house, called the Dependencies, like the kitchens, the wine cellar, and a privy!  Photos are allowed, and encouraged, in these areas! 

 Once we were called for our house tour, we entered the house, and spend abut 45 minutes with an amazing guide learning all about Jefferson and Monticello! Photos aren't allowed in the house, but take my word for it, it's lovely. 

 

I had no idea Jefferson was such an avid inventor, and had no architectural degree, so the inventions in the house are all the more impressive!

 

After we finished our house tour, we took the shuttle back down to the check-in for a picnic lunch. I would recommend packing a lunch since the food there is rather expensive. 

 

Once we got back on top of Jefferson's "Little Mountain." we explored around the house. Sadly, with the snow, none of the gardens were blooming yet, but Monticello looked gorgeous in the snow and fog! We decided to take a free walking tour of Mulberry Row, the lane were all Jefferson's slaves and workshops were. Our guide was, again, excellent, and gave a very in-depth look at some of the slaves who had lived at Monticello.

 Mulberry Row housed the nailery, the sewing house, the gardens, the slave houses, and much more. It is a sad element to Monticello, but an important part of it's history. I would highly recommend the free tour.

 

There was also an amazing exhibit about Jefferson's mistress, a slave named Sally Hemings. I found the exhibit so interesting as it used quotes from her son's memoir to tell her story. It used some amazing projections on a plain slave dress to really emphasis the points of her story.

 Once we had thoroughly enjoyed the house and grounds, we headed back down the hill, taking the path this time, as it takes you past Jefferson's grave.

 His grave was an impressive obelisk, with his three most important accomplishments on it: Author of the Declaration of American Independence, Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia. Interestingly, descendants of Jefferson are still being buried in this same cemetery. 

 

We finished our hike down the mountain, and caught a short video about the construction, and life at, Monticello playing in their theater. We followed that up with a quick peak at their museum, which gave more information on the construction of Monticello, and on the people who lived there. 

 

 After checking out the museum, we headed to the gifts hop, and grabbed a few souvenirs from our trip! And with that, our day at Monticello was over!

 

However, we weren't quite ready to start the two hour drive back. If you're looking for something else to do in the area, I recommend checking out Michie's Tavern. It's about 3 miles from Monticello, and full of history!

 Unfortunately, parts were under construction, but it was still fun to explore. Michie's Tavern was created by a Scottish man in 1770, and still operates as a restaurant and hotel. 

 

We stopped off for a beer in the tavern, and to warm up by the fire after being out in the snow and cold!

 

The grounds around Michie's Tavern normally operate as a living history site, with a mill, blacksmith, and country store.

 

Sadly, we were there in the off season, and most of the other sites were closed. We explored the country store for a little while before deciding we were ready to head back to the metropolis of Washington DC. We had an amazing time exploring Monticello and Michie's Tavern, even though it was super snowy!

 

Have you ever been to Monticello, or Michie's Tavern? Let me know in the comments!

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