My current company offers a pretty healthy vacation plan and for the first part of the year I was working a lot, which has left me quite a few days to take off before the fiscal year starts over at the end of September. So currently I am in the midst of an eight day staycation. We didn’t really want to go on an overnight trip so we checked our list out for a day trip and decided to trek down to Charlottesville and visit Monticello.
Monticello is located in Charlottesville, Virginia about 2 and 1/2 hours south of D.C. We had a slightly longer pit stop on the way down then expected (some one had his first car sickness experience). We arrived around 11am and got our tickets. $25 per adult, kids under 5 are free. They have a museum, cafe, and gift shop at the bottom of the hill where you buy tickets and the parking lots are. It is about 0.6 mile walk up to the top of the hill where the house and gardens sit. There are shuttle buses that take you up as well. It is a timed tour of the house, our time was at 12:45. So we had an hour and a half to explore.
The basement had various cellars and an interactive exhibit where kids could pick up old cast irons, ring a bell, use a dumb waiter and open a door with a skeleton key. Eilam loved this part and kept calling the house a castle. We walked around the gardens and property. It was a beautiful setting on top of a hill.
After a snack of kettle corn and root beer it was time for our guided house tour. The entire tour took about 40 minutes. The tour guide was very informative and knowledgeable. It was a little long for Eilam, especially at that time of day. The house was beautiful and we commented that Thomas Jefferson was just a tad wealthy. No photography allowed inside unfortunately. We walked down the hill after the tour past his grave and the cemetery.
Back at the car everyone was ready for some lunch, so we headed into Charlottesville and ate at South Street Brewery. It was a really neat setting in a remodeled warehouse. The food and beer was really good. They had a great kids menu and Eilam devoured his lunch. After lunch, we headed to the University of Virginia campus to walk around. Thomas Jefferson founded the University in 1819. It is a beautiful, historic campus with brick buildings and while columns.
After exploring the campus we started to head home. We took a slight detour to visit Prince Michel winery. It was on top of a hill overlooking the whole Charlottesville area. There was also a little gift shop and fruit and vegetable stand. The setting was beautiful, the wine was ok. It took us almost 3 hours to get home that evening but it was a great day of getting out of the city and exploring a place we have never been.