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Monticello Tour: Visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Estate 

  • August 20, 2023
  • 12 min read
Monticello Tour: Visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Estate 


If you are planning a trip to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate, this guide will provide you with all the information you need for a memorable visit.

Monticello, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the home of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. One of the main attractions at Monticello is the house tour, where you can explore the rooms and learn about Jefferson’s life and accomplishments.

The guided tour allows you to delve deeper into the history and significance of the house, providing valuable insights.

Additionally, Monticello offers a university of Virginia tour, where visitors can explore the University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson.

Another highlight is the grounds tour, which allows you to discover the beautiful gardens and landscape surrounding the estate.

If you are interested in Jefferson’s extensive collection of books, a tour of the library of Congress is also available, showcasing some of the rare manuscripts and documents acquired by Jefferson during his lifetime.

A visit to Monticello is an educational and enriching experience, providing a glimpse into the life and accomplishments of the third President of the United States.

Whether you choose to tour the home, the garden and grounds, or explore Jefferson’s literary treasures, a trip to Monticello is a must for history enthusiasts and those interested in the legacy of Thomas Jefferson.

Monticello Tour : Insights

Monticello was the beloved home of Thomas Jefferson, the U.S.’s third President and author of the Declaration of Independence.

It’s preserved and supported by the private non-profit organization the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and has become a world-famous symbol of American history, securing its spot as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Monticello offers an insight into the life of one of America’s founding fathers through its intricate design – crafted with Jefferson’s passionate obsession for architecture. Visiting this historic landmark is like taking a journey back in time to learn more about early U.S. history.

Guide to Visiting Monticello Plantation

Discover the history of Monticello Plantation by taking a tour! Research the options ahead of time to decide which tours fit your interests.

When you buy an entrance ticket, you’ll have access to a 45-minute highlights tour, a Slavery at Monticello tour, and a self-guided pass for the house and grounds in the afternoons.

You can also add on a behind-the-scenes pass to explore the second and third floors of the house. On certain days, there’s an extra treat: A chance to meet Thomas Jefferson himself!

thomas jefferson's monticello

Tips for Visiting Monticello

When visiting Monticello, there are a few helpful tips to make the most of your experience. First, be sure to purchase a Monticello day pass, which grants you access to Thomas Jefferson’s historic home in Virginia.

Located just outside the downtown Charlottesville area, Monticello offers a glimpse into the life at the residence and the legacy of Jefferson.

Throughout Monticello, you will see the unique architectural features and design elements that Jefferson chose for his home. Jefferson was also an avid collector of books, so take the time to explore the library and appreciate his extensive collection.

Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to stroll through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful landscapes that Jefferson cultivated.

Visiting Monticello is a fascinating journey into the life and mind of one of America’s founding fathers.  Now, let’s know about these tips in detail-

1. Visit to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Estate: Learning About the Past

Monticello Plantation was built with enslaved labor and over time has been open for public visits. However, recently more attention has been given to revealing the truth of what happened there.

Tours and exhibits discuss the harsh reality of life for those held in enslavement at Monticello and provide historical context. Sally Hemings was a house slave at Monticello and the mother of six of Thomas Jefferson’s children.

This long-debated rumor was finally substantiated in 1998 by DNA testing, revealing that a Jefferson male shared a Y chromosome with her children.

It is believed that Thomas Jefferson was the father. A new tour at Monticello has been created to tell Sally’s story.

2. Learn About Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Plantation: Location

Thomas Jefferson’s house, Monticello plantation, is located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Monticello is located two and a half hours away from Washington, DC. Touring both Mount Vernon and Monticello together is a great activity to do if you have enough time.

Otherwise, it’s just an hour away from Richmond or two hours from Williamsburg. If you’re coming from Washington, DC, a great itinerary is driving to Monticello and on to Williamsburg.

3. Parking to The Visitor Center

Parking at the visitor center is quick and cost-free. There is a large lot nearby that you can easily access.

4. Best Time to Visit Monticello

The ideal time to visit Monticello is August to September when there are fewer visitors. April is usually the busiest month. During the summer, the best strategy is to book tickets before 11 am or after 3 pm to avoid the crowds.

5. Tour Monticello : How Much Time to Spend?

Visiting Monticello can take up to 4 hours, and it’s recommended to allow at least half a day. Your tour will last 45 minutes, and be sure to arrive early to park and potentially watch the 7-minute film at the visitor center.

Additionally, you may want to explore more of the grounds, cemetery, and visitor center, which would add more time.

6. Take a Shuttle Bus

The shuttle bus will take you from the visitor center to the group meeting spot for your Monticello tour. You can also get on the bus at the cemetery if you choose to walk there.

7. Download the Monticello App

Download the Monticello app to enhance your tour of Thomas Jefferson’s plantation. Learn more about him and the history of this iconic place, and hear inspiring stories. The app will make your experience even better!


8. All About the Visitor Center

Stop by the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith Education Center to learn about the formation of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s life, and his belongings. Discover amazing exhibits filled with fascinating facts about one of America’s Founding Fathers.

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s private residence, is home to a lovely gift shop with unique souvenirs. You can take the shuttle or walk to the top of the hill to view the house—it’s quite a steep hike, but offers rewarding views. The house was designed by Jefferson himself.

9. Explore the Main House

Visit the historic house at Monticello and explore Thomas Jefferson’s home! On a regular tour, you can wander through his rooms and view all the special items he collected.

For an even more unique experience, go behind the scenes and get to see parts of the house not normally open to the public.

Additionally, take some time to check out the areas around and below the main house – they are fascinating! You’ll also find some extra exhibits like the Life of Sally Hemings.

10. Slavery at Monticello

At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, visitors can discover the history of slavery with a tour and visit to the outbuildings. Over 400 enslaved people lived at Monticello while Jefferson was alive. This tour provides an important opportunity to explore this part of US history.

At Mulberry Row, you can explore the cabins where some of the slaves lived. It’s a stark contrast to life in the main house, and it helps us gain a better understanding of what they experienced. Come by and take a tour of the quarters today.

You can also see crops growing on a hilltop, like what it would have been like to work in the fields. This raises difficult questions about Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and yet owned slaves.

It’s hard to understand how 20% of people in early America could be so oppressed, despite believing in liberty and equality for all. Monticello encourages visitors to contemplate these issues and think deeply about what life was like for enslaved people.

11. Explore the Griffin Discovery Room

The Visitor Center’s Griffin Discovery Room is a great place for kids to explore! They can climb on replicas of Thomas Jefferson’s home, use his polygraph, decode a secret message, and even lie down in his bed.

With plenty of interactive exhibits to keep them occupied, it’s an entertaining way for children to learn about history!

12. Take a Stroll Down the Mulberry Row

Take a stroll down Mulberry Row, the main street of Monticello’s plantation. Here, you’ll find industrial shops such as the nailery, textile shop, and blacksmith shop.

Additionally, as mentioned above, some slave quarters were built here too, including the reconstructed cabin of John and Priscilla Hemmings, who were an enslaved carpenter and nursemaid to Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha’s children.

13. Meet Thomas Jefferson

Come and meet Bill Barker, a talented historical actor playing the part of Thomas Jefferson! Spend 20 minutes in his company as he talks about life in his time period. This isn’t a boring history lesson; it’s a fun and entertaining experience!

Afterwards, take pictures with him – you’ll have proof that you met Thomas Jefferson! You don’t need to book in advance; admission is included regardless of which ticket/pass you buy.

Check the schedule before your visit for availability (usually Tuesday to Saturday).

14. Planning a Visit to Monticello Grounds and Gardens

Explore Monticello’s grounds and gardens. You’ll find many features to explore around the house, from Thomas Jefferson’s all-weather passageways to the kitchen, basement, store rooms, and wine cellar.

15. Visit the Family Cemetery Near Monticello

Visit the Jefferson family cemetery at Monticello. This spot is still owned and maintained by descendants of Thomas Jefferson himself, and it is here where you can find his final resting place as well as those of many other members of his family.

16. Monticello Farm Table Cafe

Head to the Monticello Farm Table cafe when hunger strikes. Located in the Visitor Center, they offer sandwiches, salads, soups, and gluten-free options – something for everyone!

17. Visit the Mellow Mushroom for Dinner

If you’re looking for a great dinner experience, head to the Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville.

Here you’ll find an array of delicious stone-baked pizzas, salads, burgers, and other favorites that are paired perfectly with draft beers and handcrafted cocktails. Plus, they boast the best pizza in town!


18. Stay in Charlottesville Downtown Mall

Take a walk through Charlottesville’s historic Downtown Mall! Located just half a mile from the Dinsmore Inn, this city hub has been recently renovated to include plenty of shopping and dining options. After visiting Monticello, it’s the perfect place to relax and explore.

19. Take Part in Monticello Scavenger Hunt

Make touring Monticello more fun by taking part in the Monticello Scavenger Hunt! It’s easy to get started — scan your QR code to choose between three activities: Snap it, Learn it, Find it. A great way to explore Monticello with the whole family. 

Important Things to Know Before Visiting Monticello

1. Security Check

Before you visit Monticello, keep in mind that there’s a security check and photography is not allowed inside the house.

Backpacks must be small to board the bus or walk the path up the hill, which leads to the main house. Make sure to get your day pass for either option as they are required for access.

2. Take out Time to Walk the Grounds

To get the most out of your visit to Monticello, plan plenty of time. While you can explore the grounds before or after taking a tour of the house, make sure to take one if you can.

Don’t arrive too late in the day since there will only be a few tours left. Remember your ticket has an allocated tour time on it. You’ll be able to enjoy the garden behind the home as well as the views out to the west from the hill (weather dependent).

Monticello still has many of its original items thanks to Uriah Levy, a Jewish-American who respected Thomas Jefferson for his commitment to religious liberty.

Levy purchased items from an estate sale to pay Jefferson’s debts and later bought the estate itself. He held it for a remarkable 90 years, and with help from a map drawn by Jefferson’s granddaughter, some items are even in their original positions.

3. Pay Heed to High Temperatures

Make sure you’re prepared before visiting Monticello! The hilltop location means that much of the site is exposed to the sun, so bring sunscreen and plenty of water, especially in the warmer months.

You’ll find some shade along Mulberry Row, but otherwise get ready to soak up the sunshine!

4. Wear Comfy Shoes

Before you go to Monticello, remember to wear shoes that are comfy for walking. The whole property is on top of a hill, and there’s lots to see – so you’ll be doing a lot of moving around! Make sure you have the right footwear for an enjoyable experience!


Thus, Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Estate, is a great place to visit for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. As mentioned earlier, planning your visit is essential to make the most of your time there.

Purchasing Monticello tickets in advance will ensure you have a seamless experience and can access all the different areas of the estate.

The garden and grounds tour is a must-do, as it allows you to explore the beautiful landscapes and learn about Jefferson’s passion for horticulture.

The Grounds of Monticello are meticulously maintained, and the view from the side of the house is breathtaking. Inside Monticello, you can delve into the life and accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson.

From his study to the bedrooms, you can see firsthand where Jefferson worked and resided. Additionally, visiting Monticello is a chance to glimpse into the history of Virginia and appreciate the legacy of one of America’s founding fathers.

It is worth noting that Jefferson died at Monticello and is buried on the grounds, adding a deeper layer of significance to this historic site.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply want to enjoy the beauty of nature, a visit to Monticello promises a memorable experience.

Good Luck!

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