To celebrate not only several of the July birthdays (we have a lot of family members born in July, haha!) but also the gathering of my mom’s extended family, we visited Monticello and grabbed a late lunch in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Monticello, the only historic house on the United Nation’s World Heritage List, was home to Thomas Jefferson. Only a few miles from the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s home rests on the top of a hill that gives an incredible view of the area.
My mom always wanted to visit Monticello, and having never been, we decided to go along with my mom’s family to tour the grounds. Starting from the D.C. area, we drove about two and a half hours before reaching the site.
While taking pictures inside is prohibited, we got to snap a few pictures from the outside. Here are some the highlights of the trip:
TJ’s home has the best view of the surrounding area. From the top, we saw all of the mountains and even got to see the dome of UVA (short for University of Virginia). The weather was perfect on the day we went, so we enjoyed standing around the top for a little while.
Around the house, there are gardens, smaller living areas, and a stable where Jefferson used to keep his horses. From the tour inside the house, we learned that Jefferson wanted to know an array of knowledge, from science to languages, to even botany. The tour of the house expanded on Jefferson’s curiosity and showed us his books, paintings, ideas, etc.
Special Exhibits and Tours: Must See
While we were there, a few exhibits were open for us to see. After the tour of the house, we saw the Sally Hemings exhibit, located near the gardens. There was a tour of her living quarters along with a short video about her life and children with Thomas Jefferson.
In addition to the tour inside of the house, we took a tour about slavery that existed on the property; it’s the most popular tour offered. Lasting about forty-five minutes, we walked around the places were slaves once lived and worked. This eye-opening tour had a phenomenal tour guide; she was extremely knowledgable and answered all of our questions with great information. We got to see some of the houses where slaves lived and the remains of working spaces that eroded over time.
As I am still in a medical boot, I took advantage of the benches spread all throughout the property, which were plentiful and conveniently placed with respect to the tour. Another amazing thing about Monticello is that it was completely accessible! People with wheelchairs and people with boots like mine could easily get around the property. Although Monticello has some narrow rooms, the tour guides always made ample space for those in wheelchairs. A+ in accessibility!
Other tours are offered about the gardens, and there was a cemetery located on the Monticello property were Jefferson was buried. We only saw the grave outside of the window of the bus that took us from the top to the visitor center. We skipped the tour of the gardens because we were too hungry, haha!
Downtown Lunch and Drive
We left Monticello around two o’clock and with a huge appetite for lunch, so we pulled out our phones to find a good place to eat: Citizen Burger. Like the name sounds, the place sold burgers and was situated in downtown Charlottesville. The nine of us all fitted into a booth and enjoyed the short rest from walking.
Where Citizen Burger is located, there is a long strip of shops, restaurants, and boutiques. After our satisfying lunch, we walked around and grabbed some ice cream. As a lover of llamas and horses (I was an avid, horse-obsessed equestrian), I have to share this painting that I found in one of the boutiques!
Isn’t it adorable?! It’s SO cute!
After we ate, we parted with our extended family, who spent the night in Charlottesville, and drove around the city for a bit. We passed by UVA, and on the way back home, we saw an abundance of greenery and horse farms. A little tip for anyone planning to drive back home on a Friday night from Charlottesville: anticipate traffic and skip the highway. You’ll get a prettier view, anyway 😉
The day ended with my family and I opening presents and eating cake at home!
I hope you all are having an amazing weekend! Stay cool if you’re surviving hot weather, or stay warm in the wintery parts of the world. 🙂 Have a great day!