Our 2015 road trip continued from Shenandoah National Park to Raleigh NC. While finalizing our plans I realized we would be driving by Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. My husband and I enjoy history and would enjoy visiting, but we were not so sure about the kids. We usually visit parks and have outdoor adventures, this would be a different type of experience. The tickets for the 5 of us were going to be on the pricey side. We were unsure of the value we would get out of the visit. However, when we discussed the possibility with the kids they were excited. We decided to give it a try, and I am so glad we did!
The first thing we did when we arrived was purchase our tickets. The guided tours are only for the first floor of the house and they are scheduled for specific times. You do need a ticket to explore any where on the grounds and it gets you a bus ride from the welcome center to the house and back.
We were on a tight time schedule and the regular tours were all filled for the next few hours. They do also offer a family tour and that worked with our time frame. The family tour was tailored to young elementary aged children. I thought our tour guide did a wonderful job including the young children. My 2 younger children, ages 8 & 10, enjoyed the house tour, but my 14-year-old was somewhat bored. She did however perk up and enjoyed some greater freedom exploring the grounds and basement. Your ticket allows independent exploration of the grounds and basement of the house. Throughout this area were some interactive displays for children that helped put into perspective what life was like at Monticello.
Since Monticello was just a stop on our drive from Shenandoah to NC, we did not have much time. I wish we had more time to explore. They have walking trails throughout the property that we were unable to enjoy. We also didn’t have time to visit Thomas Jefferson’s grave site, but did see it as the bus drove by back to the visitors center. I learned later that the Griffin Discovery Room at the visitors center is a fun interactive experience for kids, but we also missed that.
It was a hot day and we spent about 2 hours with the house tour and exploring the grounds. This was enough time to get a general overview, but I would recommend allowing more time.
Monticello has a fun kids website that my youngest daughter has been enjoying since we came home. She has been building a house with different architectural features and learning more about Thomas Jefferson with his grand-daughter, Cornelia. She even put together a slide show about her visit. I just love that she has initiated all this learning independently.
I also found this blog post from Currently Wandering with more information about visiting Monticello with kids.
Overall, it was a great experience for our family. I just wish we had more time. We will definitely be looking for more historical sites on our future travels. What are some of your favorite historical sites to visit?
Go out, explore and find joy!