During our visit to Thomas Jefferson’s historic plantation known as Monticello or ‘little mountain’ in Italian, we explored the house, grounds, and gardens. Monticello as a name sake does fit estate sites on a hill with wonderful views rolling hills and distance views of Charlottesville. During our time at this historic southern plantation, I learned more about the life of our third president and the intertwined connection of slavery here. This is one of the most visited historic sites in the area. Monticello and the University of Virginia are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Touring the Estate
There are several options to tour Monticello depending on the amount of time that you have to explore the plantation and area. In general, I would dedicate about 2 hours minimum to allow enough time to see most sites of this large plantation. You could spend most of your day here taking a “Behind the Scenes-Tour”, The Slavery-Walking Tour, the Garden Walking Tour, and enjoying time in the museum near the entrance at the foot of the mountain. In addition, don’t miss the family grave site of the Jefferson.
We took time to do the ‘Behind the Scenes Tour” I do recommend booking tickets early as these sell out fast as a limited number of slots are available. You get to explore the house from top to bottom. Unfortunately, only certain areas of the home allow you to take photo.
View from the Dome Room
The Cuddy was a hideaway off ‘The Dome” room that Jefferson’s granddaughters often took advantage of using to get away from the noisy house. Learn more about the Cuddy.
Slaves were present and a part of daily activities on Monticello. One of these known enslaved individuals was Sally Hemings. You can learn more about her and the relationship she had with Thomas Jefferson by watch a video online and through exploring a moving exhibit at Monticello.
The Slavery of Monticello Tours is an outdoor walking tour that we took advantage of during our time visiting the UNESCO World heritage site. The tour is included with all ticket purchases and I highly recommend it. Of course, weather permitting.
Finally, we explored the gardens and listened in on the Garden and Grounds Tour , which is another outdoor waking tour of the gardens and grounds of Monticello. This tour is offered a couple of times a day and begins at the fish holding pond with tour hours posted here.
Poppies in Bloom
Views of the Lower Garden
The Walk to The Family Cemetery
Mount Vernon Facing The Potomac
This plantation home of the first U.S. President and his wife Martha was built during 1757. Mount Vernon served as the home of George Washington for over four decades. You are able to tour part of the original estate, the gravesites of George and Martha Washington and other family members. In addition, the property includes the Ford Orientation Center and the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. Each of these newer additions to the grounds offer the opportunity to learn more about our first President through film, artifacts, galleries, and exploring what life might have been like during this time. Consider having lunch or dinner at The Mount Vernon Inn restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner daily except on Sundays.
The mansion is going through some renovation as you might notice in the above image, but you are still able to enjoy tours of the home and grounds.
View of the Potomac from Mount Vernon
Inside the Mansion
The public tour of the mansion can go rather quickly as this is one of the most visited places in Virginia and the world. So, there was not much time to shoot photos. Below are a few that I managed to grab during our walk through this historic site.
The tour we took allow us to explore the basement of the mansion, but honestly this was more of novelty for those who might have seen the movie “National Treasures.”
Basement of Mount Vernon
Exploring the Grounds
The Necessary in the Lower Garden (not just for one)
Slavery at Mount Vernon
Slavery did exist on Mount Vernon and often during tours I hear individuals ask the docent such questions as “how were the slaves treated” or “did the owner treat them well.” The answer is often varied, but generally the summary is the same as they are enslaved and any form of bondage is cruel. Please click on the image below to watch and learn more about Slavery at Mount Vernon.
Tomb of George Washington
George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. As you walk down the hill toward the current tomb, consider taking a slight detour to the original location of the family vault nearer to the river. ‘The Old Vault” is still present here, but no longer contains any graves.
The Original Grave Site Closer to The River
The Old Vault
Tomb of George Washington
A short metrorail trip from the Ronald Regan Washington National Aiport (DCA) allows one to see one of the top smallest cities in the country, Alexandria Virginia. I recently took the metrorail to the King Street stop to explore Old Town Alexandria. You can take leisurely walk down King Street to see why this is such an attractive and historical city. Don’t let just explore this one avenue. Go beyond it and you will find more history as I did with the Apothecary Museum
King Street View Toward Potomac River
**The Metrorail from King Street Station** is under construction and will be closed among other stations from May 25, 2019 through September 8, 2019. I recommend exploring this link to learn more:
As one walks along historic King street, you can take in the sites and sounds coming from the local shops, restaurants, and antiques. Of course, there are some national chains present, but don’t let this discourage you from seeing some of the most historically preserved part of our history by visiting Old Town Alexandria. It is wonder Alexandria is often rated small-towns live. This is a very easy to walk city and commuter friendly to other major city.
During our walk, we decided to explore the Apothecary Museum. The museum is located at 107 S. Fairfax Street just a half block off of King Street. They offer a 45-minute guided tour of the first and second floors of this historical pharmacy. This museum is now owned by the City of Alexandria and has been preserved for future generations.
Most of the contents of Apothecary includes original herbal botanicals, hand-blown glass jars, and medical equipments. Some well-known figures have appeared in documents, including Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee.
Request from Ms. Martha Washington.
The Museum (circa 1792)
Mix of Medicines Used Here including Opium and Arsenic (old lace)
Nursing Equipment of the 1800’s
Forde’s Electric Razor
Exploring the second floor offers a look beyond the scenes to manufacturing of goods and products for the apothecary. The docent this day was informative and excited to show the group several unusual items on display.
If you are interested in learning more and perhaps visiting this gem of a historical pharmacy, please visit the City of Alexandria’s website to learn more about hours and tour times.
Thank you for reading and please do share your thoughts and comments.
A recent visit to the grounds that honors those who served our nation offers a sense of beauty and peace for visitors. The rolling hills dotted with trees of various ages truly complement this 624 acre cemetery. This is a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within these hallowed grounds. Please consider visiting Arlington National Cemetery.
The Eternal Flame At the Kennedy’s Gravesite
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Civil War Unknowns Monument
The inscription on the monument states: “BENEATH THIS STONE
REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN, AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANOCK, THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED. BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY, AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE. SEPTEMBER. A. D. 1866.”
Spanish-American Nurses Monument
It was during the Spanish-American War in which American nurses were first assigned as quasi-military unit. The monument in the above image remembers these nurses who gave served and their gave lives during this war.
As we move into the Memorial day weekend, I would like to end this blog with a thank you to all that have serviced and continue to service in our military. I appreciate your dedication and service to our Country.