Visiting Monticello never gets old. The fact that they are constantly discovering new things and acquiring formerly lost items has a lot to do with that. I visited here three times previously, twice in the last two years. In January 2014 we took the behind the scenes tour.
In November 2015, we took the behind the scenes tour again and I have to say, I am very glad we did since there have been lots of changes on the third floor. Not all the changes however, are on the interior. I was stunned to see a new slave cabin on Mulberry Row, it was what was always missing and now it isn’t missing anymore.
The behind the scenes tour takes about two and half hours. It begins with the standard house tour of the ground floor and continues on to the second and third floors. The view from the dome is worth the price of admission on its own.
I am not going to tell you everything that you will see on the tour, I won’t spoil the fun of discovering it for you however, I will say that you need to be able to climb some very narrow and steep steps and you climb up three stories and down four. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of knees.
Photography is not allowed inside the house except in the dome so you will be able to take pictures of the view from the windows.
Planning a Visit
Allow the better part of a day for a visit to Monticello. You begin your visit at the Visitor Center where you book your tour time and then watch an introductory film. Follow this by visiting the two story museum. Depending on your tour time, you can do this before or after your house visit.
You are taken by bus up to the top of the hill where the house is located. You can walk up if you prefer. On the way down, the bus stops at the grave yard if you want to get off or on the bus. The graves are an easy and pleasant walk from the house.
On the top of the hill there is a lot to tour on your own. The two dependencies, the kitchen, the store rooms, wine cellar and more all under the house.
Walk around Mulberry Row and see how the people who made this life possible for the Jefferson’s lived. Several slave families are introduced. You will meet them in the museum and learn more about them as you tour around the property.
The property does have a café to dine so you don’t need to leave the property. I however, am going to recommend that you drive back down the road and have lunch at Michie Tavern. It is authentic fare in a very authentic atmosphere and it is the perfect complement to a day at Monticello.
Be sure to leave plenty of time to visit the gift shop. It has lots of items that will temp you.
You may be a little surprised when you walk up to the front of the house. You will not see the iconic house that you expect. That view is the back of the house.
If you are planning to visit at a popular time you may want to book your tour online and plan to arrive early since the parking lots fill up quickly.