By Published On: July 2, 20182.5 min readTotal Views: 64Daily Views: 1Categories: Historic Sites + MuseumsTags: , , ,

Visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello—A Guide for History Lovers

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Insider tips and recommendations from fellow history lovers as well as current and former employees and volunteers—thank you to all our contributors!


Monticello is the autobiographical masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson—designed and redesigned and built and rebuilt for more than forty years—and its gardens were a botanic showpiece, a source of food, and an experimental laboratory of ornamental and useful plants from around the world. Monticello was home not only to the Jefferson family, but to workers, black and white, enslaved and free.

[Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello]


Planning your visit

  • When visiting Monticello, it is advised to “prepare to spend a lot of time there if you want to experience everything.” And if possible, “sign up for the Behind the Scenes Tour! The extra cost is so worth it.” While you’re there, “make an extra trip to see Jefferson’s Poplar Forest home — It’s much less crowded and you can see the ongoing progress on the restoration. It’s fascinating.” and “James Madison’s home Montpelier is very nearby and worth taking a day to explore.” You might also want to consider purchasing the Monticello Neighborhood Pass – a discount combination ticket to tour Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland, and Michie Tavern’s Tavern Museum.
  • Check their website to plan your trip. This way, you will be able to time your visit with one of their special events.
  • Book online and save money.
  • Get your tickets as far out as possible to get the time you want. (Amber Rogers) Plan to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled tour.
  • Have the ticket printed before you arrive. This way, you do not have to wait in the ticket line. (Chyanna Siegel Rainey)
  • I suggest to combine Monticello with a trip to Williamsburg or a trip to D.C. & the Library of Congress to pull together different contexts. For many, the highlight of the Library of Congress has been the recreation of Thomas Jefferson’s library, they have done a great job of interpreting it and making it accessible!(Kristen DeFreez Warr and Christine Cornell McCreedy)
  • Plan on being on your feet all day. Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water with you. It gets hot in the House especially in summer.

When to visit

  • Most crowded months: April. Also avoid going on a holiday weekend.
  • It is generally best to visit in the morning (before 11) and late afternoon (after 3).
  • Best months to visit: Late August – September.
  • Go in the off season or on a weekday. If you go when it’s crowded you get rushed from room to room and don’t get the time to savor anything. (Matt Kausch)

To read in advance

  •  Read a Thomas Jefferson biography, I recommend Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham. It will give you some insight into Jefferson and Monticello. (Linda Imhof) Another interesting read is the historical novel, America’s First Daughter by Laura Kamoie and Stephanie Dray (Lynn Beman)

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