As people across the U.S. are all preparing for our Independence Day celebrations, it's the perfect time to think about one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. We all know Jefferson as the framer of the Declaration of Independence and one of our most beloved presidents. But not everyone knows he was also an inventor, a farmer and plantation owner, an architect, a scientist, meticulous record-keeper, and a voracious reader and writer. Fewer people know of his darker side as a slave owner and "baby-daddy" to several children he allegedly fathered with one of his slaves. To really get an intimate look into the man and his daily life, you have to pay a visit to Jefferson's beloved home, Monticello, located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Jefferson built Monticello in 1775 based on Italian Renaissance design. The home contains many of his own design innovations and inventions. It is really fascinating to get a glimpse into Jefferson's daily life, his hobbies, his passions, and to understand what drove this brilliant man to be the patriot he became. A Day Pass to Monticello includes a guided tour of the home's first floor. Also included is the "Slavery at Monticello" tour Other tours are available for additional cost, including a "Behind the Scenes Tour", where you get to see the upstairs floor, a "Revolutionary Garden Tour". Visitors are also free to explore the grounds to get a real feel of what life was like on an 18th century plantation. The website is a treasure of information about Jefferson, Monticello and what you will experience during your visit. I highly recommend spending some time on the website to check what seasonal events may be going on and buy tickets to any tours you're interested in – tickets sell out quickly during peak travel season.
On my recent visit, I had a very personable and well-informed guide. She was a great story-teller and seemed to know everything about Jefferson, his home and his family. I was left with a newfound sense of admiration and respect for this larger-than-life American icon! Instead of taking the shuttle back to the orientation area, I decided to stroll along a gravel path to really take it all in. Along the way, I passed the cemetery where Thomas Jefferson is buried. A wrought iron fence keeps visitors from getting too close, but still, it was a surprisingly moving experience for me! I guess by that point I felt like I really knew the man!
For more information on planning your Virginia travel, visit www.EscapeToTheSoutheast.com.