Last Saturday, I drove to Charlottesville, Virginia to tour Monticello and the University of Virginia. If you are starting from Washington, D.C., Charlottesville is 116 miles away, but the driving time can vary from two to three hours, depending on the infamous traffic on Interstate 95 (I-95), the primary freeway of the East Coast.
Monticello is famous for being the plantation home of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. A less well known fact is that Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville is one of only 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. I have a fascination with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and one can do much worse than basing one’s travel destinations around them.
I have been to many UNESCO World Heritages Sites, but this visit was to be only my third in the U.S., the others being Yellowstone National Park and Independence Hall.
I had planned this trip by also reserving tickets for the college football season opener between University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Virginia, whose kickoff was scheduled for noon. Knowing this timing, I opted for the “Behind the Scenes Tour” at Monticello for 9:00 am, which would last 90 minutes. Several people I talked to expressed surprise that my tour allowed access to the second floor of the residence. The tour cost $45, which is $15 more than the regular tour, ostensibly to cover the premium access to the second floor. There is little sense in taking the trek to visit such a historical building only to skimp out on an extra $15!
The Monticello property is more spacious than I had imagined. The views from the height were especially surprising. I would recommend two-and-a-half hours for a proper visit, but I felt rushed since I had a college football game to attend. I drove 8 miles to Scott Stadium, where I joined 44,478 (capacity: 61,500) other fans to enjoy the game. Impressively, there were throngs of UCLA fans who had made the cross-country trek to root for their Bruins.