Virginia was home to three of the founding fathers, and four of the first five American Presidents. Three of those Virginia Presidents lived in the Charlottesville area! If you are a history buff, you will definitely want to visit. To help you plan your trip, here are the top historic sites in Charlottesville VA.
Remember, there are a number of other historic sites that are less than an hour and a half drive away, so a trip to Charlottesville is not limited. The Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Spotsylvania Battlefields can all be included in your visit. Plan several days and immerse yourself in history. Book your stay at the Foxfield Inn, and let us help you with an itinerary.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
No other home is a more perfect reflection of the personality of its owner than Monticello. He designed, redesigned, built, and rebuilt it over a period of more than forty years. The grounds were an experimental laboratory for plants for both culinary and ornamental use.
There are several types of tours available; the most comprehensive is the “Behind the Scenes Pass” which takes you upstairs into the second and third floors, including the Dome Room. There are also tours centered on the Hemings family and slave life at the plantation. All tickets can be purchased in advance online. Plan the better part of a day to truly experience the genius of the estate.
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville VA
Hours change seasonally, but generally, 10 am – 5 pm, closed Tuesdays
James Madison’s Montpelier
Did you know that James Madison was the shortest American President? Famed for his contributions to both the Constitution and Bill of Rights, he was, by nature, a retiring man, often overshadowed by his exuberant social butterfly wife, Dolley. Madison’s home of Montpelier originally was built by his father. When he and Dolley moved there, he added a separate unconnected apartment for them.
The estate of Montpelier has been owned by several families since the Madisons. The most recent owners were the DuPonts, who gifted it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) in 1983. During 2003 – 2008 the NTHP carried out a major restoration to return the residence to its original size when occupied by Madison.
1350 Constitution Hwy, Montpelier Station VA
Tours provided on Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holiday Mondays 9 am – 3 pm
James Monroe’s Highland
Encouraged by his friend Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe purchased the estate adjacent to Monticello in 1793. He moved his family to the plantation six years later and resided there for 25 years. Personal debt forced him to sell the property in 1825. Highland is now owned by Monroe’s alma mater, the College of William and Mary.
The extensive grounds have hiking trails that may be visited free of charge. The house, lawn, and gardens may be toured with a general admission ticket, or guided tours may also be arranged.
2050 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville VA
Open daily from 10 am – 4 pm
Other Charlottesville Historic Sites
University of Virginia Rotunda
Located on the grounds of the University of Virginia, the Rotunda was designed by Thomas Jefferson to be the “heart of the architectural and academic experience.” Recently renovated, the Dome Room has been returned to Jefferson’s original design and his statue has been returned. Don’t miss the exhibits in the basement commemorating some of the enslaved peoples who worked on the building
1826 University Ave, Charlottesville VA
Open daily 9 am – 5 pm, with tours at 11 am
Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven Room
While you are visiting the University of Virginia, stop by the ominously named Raven Room on campus. Edgar Allen Poe studied on campus for one year, and his dorm room has been preserved by a student organization called the Raven Society that continues to hold midnight initiations at the site. The room may be viewed through glass.
13 W Range, Charlottesville VA
Exchange Hotel Civil War Museum
A short drive from Charlottesville is the Exchange Hotel Civil War Museum. This 150-year-old building has survived with many tales to tell, from being a hotel to a hospital during the Civil War to becoming a Freedman’s Bureau at the end of the war. Over 23,000 soldiers were treated when it was a hospital. There are exhibits describing the building’s long history.
400 So Main St, Gordonsville VA
Hours are Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm
Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center
Both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark completed the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition from the Mississippi to the West Coast and back lived for many years in Albemarle County, Virginia. The Exploratory Center is located near the site where they lived and is designed to be a hands-on learning experience to interpret history, science, and the environment using the journals of Lewis and Clark as inspiration.
1490 Darden Towe Park, Charlottesville VA
All programs are currently by reservation only
Aren’t these top historic sites in Charlottesville, VA a treasure trove of history to visit and absorb? Start planning your trip now! Come and stay at our Inn and take several days to learn about all these historic figures that had their beginnings in the Charlottesville, VA area. Check availability today.