Located less than a mile from Route I-64's Exit 121, the Inn at Monticello is a great starting place for exploring Virginia attractions. All excursions will take a half to a full day.
Shenandoah National Park, the Skyline Drive and Luray Caverns
The Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. Enjoy magnificent views looking west towards the Shenandoah Valley, or east towards the Piedmont. Hike the Appalachian Trail; savor a picnic lunch; take in the park's spectacular fall foliage, or its spring wildflowers. To begin this day trip, enter the park from Exit 99 at Afton, about 22 miles west of the Inn via I-64. Proceed north about 73 miles to Thornton Gap, and exit at Route 211, heading west towards Luray, where you can visit the Luray Caverns. Enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley heading back to Charlottesville.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks, Peaks of Otter, Natural Bridge, Lexington
Like the Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway follows along the Blue Ridge Mountains, beginning at Afton Mountain, off of I-64, and proceeding 469 miles south to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Close to the northern entrance to the Parkway is Humpback Rocks, an outcropping of stone that affords a 300 degree view of the Shenandoah Valley and points to the east and north. To the south, at mile markers 84 to 87, are the Peaks of the Otter, a cluster of 3 mountains close to 4,000 feet in elevation. At one time, Thomas Jefferson thought that these peaks were the tallest in North America. Exiting the Blue Ridge Parkway to the northwest on Route 43, pick up I-81 heading north about 15 miles to Route 75 and Natural Bridge. Thomas Jefferson was so impressed with Natural Bridge that he purchased it in 1774 -- from the King of England! Leaving Natural Bridge and heading north on I-81, proceed 12 miles to Lexington, and visit the town and the campuses of the Virginia Military Institute and Washington & Lee University, where Robert E. Lee is buried.
Historic Appomattox Courthouse and Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
An easy drive from the Inn at Monticello is the town of Appomattox Courthouse, where on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Civil War.
Not far from Appomattox is Thomas Jefferson's private retreat, Poplar Forest. Built in the shape of a perfect octagon, the house is a testament to Jefferson's fascination with neoclassical architecture. The house has been undergoing an extensive restoration, which is mostly complete. Tour the house in a small group under the direction of one of the experienced guides, and take in the extensive grounds at your leisure.
Colonial Williamsburg, College of William and Mary, Jamestown and Yorktown
About 100 miles to the southeast are Colonial Williamsburg, the College of William and Mary, Jamestown, and Yorktown. In 2007 Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, celebrated its 400th anniversary. Williamsburg, dating to 1632, became the leading center of government, education, and culture in Virginia prior to the American Revolution. The historic parts of the city have been restored by the Colonial Williamsburg foundation. The College of William and Mary is the second oldest college or university in the U. S. Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe studied there. Yorktown, of course, is where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in 1781, ending the American Revolution. Visiting all of these sites is a full-day undertaking, but it is well worth the trip.
James River Plantations and the City of Richmond
Along the James River, to the east of Richmond, are five beautifully preserved estates - the James River Plantations, all with interesting histories. Sherwood Forest was the home of the tenth president of the U. S., John Tyler. William Byrd II, founder of Richmond, built Westover in 1730. Shirley Plantation, started in 1613, was the first family-owned plantation in Virginia. Evelynton was built by William Byrd II as part of Westover, and was the scene of some major skirmishes during the Civil War. The house was burned during the conflict and re-built in 1937. The most famous plantation, Berkeley, is known as the site of the first official Thanksgiving in 1619; the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the U. S.; and the ancestral home of Benjamin Harrison, twenty-third president of the U. S. Berkeley and Shirley are available for tours, and are highly recommended.
The City of Richmond, located about 70 miles from the Inn at Monticello, has many wonderful places to visit. For those fascinated by early American history, one must-see place is St. John's Episcopal Church, where on March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry uttered these famous words while urging rebellion against the English crown: " I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" Just about every Sunday at 2:00 p.m., from May to September, an actor portraying Patrick Henry presents his memorable speech.