February 29, 2024

Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

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I had a group of 8th grade students to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, VA yesterday. The group had an 8 AM appointment, first one of the day, and had been instructed to be there 30 minutes early. That meant leaving our hotel really early, but at the direction of our conscientious group leader, we dutifully arrived on time as instructed. And guess what … the parking lot was empty, not even the staff arrive that early! We wished we had been able to sleep in a little longer.

But the rest of the visit went smoothly. They began their tour at the appointed time, had a competent tour guide, and enjoyed their visit.

New Visitor Center

The new Visitor Center opened just recently, and is fairly impressive. Although the ticket area is at the front right corner of the Visitor Center where you’d expect it, group leaders must go down one level below the ticket area to check in their group — seems like poor planning to me, but I didn’t have a chance to fully check that out. The new cafe, public restrooms, and gift shop are already open. However the new theater and museum areas will not open until the Center’s grand opening on April 15, 2009. We were just a couple of weeks too early to see those.

Bus Info

Bus parking is unchanged from previously, except it appears they’ve eliminated the parking spots for motor homes just behind the buses, where they often made it very difficult for buses to back out of their spaces. Buses drop off and pick up at their parking spots, not in the new, small circle in front of the Visitor Center. There are no trash cans in the bus parking area where they used to be, and I didn’t see any exit signs from the bus parking area — good thing I had been there before, or I could have easily got in a situation where I’d have had to back up in their parking lot (exit right when leaving the bus parking area). Drivers do not get a break for food or coffee, there is no driver’s lounge, but drivers can usually walk along with their group on a tour of the house if they’d like. Their website has no bus specific information that I could find, but does include specific directions for driving.

About Bob Bergey

Bob has been driving motorcoaches since 2002, in every state east of the Mississippi and a few west, as well as the four southeastern-most provinces of Canada. In addition to driving, he's an avid photographer (and former professional), enjoys writing and technology.