I went to visit two of my wonderful sisters in Virginia this past weekend. Only one of them lives there but the other sister present was visiting too. (I have 4 sisters in total). We had some nice times. My sister who lives in Virginia lives in Culpeper, which is in northern Virginia. Her town is cute and has touristy downtown with cute shops and restaurants. I had two full days in Virginia to explore. We spent the first day checking out Culpeper and we went to Thomas Jefferson’s Home Monticello and nearby Charlottesville the second day.
9 Highlights From My Trip to Virginia
- The People Watching: I loved just being a free lady for the weekend. What I mean is, usually I am traveling with a toddler so I usually do not have the capacity to pay attention to other things going on. I loved watching all the other people on their Thomas Jefferson adventures at Monticello. I saw a class of college students wearing matching t-shirts and a dad wearing a Revolutionary War style, four corner hat. I saw couples who looked like they were on a date and bored preteens. It was fun to watch.
2. Sister Time: We had a great time checking out Culpeper but also we are all huge Hamilton the Musical fans, so there we were hugely excited to visit Monticello. They had both been to Monticello before and filled me in on the details I missed (more on that later). The three of us are all into the founding fathers. It was a fun bonding experience.
3. Vinegar and Olive Oil Tasting: Downtown Culpeper has some interesting shops. We visited a bee and bee product themed store with a hive inside. My favorite downtown Culpeper store though was the called Taste, a store that lets you taste Balsamic Vinegar and Oils. Who knew that balsamic vinegars could be so tasty? I tasted a few oils but was much more into the vinegars. My favorite kinds were the white cinnamon pear balsamic and a cara cara orange and vanilla vinegar that could be poured over ice cream.
4. Monticello House Tour: I was really looking forward to the house tour of Jefferson’s plantation and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed seeing his first first floor including his library and cabinet, his favorite room of the house. Our tour was a bit different than usual because the day we visited was the day Monticello held a reenactment of the British Invasion of Monticello, 1781.
5. Reenactment of British Invasion of Monticello:
I can’t even believe I am saying this, but I loved the reenactment. We liked it so much we watched it both times they did it the day we visited. I always thought reenactments of battles seemed boring but this was fun and interesting. Essentially the story they were re-telling was an incident that happened on the June 4, 1781. A man like Paul Revere, but named Jack Jouett rode to Monticello to tell the Jeffersons that the British were coming and were going to take Thomas Jefferson, who was the governor or Virginia at the time as their hostage. Spoiler alert: He gets away.
6. Jefferson’s Garden: Thomas Jefferson was into experimenting with the crops and techniques used in his garden. He lived in France and became interested in French wines. He experimented with growing grapes and making wine. I found the garden to be one of the most fascinating parts of the plantation. I feel like it is now to talk about the elephant in the room. Slavery. Thomas Jefferson had a lot of slaves. Monticello did not try to obscure this fact. There are at least two slavery tours you can take there. Also they created an award winning app about Slavery and Monticello. One of the slavery tours is about the garden. A lot of slaves worked on the garden. It is a really beautiful too. They sell seeds of some of the crops grown in the garden in the gift shop. I bought some winter radish, sweet basil, and Florence Fennel seeds to grow in my own garden.
7. Monticello Ice Cream: Before watching the 2pm British Invasion Reenactment we sampled some Jack Jouett Delight, Red Velvet Ice Cream with blueberries. It was creamy and sweet but not too sweet. It came in a cup pre-filled. The texture and ice patterns on the ice cream looked like nothing I have ever seen before. I choose to believe it was made from a recipe from the 1780’s.
8. Meeting Thomas Jefferson and the Area Surround Monticello: The area around Monticello was gorgeous. It was a beautiful sunny 85° day with blue skies and sparse clouds. Monticello means “little mountain” and from the top of the mountain you could see the Piedmont and Montalto, the mountain Jefferson escaped over during the British invasion. While sitting on the front lawn of Monticello we saw great views of the scenery and we listened to a charming Thomas Jefferson impersonator. He shed some light on this man of mystery and invited picture taking when he was done his talk.
9. Visiting the Pedestrian Mall in Downtown Charlottesville: After spending most of the day at Monticello we continued our journey into the heart of Charlottesville. Charlottesville has a lovely pedestrian mall near the campus of the University of Virginia. While walking around we saw a street performer singing and playing The Devil Went Down to Georgia on a fiddle. The mall is home to all sorts of stores and restaurants. Here is a snapshot of a move theater.
I had a great time visiting my sisters and seeing some sights in Virginia. Thanks to my sisters and my husband. This was my first trip sans Patrick and really first time I have been away from Patrick overnight. What places should I visit the next time I go to Virginia?