Win Tickets to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

Jefferson was interested in the same things that kids love, from dinosaurs to ice cream. Get to know him at Monticello.

President Thomas Jefferson was born 273 years ago on April 13. To commemorate the occasion, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello has graciously offered four tickets to tour Monticello.

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Why your kids will love Jefferson

Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and served our country in many official capacities, including president.

Kids might ho-hum these facts, but when you tell them that Jefferson was interested in the same things that kids love, from dinosaurs to ice cream, you'll get their attention. My video here gives you the scoop.

I'll be headed back to Monticello this summer. One day with Jefferson wasn't long enough for me.

Programs for kids at Monticello

Monticello thoughtfully and thoroughly presents Jefferson's life and times to kids through the Mountaintop Hands-On Activity Center, the Griffin Discovery Room, plus galleries of interactive digital displays. 

Monticello's Family Friendly Tours feature hands-on opportunities to learn about Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation while giving them a glimpse of what it was like for children living at Monticello in the late 1700s and early 1800s. 

Go outside and the kids can explore the grounds and gardens, or let off steam on the Saunders-Monticello Trail.

For families interested in the Autism spectrum

Diagnosing Jefferson on AmazonBefore visiting Monticello I had heard an NPR interview with a Jefferson scholar who said that our brilliant founding father might have had Asperger's Syndrome.

As I toured, I started picking up on Asperger's traits in Jefferson. For example, he didn't recognize social cues and was indifferent to peer pressure.

The thing that really stood out to me was his many obsessions and his rigid adherence to routines. For example, Jefferson kept a "weather journal" for over 50 years.  

With over 200 years between us and the living man, we will never know for sure. The book, Diagnosing Jefferson: Evidence of a Condition That Guided His Beliefs, Behavior, and Personal Associations might be a good starting point for understanding why the theory that he had Asperger's has gained traction. 

April is Autism Awareness Month, and I recommend Monticello for a weekend road trip. Perhaps Jefferson will inspire you to look beyond neurological wiring for what someone can do with their life.

Tours at Monticello

The Monticello mountain was at the center of a 5,000-acre plantation that Jefferson inherited from his father, Peter Jefferson, in 1764.

Monticello is a National Historic Landmark and the only house in the United States designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

HOUSE TOURS are conducted at regular intervals and cover the rooms on the main floor of Monticello and last about 30 minutes. If you're traveling with kids ages 5-11, definitely take the FAMILY TOUR, available lon a limited basis in April, and daily June though Labor Day. (See schedule online, included in admission.)

GARDENS & GROUNDS TOURS explore the restored flower and vegetable gardens, grove, and orchards April through October. (Included in admission.)

SLAVERY AT MONTICELLO TOURS focus on African-American life on the Monticello plantation April through October. (Included in admission.) Don't shy away from this with your children. As I said in my video interview above, the staff handle the subject of slavery candidly and deftly.

SUNSET PASS: Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Monticello at the end of the day with this exclusive pass that allows you to delight in the vistas of Jefferson’s “little mountain” after the regular closing time. 

Audio books on Jefferson for kids

If you plan ahead, you can listen to audio books in the family car on the theme of your vacation. You can borrow audio books from the public library or buy them from Hit this link for seven kid-focused audio books on Jefferson.

Please, if you've visited Monticello drop a note in the comments box to help other families enjoy their stay. 

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