Monticello is the building you see on the back of a nickel. It took Thomas Jefferson 40 years to complete this home, as he made changes and additions to the original plan.
There was a very nice visitor's center on the grounds, with a film about Thomas Jefferson. There was also a museum with artifacts and exhibits. A shuttle bus took us to the top of the hill where the home is located.
We had a guided tour of the first floor only. No photos allowed inside. It was nice, but much smaller than we expected. Underneath the house and terraces are the kitchens, slave quarters, privy, storage rooms and stables. These areas are open to explore on your own.
It's actually the view of the back of the house that we see on the nickel.
There were also talks on slavery and a grounds tour but we just walked around on our own awhile, enjoying the lovely day (and I might have picked a seed pod off of a Balsam plant).
And here is Mr. Thomas Jefferson...as big as life! He was a bit stiff and formal...giving me the cold shoulder over that seed pod!
The next day we visited Historic Jamestowne, the actual site of the first permanent settlement in America.
There was a guided talk by an archaeologist who has been working at the site.
It was very interesting. He told about the settlers and their trouble with Indians, and food and fresh water; and also about Captain John Smith and Pocahontas.
Then he explained how, in just the last 20 years, they discovered the exact location of that first fort by comparing post molds with the descriptions in the settler's writings.
There was a visitors center and a museum with all the artifacts that have been found here...including the skull of a teenage girl, that has markings on it indicating that flesh had been cut away...pretty much verifying that the settlers practiced cannibalism (of the dead) during the "starving times".
I have no photos at all from Jamestowne...there was a statue and a monument, a church built later...nothing original remains from 400 yeas ago.
There are other historic places to visit in this part of Virginia...Williamsburg and Yorktowne, but we had absorbed about all the history we wanted for awhile so we drove a couple of hours to Virginia Beach.
It was off season of course, so we had no problem finding a hotel with a room overlooking the beach.
Nice beach with a path for walkers, skaters, bicyclers.
It's a very touristy area...the street is lined with hotels,shops and restaurants. Some were already closed for the season but we found a nice Italian restaurant and ate at a table outside.
It was great except for the music from the haunted house attraction next door. There must have been special events going on for Halloween...lots of young people were walking around wearing zombie make up.
We're glad we drove over to see Virginia Beach but it's not really the kind of place we would like...so we only stayed one night.