Just a little more than 90 miles south of Washington DC, you will find Madison’s Montpelier nestled in the Shenandoah Valley over looking the beautiful Blueridge mountains. Whether you’re considering visiting this historical location for a family vacation or even as a educational excursion, this is the perfect place for history lovers of all ages. My hope is that this guide will help your family plan the perfect trip to this stunning estate that was home to the forth US President James Madison, “The Father of the Constitution.”
ACTIVITIES AND THINGS TO DO WITH LITTLES
Be sure to arrive about one hour before your scheduled tour. The first thing you will do upon arriving is make your way to the main visitors center to check-in. There are a variety of ticketing packages to choose from. Visitors can purchase a lower priced pass to tour the outdoor exhibits. However, you will miss out on seeing Madison’s mansion if you don’t take the tour. Once you have checked in; I recommend starting off by watching the educational video in the theater which runs every half hour.
Next, you will more than likely embark on your one hour tour. During the tour, guests walk from the visitors center to the mansion and learn the story of the Madison’s, the forming of the U.S. Constitution, and slavery. Your guide will point out land marks, monuments and suggested exhibits to return to after your guided tour. Once your group reaches the porch to the mansion; be sure to stop and take in the spectacular view of the Blueridge mountains and take a few photos.
Upon stepping indoors, it’s like stepping back in time. The home is restored to look as it did in the 1800’s. The tour focused on the drawing room, dining room and library. All of which has furnishings, artwork and items that are true to the homes history. My boys enjoyed the inventions on display; while I was enamored by the fine china setting in the dining room.
After the guided tour, you are free to roam and see the rest of the grounds at your own leisure. For those with little ones you will definitely want to check out the The Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit; which documents the stories of the enslaved people who lived on the plantation. There are some interactive child friendly displays; as well as videos that help address the importance of freedom and diversity. It’s a enriching and thought provoking exhibit.
Other recommendations include taking a stroll through the lovely English garden; as well as taking a walk along the forest trail. If it is a lovely day you might also fancy visiting Madison’s temple, slave cemetery and archeological lab.
TIPS & TRICKS TO MAKE YOUR TRIP STRESS FREE
- Be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time online to save time and a few extra dollars.
- This site has a lot of walking involved so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and attire.
- The site is handicap and stroller accessible. So if your little one does better in a stroller than bring it along. The only area you can’t bring the stroller into is the mansion. Just park it and baby wear for that portion of your tour.
- Nearly half of the exhibits are outdoors, so be sure to go on a day when the weather is favorable or be sure to come prepared with umbrella and jacket.
- There is very limited food available on site. There is a small shop with beverages and snack so for sale. However, nothing that would complete a full meal. Instead, I suggest exploring the town of Gordonsville for something scrumptious. We enjoyed the Barbeque Exchange which has great BBQ options and the Champion Ice House had outdoor seating with fun yard games like bouche ball and corn hole for the kids to play with while waiting for food.
- While in this area be sure to also visit Luray Caverns or even Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
JAMES MADISON MONTPELIER INFORMATION
Address: 11350 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA 22957
- Property Pass: $12 per Adult (13+), $7 per Child (6-12), Children under 6 are free. Explore Montpelier’s gardens, grounds, and trails on your own. *House access is not included.
- Montpelier Tour Pass– $35per Adult (13+), $15 per Child (6-12), Children under 6 are free. Discover the rich history of the plantation and historic house on this guided tour. Property pass included in ticket price. Masks required inside the house during guided tour.
Hours: Thursday-Monday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
***The Playful Parent does not receive payment for featuring attractions. All opinions are my own; I like to share experiences and information so that parents have resources on fun family outings. Discounted or complimentary tickets are an advantage but not a requirement. The Playful Parent is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates learning through play and promotes family bonding, all information and photographs are intellectual property of TPP. I hope that these tips help with your planning so that you have a great time during your next trip to Montpelier! Thank you for reading…Play, Learn, Grow!***