Discover How Affordable Charlottesville Can Be

Posted August 18, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Charlottesville Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville, Virginia, offers natural beauty in a small town atmosphere. Come discover an area rich in history and culture by taking a tour of Thomas Jefferson's former home, staying in a masterfully crafted inn, and snacking on to-die-for donuts made the old-fashioned way.

Monticello: Step inside the house depicted on the nickel to learn all about Thomas Jefferson. Completed in 1809, Monticello and its grounds have been restored to what the President would have called home during his retirement. You can see the gadgets, furnishings, and objects that made Jefferson such a unique man. Admission costs $15 or $20 (depending on season), and includes a tour of the house, grounds and gardens, and the 5,000 acres of plantation. Save money with a Presidents' Pass, where you can also tour the Ash Lawn-Highland (home of James Monroe) and Michie Tavern, as well as Monticello, for only $29 or $34.

The Dinsmore House Inn: The Dinsmore House Inn stands as a testament to the fine craftsmanship of Thomas Jefferson's master builder, James Dinsmore. Built in 1817, the property still maintains Dinsmore's architectural design. Choose from the inn's eight guest rooms, and enjoy extras such as complimentary drinks and snacks, an evening wine and cheese social hour, and an indoor pool. Rooms start at $109 per night, and include a full breakfast. You can also save a little by choosing from one of the inn's many package options.

The Spudnut Shop: Though not connected to Thomas Jefferson, the Spudnut Shop is a Charlottesville institution. With only a handful of places in the country still producing these potato-flour donuts, the cafe is living proof that some traditions are just too sweet to ever go away. The shop makes a variety of homemade spudnuts each day, including the plain glazed, which is an all-time favorite.

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(Photo: Klaas Lingbeek-van Kranen/IStockphoto)

Exploring Virginia's Presidential Stomping Grounds

Posted October 26, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Va-montpeliar-def Election fever is upon us (even though this year's election season isn't quite as exciting as last year's), and we couldn't help but follow the campaign trail to some of central Virginia's best spots with historic head-of-state ties. Drive two hours south of D.C. near Orange, Virginia, to James Madison's newly transformed Montpelier estate, a country inn built by Thomas Jefferson's kin, and vineyards with a storied presidential past.

Montpelier: In September the historic home and estate of James and Dolley Madison reopened after a five-year renovation, bringing it back to its original appearance. Take a tour and find out what new insights the archaeologists and architects uncovered about the lives of the Father of the Constitution and one of the nation's first First Ladies. You could easily spend an afternoon wandering the mansion, gardens, historic buildings, old-growth forests, new visitor's center, cemetery, and freedman's cabin and farm. Admission is $14.

The Inn on Poplar Hill: Get swept away to another political era in this restored 1890s Queen Anne Victorian B&B built by Thomas Jefferson's great-granddaughter. Period antiques, handcrafted quilts, and claw-foot tubs grace the six charming rooms starting at $139 per night. Here you can awake to the aroma of a huge Southern breakfast with pumpkin pecan waffles, soak in the outdoor hot tub, or hike trails on the inn's 28-acre expanse in the heart of wine country.

Barboursville Vineyards: Even Virginia's wine country has presidential connections. On the grounds of Barboursville Vineyards are the ruins of early Virginia governor James Barbour's mansion, the last house Thomas Jefferson designed. The surviving columns and brick walls are a backdrop for Shakespeare theater in summer. Tours and tastings at the award-winning winery, in a Northern Italian-style farmhouse, are free on weekends. It's one stop on the 21-winery Monticello Wine Trail, which also includes the vineyard where Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to grow wine grapes.

To search for flights and compare prices to Charlottesville, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Kenneth M. Wyner/The Montpelier Foundation)

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