Kevin Thomas/Flickr

Key Info

2050 James Monroe Parkway


Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 4.5Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 3.5Atmosphere

Did you know that James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson were neighbors? It's true – and while many travelers delight in learning about Jefferson and his life at Monticello, few realize that 3 miles south is Highland, the home of our fifth president. The original residence was built in 1793, but was destroyed in a fire in the mid-1800s. Though the structure visitors see today is not the original, it still manages to offer a glimpse into the life of Monroe, his family and the enslaved people that resided on his property and maintained the plantation's crops.

Historians say that Monroe enslaved as many as 250 people in his lifetime, despite supporting abolition. During the property's guided tour, you'll learn about some of the individuals forced to work at Highland. The slave quarters on display today are reproductions of the originals, which remained on the site until the 1920s. Travelers can see the recreated quarters and view demonstrations of chores that were part of the daily lives of enslaved people at Highland. As part of an initiative by William & Mary – Monroe's alma mater and the institution charged with maintaining the property – the biographies of the men, women and children enslaved at Highland will soon be presented, along with oral histories of the descendants.

Recent travelers assure you that both houses are worth your notice; Monticello for its grandeur and Highland for its quaintness. Another bonus: this little-heard-of farmhouse rarely contains the stifling crowds of Jefferson's home and features some of the Monroe family's original furnishings. Plus, the admission fee is considerably more reasonable. Though its size makes it more manageable to tour, Highland doesn't offer as much to see as Monticello, according to recent visitors. Travelers said the quality of your experience depends on your guide. Luckily, according to reviewers, many of the guides are incredibly knowledgeable.

Monroe's abode is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to October. From November to March, Highland is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided house tours, which last 35 minutes, are included in the entrance fee. Admission costs $19 for adults and $13 for youths ages 6 to 11; children 5 and younger can visit for free. For more information, visit the home's official website

See all Hotels in Charlottesville »

More Best Things To Do in Charlottesville

1 of 11
2 of 11
Time to Spend
#1 Downtown Mall

Charlottesville's popular shops, restaurants and ambiance converge in one main area, known as the historic Downtown Mall. Located, as you would imagine, on Main Street, this thoroughfare is home to more than 120 shops, 30 restaurants (many with outdoor seating), art galleries, multiple performance venues and a Saturday farmers market. Stretching for eight blocks, this pedestrian-only area is popular with both visitors and locals, who say it's the perfect spot to shop, eat or simply people-watch.

In the spring, summer and fall, the mall's Sprint Pavilion hosts musical acts like Modest Mouse, Wiz Khalifa and Alabama Shakes. You can also catch free concerts at the pavilion every Friday from mid-April to mid-September as part of its Fridays After Five concert series. The mall's historical Paramount Theater is a great space to catch fine art performances from ballets to operas to musicals to films.

Read more
Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
See full list of Best Things To Do in Charlottesville »

Explore More of Charlottesville

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.