Road Scholar : Home
Virginia, Mother of Presidents: Seven Historic Sites

Program Number: 19969RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/21/2013 - 4/26/2013; 5/8/2016 - 5/13/2016; 5/30/2016 - 6/4/2016; 9/11/2016 - 9/16/2016; 10/2/2016 - 10/7/2016; 10/23/2016 - 10/28/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Price starting at: $897.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Vegetarian    

Truly the “Mother of Presidents,” the state of Virginia is the birthplace of eight of the country’s chief executives. Seven of these Old Dominion natives were among the first twelve holders of the nation’s highest office. Explore with experts how the homes of these men reflect their personalities and the social norms of each man’s own era.


• Visit the homes of seven former United States Presidents, including Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon, Jefferson’s masterpiece at Monticello, the restored Montpelier of Madison and Tyler’s Sherwood Forest, the longest frame house in America.
• Experience the beauty of the Virginia countryside from the mountains to the Tidewater region, and enjoy lunch at historic Michie Tavern.
• Meet one of the Founding Fathers in a lively interaction where you can ask questions and gain insights from a convincing historical interpreter.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day over uneven terrain.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.


A modern-day college town with a historic legacy, Charlottesville claims President Thomas Jefferson among its famous native sons. Monticello, Jefferson’s unique home, is one of many historic buildings in and around this vibrant community.

Charming Charlottesville inn amid the Blue Ridge foothills.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Elizabeth Taylor

During her 22-year career in museum education and historical research, Beth Taylor served as the director of interpretation at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and director of education at James Madison's Montpelier. She is now a Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Beth's first book, "A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons," was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Award nominee. Beth holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.
Jim Wootton

Jim Wootton served as curator and assistant director of Ash Lawn-Highland, home of President James Monroe, where he collaborated with the museum staff in research, planning, and interpretation for more than 20 years. In 2000, Jim became executive director of the Capitol Square Preservation Council, which reviews projects that affect the State Capitol and the historic buildings and landscape of Capitol Square. Jim has appeared in films and documentaries and authored numerous articles and publications, including a biography of Elizabeth Kortright Monroe. Now retired, he has lectured with Road Scholar for over 10 years.
Meals and Lodgings
   English Inn
  Charlottesville 5 nights
 English Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in the beautiful and historic Piedmont region of Virginia at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville offers a variety of activities and attractions, all located conveniently near the English Inn. In addition to the sites included in the program, there are additional historical homes, museums, and venues within easy driving distance. Browse through the shops in historic downtown, tour the local vineyards, or take a short trip to the Skyline Drive, famous for its fall splendor and breathtaking vistas.
  Contact info: 2000 Morton Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903 USA
phone: 800-786-5400
  Room amenities: Rooms appointed with two queen beds or king, dresser and a wide desk. In-room coffee-maker, refrigerator, iron, ironing board, hair dryer, alarm clock, air conditioning. Cable TV with HBO, Telephone with voice mail and computer data port (Internet high speed access).
  Facility amenities: Relax amid the warmth and charm of traditional British decor. Enjoy a bountiful, buffet breakfast every morning and tea and cookies in the afternoon. Indoor pool, sauna and workout room, adjacent to Rivanna Greenbelt Trail. The hotel offers a complimentary airport shuttle from 7:00am-8:00pm, but reservations are needed. Conveniently located only one mile from UVA campus. Enjoy the area fitness center, ACAC, free with your room key. Elevators are available to upper floors. Daily newspaper provided. Guest Business Office open 24 hours with fax machine available. Safe deposit boxes available.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $75 plus tax, limited rooms. The English Inn can usually provide lodging before or after your program at the discounted Road Scholar rate. This rate is not always available, especially on football weekends in the fall.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $75 plus tax, limited rooms. The English Inn can usually provide lodging before or after your program at the discounted Road Scholar rate. This rate is not always available, especially on football weekends in the fall.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4:00PM Program Registration & Check-In; 5:15 Program begins You will be staying at English Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Noon, Friday with box lunch available for trip home You will be staying at English Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking provided by the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Charlottesville
  Nearest highway: I-64
  Nearest airport:  Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport; next closest is Richmond Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Charlottesville
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Charlottesville Albemarle Airport - CHO


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
The English Inn
phone: 434-971-9900
Advanced Reservations Required




6.15 Miles


The English Inn offers a courtesy shuttle to and from the harlottesville-Albemarle Airport 8 AM to 8 PM.

Driving Directions
  From Richmond on I-64 West Take I-64 West towards Charlottesville, Virginia. Exit on the first Charlottesville exit, Exit 124 Charlottesville/Shadwell/250. Turn right off the exit ramp onto Route 250. Continue on Route 250 for 4.6 miles. Take a left off of the 250 Bypass onto Emmet Street. Cross over two lanes of traffic and take the first left. The English Inn is on Morton Drive, behind Bodo's Bagels.
  From Roanoke/ West of Roanoke/ 81 North or South From Route 81 take 64 East to Exit 118B. Stay on the 250 Bypass and follow the signs (about four miles). Take a right onto the Emmet Street off ramp. Take a left at the first light onto Morton Drive.
  From Washington DC or Northern Virgina Take 66 West to Gainesville. Exit onto Route 29. Continue approxroximately 70 miles into Charlottesville. Once you come under the Route 250 overpass, we are immediately on the left behind Bodo's Bagels.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration, Introductions, Orientation
(Sunday, April 21)
 Afternoon: Arrival and Registration Welcome, Road Scholar Introductions, Orientation
 Dinner: Dinner is served in the spacious Windsor Room, presented by Simply Delicious Catering, featuring the freshest ingredients available. The remaining dinners for the week will be served in this same venue.
 Evening: Class: "The Eight Virginia Presidents and Their Homes" Just as the titles in a bookcase reveal much about their owner's interests, the Virginia Presidential homes---their settings, their varying architectural designs, and the collections they contain---speak volumes about the Old Dominion's eight national chief executives. Learn about such fascinating tidbits as these: what Mount Vernon tells us of George Washington's business acumen; why James Monroe's Ashlawn-Highland stands within sight of Monticello; why Madison's Montpelier has two front entrances; and why John Tyler's Sherwood Forest was so named. This discussion will introduce you to all of the houses you will be visiting and provide some insights into their owners.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Mount Vernon Day
(Monday, April 22)

Note: As with all of the field trips this week, a great deal of walking is involved into today's visit. There is a fair distance between the Visitor Center and mansion on uneven, hilly paths. Also in the mansion, only the first floor is accessible to a wheel chair. Those finding the visit to the mansion to strenuous can enjoy the extensive exhibits in the Reynolds Museum and Education Center.

 Breakfast: Start you day with a generous buffet breakfast provided by the English Inn in the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Travel to Mount Vernon Travel Time Film: "The Rise of George Washington" Follow Washington as he matures from volatile young man to Father of His Country. Trace his military career through two wars, then follow him home to his beloved Mount Vernon. Consider the many enterprises in which Washington engaged, including the crops he grew, the livestock he raised, the grain that was milled and the whiskey that was distilled, and even the very profitable fishery he ran. Learn what this riverside enterprise tells us about the determined Virginian who became, "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Field Trip: "Reynolds Museum an Education Center" Explore this new Museum that contains 25 theaters and galleries. View more than 500 original artifacts that detail the storied life of our nation's first great hero. The Museum includes interactive displays, a major movie, short films produced by The History Channel, and high-tech, immersive experiences. View three life-size models created by a forensic anthropologist that will let you see Washington from his teen year to his maturity.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Mount Vernon Food Court. Enjoy a box lunch of sandwich, drink and chips at your leisure.
 Afternoon: Field Trip: "Mount Vernon Mansion and Grounds" With a knowledgeable guide, explore the mansion itself with its magnificent views of the Potomac River. Here you will develop an understanding of the family's wealth and status as evidenced in the decoration and furnishings and view numerous original possessions. Then enjoy a leisurely independent walk through the grounds of Washington's beloved estate which features four different gardens, the tombs of George and Martha, and a working four-acre farm that includes a recreation of the President's famous 16-sides barn.
 Dinner: Dinner is again served by Simply Delicious in the Windsor Room.
 Evening: FREE EVENING It's been a long day!
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Albemarle County Day: Monticello and Ashlawn-Highland
(Tuesday, April 23)

Note: The field trips again include extensive walking on uneven paths, limited access to some areas of the houses, and at Monticello, a shuttle ride from the Visitor Center to the mansion. The exhibits in the Visitor Center at Monticello provide an alternative for the less mobile.

 Breakfast: Breakfast will again be buffet style in the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Class: "Jefferson and Monroe: Country Neighbors" Explore the lives and philosophies of these two neighbors of rural Albemarle County. Consider the world of the landed gentry and how it contrasted with that of the small farmers, women, and the slaves who made the lifestyle possible. Learn something of the mindset that this way of life gave to both men and how it affected their politics and careers. Field Trip: "Monticello, Home of Thomas Jefferson" The excursion includes a guided walk through the magnificent mansion where you will glimpse the genius of Jefferson in the architecture he employed, a wonderful homage to Roman antiquity. No less delightful are the many innovative gadgets that he devised and that now fill the main floor, carefully preserved and presented for the latter day visitor. Step back in time to the President's retirement years not only in the house visit but also in walks through the extensive ornamental and kitchen gardens and the Jefferson family cemetery.
 Lunch: Historic Michie Tavern was established in 1784 by Scotsman William Michie and served as a social center of the community. Diners today journey back to the eighteenth century while enjoying a traditional Bill of Fare. Expect good Southern cooking! (Speak like a local---Michie rhymes with sticky.)
 Afternoon: Field Trip: "Ashlawn-Highland, Home of James Monroe" This small, homey dwelling is an interesting contrast to the stately mansions of Monroe's friends and neighbors. Discover how the house has evolved through the centuries with different owners. Imagine participating in the Monroe tradition of welcoming friends, neighbors, and dignitaries. Stroll the grounds to see the gardens and ash tree-lined entrance while taking in the spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.
 Dinner: Dinner is again served by Simply Delicious in the Windsor Room.
 Evening: Performance: "A Visit with Colonel Monroe" Having now visited his home, what could be a better way to end the day than with a conversation with one of the Founding Fathers that you have been learning about? A very convincing historical interpreter gives you a first person perspective on James Monroe and his celebrated friends of the Virginia Piedmont.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Orange County Day: Montpelier and Montebello
(Wednesday, April 24)

Note: The distance between the Visitor Center and the mansion is hilly and long. Only the first floor of the mansion is accessible to those with limited mobility. The Education Center has wonderful exhibits for those looking for something less strenuous.

 Breakfast: Breakfast will again be buffet style in the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Class: "Madison, Montpelier, and the Constitution" Engage in an in-depth study of the "Father of the Constitution", his co-authorship of the Federalist Papers, and his career of public service. Connect the President to his magnificent home as it grew and changed with the needs of his family. Learn the details of the life enjoyed by him and his delightful wife Dolley, heroine of the burning of the White House during the War of 1812. Field Trip: "Montpelier, Home of James Madison" Enjoy a guided walk through the beautifully restored mansion, which has just undergone a major refurbishing to return it to its appearance at the time it was occupied by James and Dolley Madison. The estate, which Madison described as "a squirrel's jump from heaven", features historic buildings, ongoing archaeological sites, a fabulous walled garden, and a freedman's cabin and farm. The visit will include time to explore the Education and Visitor Centers as well. During the ride to or from Montpelier, stop by the site of Montebello, birthplace of President Zachary Taylor, thereby experiencing all eight home sites of Virginia Presidents!
 Lunch: Eat a delicious box lunch, including sandwich, water, fruit, chips, and cookie, in the Visitor Center’s Courtyard Café adjacent to the DuPont Gallery.
 Afternoon: FREE AFTERNOON Use this time to explore the Charlottesville area on your own. Information will be provided on some of the sites such as the Grounds of the University of Virginia or the Downtown Pedestrian Mall.
 Dinner: Dinner is again served by Simply Delicious in the Windsor Room.
 Evening: Class: "Two Mighty Minds: The Friendship between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson" If Jefferson was the great mind of the Revolution, Madison was the architect of the young Republic. Follow the friendship of these two remarkable statesmen, tracing their influence on each other as well as their divergent thinking. Learn not only about their political connections, but also those of philosophy and culture.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: James River Plantations: Berkeley and Sherwood Forest
(Thursday, April 25)

Note: We have another long bus ride today, but it will again include a rest stop. The two houses visited are on much flatter ground, though the paths are uneven. Those with limited mobility may not be able to get into the house at Berkeley, which is accessible only by a half story of steps. The extensive grounds are a beautiful alternative.

 Breakfast: Breakfast will again be buffet style in the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Travel to Berkeley Plantation Travel Time Film: "The Presidents" This segment will explore the Antebellum Presidents with focus on the lives of the two Virginia Whigs, Indian fighter William Henry Harrison and running mate John Tyler, who utilized the nation's first campaign song in their quest for the White House. Consider what today seems to us almost impossible: the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of 1840 being from the same state. Learn about the lives of these Virginia patricians who were actually Charles City County neighbors. Field Trip: "Berkeley Plantation, Home of William Henry Harrison" Visit the home of William Henry Harrison, America's shortest serving president, and ancestral home of his grandson, President Benjamin Harrison. Stroll through the gorgeous tree-lined lawn and the ten acres of formal gardens before participating in a guided walk through Virginia's oldest three story brick home that can prove its date. Berkeley was also the site of America's first Thanksgiving in 1619 and is the place where "Taps" was composed while the Union Army camped on its grounds during the Civil War.
 Lunch: Cross the Benjamin Harrison Bridge for a delightful riverside lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Field Trip: "Sherwood Forest, Home of John Tyler" Explore the beautifully wooded landscape and 12 dependencies of this plantation that reflects the gracious lifestyle of a mid-19th century presidential family. Sherwood Forest, named by Tyler in recognition of his outlaw status as a politician, boasts the longest frame house in America---over 300 feet. Incredibly, it is currently occupied by Tyler's grandson, Harrison Tyler, and his family.
 Dinner: Dinner is again served by Simply Delicious in the Windsor Room.
Accommodations: English Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Woodrow Wilson Birthplace
(Friday, April 26)

Note: The area where the Birthplace is located is on one level, but features uneven brick sidewalks . During the extensive walk benches are available except in the historic Manse. The Museum galleries are easily accessible on the first floor. The World War I trench exhibit on the ground floor is not accessible, but visitors may watch a movie tour. The Manse is accessible on both floors but motorized scooters are not permitted. A wheelchair is available for those unable to walk around.

 Breakfast: Breakfast will again be buffet style in the Windsor Room.
 Morning: Travel to Staunton Travel Time Film: "Woodrow Wilson: The Schoolmaster in the White House" Learn about the impressive academic career of Virginia's only 20th century President who was educated at Princeton, the University of Virginia, and Johns Hopkins. Discover his life as a prolific professor, writing treatises on government, politics, and Constitutional law. Follow his advancement from President of Princeton to Governor of New Jersey, and finally to the Presidency. Learn how this Southern intellectual Democrat brought his brand of progressivism to the nation and his ideals of international cooperation to the world. Field Trip: "Woodrow Wilson Museum and Birthplace" First explore the museum located in a château-style mansion and featuring galleries dedicated to President Wilson's life. Then enjoy a guided walk through the house with its period furnishings and Wilson family belongings. Finish with a stroll through the charming boxwood garden, a restoration project of the Garden Club of Virginia.
 Lunch: Box lunch of sandwich, drink, pasta salad and cookie waiting for trip home upon return to hotel at approximately noon.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Free Time Opportunities
  Charlottesville Historic Charlottesville
During your free time, you may wish to explore further the University of Virginia, tour an area vineyard, drive the picturesque Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway, or explore Charlottesville' s restored downtown pedestrian center. Within reasonable driving distance you will also find the Walton's Mountain Museum, the P. Buckley Moss Museum, and the Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum. Your free time will be fairly limited, so consider extending your stay to enjoy all the Charlottesville area has to offer. Most of the historical sites have seasonal special events on the weekends that you may want to investigate by going to their individual websites. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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