My quest to visit Presidential and First Lady sites has been hampered by the travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, since I live in Central Virginia, an easy drive from many of these sites, I decided to check out a Presidential site in my own backyard, Tuckahoe Plantation.
Tuckahoe Plantation, located just a few miles west of Richmond, is the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson. His parents moved there when he was two years old to take care of the orphaned children of the Randolph family. It was at Tuckahoe that Jefferson received his first schooling and learned to read and write. The unique architecture of the buildings, including domed ceilings, may have influenced Jefferson’s later architectural work. Read more about the history of the plantation here.
While the home itself is only open on Sundays and special occasions (all currently canceled due to pandemic restrictions), the grounds are open daily from 9 am – 5 pm. An honor box is located at the entrance for the suggested fee so you can visit without interacting with anyone!
Before you go, be sure to download the UniGuide app tour of the grounds. Look for the headset with numbers signs along your walk to know which number corresponds with your location. The information the app gives is great!
After you park and put your admission fee in the honor box, walk along the road to the right to begin the tour. You’ll walk along Plantation Street, with the storehouse and smokehouse up first.
Next you will see several buildings that are the remaining original quarters for the enslaved population at Tuckahoe.
The original stable building is still open.
Don’t miss looking in the old kitchen house and visiting the lovely herb garden next door. I love how the app draws your attention to the right side of the fireplace, where years of scraping knives carved out the brick. Can you see it in this picture?
The path will take you to the south lawn, where you will see evidence of the family still living here. They were hanging their clothes on the line while we were visiting!
The south lawn is a nice place to have the kids run around. It does slope quite steeply to the river below so be sure to watch out!
You have a good view here of the back of the plantation house and its unique H shaped design.
As you continue on the path to the east side of the house, you will come to my favorite area. This glider is a fun place for kids to swing and adults to take a rest!
Just beyond the glider is one of the most historic places on the property – the schoolhouse where Thomas Jefferson learned to read and write. It is amazing to know that one of the founding fathers scampered up these stairs and learned his ABCs right here!
Before you leave, don’t miss the lovely gardens full of flowers and beautiful walks. Kids can skip on the trails and get some energy out.
The lawn in the garden would make a pretty place for a picnic!
Don’t forget to check out the family cemetery and hear the story about the lady in gray who roams the pathways at night!
The home is also open during its annual holiday open house! Photos provided by Libby McNamee.
If you’re looking for an easy and fun visit to a historic Presidential site, Tuckahoe Plantation is a great option. It’s a good place to be out in the fresh air and is perfect for this time of quarantine. Visit soon and ask your kids if they can imagine little Thomas Jefferson running and playing in their footsteps!
Helpful hints (be sure to verify current restrictions/closures due to the coronavirus pandemic):
- Self-guided grounds tour: $5/person; free/3 and under
- Guided house tours (when available): $10/person
- Recommended: all ages
- Tour time: 30-45 minutes
- No gift shop onsite
- Transportation: Tuckahoe is accessible by car only
- Dining options nearby: The closest restaurant is Portico, a great Italian restaurant. For picnic fare, check out ShoreDog.
- Nearby attractions include: see my Richmond guide for more info!
- Other Jefferson sites include Monticello (near Charlottesville, VA) and Poplar Forest (near Lynchburg, VA)
Books to Read:
See my booklist for Thomas Jefferson books on Bookshop.org, an Amazon alternative that supports independent bookstores. This link is an affiliate link where I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
One additional relevant book not listed in the booklist is: