Has it been awhile since you have "taken the time to smell the flowers"
and relax with your kids in a beautiful environment? You might consider
taking a trip to the central Grounds at the University of Virginia.
Check out the Pavilion Gardens in the spring as all the flowers begin
unfolding. Wander along the pathways, through the gates, along the serpentine
walls. If you havenít been there, you are certainly in for a treat if
you decide to go. Our recent spring visit caused us to linger for hours
feeling the magic of the hidden places, and delighting in the incredible
The University of Virginia campus has always been fun for us regardless
of the season. We are near enough to ride our bikes around the grounds
and it is always a treat to explore this beautiful place, which was originally
designed and built by Thomas Jefferson. The Chapel (not a Jefferson building)
has never been locked and is a fun place to begin. From there, the many
walkways lead to interesting adventures. There are ten gardens in all
(the west and the east). They are all different and delightful. Donít
feel like you need a bike. The walk isnít that bad especially when you
have the time to linger. You can always find a place for private solitude.
Sometimes you feel that you have really come home to The Secret Garden.
If you visit UVa, be sure to go into the Rotunda (entrance is in the back).
Free guided tours last about an hour and are full of interesting facts
and tidbits. Self-guided tours are easier on kids who might not be ready
or willing for that much listening. Additionally, self-guided tours let
you keep your own schedule. Make sure to see the Dome Room (it was the
original library for the University). The architecture and ambiance are
incredible. My ten-year-old recently asked if she could go to the Dome
Room to read and was told she would be welcome! Ask at the desk for the
map of the gardens, and if your Rotunda tour is self-guided, get the brochure
to help you find your way around.
The Rotunda is open to the public each day of the year, except for Thanksgiving
holidays and a winter break from mid-December to mid-January. You may
explore the building on your own or in the company of student guides,
who offer tours of the Rotunda and the Lawn every day at 10 a.m., 11 a.m.,
2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
The gardens are free and open for public enjoyment daily during daylight
Pavilion VIII on the East Lawn is open to the public on weekdays during
the academic year. The other pavilions are open to visitors one day each
year during Garden Week in April.
for an interactive tour of the University of Virginia
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