The Academical Village
of Thomas Jefferson
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
Rotunda/Grounds information: (804) 924-7969

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 flowers.

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 hours.

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.

Mary Wilson...

Click here for an interactive tour of the University of Virginia

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