History in the Waking, 4pm - pull around the cobblestone drive. Arrive at Keswick Hall and enjoy a cool glass of freshly squeezed lemonade. On the way to your Virginia Country room, learn from your knowledgeable porter about the history and amenities available on the 600 acres known as Keswick Hall, Club & Estate. From your lounge chair on the terrace, marvel at timeless mountain views.
Snockered or Snookered... it's all in the wrist, 5.30pm - the bar is bustling. Order a glass of Barboursville Chardonnay – or perhaps a Belted King Fisher cocktail – and melt into the excited chatter. Claim a small corner table in the Snooker Room, and quickly learn the history of the game of Snooker. Then find a partner, rack up and try your hand at a frame.
A nod from TJ himself, 7pm - follow along as the hostess escorts you down the arcade and recants the history of the Great Hall's 300-year-old European stone floors. As you're seated in Fossett's dining room, inquire (or offer) who is Fossett? Then find yourself face-to-face with the hardest decision you've made all day... do you choose a dish designed to honor Edith Fossett (highlighting the influence that African American culture had on Southern Cuisine), or, do you choose more modern fare (based on the trend of molecular gastronomy, combining science and gourmet)? Thomas Jefferson would surely give a nod to both!
Faded Glory, 9pm - contented, wander the now-familiar Hall and, nearing the original dwelling's Library of the late 1800s, let the rows of faded bindings draw you in. Encircled by timeless literature and aged parchment, slide your borrowings from the shelf and drop with them into an overstuffed sofa. Peel your eyes from the pages just long enough to ask the attentive bartender for your favorite better-to-read-by nightcap. Retire to your room to continue the borrowed treasures, or switch gears and peruse the complimentary Monticello Guide Book, provided as a souvenir of your stay.
Monticello... Right on Cue, 10am - taking your cue from the Guide Book, enjoy a leisurely drive to Monticello and, once at the ticket office, request the next available tour. Thanks to the attendant's expert scheduling, you will have ample time to hop the service bus on up to Jefferson's Estate, enjoying the driver's commentary along the way. Under the charge of your Monticello docent, learn the integral role TJ had in the founding of the University of Virginia, against the backdrop of his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. The tour concludes on the terrace, with a stunning distant view of the UVA Rotunda. Take the extra time to stroll through the grove, the gardens, the Sanctum and tree-lined Mulberry Row. And, be sure to peruse the new Gift Shop considering, perhaps, a framed 18th century Virginia map.
No Mickey D's Fries at Mickey T's, 12noon - after your morning of discovery, don't be surprised if that midday hunger is the kind that only a hearty, Southern-fare meal will satisfy. Just drive around the corner to Michie Tavern (pronounced Mickey), and discover why this historic tavern has been accommodating travelers with food, drink and lodging since 1784. The servers and shop keepers, in 18th century dress, will charm you with their languid hospitality, reminiscent of a simpler time.
Lifelong Friends… Bordeaux and Monroe, 2pm - to get a taste of the mammoth Virginia wine industry begun in the 18th century, make your way to one of the area's many fine examples - Jefferson Vineyards – conveniently located right down the road from Michie Tavern. As you no doubt will have discovered, Jefferson was known for his love of Bordeaux. In 1773, he and an Italian winemaker named Mazzei began to produce wine for the colonies. And, today, two hundred years later on a plot of 20 acres once overgrown with wildflowers, sits Jefferson Vineyards, producing award-winning wines and offering coveted tours and tastings.
Before calling it a day, consider using your President's Pass to visit Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of our fifth President, James Monroe. Monroe studied law under the tutelage of Governor Thomas Jefferson, and the two men formed a lifelong friendship. Monroe settled Highland, the Albemarle County plantation adjacent to Jefferson’s Monticello, and lived there with his family for 24 years. During your guided tour, learn how young Monroe met General George Washington. As you walk the grounds, gaze up at the magnificent, 20 ft. circumference White Oak tree, which still dominates the Boxwood Gardens since Monroe's day.
High Time for Tea, 4pm - return to Keswick Hall for High Tea served in the beautiful Villa Crawford, available from 3 to 5pm. Order the Royal Tea for an indulgent twist on traditional English Tea, starting with a delightful glass of bubbly - Barboursville Brut – and including a wide array of flavored teas. And did we mention a plethora of savories and delicacies? Don't miss the fresh lemon scone and smoked salmon tea sandwiches!
Remember to Breathe - with Colonel Mosby, 6pm - now that you're rejuvenated, drive five minutes down the road to the historical Clifton Inn for another exquisite dining experience. Located on 100 acres, originally owned by Jefferson's son and daughter, Peter and Mary Jefferson, the Clifton offers an intimate setting for the perfect romantic moment. Strike up a conversation with the personable staff to learn about the Inn's Civil War occupancy by the "Grey Ghost of the Confederacy", Colonel John Singleton Mosby. And after dinner, cozy up to the granite bar for a Breathe champagne cocktail.
Awake and take in this visit's final Blue Ridge sunrise, while reluctantly gathering your belongings.
Sticky Love Does It, 11am - call for a porter to take your luggage to the car, then stop by the Front Desk to check out and bid the remarkable staff adieu. Alas, give in to the aroma of Sticky Love Bacon, and decide to stay for Fossett's tantalizing Sunday Brunch, featuring a Make-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar.
What's in a Name, 12.30pm - with directions in hand, thanks to the Front Desk, depart for home by way of Barboursville Vineyards. The half-hour drive passes quickly as you wind through plush hills dotted with historical brick estates. Inspired now, try to think of the perfect name for your own home when you return. What will the neighbors think when you plant that name plate sign at the end of your drive? Would Jefferson have cared?
Eight-sided Inspiration, 1pm - at Barboursville, pass the ruins next to the 1804 Inn and think of what an extraordinary home it must have been. You'd be right, of course. One of several homes designed by Thomas Jefferson for friends, this one was designed for James Barbour. Barbour and his family occupied the glorious residence until 1884 when it was destroyed by an accidental fire, after which they moved back into the original Georgian Villa. Engage the vineyard staff to learn more about the fire and how Jefferson's signature octagonal design inspired the ultimate red wine.
Father Bowls Best, 2pm - continue up Route 20 to Montpelier, the 2,700 acre plantation and former home of James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of these United States. Montpelier, designed by Madison's good friend, Thomas Jefferson, was where Madison read, researched and scripted the Constitution. Ask your guide about the three phases of the mansion (which once housed a bowling alley), and landscape changes since the home’s beginnings in 1723.
A Bee-Line to the Skyline, 4pm - ask for directions to Skyline Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a leisurely trip home, (or a delightful detour), along the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.