Getting there: Rt. 20 South to Rt. 53 East and follow signs (15 minute drive).
Home of James Monroe, president of the United States from 1817-25, who bought his "country cottage estate," as he called it, in 1793, mostly to be closer to his good friend, Thomas Jefferson, who lived 2.5 miles down the road.
Getting there: Follow the signs from almost anywhere in town to Rt. 53.
Thomas Jefferson's home. Your ticket gets you a half-hour guided tour of the house and self-guided tours of the gardens and slave quarters. Discounts for students and locals who bring a paying adult: Tickets and Tours.
Getting there: Half-mile before Monticello on Rt. 53.
One of the oldest homesteads in Virginia, built by John Michie circa 1784, offers tours. Lunch at "The Ordinary" is a fixed menu in the colonial style, and a convenient location near Monticello. General store and museum gift shop. If you don't want to pay for the tour, you can still check out the other period buildings on your way to Monticello.
Getting there: Rt. 20 North and follow signs (25 miles).
First settled in 1723, Montpelier is the 2,700-acre lifelong home of James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and primary author of the Constitution.