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“Awesome experience”

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Forest
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Poplar Forest is Thomas Jefferson's personal retreat and plantation located in Forest, Virginia. It is one of only two homes that Mr. Jefferson designed and built for his own use.
Bedford, Virginia
Level Contributor
29 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Awesome experience”
Reviewed August 23, 2013

Our tour guy was excellent, the house was really cool and my boyfriend being a big history guy really enjoyed all this history we learned. Taking the personal gps tour of the grounds was awesome too. Everyone there was very willing to answer our questions and help us in any way. Pretty cool!

Visited August 2013
Thank tlr17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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257 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
65 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“A Big Historic Wow factor”
Reviewed August 23, 2013

Who knew that this even existed? When planning a trip to Appomattox Court House the map indicated Monticello was on the way from DC. We checked out the webpage and saw a reference to Poplar Forest, and that it's near Appomattox. Sold! We decided to hit all three on a quick overnight and it worked out well.

Poplar Forest was Thomas Jefferson's retreat, about 90 miles from Monticello - 3 days from carriage back in the day. The house burned and because of the initial building with very thick brick walls, the general structure was salvaged. It has a storied history and was privately owned (and occupied!) until the 1980's. The house was similar but yet very different from Monticello. The house and property are a work in progress, no furniture to speak of, which interestingly makes it very open - you can stand anywhere in almost any room. It helps give it a different feel from the "follow the leader and squeeze in this area" of other historic tours. Don't miss the "basement" and some interesting markers on the grounds, including the octagonal privey. Things to know:

1. If you hit Monticello first, you can pick up a coupon/ticket for 50% off Poplar Forest. The tickets were $14 per adult, but $7 since we went to Monticello and brought the coupon. A big savings!

2. There is a short movie before each guided tour. The guided tour was really well done. We happened to arrive ten minutes before a tour started but you might want to check their web or call. We got the impression that they don't get the crowds that Monticello does. Maybe this means the tour times are more limited?

3. There are chairs in the rooms if you have trouble standing for periods of time and that is good, but I did not see an elevator and the grounds are kind of hilly so suggest checking in advance if accessibility is an issue. I believe we saw signs saying they have wheelchairs you can borrow.

4. We spent about 1.5- 2 hours at Poplar Forest. We didn't read every placard in the historical exhibits but felt we had good exposure to the property in the time we were there.

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Allieooooops
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
54 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“A Must See for Jefferson fans”
Reviewed August 19, 2013 via mobile

I have wanted to go to Poplar Forest since I heard about Mr. Jefferson's other home. Fascinating to learn the history of this beautiful, octagonal private retreat and see see the painstaking restoration process for the house and grounds! It was and will again be a masterpiece.

Visited August 2013
Thank mrbhuis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
60 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Thomas Jefferson's private retreat-not to be missed!”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

While Poplar Forest isn't as grand or as beautifully set as Monticello, if you are a Jefferson fan then this should be on your bucket list. Located approximately 1 1/2 hours drive from Charlottesville ( it took Jefferson 2 days to travel here by horse!) this was his get-away from his hectic life and the lack of privacy at Monticello. Poplar Forest is on the small side with just a few bed chambers (Jefferson's had a private sitting area where he would hermit), dining area and a common space similar to a family room with a veranda off the back. The home is a work in progress and restoration is ongoing so you have to use your imagination, don't expect it to look like Monticello. The setting was a bit of a surprise, chunks of the property have been sold off over the years so modern homes are quite close and there's a golf course just off the driveway. The outside grounds a nice, no views or fancy gardens but there are several large poplar trees in front that have been there since Jefferson was is residence. This national treasure was only saved from developers in 1983 by a wonderful group of locals who formed a non profit group and raised the funds needed to purchase it. Please support the continuing efforts towards full restoration so Poplar Forest can be enjoyed by future generations.

Visited August 2013
Thank pugnut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Birmingham, Alabama
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Not as well known as Monticello but A Must See”
Reviewed August 17, 2013

Poplar Forest is not as well known as Monticello but should not be missed. The staff were very friendly and very informative. There were not that many visitors here so the tour of the house was not rushed and the guide was able to take the time to answer all your questions. If you plan on visiting Monticello then take the time to visit Poplar Forest you will not be disappointed!

Visited August 2013
Thank Shelby30375
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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