America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Interior of James Monroe home at Highland

James Monroe's Highland, Virginia

Outside Charlottesville, Virginia sits three President's homes of the early days of American democracy. The more famous, and expensive to visit, Monticello of Thomas Jefferson, Montpielier, the home of James Madison, who neither of the other men liked, and Highland, the home of President James Monroe and his family. And it's a wonderful place to visit, one which Thomas Jefferson, a friend, visited often. So why did Monticello become more famous over time. The original Highland home, thought to be the guest house until 2016, is no longer there. It was burned in a fire and its foundations just unearthed outside the front door and extending into the expansion of the guest house.

The whole plantation, owned by the College of William and Mary now, is wonderful to visit. A doscent takes you through the home, its additions, and adornments, telling the story of a President who knew Napolean, penned the Monroe Doctrine, and bought the Louisiana Purchase. There's a great Visitor Center and gift shop, too. The grounds themselves are immaculate and tell the story of its agricultural past and present. So by all means visit its two expensive cousins, but you just might enjoy Monroe's place of lesser grandeur, but very interesting stories, better.

Photo above: Interior room of what was the home of James Monroe, Highland. Courtesy

Sponsor this page for $100 per year. Your banner or text ad can fill the space above.
Click here to Sponsor the page and how to reserve your ad.

Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

President James Monroe

James Monroe's Highland, Virginia

Today, what you see is the historic setting of his plantation, yes, unfortunately, with slave labor, the visitor center. museum, and gift shop, plus his presidential guesthouse. Unfortunately the main 1799 house was gone by 1830, and most thought the guesthouse, built in 1818, with additions in the 1850's and 1870's was the main house. Surprise, an archaeological dig uncovered the main house outside the guesthouse addition door, and beneath it. There are historic buildings and gardens all around, the quarters for forty-nine slaves per 1810, an overseers house, witness tree, statues, and farm buildings.

Image above: James Monroe, 1817, Charles Bird King. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: The front door and entranceway to the 1870 era addition to the Presidential guesthouse, 2023. Courtesy America's Best History.

Paul Bunyan, Wisconsin Logging Museum

Where Is It

Highland, once known as Ashlawn-Highland, is located several miles from Monticello, at 2050 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville, Va, 22902. Your GPS should find it.

Minute Walk in History

Nestled in the Virginia countryside outside Charlottesville and near his friend's Monticello, sits a gem of a historic site that too many people miss. Walk around the site with us, sit back and enjoy a tour of the guest home, and out buildings. Yes, Monroe owned slaves. Monroe had lots of friends in high places; Thomas Jefferson who visited often, and even Napoleon Bonaparte, whose daughter went to school with Monroe's daughter.

What is There Now

James Monroe's Highland

A visitor center with museum and gift shop, the foundation remnants of the original 1799 home, as well as the Presidential guesthouse and other historic buildings. There are farm animals and planted fields and while there are no longer one thousand or three thousand acres associated with it, depending on the era, there is plenty of space, five hundred and eighty-five acres of them,. A statue of Monroe adorns the garden. Picnic tables are available in a nice shaded spot near the parking lot.

Michie Tavern

Get there early and be ready to eat. The smell emanating from the front door is an olefactory experience, so eat there. Individual diners and bus tours (coming to the other historic homes) are welcome.

When Open and How Much

Highland is open daily, except some holidays. The charge is $18 for adults and $13 for folks 7-12. There are discounts for buying early on their website. For Michie Tavern, their standard buffet is $24.95.

Fees and hours are subject to change.

James Monroe's Highland
Michie Tavern

History Nearby

Well, we talked about two; Monticello, just above the tavern, plus Montpelier, not too far away. You'll be close to the upcoming, 2024, Culpeper Battlefield State Park, and all the Civil War sites around Fredericksburg, plus the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Shenandoah National Park.

Photos, History, and More Spotlights

Ferry Farm

April Spotlight

Burgandine House, Virginia

LaPointe/Krebs House Museum, Old Spanish Fort

May Spotlight

Paul Bunyan Museum, Wisconsin

Oregon Caves National Monument

March Spotlight