What you should know before you visit James Madison's Montpelier
Guidelines and Tips
Spending time at Montpelier involves a fair amount of walking and standing. To ensure the best experience for every guest, we ask that you observe the following:
Smoking is allowed in designated areas only, situated outside the Visitor Center and and in the back lawn of the mansion.
Photography and video is permitted on the grounds of Montpelier, but not inside the mansion. Photos and video are only allowed for your personal use. Requests for commercial use should be forwarded to our Communications Department using this form.
Food, drink, and chewing gum are prohibited in the mansion.
Eating, drinking, and flash photography are prohibited in the galleries.
Cell phones must be on silent or vibrate mode while inside the mansion.
Parents with active or restless young children may make use of the Children’s Getaway in the mansion cellar. Toys, games, and a rocking chair for nursing mothers are provided. There are also high chairs in the Courtyard Cafe.
Service animals are permitted throughout the property. Leashed dogs that are not service animals are welcome on the grounds, but are not permitted indoors. Pet owners are asked to curb their dogs.
Is there food at Montpelier?
Yes. Montpelier is also home to the Exchange Cafe, located inside the David Rubenstein Visitor's Center.
Visit montpelier.com/jobs to keep up to date on the current job openings at James Madison's Montpelier.
Can I visit and not take a tour?
Absolutely. Explore the over 9 miles of trails that traverse the Montpelier property, go for a run, or enjoy the scenery. You'd be remiss, however, not to take one of our tours, led by interpreters knowledgable about all things James Madison.
What are the colors of the paints used at Montpelier?
Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #OC-11 “Clay Beige”
Yellow Exterior Doors:
Best Commercial Match: Sherwin-Williams #SW2343 “Grillework Gold”
Brown Exterior Doors:
Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-73 “Plymouth Brown”
Best Commercial Match: Pratt and Lambert Williamsburg Color Collection CW 423 “Buffet Green”
Best Commercial Match: Pratt and Lambert Williamsburg Color Collection #704
Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-167 “Amherst gray”
Interior Doors: Yellow Ocher
Benjamin Moore #2165-30 “Golden Retriever”
Wall Color in North Passage (Upper and Lower) and Large Bedroom:
Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore # 2161-40 “acorn yellow” (Flat)
Nelly’s Best Room Closet:
Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-151 “Buckland Blue”
What is a behind the scenes tour?
Behind the Scenes tours occur at off peak visitation times, often before or after the regular tour schedule. These tours are much smaller than a standard tour, often 10 people or less, and allow for more customization based on visitor interest.
What are your hours?
Montpelier is open every day of the year with the exception of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Business hours are 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM and tour schedules vary seasonally.
The grounds are open and free every day (except Christmas and Thanksgiving Day)
How can I find out more about other branches of the Madison family?
The National Society of James Madison Descendants maintains the official website for the living collateral descendants of James Madison, with genealogical information and useful links (http://www.jamesmadisonfamily.com).
Can I go inside the Mansion without being on a tour?
Entry into the Mansion is only permitted as a part of one of the daily guided tours. However, the grounds may be explored at your leisure on a self-guided basis.
Do all tours go inside the Mansion?
All tours go inside the Mansion with the exception of the Enslaved Community Tour, the Archaeology Tour, and seasonal or quarterly walking tours.
What ticket discounts are available?
Tour discounts are available with a Montpelier Membership and/or a membership with the National Trust. Additional discounts are available for seniors (62+) and active or retired military.
How long are most tours?
Allow at least 2–3 hours for the full Montpelier experience.
Introductory film in the Potter Theatre: 15 minutes
Signature Tour or Specialty Tour: 60 minutes
Self-guided second floor exhibits: 20 minutes
Outdoor exhibits and gardens: 60 minutes
James Madison Trails (6+ miles): 60+ minutes
Explore all of our tour options to choose the one that interests you.
Can you suggest some good books about the Madisons and Montpelier?
There are many excellent books available at the Montpelier Visitor Center, including The Madisons at Montpelier: Reflections on the Founding Couple by Ralph Ketcham; James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney; and A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation by Catherine Allgor.
What is the photo and video policy at Montpelier?
If you would like to use the grounds of James Madison's Montpelier for photos or videos, please fill out the request form.
Is Montpelier handicapped accessible?
James Madison's Montpelier strives to provide the best possible accessibility to the Mansion, grounds, and facilities to meet our visitors’ diverse abilities and needs. However, spending time at Montpelier does involve a fair amount of standing and walking, including a 2/3–mile round-trip walk with an incline from the Visitor Center to the Mansion.
There are eight handicapped parking spaces available at the Visitor Center.
Accessible restrooms, each with a water fountain nearby, are located in the Visitor Center. There are no restrooms in the mansion.
Visitors with limited mobility are advised to build extra time into their schedule.
All paths in visitor core areas, plus the archaeology lab, hands-on tent, and cooking demo, are wheelchair accessible. The mansion is three stories, including the cellars. The first floor and cellar of the mansion are wheelchair accessible; All second floor exhibits are available in the form of booklets and individual DVD players.
If you need assistance with mobility, we recommend that you bring your own wheelchair. Three standard wheelchairs are available at the Visitor Center at no extra charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Three motorized scooters are available at the Visitor Center for a fee of $10 each. The motorized scooters have a 250 lb. capacity.
The introductory film at the Visitor Center, Constitution presentation in the Mansion, and War of 1812 film are closed-captioned. Printed Audioguide scripts and house tour scripts are also available for the deaf and hearing-impaired.
Blind and partially sighted visitors can experience their tour with the added touch of objects and more in-depth visual descriptions. Certified service dogs are allowed in the house only when utilized for assisted care.