As the home to Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia offers a unique blend of history and a modern and vibrant college town. Visitors come to Charlottesville to relax and explore this city’s Downtown Mall, wineries, and surrounding mountains. Check out the following tips to help plan your next visit to Charlottesville.
Things to Visit
• Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: This designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the famed founding father, Thomas Jefferson, is a must see destination. Not only is this an architectural wonder, but visitors may also visit the surrounding grounds and gardens. Look for special events in the summer including workshops and lectures, wine tours, and evening visits.
• Historic Downtown Mall: The center of Charlottesville, this pedestrian walking street is home to over a hundred shops, restaurants, theaters, and cafes. Eat lunch at one of the many outdoor patios and take an afternoon stroll to window shop and relax.
• Museums: Charlottesville offers a variety of museums that will appeal to visitors of all ages. The Virginia Discovery Museum on the Downtown Mall offers unique opportunities for young children to explore and use their imaginations. The University of Virginia Art Museum offers a variety of different exhibits ranging from Native American artifacts, European paintings, and Chinese porcelain.
Things to Do
• Hiking: Charlottesville is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors have ample opportunities to explore the beauty of the surrounding area. The most popular hiking destinations include Humpback Rocks over the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will reward hikers with great views. For those with more time, the day hike at Old Rag Mountain at the Shenandoah National Park is one of the most popular due to its panoramic views and rock scrambles.
• Apple Picking: Don’t miss out on apple picking in the fall. Carter Mountain Orchard is a great place to spend a day picking your own apples and exploring the orchard. Make sure you also stop by the Orchard’s bakery and try some of their delicious apple-cider donuts.
• Wine Tasting: Charlottesville is home to over twenty vineyards. Visitors can easily spend an afternoon sampling some the local varieties and soaking up the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A few favorites just outside of the city include the Blenheim Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, and Keswick Vineyards.
Things to See
• Concert: Charlottesville, home to the Dave Matthews Band, offers numerous musical options. As a large college town, many musical artists make their way through the city. The largest stage is the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena which has previously hosted and will be hosting a variety of musical talents including Jimmy Buffet, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, and of course, the Dave Matthews Band.
• Festivals: Charlottesville is home to numerous annual festivals including the Virginia Film Festival, Virginia Festival of the Book, and the Ash Lawn Opera Festival.
• Foxfields: The bi-annual steeplechase racing, a form of horse racing requiring horses to jump over fences is held in April and September. The races, a local tradition, are held at the Foxfields Track in Charlottesville and attended by many students and families.
Where to Eat
• Bodo’s Bagels: This is a Charlottesville institution. Bodo’s offers freshly made bagels and it is a great start to your day. Bodo’s is simple but delicious. It also offers sandwich options for those wanting a more substantial meal. You’ll find all three locations in Charlottesville packed with locals on weekend mornings.
• Continental Divide: A hidden favorite for students, this restaurant serves offers a variety of tequila options and unique and delicious twists on standard Mexican food. It lacks a traditional storefront sign so look for the neon green sign out front.
• Tavola: A tiny but inviting Italian restaurant with friendly staff makes this a place to visit if you are looking to splurge on a delicious meal. A cozy atmosphere with top-notch food will make you want your meal to last for hours.
Where to Stay
• Bed & Breakfasts: Charlottesville is home to numerous bed and breakfast locations. A few favorites include: Alexander House, which also doubles as a hostel, the Dinsmore House Bed and Breakfast, and the Clifton Inn.
• Omni Hotel: Located in downtown Charlottesville off of the Downtown Hall this location is great for those who want to be close to the heart of the city.
• Boar’s Head: This resort offers the feel of a country estate while still being close to downtown Charlottesville.
Downtown Mall: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abibhattachan/4757897339/