For many people, summer is the perfect time of year to get out of dodge and explore new places. From extended vacations to quick little weekend trips, there’s so much to see not only across the pond but right in your backyard. Whether you’re as close as Richmond, Virginia, and want a quick day trip or on a road trip looking to explore a charming, small Southern town, Charlottesville, Virginia, hits the bill. Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, this city may be small, but it has a world to offer. If you find yourself in the area, it’s worth a quick visit, but you could also easily spend an entire week here. Let’s look at the best things to do in Charlottesville, Virginia.
One of the things Charlottesville is most famous for is its association with Thomas Jefferson, the third president of The United States. Jefferson’s home Monticello in Charlottesville is something you must see to believe. This majestic estate was home to Jefferson and his family and was host to countless famous people throughout history. The guided tours are wildly informative, the grounds are stunning, and there’s even a cafe where you can enjoy lunch.
Jefferson is also associated with The University of Virginia, designing the iconic Rotunda, but you don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the grounds. Located in an area known as “The Corner,” this area is bustling with students and locals alike. The walkways are sprinkled with local boutiques like Finch and several used bookstores. Pubs and restaurants are a-plenty to satiate you while exploring the area. You can even check out Edgar Allen Poe’s room (in its original state) located on the famous Lawn.
The Downtown Mall
Known by locals as “The Mall,” it is a beautiful pedestrian mall just a ten-minute walk from the Corner. The Downtown Mall is, in fact, the longest pedestrian mall in the country. It, too, is lined with fabulous shopping and dining experiences. Local favorites for shopping on the mall are Jean Theory and Bittersweet, not to mention O’Susannah. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, The Whiskey Jar’s menu is second to none, not to mention they frequently have local musicians jamming on a small stage. Grab an ice cream from local favorite Chaps, a cute, old-school ice cream shop with memorabilia-lined walls. Looking for more elevated dining? Petit Pois or Commonwealth are delicious, and there are plenty of bars to enjoy into the late hours.
If You’re Outdoorsy…
Many people flock to Charlottesville to take advantage of the natural beauty surrounding it, so if you’re the outdoorsy type, Charlottesville is right up your alley. Make sure you’ve got your favorite sneakers or hiking boots ready to explore everything the small town has to offer. The trails seem almost endless from Old Rag, Humpback Rock, and more. Additionally, you’re a mere fifteen-minute drive from Skyline Drive, where you can take some seriously breathtaking views. If you’re visiting in summer, the greenery is lush, but the real treat is in the fall as the leaves change to red and orange.
Breweries & Wineries
Charlottesville is also home to a myriad of breweries and wineries. Enthusiasts head to this little town specifically to do tours. Some top wineries in and around Charlottesville are Pippin Hill, Jefferson Vineyards, and Eastwood Farm and Winery. If breweries are more your thing, you’re in good company. If you’re near the downtown mall, IX park is home to Three Notch’d Brewing and North American Sake Company. If you’re in Crozet, Pro Re Nata is a beautiful brewery that often has live music.
There’s more to do than listed above in and around Charlottesville. The summer months are perfect for picking fresh strawberries, blueberries, and peaches at several local orchards. There’s the Ting Pavilion which hosts major music stars. The famed Paramount Theater. We all have a tiny computer in our pockets these days, so while you’re in town, look at local events and concerts in the area; you won’t be disappointed. Charlottesville should be on your list of places to visit for southern hospitality mixed in with world-class shopping and fine dining. Happy Trails!