Greetings from Charlottesville. Known for its storied history– thanks to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate and the University of Virginia– you’ll also find emerging culture and ample recreation. Opt for a scenic drive or hike an array of trails with epic Blue Ridge mountain views. Afterwards, visit one of Albemarle County’s top cideries and wineries. Later, stroll the red-brick-lined buildings of Main Street, dotted with oak trees, al fresco eateries and public art. Don’t forget to make time for a generous helping of culture and music. Below, some of our favorite hidden gems.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
First, nature calls. A quick jaunt from downtown, Ivy Creek Natural Area is home to 7-miles of trails teeming with wildlife (don’t miss the butterfly garden) and a once-thriving African American farm-and-barn-turned-museum. Nearby, Shenandoah National Park boasts stunning waterfalls and wetlands alongside a slice of the famed Appalachian Trail; while the more strenuous Humpback Rocks hike affords sweeping valley views. For a pastoral drive, cruise along Route 20 toward Barboursville, which twists through lush farmland. Relaxing stroll? The gentle hills of the Saunders-Monticello Trails pass through lovely vistas and woodlands.
ORCHARDS, BREWERIES & VINEYARDS
After an obligatory visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, pick-your-own apples at Carter Mountain Orchard and drop by the on-site bakery for fresh pies. Nearby, sip full-bodied heritage apple cider at the family-run Albemarle CiderWorks. For boozy hard cider, donuts and mountain views, Bold Rock is your best bet. World-class wine in Virginia? But of course. The Monticello Wine Trail hosts a smattering of wineries.Start at Old House Vineyards, known for its cabernet francs (they also have beer) or pair your vino with locally-grown ingredients at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. Later, unwind inside the leafy greenhouse at Glass House Winery. Also: note that many wineries are family-friendly with live music, food trucks and ample picnic opportunities.
ART, MUSIC + BOOKS
Set on a historic hilltop, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection is dedicated to indigenous Australian art. You’ll also find a wandering sculpture trail and come summer, there’s live music, food trucks and craft beers. In 1826, the poet Edgar Allen Poe studied at UVA. Visit the Raven Room, Poe’s former dorm dwelling and afterwards, marvel at the Thomas Jefferson-designed Rotunda, a famed neo-Classical structure modeled after Rome’s Pantheon. Feeling studious? The locally-loved Daedalus Bookshop is a 3-story shrine dedicated to new, used and out-of-print books. Looking for a mind-bending, immersive art experience? The Looking Glass features an enchanted forest and kaleidoscopic cave for kids and adults alike (check out the hands-on creative nights). Later, roll up your sleeves at The Hive, a female and black-owned arts and crafts bar. For live music, the Ting Pavilion and the historic Paramount Theater have you covered while intimate venues like the Front Porch and the Southern Café and Music Hall cater to smaller crowds.
Kimpton’s new 199-room hotel in Charlottesville inside UVA’s Darden School of Business campus will open in Spring 2023.