Posted April 11, 2023

The Best Things To Do in Charlottesville, Virginia


Charlottesville is a refined outdoorsy town that has a steady supply of three things: A down-to-earth vibe, stunning scenery, and outsized school spirit. Located in the center of the state, under the misty foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, this lively city has more than collegiate appeal.

Charlottesville, Virginia: Down-to-earth, stunning, and spirited. Yes, please. (Photo Credit: Anthony Chiado)

When visiting, rest easy at the Kimpton Forum Hotel. (Photo Credit: Cris Molina)

We know you’ll love it. (Photo Credit: Cris Molina)

With dozens of wineries, historic sites, award-winning restaurants, and gorgeous hikes, there are ample activities when staying at The Forum Hotel. Here are a few of our favorite things to do during your next trip to Charlottesville.

Sip and Savor

Take a short drive outside Charlottesville, and you’ll find yourself among rolling hills covered in grapevines. The Monticello Wine Trail consists of  more than 40 wineries, including Blenheim Vineyards which was established in 2000 by Dave Matthews on the historic 18th century Blenheim Farm. Further down the trail at female-run Eastwood Farm and Winery, they’re making award-winning wine from apples and pears alongside shareable snacks.

A short drive out of Charlottesville will transport you to wine country. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Klepacki)

Grab a bite and a glass among lush greenery. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Klepacki)

For those more into hops than grapes, there’s also a Charlottesville Ale Trail. Made up of 15 craft breweries, distilleries and cideries, there’s plenty to choose from. Stop into Ragged Branch Distillery to sip on Virginia-made bourbon, then continue on to Selvedge Brewing, where small-batch beers are brewed using local ingredients inside The Wool Factory, a refurbished historic mill.

Virginia: The Home of Presidents

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is the only private presidential home in the United States recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located less than a ten-minute drive from Charlottesville, this piece of history is a must-see. The house is open for travelers and history buffs to explore its famed architecture and learn about the enslaved people who built the home and worked the land under the former president.

Visit Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Photo Credit: Maxwell Young)

A stone’s throw away is the home of another founding father, James Monroe. Highland is much less grand than Monticello but holds historical significance nonetheless. Another former plantation, guests can come here to learn about the enslaved people held here and the life and political career of the country’s fifth president.

James Madison’s Montpelier lies just outside of Charlottesville, and is worth the 45 minute drive. The home of America’s fourth president is both a memorial to the Enslaved Community as well as a museum of American history – take a tour of the presidential home, explore the gardens, or spend the afternoon hiking the trails surrounding the grounds.

Hike Your Heart Out

With Shenandoah National Park in Charlottesville’s backyard, there’s plenty of lush green forest to hike, over 500 miles, in fact. There are short hikes spanning just one to two miles and ones that are more than seven miles in length, like the hike to Old Rag. The most popular trek in the park takes six to eight hours, depending on which trail you choose, and rewards hikers with incredible panoramic views.

The beauty of Shenandoah National Park. (Photo Credit: Taylor Wright)

Love hiking? Charlottesville may just be your place. (Photo Credit: Nathaniel Villaire)

If day-long hikes aren’t your thing, Charlottesville has roughly 30 miles of nature trails. The Rivanna Trail encircles the city and includes a huge variety of different hiking options, some along the Rivanna River. The trail is also easy walking distance from The Forum Hotel.

Museum Hop

In a university town, museums are a part of the curriculum. Among the most notable is the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Of The University Of Virginia. Home to the largest collection of Australian Aboriginal art in the United States, it tells the story of one of the world’s oldest living communities. 

After a long day of museum hopping, swing back to the Forum. (Photo Credit: Cris Molina)

It’s the perfect time for a nap. (Photo Credit: Cris Molina)

More art can be viewed at the Fralin Museum Of Art At The University Of Virginia, where a massive 14,000-item permanent art collection spanning human history hangs on the walls. Nearby, The Jefferson School of African American Heritage showcases the history and culture of African Americans in the Charlottesville area with artwork, historical exhibits, and events.

Get Collegiate

In 1819, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia as a bold experiment in education – that is, a public university. UVA is an iconic public institution of higher education boasting nationally ranked schools and programs and a robust NCAA Division 1 Athletics Program right in the heart of Charlottesville.

A visit to Charlottesville wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the University of Virginia. (Photo Credit: Ryan Ledbetter)

With so many nationally ranked teams, the school spirit at a UVA game will be infectious no matter the sport – in the spring, catch a Cavaliers baseball game and in the fall you won’t want to miss an Atlantic Coast Conference football game.

Eat Farm Fresh

With so many blooming orchards and lush farms just outside the city, it’s no wonder Charlottesville has an incredible food scene. At The Forum Hotel, our signature restaurant Birch & Bloom is an upscale steakhouse with farm-to-table fare from around the region. 

Back at The Forum, grab a drink at the Taproom. (Photo Credit: Cris Molina)

Or a curated meal crafted of farm-to-table fare from around the region. (Photo Credit: Cris Molina)

Charlottesville’s oldest restaurant, The Virginian, has been in operation for 100 years. This city institution serves up classic comfort foods, including their signature dish, Stumble Down Mac’ N Cheese. And at The Local, it doesn’t get any more, well, local. A list of the restaurant’s farmers and purveyors sits at the bottom of the menu with items like Local “River Oak Farms” Chicken,  Crispy Double “H” Farms Pork Belly, and the Local Cheese Board.

Where to stay: The Forum Hotel


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