Charlottesville, Virginia, is a small city nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The views from the city are enough to make it at minimum a quick stop for anyone traveling through Virginia. But, if you find yourself lucky enough to be able to visit for just a couple of days or a week or longer, there’s enough to keep you busy, even though the city itself is small and has retained that small-town charm.
Charlottesville is consistently voted one of the top places to live in the United States and has even been voted Happiest Place in the U.S. before. With Thomas Jefferson’s fingers in almost every aspect of the city and surrounding Albemarle County, it’s hard not to marvel at the gorgeous architecture block after city block.
If you’re not staying in the city, you are a mere stone’s throw from some of the most breathtaking wineries and breweries in the country. Though small, per capita, Charlottesville boasts an impressive number of breweries and wineries, many of which have family-friendly events happening throughout the season. You can take in live music and eat delicious food, all while looking at inspiring mountain views. One such spot is Carter’s Mountain which not only features a Bold Rock Brewery location, they have apples and peaches seasonally, which you can buy in bulk or pick as a family. Don’t miss out on the Apple Cider Donuts while you’re there.
THOMAS JEFFERSON'S HOME
You are only a five-minute drive to historic Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home from Carter’s Mountain. Touring this estate is something in and of itself, but the staff made it very family-friendly as well, with things to be enjoyed by all ages. Not only do you tour the home, you tour Jefferson’s famous gardens as well. Here, you can even purchase plants and flowers from his collection to take home with you and plant in your own garden – a gift to remind you of majestic Charlottesville for years to come.
gETTING ACTIVE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
The hiking opportunities surrounding Charlottesville are absolutely second to none. You have The Rivanna Trail, Old Rag Mountain, HumpBack Rock, and countless others. You even can take in a mini beach day in one of your summery beach dresses at one of the freshwater lakes surrounded by sandy beaches. Walnut Creek and Chris Greene Lake to name two, Lake Anna to name another.
EATING OUT IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
It’s also worth noting that Charlottesville, outside of New York City, boasts more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. That’s a great thing when you’re traveling as a family. Picky eaters? No problem! You’re sure to easily find something for everyone in your group during your stay. Some local favorites you must try are The Whiskey Jar, Conmole, Ace Biscuits & Barbecue, and you will never have a bagel better than one from Bodo’s Bagels.
EXPLORE A LITTLE FURTHER
One of the best things about Charlottesville is also its proximity to so many other locations. You are (by car) an hour to three hours from Richmond, Washington D.C., and Virginia Beach. You’re also less than six hours (by car) from both New York City and Philadelphia, respectively. You are making it an ideal destination if you’re traveling from those places or an easy jumping-off point to add more prominent city destinations to your travel itinerary.
SHOPPING MECCA IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
Another thing Charlottesville can boast about is that the city is home to the country’s longest pedestrian mall, known as The Downtown Mall. This mall is home to a wide array of boutiques, from toy stores to luxury stores you’d expect to find in Paris. The store Caspari has two locations globally, one in Paris and one in, you guessed it, Charlottesville. There’s a myriad of food options on the mall, and for a truly local experience, you must try the ice cream at Chaps. There’s absolutely something(s) for everyone in your family to enjoy in the downtown mall. If you’re visiting during the spring and summer months, you can also enjoy the local farmers market at the mall on the weekends, where you have the chance to take a homemade piece of Charlottesville home with you.
This guide is certainly not inclusive. The great thing about Charlottesville and most anywhere in the world is most of the charm is experienced by just exploring. So pack up your family, plan a quick trip, and discover why they say Virginia Is For Lovers.