Right in the center of Virginia, beautiful Charlottesville is a conveniently-located city that is full of history and attractions for both visitors and residents. Just an hour outside of Richmond and an hour and a half from the nation’s capital, it is easily accessible by several major highways and is also situated at the foothills of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. History buffs will find lots of things to do here since the city is home to not one, but two U.S. presidents. There’s also plenty of shopping, dining, culture and outdoor recreation to be enjoyed too.
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Visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Charlottesville’s biggest claim to fame and most popular tourist attraction is Monticello – the 5,000-acre plantation that belonged to the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. And once you step foot onto the scenic property, you’ll know why. As you tour the historic house and grounds, you’ll quickly realize that this is much more than a piece of history, it was also a home. Jefferson began designing the house when he was only 26 years old and continued to update and renovate it for more than 40 years. You’ll see innovative designs, attention to detail and lots of curiosity – particularly in the gardens, where Jefferson “experimented” with a wide range of flowers, fruits and vegetables. You can also learn more about the property, the president and his unending quest for knowledge at the on-site visitor’s center.
Tour the University of Virginia (UVA) Campus (Hotel Prices & Photos)
You might think only prospective students would have any interest in touring a college campus, but not when it comes to UVA. This notable school offers historical tours of its campus every day during the school year at 10am, 11am and 2pm. The tours showcase the original university and lawn area, including the majestic Rotunda – which was designed by Thomas Jefferson and modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. They also offer special tours on women’s history and African American history at the university by special request.
Hop On a Winery or Brewery Tour (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Cville Hop On Tours allows visitors to do just that – hop on and off a tour of the local breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries. Tours are sold by the individual seat (so there’s no group minimum) and their comfy 14-passenger buses are fully loaded with cold water, complimentary snacks, Wi-Fi, music and even charging stations for your devices. Depending on which tour you “hop on,” you can choose from visiting either three or five destinations, where you’ll have an hour at each location to relax and enjoy some delicious craft beverages.
Go For a Hike (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The Saunders-Monticello Trail is a great way to take in the beauty of the Charlottesville countryside, the native hardwood forests and views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, while also getting in some exercise. Although part of the trail is a little rougher with a terrain of crushed stones, there is also a portion that consists of a raised boardwalk, which makes for easy hiking, biking and jogging. And at two miles long, it’s accessible by guests of all activity levels and ends at the David Rubenstein Visitor Center and Smith History Center, where you can learn even more about the history of the area.
Make Your Own Piece of Art (Hotel Prices & Photos)
You can let your inner artist out at The Glass Palette in downtown Charlottesville. This interactive glass art studio is open to visitors for both browsing through the gallery and also for creating their own walk-in projects. You don’t have to have any experience and there’s no studio fee. Just choose from a variety of simple projects like earrings, picture frames, paperweights or a bud vase and let your creative juices flow!
Stroll the Historic Downtown Mall (Hotel Prices & Photos)
If you want to shop for a few unique finds during your visit to Charlottesville, make sure to check out the historic downtown mall. It’s one of the longest pedestrian malls in the country at eight blocks and features a wide variety of restaurants, shopping and entertainment, all with the quintessential charm of days gone by with historic brick buildings and tree-lined streets. There are also several art galleries and music venues, a 10-screen cinema that serves locally-sourced, chef-prepared food and 36 taps of local beer, cider and wine, as well as The Paramount – an ornate theater from the early 1930’s.
See a Show at The Paramount (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Speaking of The Paramount Theater, you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to see a show here too. The grand Neoclassical designed auditorium, intricate details, painted tapestries and brass chandeliers bring a unique level of elegance, while still remaining comfortable and inviting. You can check out a stand-up comedy show, enjoy an opera or even catch a Broadway play.