Charlottesville, Virginia – home to UVA, Thomas Jefferson, and yours truly. Hidden in the Blue Ridge mountains, Charlottesville has the charm of a small college town but the energy of a bigger city. Here’s a native Charlottesvillian’s guide to all things Hooville.
Where to Stay
Boar’s Head Resort
Experience classic southern hospitality at the Boar’s Head Resort. This AAA Four Diamond resort sits on 573 acres of Virginia countryside and traces its roots back to the days of Thomas Jefferson.
If you’re looking for an upscale place to stay near Downtown, book your stay at the Omni. This seven story hotel has heated indoor and outdoor pools, a garden atrium with views of Downtown Charlottesville, and luxury amenities for an amazing stay.
The Clifton is a boutique hotel just minutes away from Monticello. Skip standard hotel suites in favor of manor houses, cottages, and livery stables.
The English Inn of Charlottesville
One of the more budget-friendly options, The English Inn is a great option for visiting Anglophiles.
Where to Eat
Step into the 1700s at the Michie Tavern! I loved to eat here as a kid (and maybe even more now as an adult) and eat all the 18th century southern-inspired food I could manage. The Tavern’s main dining room, The Ordinary, features servers in period costumes and comfort food in a rustic setting.
Albemarle Baking Company
The best cake I have ever eaten was from the Albemarle Baking Company. It’s called Princess Cake and yes, it will be served at my wedding. Sponge cake, Bavarian cream filling, and a marzipan icing? Yum. If you’re more of a chocoholic, try the Albemarle (the county surrounding Charlottesville) which has dark, milk, AND white chocolate.
Marco & Luca
Cheap but delicious dumplings & noodles – who could resist? If you need a fast and delicious lunch, try Marco & Luca.
Travinia Italian Kitchen & Winery
Travinia is a Virginia-based Italian restaurant in Charlottesville’s newest shopping center, Stonefield. My family loves the Italian Nachos – order one as an appetizer.
Move aside, New York. The best bagels are at Charlottesville staple Bodo’s Bagels. The two locations are both usually full to the brim of hungry locals, but the line and service are always speedy. Grab a bagel (or two, or a dozen) to fuel up for a day of sightseeing.
What to Do
No trip to Charlottesville is complete without a visit to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. Take a guided tour of the house for highlights like Jefferson’s bed in the wall and gigantic calendar. Round out your visit at the Visitor’s Center and shop for souvenirs!
Catch a concert, basketball game, or show at Charlottesville’s John Paul Jones arena.
If you’re going to visit one place to experience the quintessential Charlottesville experience, head to the downtown mall. This pedestrian mall has over 120 shops and 30 restaurants which are perfect for people-watching. I love sipping coffee at the Mudhouse before a morning of boutique shopping (and picking up books at one of Downtown’s bookshops) or grabbing a nightcap at the Whiskey Jar.
Chris Greene Lake
Go for a swim, rent a kayak, or pack a picnic at Charlottesville’s Chris Greene Lake. This 239-acre park offers an off-leash area for dogs (they can swim too!) and play areas for children.
Carter Mountain Orchard
I grew up looking forward to my family’s annual fall trip to Carter Mountain Orchard. Pick your own apples and don’t forget the apple cider donuts.
Vineyards and Wineries
Charlottesville has no shortage of vineyards and wineries with gorgeous country views. Blenheim Vineyards (owned by Dave Matthews) located along the Monticello Wine Trail is a favorite, or check out Virginia’s first wine company on Jefferson Vineyards.
Don’t forget to download these essential apps before hitting the road!