Tourism and Events
From presidential homes to shopping districts, lectures, and historic sites, there's no shortage of things to do in Charlottesville.
Monticello- Charlottesville's top history site. Home of Thomas Jefferson, this house is depicted on the reverse side of the nickel and draws nearly half a million visitors each year. Even if you've already toured the house, the grounds offer impressive gardens and commanding views.
Entrance fee: $24 adults ($17 Nov-Feb); $16 children 12-18 from May 27-Sept. 2; $8 children 6-11; children under 6 free. Tours conducted 9am-5pm every day of the year except Christmas. Tips: Arrive when it's not crowded or order advance tickets online. Summer is busiest; September and spring are sublime. Local residents who bring out-of-town guests get in free. 984-9822
UVA Grounds- Widely considered the most beautiful college campus in the world. Designed by Thomas Jefferson as the heart of his so-called "Academical Village," the Lawn's centerpiece is the Rotunda.The man himself lived to see it open in the summer of 1825. Seventy years later, the Rotunda burned to its brick shell, then was "restored" by architect Stanford White, and restored again to Jefferson's essential design in time for the American Bicentennial in 1976. Free tours of the Rotunda and Lawn include a peek at Edgar Allan Poe's room, #13 of course. The tours meet daily (except during the winter when students are on vacation and the first of May until after graduation) at 10 and 11am, and 2, 3, and 4pm inside the main entrance of the Rotunda. 924-1019
Parking around UVA- Enjoying UVA is easy once you've found a map and a place to park. Two garages, one on Culbreth Road Garage that offers free public parking after 5pm and all weekend, and the one under the bookstore on Emmet, which charges $1 per half hour, provides Central Grounds access. There is also street parking and several meters around Grounds. One trick is just parking wherever— as UVA waives non-serious tickets once every 12 months.
The Corner- At this enclave of shops, bars, and restaurants surrounding the university, parking is tighter than anywhere else in town, but the streetscapes are lively and the shops eclectic.
–>>See our special section on UVA.
Downtown Mall- One of the few pedestrian malls in America that actually works, it's the commercial and artistic hub of the city. A nine-block stretch of bricks with over 60 restaurants and lots of shopping, it's the place to see and be seen. The nTelos Wireless Pavilion (245-4910) at the Mall's East End plays host to all sorts of musical entertainment, from B.B. King, to Willie Nelson, to ZZ Top, to Sheryl Crow, to Arcade Fire, to local acts who perform at Fridays After 5. Technically a City-owned park, the Mall gets a boost from a business group called the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville. 295-9073
Walking tours of downtown are offered at 5:30pm Saturdays at 10am April to October by the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society which has a small museum in its foyer at 200 Second St. NE (the marble-columned building facing Lee Park). Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat 10am-1pm (office closed). 296-1492.
–>>See our special section on Shopping.
Main visitors center- It's operated by the Charlottesville/Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, and located at the east end of the Downtown Mall (293-6789), in the newish Transit Center near the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, the fanciest brochure-distribution spot we've ever seen. Open 9-5 daily, closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Ditto for UVA's visitors center on Ivy Road. 924-0311.
>>See Kid Stuff section for more.
>>See Art Galleries section for more.
Montpelier- A 40-minute drive north of Charlottesville in Orange County, James Madison's home re-opened in 2008, after a five-year effort to restore the home to its original 19th Century conditions. To learn more about this Fourth President and "Father of the Constitution," there are mansion tours between 10am and 4pm during the summer (winter hours are abbreviated between November and March). Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30-5:30pm, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Adults $18, kids 6-14 $7, kids under 6 are free. Also the site of Montpelier Hunt Races (Nov. 2, 2013) 540-672-2728
Ash Lawn-Highland- Located anywhere else in America, the home of President James Monroe would be a town's huge claim to fame, but standing here in the shadow of Monticello (and Montpelier), it's overshadowed. But as fans of foreign relations doctrines can attest, the "Era of Good Feelings" president was an important one. Tours 9am-6pm April-October and 11am-5pm November-March. $14 adults, $8 kids ages 6-11. Locals get in for $8, or free with full-paying nonresidents. 293-8000
Michie Tavern- An actual old tavern that dates from the 1700s, this building was moved 17 miles from Earlysville around the time Monticello re-opened in the 1920s and offers a traditional Southern fried chicken lunch served by staff in Colonial garb. Museum is open 9am-5pm daily with free tours for locals (lunch served 11:15am-3:30pm April-October, 11:30am-3pm November-March). Located just this side of Monticello on Rt. 53. 977-1234
Environment- It may not be in the heart of the Rockies, but Charlottesville has more than its fair share of outdoor and environmental opportunities. The Rivanna Trails Foundation, as part of its campaign to build a footpath around the city, sponsors all sorts of hikes and work days (www.rivannatrails.org), as do the folks at the Ivy Creek Foundation (973-7772). If you're looking for a little more action and adventure, the Outdoor Adventure Social Club of Greater Charlottesville sponsors outdoorsy trips and social gatherings all over the Blue Ridge and beyond. 760-HIKE
–>>See our Sports and Recreation section for more.
The Miller Center- Studies and informs the national and international policies of the United States with a special focus on the American Presidency. Offers frequent 11am free weekday forums with leading speakers who have included former President Jimmy Carter, journalist Bob Woodward, and actor Richard Dreyfuss. 2201 Old Ivy Road. 924-7236
Revolutionary War- British General Banastre Tarleton camped here after almost capturing then-governor Thomas Jefferson, but a speedy 27-year-old horseman named Jack Jouett heard about the plan at Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa and hustled to Charlottesville with the warning. There was no southern Longfellow to give Jouett the Paul Revere ("one if by land, two if by sea") treatment, so except for Monticello and a few houses here and there, there's not much to see locally except a plaque honoring Jouett in Court Square and a middle school named for him.
Civil War- Charlottesville had just one little skirmish in the "recent unpleasantness" at Rio Hill (now a shopping center), when George Custer burned down a bridge over the Rivanna River. Charlottesville does have a few monuments, including equestrian statues of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee in the middle of their namesake downtown parks— not to mention the obligatory cannon at the County Courthouse.
Wineries galore- See our Wine Section
Annual Events (and a few semi-annual and seasonal events)
Ash Lawn Opera Festival - Since 1978, opera fans and others who just like a country picnic and music have enjoyed operas in English and special events for children at the home of James Monroe. Now productions are staged inside at the Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall, which will be the home for the festival's running productions of Puccini's La Bohème and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. $47-$65. 293-4500 (July & August 2013).
Albemarle County Fair - Head to Ash Lawn-Highland Fairgrounds, once the home of President Monroe for a county fair experience to remember. Check out entertainment and activities that emphasize the agriculture of Central Virginia and enjoy crafts, games and live music as well. Email email@example.com (August 1-3, 2013) .
First UVA football game - Scott Stadium- This year it's against Brigham Young University. The night before marks Paint the Town Orange night, a sort of city-wide pep rally sure to get the orange-and-blue blood flowing. Ticket info: 800-542-UVA1 or locally 924-UVA1 (August 31, 2013 @ 3:30 p.m.)
Charlottesville Women's Four-Miler- Starting in June, several thousand women train together for the late summer race, which raises money for breast cancer research. The race happens out at Foxfield on Garth Road. Make sure to register early for 2014— this race, the largest all women's walking/running event in Virginia, fills up fast! (August 31, 2013)
Interlocken Music Festival- Zac Brown, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, the String Cheese Incident, The Black Crowes and many more bands are expected to attract over 30,000 music lovers to the Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County this September. Charlottesville has gained quite the reputation as one of the best music destinations in the state, and this festival will only bolster that status. Visit the festival website interlockenfestival.com for tickets or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (September 5-8, 2013).
Louisa County Air Show- A real barn-stormin' festival with parachutists, biplanes, and aerial stunts. Free admission, but canned food donations encouraged. Louisa County Airport/Freeman Field. 540-967-0050 (September 7, 2013 from 11am to 4pm)
Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival- UVA's Old Cabell Hall- Does Mozart get your motor runnin'? Does Haydn make the hair on your arms stand up? If so, get your dose of chamber music and then some at this month-long event. Most recent prices, $6-$22/individual concerts, $25-$100/serious subscription. (September 8-22 at the Paramount Theater and Old Cabell Hall). Call 295-5395 or email email@example.com.
Foxfield Steeplechase Races- Garth Road- The fall Foxfield horse races are more family-oriented, so you don't have to worry about events like the one which made the business almost have its license yanked because some youthful attendees find public intoxication (and urination) to be part of the fun. With pony rides, Jack Russell Terrier races, and a stroll around the course, the whole family can get in on the excitement. Tickets go quickly amongst the horsey locals, so be sure to snatch them when they go on sale September 1. 293-9501 (September 29, 2013).
Fall Fiber Festival- James Madison's Montpelier- Not to be confused with a shindig celebrating Metamucil, this one's all about the fleece. Sheep-shearing and wool spinning, knitting, rug-weaving, a fiber fashion show, and a fleece sale allows shepherds to make their own fleeces available. $5 adults; under-16 free. (October 5-6, 2013). Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Festy- This three-day music festival happening at the Concert Ground of Devil's Backbone Brewing Company features some of the top national and regional music acts. And there's camping for people who plan in advance. (October 11-13, 2013). See website for more information and ticket pricing.
Martha's Market- John Paul Jones Arena- More than 70 boutiques from around the country set up shop in John Paul Jones Arena for a one-of-a-kind marketplace experience. Put on by the Women's Committee of Martha Jefferson Hospital for the 20th consecutive year, all vendors donate a percentage of their sales to benefit breast cancer treatment at the hospital. 654-8173 (October 4-6, 2013; Preview Party October 3)
Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival- Claudius Crozet Park- Pottery, textiles, leather, glass, wood, metal, photography, and art provide a tantalizing array of beautiful handmade articles for sale. This two-day event makes a fine outing for the entire family. $6/adults; under-12/free. 823-2211 (October 12-13, 2013)
Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival- Rebec Vineyard, Rt. 29 south just north of Amherst- Leave all of your olfactory concerns at the door, because this festival is part feast, part comedy routine, and all fun. Kids activities, contests, food, petting zoos, crafts fair, magicians, wine tastings, live music, and more. Don't miss the crowning of the Garlic King! Tickets between $14-$19 online, $20-$25 online, and discounts are available if you buy them in advance or in a group. 946-5168 (October 12-13, 2013)
The Spirit Walk- Downtown- Since 1995, the local historical society has been mixing ghouls and history, and history always wins in this clever walking tour taking in ghostly haunts such as the Maplewood Cemetery and infamous murder sites downtown. Tours get started at the Historical Society's building just off the Downtown Mall. 296-1492. Dates yet to be finalized, but the walks usually happen two weeks before Halloween.
Trick or Treat on the UVA Lawn- What started as a big brother/big sister gig now brings several thousand parents and kids to the Academical Village each Halloween afternoon for the most car-free trick or treating on the planet. (Usually takes place on Halloween night, October 31, 2013 from 4-6pm)
Virginia Film Festival- UVA and Downtown- Founded by the state with a little help from local benefactor Patricia Kluge back in 1988, this is the event that has brought to town such stars as Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Vanessa Redgrave, Ann-Margret, Nicolas Cage, and Sigourney Weaver. 982-5277 or for tickets call 924-3376. (November 7-10, 2013)
The Montpelier Hunt Races- Montpelier Station (45 min. north- Orange County)- A bit farther away than Foxfield, but it may actually take less time thanks to its smaller scale. And unlike Foxfield's reputation as a boozefest rather than an athletic event, this Montpelier Hunt Race will be the 77th running and is one of the nation's oldest and most respected steeplechase events. Admission/$15, under-12/free, parking/$20, or spend anywhere from $1,750 to $9,000 to make a private, all-accoutrements-included party of it. 540-672-0027 (November 2, 2013)
Jeffersonian History Festival- Grace Covenant Church across from City Hall. Gone are the days when a parade on the Downtown Mall and reenactments would launch the Thanksgiving season, but there's still history fun to be had. This year, there's a sort of public discussion– in costume! (November 11, 2013)
Last home UVA football game- Scott Stadium- UVA takes on instate rival Virginia Tech. Ticket info: 800-542-UVA1 or locally 924-UVA1 (November 30, 2013)
Graves Mountain Lodge Thanksgiving Dinner- For a delicious and hassle-free Thanksgiving, make reservations for you and yours at Graves Mountain Lodge (540-923-4231) in Madison County for the all-you-can-eat buffet-style Thanksgiving dinner. Not only do they serve turkey with all the trimmings, but also Old Dominion delicacies like Virginia ham and fried oysters.
Downtown for the Holidays- Downtown Mall- Holiday City Market. The festival offers a variety of holiday events along the Mall, helping families enjoy the spirit of the season. Don't forget to check out the tree lighting on the 28th, Santa when he comes to town on the 29th, and book your tickets for the Holly Trolley! (Late November-late December 2013))
McGuffey Art Center Holiday Open House- McGuffey Art Center, Second St.- It's the rarity of rarities: all studios in the subsidized-rent palace of art will probably be open. There's entertainment, and, in the Gallery, a holiday group show by all members. 295-7973 (December 2013, TBA)
First Night Virginia- All over Downtown- For years, visitors have enjoyed entertainment, food, alcohol-free events, and fireworks. The program attracts huge crowds to the festivities every New Year, and as always an admission button gets you into everything. Prices have yet to be set for this coming year, but last year prices were $15/adults, $5/kids ages 6-16, kids under 5/free. Discounts on pre-sale tickets and family packs. 975-8269 (December 31, 2013)
ACC Basketball at UVA- John Paul Jones Arena- For decades, the Atlantic Coast Conference has been the premiere conference in the nation for men's and women's college basketball. Led by former Washington State coach Tony Bennet, the men's team had a fairly successful season going 23-12 and 11-7 in the ACC. Ticket info: 800-542-UVA1 or locally 924-UVA1 (Schedule TBA)
Virginia Festival of the Book- All over town- Bringing together noted authors and eager author groupies, this popular event celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014. The event has featured such luminaries as Garrison Keillor, Helen Thomas, the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Clyde Edgerton, Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Chabon. Most events at the five-day fest are free. 924-7548 (March 19-23, 2014)
Charlottesville Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K- All over town and then some- To paraphrase Merle Haggard, it seems Charlottesvillians were born the running kind. After years of the Ten-Miler growing in popularity, Charlottesville had its first marathon and half-marathon in 2002, and it's been a hit every year since. It's become so popular that the New York Times rated it one of the top five marathon destinations in the country. The starting gun goes off at 6:30am. (April 5, 2014)
Charlottesville Ten-Miler- Streets of Downtown- The town's biggest running race draws participants from all over the state and beyond, and blocks off city roads, streets, and alleys. In 2012, 2,244 entrants participated. Fee to run to be determined (probably $15-20). Fee to watch? Priceless. (TBA, mid-spring 2014) Email email@example.com.
Tom Tom Founders Festival- Started in 2012 as a month-long affair spotlighting innovation, the second Tom Tom was a shorter— but no less inspiring— event spanning three days in mid-April and featuring dozens of musical performances, lectures by local luminaries, and entreprenueurial competitions sponsored by UVA's Darden School. A smaller offshoot event, Tomtoberfest, celebrates innovation at UVA and beyond grounds with celebrations on the Corner. (TBA, April 2014) Tomtomfest.com
Annual Dogwood Festival- McIntire Park, Downtown and other sites- Two weeks packed with events: the biggies are the Dogwood Festival Parade the City's major annual struttin' happenin', and the Dogwood Queen's Ball, both on April 26, 2014. Along the way, there's the coronation of the Dogwood Queen, Garden Week, and even fireworks lighting up city skies. Some events are free; most have a modest entry fee. 961-9824 (TBA, mid April 2013)
Fridays After 5- Every Friday from early May to late September, this massive free party fills the air with sounds from some of the region's (and nation's) best musical artists. Attendance is still free, but a cup of beer's gonna cost you $5. 817-0220 (May through late September 2013 & 2014)
Historic Garden Week in Virginia- Various backyards and estates- This is a chance to visit the gardens– and in a few cases the interiors– of some rich and famous locals. Recent years have included John Grisham's secret garden and Coran Capshaw's elegant Seven Oaks in Greenwood– as well as those perennial favorites, UVA Lawn Pavilions. Tickets range from $15- $40. 804-644-7776 (April 26- May 3, 2014).
The City Market- Downtown in the public parking lot at Water and First streets- In most cities, this is called the Farmers' Market, but then again, in most cities, the local college has a "campus." Fresh fruits, veggies, baked goods, flower bouquets and plants are offered for sale, while a spirit of civil disobedience simmers with goats' milk cheese purveyors– who since the state banned their sales, have given away their yummy products as of late! Saturdays, 7am-noon. 970-3371 (April through December 2014)
Foxfield Spring Races- Garth Road- Same concept as the fall races, except this shindig is heavily attended by UVA undergrads–more often intoxicated than not. Popular to purchase some tent space, and grill out or hang with a group of friends. Tickets can usually be purchased right up to the date of the event. 293-9501. (Date TBA)
Montpelier Wine Festival- Orange County- No other Virginia wine festival can compare to this two-day extravaganza at Montpelier, the home of James Madison 45 minutes north of town. Price of admission includes tastings, a commemorative glass, food, live music and a lot more. $15 advance, $25 the days of the festival. 1-800-594-8499 or 540-672-5216 (TBA May 2014)
Charlottesville Festival of Cultures- A free, family-friendly celebration of diversity in our community with performances, cultural exhibits, hands-on activities, vendors, service agency information booths. 245-2819. (TBA, May 2014)
Bike to Work Day- Nationally, this is an important event. Unfortunately and ironically in a town with so many "green" efforts, no local organizer has really claimed ownership of the event. Heck, we don't even know when it might happen in 2014, even though it usually happens sometime in May. (TBA, May 2014)
Design House- For the interior decorator and fancy house voyeur in all of us. (TBA, May 2014)
The Discovery Dash- This used to be a cute little photo opportunity for the kiddies on the Downtown Mall. Now, in its 23rd year, the race is a full-blown running competition held at Monticello High School. 977-1025 (TBA, May 2014)
James River Batteau Festival- This annual week-long river float has revived the days of moving hogsheads (big barrels) of tobacco along the James. The batteaux put in at various stops along the River from Stapleton (east of Lynchburg) to Maidens (west of Richmond). Free. 528-3950 (June 14-21, 2014)
Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph- Every spring, the trees on the Downtown Mall are suddenly adorned with massive, gorgeous photographs and it can mean only one thing: the Look3 Festival of the Photograph is approaching. Bringing big name photographers to present their work and dozens of events aimed at shutterbugs professional and amatuer, Look3 has become a highly anticipated annual staple.
July 4 happenings
Monticello Independence Day and Naturalization Ceremony- Monticello- Naturalization of approximately 75 new citizens. Guest speakers have included Secretary of State Colin Powell, architect I. M. Pei, large-scale artist Christo, former President George W. Bush, and most recently, Dave Matthews. Patriotic music by the Charlottesville Municipal Band helps set the tone. Admission to ceremony and grounds is free but tickets are issued by reservation. 984-9828
McIntire Park Fireworks- Fees for some events, but the fireworks are free. The premiere fireworks show in Charlottesville.
Crozet Carnival- Claudius Crozet Park- Games, rides, live bands, a parade, and great fair food. Hosted by the town's volunteer fire department. 823-4758
Scottsville Parade- Scottsville- The little river town pulls out all the stops for the Fourth, starting with a big parade through town. Arts and crafts vendors, food, an antiques fair, a flea market, live music at The Rhythm on the River concert, and fireworks keep the festive mood going all day. 286-9267.
Putting on your own fireworks display at home? Anything more serious than sparklers, spinners, and fountains is prohibited in both Charlottesville and Albemarle. Not okay: bottle rockets, roman candles, and M-80s.
Charlottesville Restaurant Week- all over town- Twice annually, fine restaurants all over this foodie Mecca of ours throw open their doors and, for one week, offer a special three-course, prix fixe meal for the low, low price of $26 ($1 goes to a local charity). Last time, restaurants booked up weeks in advance, so make yours early! More info at cvilleyum.com. 295-8700 ext. 227. (TBA, January and July 2014)
African-American Cultural Arts Festival- Booker T. Washington Park- Education and entertainment celebrating the heritage of people of African descent. Events include storytelling, crafts, live music, and dance performances. Free. See website for more information. (Last weekend of July 2014)
Daytrips to the Hinterlands
(From nearest to farthest)
Scottsville- 30 minutes south- When you're tubing down the James River, living really is easy. Let James River Runners (286-2338) or James River Reeling and Rafting (286-4386) arrange the trip. Or let one of America's last poled ferries, the Hatton Ferry (call the Charlottesville Albemarle Historical Society at 296-1492), take your car across the James. Try Lumpkins (286-3690) for home cooking and a great slice of pie. If you happen to visit on a Saturday or Sunday, you might catch the Scottsville Museum (286-2247) open.
Scottsville Chamber of Commerce: 286-6000
Madison County- 30 minutes north- Historic Madison is ideal for strolling and antiquing. For a more outdoorsy visit, there's fishing, hiking, and camping in the Shenandoah National Park– or climb up Old Rag Mountain. Check into Graves Mountain Lodge (540-923-4231) for some all-you-can-eat home cooking and horseback riding. The most typical shopping reasons for venturing up 29 north (and watch out for speed traps in Greene County): the Plow and Hearth Catalog Outlet (540-948-5412) and Prince Michel Vineyards(800-800-WINE).
Madison County Chamber of Commerce: 540-948-4455
Orange County- 30 minutes northeast- Historic Willow Grove Inn (540-317-1206) in Orange is critically acclaimed for its gourmet southern cooking. And Barboursville Vineyards (540-832-3824) make some of the best Virginia wine. Orange County has its own presidential estate: James Madison's Montpelier (540-672-2728), which has recently been restored from alterations of the previous owners, the DuPonts, to the way James and Dolley knew it.
Orange County Chamber of Commerce: 540-672-5216
Waynesboro- 30 minutes west- In all honesty, Waynesboro doesn't offer the seasoned traveler quite the bounty of some of the other destinations in the area. But for affordable housing, it can't be beat. Housing costs about half what it costs in Charlottesville. The Artisans Center of Virginia (540-946-3294 or 877-508-6069) houses a retail sales gallery and two exhibition programs in the Willow Oak Plaza, 801 W. Broad St. Hours for this official state center for fine crafts by Virginia artists: 10am-6pm Mon-Sat, 12:30-5:30pm Sun. The P. Buckley Moss Museum (800-343-8643) is world-famous. About five miles away in Fishersville is theAndré Viette Farm and Nursery (540-943-2351) offers a wide variety of plants. Speaking of landscaping, Waynesboro boasts one of the best city parks around. Ridgeview Park (Waynesboro Parks and Recreation: 540-942-6799) sits right on the South River, complete with ducks. It has a terrific play area, shaded picnic tables, and a huge public pool that features a nearly extinct part of the swimming experience: a high dive. On the way home, stop by the Tastee-Freeze for a visit to soft ice cream heaven. The cool Zeus Digital movie theater is also worth checking out, too, for its great screens and reasonably priced movie food. Then, of course, there's Eastside Speedway, where you can get your fill of fast cars and demo derbies.
Sidetrip: About 15 miles north lie the closest major caverns to Charlottesville: the Grand Caverns (888-430-2283). The site is not merely cave tours, but also features swimming, hiking, biking, picnicking, an annual haunted cave on Halloween and a yearly bluegrass festival. The Augusta Expo, located in Fishersville, is another hot spot for festivals, fairs, shows, sales and more! With different events happening almost every weekend year round, the Expo is a popular destination.
Waynesboro Tourism Office: 540-942-6644
Skyline Drive- 30 minutes west- This is the "main street" of the Shenandoah National Park (540-999-3500), the 105-mile-long road that winds along the ridges. Cost is $15 per vehicle, and it's good for seven days. The park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Choose your degree of roughing it from camping to rustic cabins, lodge rooms or suites at Skyland (855-584-5292) or Big Meadows (877-444-6777).
Blue Ridge Parkway- 30 minutes west- This mountain-top paradise is too close and too beautiful not to take advantage of, and unlike Skyline Drive, it's free. A nice one-mile hike with killer views is to Humpback Rock, where you'll find an authentic pioneer farm that shows just how hard it was for settlers to eke out an existence. Fiddling, quilting, basket-making and other crafts and arts are demonstrated at the farm on summer weekends. And up the road a few miles, Raven's Roost is perfect for rock climbing or picnicking. For general parkway information, call 828-298-0398.
Staunton- Forty minutes west- Pronounced STAN-ton, it's an embarrassment of riches that begins with the architecture and doesn't end until you climb the highest hills and look out over this quaint antebellum city that escaped the ravages of the Civil War. Most fun is to arrive by train (problem: there's no train back, so plan to have a friend meet you there with a car), but if you go by car, you can take in more of the city's attractions, including Gypsy Hill Park (540-332-3945) with its dollar-a-ride Gypsy Express train (540-885-0513) and mammoth duck pond for kids, as well as tons of public athletic recreation facilities. On the edge of town, the Frontier Culture Museum (540-332-7850) demonstrates life on four farms representing the Valley's original settlers, as well as Wright's Dairy-Rite (540-886-0435), an extremely kid-friendly diner that still has curb service. In the heart of town, there's soft-serve ice cream the locals swear by at Kline's (540-885-4664), the exact replica of England's Blackfriars Playhouse (540-851-1733), home of the American Shakespeare Center,Woodrow Wilson's birthplace (540-885-0897), and Mary Baldwin College (540-887-7019)– as well as lots of galleries, restaurants, and inns. But it's also a real town with hardware stores, cheap diners, and a big scary prison building. The Visulite theater has been restored to its original 1937 grandeur and shows art films as well as current favorites (540-885-9966).
Stanton-Augusta Travel Information Center: 540-332-3972
Nelson County- 40 minutes south- The Blue Ridge Parkway (828-298-0398) runs through Nelson County, which also contains a chunk of the mammoth George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. One of the most popular area hikes is Crabtree Falls, a 2.5-mile walk that rewards weary hikers with stunning Blue Ridge views (trust us, you'll want a frosty beverage when you reach the top). The relatively new Nelson Scenic Loop, an auto and biking route, is also a draw for hikers, bikers, history buffs and people who like to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of their cars. The 50-mile route winds through the Three Ridge Mountains and is studded with wineries and local markets. Classic TV fans from all over the country flock to the Walton's Mountain Museum (831-2000) in Schuyler, birthplace of Earl "John-Boy" Hamner. The other nifty thing in Schuyler is the Alberene Soapstone Company (866-831-1051), which once employed over 1,000 people to shape soapstone and is the only remaining producer of American soapstone. Wintergreen Resort (855-699-1858) provides plenty of resort-type activities like skiing, snowboarding, tennis and golf. The Wintergarden Spa (325-8562) is a daytrip in itself. The luxurious spa sports access to the indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, fitness center, and hot tubs overlooking the mountains. And if you're in the neighborhood of Nellysford, don't miss a barbecue or turkey croissant at Blue Ridge Pig (361-1170). For wine aficionados, there are at least nine vineyards and wineries.
Nelson County Convention & Visitors Bureau: 800-282-8223
Sherando Lake- 40 minutes west- Part of George Washington National Forest, the 24-acre Sherando Lake offers a sandy beach and the joys of swimming without a lifeguard tweeting his whistle for every not-so-safe move. An island is a tempting target to swim to (and indeed, a man drowned attempting it in 2004). The lake allows boats (without gasoline engines) and fishing, is surrounded by trails, and offers 65 campsites.
Glenwood and Pedlar Ranger District Office: 540-291-2188
Harrisonburg- An hour northwest- Home to the Virginia Quilt Museum (540-433-3818). On the way to this home-town metroburg, where horse-drawn buggies are still in style, stop by the Mennonite-run Dayton Farmers Market (540-879-3801) or the half-million books-strong Green Valley Bookfair (800-385-0099). Then, choose between the leprechaun-motifed Shenandoah Caverns (540-477-3115) and the cave with the longest tour, Endless Caverns (540-896-9494). Drive past the main campus of James Madison University(540-568-6211) and the Quad (much like The Lawn at UVA) into the heart of the city: Court Square. There you'll find shopping and dining as well as the fairly new Court Square Theater (540-433-9189), which hosts movies, plays and music several nights a week. Next, take a jaunt to the New Market Battlefield State Park(866-515-1864) or to one of the most massive mountains in Virginia, Massanutten Resort (540-289-9441)– which offers skiing, mountain-biking, golf, and a mass of other activities, services and amenities.
Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitors Center: 540-432-8935
Lynchburg- One hour southwest- Clearly, this is a city that used to gleam. Besides such fabulous bits of urban artistry as Monument Terrace, we know of no city in Virginia– with the possible exception of Richmond– with so many Victorian mansions. Find a copy of the Historic Districts brochure, and check out a formerly industrial city that is just now beginning to be polished for tourists. After cruising through the scratchy neighborhoods, another eye-popping historic treat awaits if you drive out to the suburbs on Rivermont Avenue toward Randolph College (947-8000), formerly Randolph-Macon Woman's College. There, early 20th century houses are the equal of almost any neighborhood in America. Head back downtown to catch a show at the recently renovated Academy of Fine Arts (528-3256). Then check out Amazement Square (845-1888) an interactive children's museum that offers history, science, art and more in an old warehouse on the James. A huge climbing tower offers lots of fun in the center of the building. Also downtown is the Old City Cemetery (847-1465) which now also offers a medical museum, arboretum, and station house museum.
Sidetrip #1: On your way, you can check out one of the state's newest parks, James River State Park.
Sidetrip #2: Can't get enough TJ back in Charlottesville? Just in the outskirts of Lynchburg, in Forest, is Jefferson's octagonal summerhouse, Poplar Forest. 525-1806
Lynchburg Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau: 845-5966
Lexington- One hour southwest- Bring a picnic. Those bastions of southern culture Washington and Lee University (540-458-8400) and Virginia Military Institute (540-464-7207) dominate with stunning architecture, history, and verdant green space, as well as the must-see Lee Chapel (540-458-8768) with its famous "recumbent Lee" statue. The VMI Museum (540-464-7334) has the stuffed horse (and final raincoat) of Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Before you head to Downtown's enticing array of shops, see a Nobel Peace Prize and other World-War II memorabilia at the George C. Marshall Museum (540-463-7103). For a fright, tryHaunting Tales: Lexington's Ghost Tour (540-464-2250). And for a real bit of Americana, go to Hull's Drive-In (Movie Info Line: 540-463-2621) and see movies the way your ((great)grand)parents did. For those less interested in history and more into nature, Natural Bridge and nearby Virginia Safari Park are must sees. Lesser known attractions include llama trekking, compliments f the folks at Applewood Inn and B&B. Does hiking across beautiful landscapes accompanied by your very own llama sound like your thing? You'll never know unless you try!
Lexington and the Rockbridge Area Visitor Center: 540-463-3777
Richmond- One hour and ten minutes east- This is such a big and historic city that to try to pick out just a few attractions would not do it justice. There's a world-class park called Maymont (804-358-7166)– a daytrip in itself, whether you go for its Italian, Japanese, or butterfly gardens, or the kids' trip: the farm where you can pet goats, sheep, and rabbits. There are also wildlife exhibits and a new nature center. Maybe you'll take in the 12,000 square-foot Gilded Age Maymont House. Heck, you may even want to get married there. Vestiges of the town's days as the Confederate capital are commemorated on Monument Avenue, where the brouhaha over Arthur Ashe's statue once embroiled the River City. With its opulent townhouses, sumptuously wide median, and monuments to heroes, it can't be beat for jaw-dropping beauty. And it isn't necessary to go to Washington to find good museums. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (804-340-1400) is far better than you'd expect to find in a city of Richmond's size. The city is home to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum (804-648-5523), the Museum and White House of the Confederacy (804-649-1861), and the Science Museum of Virginia (804-864-1400). Carytown on Cary Street is a shopping mecca of funky shops and restaurants. And for lunch, stop by the "best of"-rated Thai Diner & Cafe (804-270-2699) on Broad Street. Two amazing historic neighborhoods stand out:The Fan District, with its array of eclectic shops and cafés, and Church Hill, which surrounds St. John's Church (804-649-7938), site of Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. Even the standard rich-folks suburb, Windsor Farms, has a couple of historic houses one can tour: Virginia House (804-353-4251) and Agecroft Hall (804-353-4241). Don't miss the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Charlottesville's favorite son and war-time governor, Thomas Jefferson. A hot attraction is the canal locks downtown, and they now have water taxis (804-649-2800). A typical shopping trip to Richmond for Charlottesvillians? Forty-five minutes to the Short Pump exit to the Short Pump Town Center featuring all kinds of swank boutiques. Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau: 888-RICHMOND
Farmville - One hour 15 minutes south- Once an authentic tobacco town, its old warehouses have found a new use as furniture and rug emporia, thanks to Green Front Furniture (392-5943), a discounter of fine household goods that seems to occupy about half the town's storefronts. (Important note for daytrippers: It's closed on Sundays.) Other major attractions include the dive-y Walker's Diner (392-4230) and two colleges, Longwood University (395-2000), a former teachers' school, and Hampden-Sydney College (223-6000), founded in 1776 and one of only three men-only schools left.
Sidetrip: About 30 minutes west is Appomattox Court House National Historic Park (352-8987x26), a village that looks much as it did on April 9, 1865, when U.S. Grant accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender there.
Farmville Chamber of Commerce: 392-3939
Fredericksburg- One hour 15 minutes northeast- This hotbed of Virginia history includes a quaint downtown with a historic mansion you can tour called Kenmore (540-373-3381). Four major Civil War battles raged around this river city, and you can visit the Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville (site of Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson's death), Spotsylvania, and Wildnerness battlefields by going to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (540-373-6122). Outside, go canoeing or try some big boat cruises (804-453-2628) of the scenic Rappahannock River.
Fredericksburg Visitor Center: 540-373-1776
Natural Bridge- One hour 20 minutes southwest- Many roadside tourist dreams comes true thanks (originally, at least) to a natural wonder once owned by Charlottesville's own Mr. Jefferson. The 215-foot-tall limestone arch of Natural Bridge (800-533-1410) can be seen for $12 for children or $21 for adults– or along with its own Caverns, Wax Museum, and Toy Museum for $17 and $29, respectively. Outside the gates are other great bits of Americana like Virginia Safari Park (540-291-3205). And for more history-minded visitors, the old-school austerity of nearby Lexington and the historic pass of Goshen are welcome sights.
Luray- One hour 40 minutes northwest- Made famous nationally by the 1878 discovery of the Luray Caverns, this Page County burg is an easy day trip for a couple or family. Kids will be thrilled by the Luray Zoo, (540-743-4113), a reptile and petting zoo that just happens to have one of the East Coast's biggest snake collections– not to mention giant fiberglass dinosaurs for kitschy thrills. Then there's the big attraction, Luray Caverns (540-743-6551) where people pay $24 (kids pay $12) to walk around underground, trying to remember which tapering columns are stalagmites and which are stalactites.
Sidetrip: About 20 minutes west over the mountain in New Market (540-740-3432), where 10 VMI cadets died in 1864 in a futile charge against invading Yankees, today you'll find the 300-acre New Market Battlefield State Historical Park (866-515-1864). Also check out the Virginia Museum of the Civil War located in the park.
Luray Visitor Information Center: 540-743-3915
Warm Springs- One hour 40 minutes southwest- Sure, Warm Springs is beautiful, but the real reason one takes the twisty drive to Bath County is to get soaked in the Jefferson Pools (540-839-5346), the only historic landmark that allows skinny dipping, though there is a swimsuit-reqired designated family time as well. Cost: $17 for one hour. Water temperature: a perfect 98 degrees. .
Roanoke- Two hours southwest- It's a bit of a hike from these parts, but more than train junkies know it's worth the drive for the O. Winston Link Museum (540-982-5465). If you're not into Link's night-time photographs of locomotives, you can feast your eyes on the real deal at Virginia Transportation Museum (540-342-5670) or perhaps drive to Mini Graceland at 605 Riverland near the iconic Mill Mountain Star. Speaking of which, there's probably no zoo in America with such an interesting mountaintop location– and such a little train for the kiddies– as the Mill Mountain Zoo (540-343-3241). Like Staunton, it even has an outdoor frontier museum called Explore Park (540-427-1800).
The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau: 540-342-6025/800-635-5535
Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO) It's known for its puddle jumpers, but for the most part CHO offers a low-stress travel experience, especially compared to the chaos of larger cities' airports. Plus, the addition in recent years of direct flights to Chicago plus the already existing flights to DC, New York, Atlanta, Philly and Charlotte mean you can get just about anywhere from right here in town. Indeed, last year, a record number of passengers used CHO, and that trend is expected to continue. Located about 20 minutes north of downtown in a scenic place called Earlysville, CHO offers around 25 daily departures and about the same number of arrivals.
Direct service and daily departures to Charlotte, DC Dulles, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York LaGuardia.
Carriers: United Express, U.S. Airways Express, American Airlines, and Delta Connection.
Parking: Really close and costs $8/day for long-term. First 30 minutes free in short term, then $2/second half-hour, $1/subsequent half-hour. Free hour with purchase from snack bar.
Amenities: Snack bar, stunning mountain views, free wi-fi
Washington Dulles (IAD), two hours north of town (unless Interstate 66 is backed up), draws many travelers who might otherwise depart from Charlottesville and is a major entry and exit point for international flights.
A comfortable mid-size airport, Richmond International (RIC) often offers competitive fares to domestic cities, and the pleasant 75-minute drive makes it a popular choice for Charlottesville travelers.
Another option is Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), aka "Weyers Cave," about 45 minutes away. It sends three weekday and three weekend flights to Washington-Dulles. 540-234-8304
The Charlottesville Amtrak station (CVS) Even if the railroad is always teetering on the edge of financial disaster, the rails score points for romantic, affordable, kid-friendly travel. And this town is incredibly blessed as one of America's smallest cities getting passenger service in three directions and nearly five daily departures.
Location: 810 West Main in the heart of midtown
National reservations: 800-872-7245
Charlottesville ticket window: 296-4559
Counter hours: 6am-9:30pm
Parking: onsite lot with 165 long-term parking spaces, $9-10/day, weekly rates available.
The Crescent - links New York and New Orleans daily
The Cardinal - which runs between New York and Chicago 3x per week,
The Northeast Regional - links Lynchburg all the way to Boston daily. Now with wi-fi.
Richmond's Staples Mill Station (RVR)
Location: 7519 Staples Mill Road in western Henrico County
Drive time: 1 hour. Go east on I-64 to Staples Mill Road, but don't look for a grand place– it's a shoebox hidden behind a parking lot. But it does have 16 daily departures.
Parking: onsite lot
Bonus: Richmond actually has a second Amtrak station, the historic 1901 Main Street Station (RVM) in Shockoe Bottom, with four daily departures.
Washington's Union Station (WAS)
Location: Four blocks from the U.S. Capitol and too many departures to count.
Drive time: 2 hours (if you're lucky)
Parking: adjacent garage
Phone: 202-371-9441 (undependable)
Greyhound. Located midway between the Amtrak station and the Downtown Mall on West Main, the station has curtailed both its hours and its service in recent years.
Washington: $23-39 each way to Washington D.C.'s Union Station with the bus leaving Charlottesville at 8:45am and 5:05pm and arriving about three hours later.
New York: $74-98 each way takes a little over 10 hours with a 4:20am, 8:45am, 4:50pm and 5:05pm departure time.
National reservations: 800-231-2222
Charlottesville station: 7:30am-5pm & 8:30-9:30pm daily; 295-5131
Parking: none onsite
Starlight Express. A Charlottesville original, this luxury nonstop motorcoach connects Charlottesville to NYC at the ultra-competitive speed of about seven hours and the ultra-competitive price of $49-69 each way. Based downtown at the Frank Ix complex (about three blocks south of the Downtown Mall) and on the northside at the K-Mart garden center. With triple freebies: drinks, snacks, and wi-fi.
Parking: $1/day downtown
Taxis & Towncars - The typical taxi ride from CHO to downtown is $25, but the metered fare can get up over $40 if you need to reach a spot out in the county. Typical towncar ride to RIC can be over $175 including gratuity with a typical towncar ride to IAD costing over $235. Prices for limos may be nearly double these.
Shuttles - All of the pricier hotels have free airport shuttles in Charlottesville.
Rental cars - Inside Charlottesville's airport terminal, we have Avis 434-973-6000, Hertz 434-297-4288, and National 434-974-4664. Enterprise also has two locations: 1650 Seminole Trail, 434-974-7488, and Pantops Shopping Center, 434-979-5566, plus various indie rental services elsewhere in town.
The biggies nearby are I-64, which is nice, rural, and rarely crowded (except in the Tidewater/Virginia Beach area); I-81, which is terrifyingly full of tractor-trailers exceeding the speed limit and often tailgating; I-66 to the north, which is almost always traffic-jammed thanks to constant construction and general NOVA congestion; and I-95, which seems to be packed all the way from New York to Florida. Other major highways include U.S. 29, which, although it slows down considerably in the commercial strip in Albemarle County called Seminole Trail, is actually a pretty speedy way to get north and south. Ditto for U.S. 250 east and west, although construction of McIntire Road Extended— still often called "The Meadowcreek Parkway"— is likely to cause delays in Charlottesville through much of the fall of 2013, especially as the build the 250 Interchange at McIntire Road. You can check road conditions by dialing 800-367-ROAD or simply 511.
By 2014, this list may get even longer with the construction of no less than four new hotels. There's the Marriott Residence Inn coming at the corner of West Main Street and Ridge-McIntire; two Homewood Suites— one underway where the old Regal Seminole 4 movie theater used to be and another possible on Rio Road at the former site of Phillips Building Supply; and a Hyatt Place well underway at the Shops at Stonefield.
UVA area - 105 N. Emmet St. at Ivy Road
$89.99-159.99, depending on time of week and season
N/S rooms, airport shuttle, outdoor pool, continental breakfast, cable TV, pet friendly accommodations
Walk to: UVA
U.S. 29 area - 1807 Emmet St.
Continental breakfast, cable TV, pets allowed, outdoor pool
Walk to: UVA, Red Lobster
Courtyard by Marriott
U.S. 29 area - 638 Hillsdale Drive
$119-179, depending on time of week
N/S rooms, airport shuttle, indoor pool, exercise facility, cable TV, no pets, laundry service, restaurant, business center, high-speed internet
Walk to: Applebee's Restaurant
Courtyard by Marriott
UVA Corner - 1201 W. Main St.
137 rooms and suites
$149-239, depending on the season
N/S rooms, indoor pool, exercise facility, cable TV, no pets, laundry service, Cafe 1201 restaurant and bar on site, high-speed internet
Walk to: UVA/Medical Center
U.S. 29 area - 1600 Emmet St.
127 rooms, 2 suites
$84.95 on average
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, exercise facility, cable TV, $15 per pet per night fee, laundry service, business center, wireless Internet access, on site Red Lobster
Walk to: Bodo's Bagels
Pantops area - 2097 Inn Drive
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, cable TV, laundry service, high speed Internet, refrigerators, hot breakfast, free local calls
Walk to: Interstate 64, Monticello, US 250 Bypass
U.S. 29 area - 990 Hilton Heights Road
N/S rooms, airport shuttle, indoor pool, exercise facility, cable TV, pets allowed, wireless Internet access, full service restaurant TJ's Tavern, business center
Walk to: Sam's Club and Wal-Mart
Fairfield Inn by Marriott
U.S. 29 area - 577 Branchlands Blvd.
A/C, N/S rooms, outdoor pool, gym privileges, continental breakfast, cable TV, pet friendly with a fee, high-speed Internet access, business center
Walk to: Toys R Us
Hampton Inn of Charlottesville
U.S. 29 area - 2035 India Road
N/S rooms, airport shuttle, refrigerators, outdoor pool, continental breakfast, cable TV, no pets, laundry service, wireless high speed Internet access
Walk to: Seminole Square Shopping Center
Hampton Inn and Suites
Midtown - 900 W. Main St.
$149 Sun-Thurs, $219 Fri, special events vary
All N/S rooms, airport shuttle, exercise facility, full breakfast, cable TV, no pets, laundry service, high speed Internet access, free local calls
Walk to: UVA
Hilton Garden Inn
Pantops Mountain/Peter Jefferson Place - 1793 Richmond Road
Fitness center, indoor pool, no pets, free wireless internet, business center, on-site dinner-only restaurant The Great American Grille
Walk to: Martha Jefferson Hospital
Holiday Inn University
U.S. 29 area - 1901 Emmet St.
170 guest rooms, 2 suites
$119-199 varies by season
N/S rooms, airport shuttle, indoor pool, exercise facility, no pets, laundry service, wireless Internet, business center, on-site restaurant Emmet's Bar and Grill open for breakfast and dinner only
Walk to: Barracks Road Shopping Center
Holiday Inn- Monticello
southside - 1200 Fifth St.
131 rooms, 1 suite
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, business center, exercise facility, cable TV, pets allowed, laundry service, wireless, Charlotte's restaurant on-site
Walk to: Interstate 64
Omni Charlottesville Hotel
Downtown Mall - 235 W. Main St.
208 rooms and suites
$139-269 (suites $279-329)
N/S rooms, indoor pool, outdoor pool, exercise facility, cable TV, pets under 25 lbs. allowed for a $50 fee, laundry service, wireless Internet, Business center, The Pointe restaurant attached, complimentary parking
Walk to: Downtown Mall
U.S. 29 area - 1600 Emmet St.
N/S rooms, hot continental breakfast, cable TV, pet fee, laundry service, high-speed wireless Internet
Walk to: Aberdeen Barn steak house
Residence Inn by Marriott
U.S. 29 area - 1111 Millmont St.
N/S rooms, fully equipped kitchens, outdoor pool, exercise facility, buffet breakfast, cable TV, $100 pet fee, laundry service, laundry room, high speed Internet, evening socials (Mon-Wed)
Walk to: Barracks Road Shopping Center
Sleep Inn and Suites Monticello
southside - 1185 5th St. SW
Continental breakfast, Internet, pet fee, exercise room, indoor pool, hot tub
Walk to: Waffle House, Interstate 64
UVA area - 140 N Emmet St.
$60-100, depending on time of the week
N/S rooms, cable TV, no pets, long distance, high-speed wireless Internet, continental breakfast
Walk to: UVA
Econo Lodge University
UVA area - 400 Emmet St.
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, cable TV, in-room refrigerators, microwaves, coffeemakers in some rooms, complimentary continental breakfast, wireless Internet access, $10 pet fee
Walk to: UVA, John Paul Jones Arena, Barracks Road Shopping Center
Econo Lodge North
U.S. 29 area - 2014 Holiday Drive
N/S rooms, cable TV, no pets, breakfast, wireless Internet access, microwave and refrigerator in some rooms
Walk to: Aberdeen Barn steak house
English Inn of Charlottesville
U.S. 29 area - 2000 Morton Drive
$100-150, increase for special events
All N/S facility, airport shuttle, indoor pool, exercise facility, full breakfast, no pets allowed, laundry service, high speed Internet access, complimentary high tea daily, free access to Gold's Gym, business center
Walk to: Bodo's Bagels, Barracks Road Shopping Center, John Paul Jones Arena
The Inn at Afton
Afton Mountain - 185 Afton Mountain Road
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, cable TV, pets allowed, conference rooms
Walk to: Swannanoa
Red Carpet Inn
U.S. 29 North - 405 Premier Circle
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, cable TV, no pets allowed, wireless Internet
Walk to: Shopper's World shopping center, Fashion Square Mall
Red Roof Inn
Midtown - 1309 W. Main St.
N/S rooms, cable TV, small pets allowed, complimentary coffee, free wireless Internet, guest laundry, access to Gold's Gym (fee)
Walk to: UVA
Royal Inn Motel
U.S. 29 North area - 410 Premier Circle
N/S rooms, weekly rates, AARP discount
Walk to: Toys R Us, Food Lion
U.S. 29 North are - 390 Greenbrier Drive
N/S rooms available, HBO, continental breakfast, fax, Internet access
Walk to: Golden Corral
Ruckersville - 8633 Seminole Trail
Cable tv, N/S rooms
Walk to: Subway, KFC, Taco Bell
Chester Bed & Breakfast
Scottsville area - 243 James River Road
5 rooms, 1 suite
N/S, full breakfast, private bath, afternoon wine, special events, weddings
Walk to: Historic Scottsville, Hatton Ferry
Shadwell area - 1296 Clifton Inn Drive
18; 14 rooms, 4 suites
$195-795 depending on accommodations, season, and time of week
N/S rooms, outdoor pool, full breakfast, afternoon tea, tennis courts, internet access, croquet, $75 total fee for pets, private lake with walking trails
Walk to: Rivanna River
Cottages at Chesley Creek
Dyke/Earlysville area - road leading up Brokenback Mountain
Fully equipped kitchens with gas range or cooktop, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, BBQ grill on the deck, 2 person jacuzzi, outdoor pool, open hiking trails
Walk to: mountains, Stone Mountain Vineyard
Dinsmore House Inn
UVA Corner - 1211 W Main St
8 ornate rooms
Price varies depending on room (from $109-$259)
heating/complimentary beverages and snacks, cable, breakfast, pool, workout room, parking, Internet, concierge
Walk to: UVA, Downtown Mall
The Foxfield Inn
Western Albemarle - 2280 Garth Road
Reservations: 1-866-FOX-FLDN (1-866-369-3536) Information: 923-8892
All N/S rooms, three course breakfast, cable TV available, no pets, outdoor spa, wireless Internet access, Bose CD radios in each room, fireplace and two person jacuzzis in 4 out of 5 rooms
Walk to: hills and trees, Hunt Country Store
Guesthouses Bed & Breakfast Inc
Locations near UVA, Downtown Mall
15 guest rooms, $100-200
20 cottages (1 and 2 bedroom), $125-250
10 private suites (1 and 2 bedroom), $125-300
7 whole houses (1, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom), $300-700
Unique accomodations all privately owned, breakfast provided, guest services will help you select your accomodations
Walk to: depends on what you choose
High Meadows Vineyard Inn
Scottsville area - 55 High Meadows Lane
$150-350, depending on room
N/S, full breakfast, laundry service, dinner (additional), wine tasting at various vineyards
Walk to: Lumpkin's Restaurant
The Inn at Court Square
Downtown - 410 E. Jefferson St.
6 rooms plus a two-bedroom suite
N/S, continental breakfast, cable TV, no pets, free parking
Walk to: Downtown Mall
The Inn at Dawsonville
Barboursville area - 6064 Fredericksburg Road
Mountain views, jacuzzi tub, wireless Internet, full breakfast, smoke free, no pets
Walk to: Rippin Run and White Run Streams
The Inn at Monticello
Monticello area - 1188 Scottsville Road
$175-250, depending on the season
N/S, full breakfast, no pets, wireless Internet
Walk to: Monticello Visitor's Center, Michie Tavern
The Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm
Western Albemarle - 6051 Sugar Hollow Road
N/S, full breakfast, several fireplaces, no pets, Internet access
Walk to: hills and trees
Inn at the Crossroads
North Garden area - 5010 Plank Road
8 rooms, 1 guest house
N/S, full breakfast, fireplaces, no pets, national historic registered property
Walk to: Crossroads Store, Dr. Ho's Humble Pie
The James River Inn
Scottsville Area - 3057 White Rock Road
Group getaways, continental breakfast, workout room, jogging and hiking trail, fireplace, on site concierge for event planning
Walk to: activities the lodge offers on its 90 acres of scenic forest
Stanardsville area - 146 East Main Street
6 rooms, 1 guest cottage
N/S, full breakfast, fireplaces in most rooms, wireless Internet in some rooms, Lafayette Inn restaurant on premises, wine tastings
Walk to: downtown Stanardsville
Prospect Hill Plantation Inn
Louisa County area - Route 613
B&B $195-395, dinner $49 a person plus tax and gratuity
N/S, outdoor pool, full breakfast, fireplaces, no pets
Walk to: hills and trees
Silver Thatch Inn
U.S. 29 North area - 3001 Hollymead Drive
N/S, full breakfast, restaurant of the same name, wireless Internet, flat screen tvs
Walk to: hills and trees
South River Country Inn
Stanardsville area - 3003 South River Road
N/S, on-site pond, full breakfast, cable TV, no pets, Internet access
Walk to: downtown Stanardsville
200 South Street Inn
Downtown - 200 W. South St.
16 rooms, 3 suites
N/S, continental breakfast, wireless Internet, cable TV, no pets, wine and cheese in the evenings, meeting space for business customers
Walk to: Downtown Mall
Boar's Head Inn
West side - 200 Ednam Drive
$150-465, depending on day and season
A/C, some smoking rooms available, airport shuttle, outdoor pools, exercise facility, cable TV, no pets, laundry service, golf course, tennis courts, spa, high speed Internet in rooms, wi-fi in public spaces, business center, complimentary tea and coffee daily, complimentary wine-tastings on weekends, golf and tennis pro shops, complimentary fishing and bicycling, and some rooms have fireplaces.
Walk to: Boar's Head Shops
Keswick Hall at Monticello
Keswick area - 701 Club Drive
45 rooms, 3 suites
$395-970 depending on time of year
N/S rooms, indoor/outdoor pool, infinity pool, exercise facility, satellite TV, laundry service, pet fee, golf course, tennis courts, spa, high-speed internet in rooms, wireless elsewhere
Walk to: upscale country club you can use
Long gone are the days when the urge to shop could only be scratched with a road trip. Sure, Short Pump is just a 45-minute hop and skip east down I-64, and there's certainly big city shopping delight found in trips to Tyson's Corner and Ikea. Still, Charlottesville has grown, and the coming year promises a variety of additional Charlottesville shopportunities as the Shops at Stonefield finally fill up and other shopping centers spruce up. That's good news for local shoppers— after all, there's nothing quite like the warm afterglow of a major purchase, and it's even better when the trip home with your new stuff is quick.
Shops at Stonefield- While most of the storefronts are still empty, Stonefield— best known as home of Trader Joe's and the new stadium seating Regal movie theater— is already home to several stores including Pier One and Brooks Brothers. Coming soon, we've been promised, are upscale kitchen goods purveyor Williams-Sonoma and home furnishings giant Pottery Barn, sure to draw throngs. Also opening this fall: the flagship store of Blue Ridge Mountain Sports; the high-end body, face and home product store L'Occitane; and fly-fishing, hunting and sporting goods store, Orvis.
The Corner: Not just for fashion-fearless undergrads, The Corner offers serious Charlottesville shoppers a respite from faceless brands and bland store fronts. While most of the shopping trends towards chick-wear, there's something for all Cavaliers at stores like Mincers (434-296-5687) and the Student Book Store (434-293-5900). Athletes of all genres must stop by Ragged Mountain Running Shop (434-293-3367) to get their stride checked by a member of the Lorenzoni family, (Mark and Cynthia have owned the store since 1982) or snag comfortable and functional workout gear for all occasions. Shopping for that unique, one-of-a-kind Foxfield dress? A stop at Finch (434-244-0050), Duo (434-979-1212), or Jack Wills is likely to turn up a preppy, glamorous, or quirky outfit suitable for dinner out or a sorority function!
Downtown Mall: Truly, the heart of Charlottesville, the Downtown Mall is a shopper's delight with dozens of locally owned shops offering goods ranging from handcrafted stationary to jewelry to clothing to housewares to lingerie and bedding. For gorgeous paper goods check out Rock Paper Scissors (979-6366) and Caspari (817-7880). Looking for a cute dress, skirt or top that won't break the bank? Check out Bittersweet (977-5977) or Jean Theory (296-5326). Have a bit more to burn? Verdigris (293-4747) and Spring Street (975-1200) have dresses so gorgeous they hurt, and some fantastic jewelry to boot. For something special to wear under the dress, check out Derriere de Soie (977-7455) for high-end lingerie. O'Suzannah (979-7467) is a perennial favorite for gifty knick-knacks; New Dominion Bookshop ( 295-2552) is a cozy shop for browsing, as are several used book stores up and down the Mall and on side streets. All this walking may get you thinking about shoes— you'll find cute, stylish footwear for men, women and kids at the shoe side of the Boutique Boutique clothing store (293-8400). Just across the way, men can find their own styles at the Young Men's Shop (975-3131), where, apparently, men are always considered young, no matter their actual age (magic, that, eh?). The truly young can get outfitted in high style at Petit Bébé (244-9400), and find the perfect birthday present at Alakazam (971-1717). Newly relocated from Barracks Road, Lynne Goldman Elements offers an array of modern, vintage and custom jewelry (977-9644). Tuckered out from all the shopping? Make your bed a sanctuary with bajillion thread-count sheets from Palais Royal (979-1581)– and pay attention for notice of their great sales.
Barracks Road Shopping Center: One of the first shopping centers in Virginia, Barracks Road— divided into two parts including the North Wing across Barracks Road from the main section— has undergone some freshening renovations recently and is home to several popular anchor stores including Old Navy (434-984-0167), make-up purveyor Ulta and home goods superstore Bed Bath & Beyond (434-971-3098), as well as two grocery stores (the recently merged Kroger and Harris Teeter). But the shopping center is also packed with popular national women's clothing chains that include Anthropologie (434-295-1749), White House Black Market (434-293-6448), Talbot's (434-296-3580), Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft (434-295-3232). New in 2013 is Trade (529-8455), a second hand boutique with some high fashion, fabulous finds. There's upscale women's clothing at Levy's, and shoe store Scarpa (434-296-0040). Men can get themselves looking sharp at Joseph A. Banks (434-244-0015) or splurge at Beecroft & Bull (434-977-9010). Other highlights include The Happy Cook (434-977-2665), The Virginia Shop (434-977-0080), Michael's (434-971-1087) and,of course, Barnes and Noble (434-984-0461).
Seminole Square: It's best known as the home of Marshall's (974-9375), Big Lots (975-6440), and Office Depot (975-1000), but among the mom and kid set, Seminole Square is the home of rainy day savior Bounce n' Play, the giant jumporium. Smaller shops at Seminole include the Party Starts Here (973-7359), not one but two bike stores, and Downtown Athletic (975-3696) and its offshoot, Total Soccer (220-2460).
Charlottesville Fashion Square: As the largest mall in the region, Fashion Square houses a bulk of big-name shops to which students and local residents flock. There are your basics: American Eagle Outfitters (434-973-0144), Aeropostale, Gap (434-973-9636), J.Crew (434-975-2889), and Eddie Bauer (434-973-8695). For women, Ann Taylor (434-975-2300), Cache, Claire's (434-973-1261), Coach (434-964-4693), Express, New York & Company (434-973-7019), Victoria's Secret (434-978-3771), and Wet Seal (434-973-8721) are all housed in Fashion Square. And for those who just like department store shopping, Sears (434-974-8200), JCPenney (434-973-7851), and Belk (434-973-7878) hold down the fort.
Rio Hill: Wanna get plugged in? Thanks to electronics hotspot Crutchfield (817-1100), you can do that with a trip to Rio Hill. You can also outfit yourself and your kids for just about any sport at Dick's Sporting Goods (974-5640). And if you have a household task, a trip to the nearby Lowe's (975-7140) is likely called for. In addition to a Kroger grocery store and several eateries, Rio Hill is also a good place for discount clothing prospects for men, women, and children: Rugged Wearhouse, Rack Room Shoes (974-7303), Payless Shoes (973-0389), and TJ Maxx (974-7410) are there, as is hipster thrift store Plato's Closet (977-4722), where they guarantee none of their brand name duds are older than a year or two (but where shoppers over the age of 30 may feel woefully old.)
Hollymead Town Center: Its official name may be the Hollymead Town Center, but most people in town know it best for its largest tenant, Target. A Kohl's department store also opened there in recent years, and there are a variety of other reasons to hit Hollymead, which is located about three miles north of Walmart on 29N. There's Pet Smart (964-9213), a Game Stop location (973-5981), a Harris Teeter grocery store (872-009), and several restaurants including Bonefish Grill and TGI Friday's.
West of town: Shopping's scattered as you head west, but if you're taking the scenic ride out 250 toward Crozet, there are a few places to stop and shop along the way including Kenny Ball Antiques, the Ivy Nursery and Savvy Rest. In warm weather, we've found a funky little antiques store on top of Afton Mountain.
Looking for antiques or consignment? Charlottesville has tons of places to rummage for vintage or low-cost finds. If you have a few hours to spare or are just looking for that perfectly classic piece to complete your (or your home's) look, these are the shops for you: Downtown— Circa Inc (434-295-5760), Oyster House Antiques (434-295-4757), Rosewood Antiques (434-977-5008), Low Vintage Clothing (293-9082). Ivy Road– Joseph Joseph & Joseph Antiques (434-970-7998), And George (434-244-2800), House of Jacobus Antiques (434-977-0024), The Curious Orange (984-1042). Route 29— Harlowe-Powell Auction Ltd (434-293-2904).