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 nearly 20 daily departures and around 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.