What first comes to mind when you think of Charlottesville and Albemarle County? Perhaps it’s the rich history offer- ing visitors a vibrant glimpse into the past. Maybe it’s the impeccable wine scene that helped to put Virginia on the map as one of the country’s top wine-producing states. If you’re mulling over wine, you’re likely dreaming about the Charlottesville area’s top-notch restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients as the main attraction of many menus. You may also think of outdoor excursions, from hiking and biking to paddle boarding and fruit picking at area orchards. Whichever fantastical direction your mind wanders, Charlottesville and Albemarle County are perfectly poised to make all of your travel daydreams come true.
Soak Up: History
Charlottesville and Albemarle County are home to world-renowned historic sites for every age and interest. Start at Michie Tavern for a taste of Colonial-era atmosphere and foods. Just a half mile away, Monti- cello is a can’t-miss opportunity to experience the history, preservation and education encapsulated in what was once the center of Thomas Jefferson’s world. Monticello and the University of Virginia—also founded by Jefferson—are together named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue the historical journey at Highland, residence of fifth U.S. President James Monroe, then on to Montpelier, home of fourth U.S. President James Madison. Finally, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center features a permanent historical exhibit and rotating contemporary art gallery focused on honoring and preserving the rich heritage and legacy of the African-American community of Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Drink Up: Wine Tours
The Charlottesville area’s wineries are known for their lush, rolling views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the relaxing atmosphere that calls for just one more glass. However, the wine itself leaves quite a lasting impression. Area wineries produce vintages of national and international acclaim and wines that are simply a pleasure to drink, especially on a warm summer day. Explore the Monticello Wine Trail, featuring more than 40 unique wineries. You can use the mobile- exclusive Monticello Wine Trail Passport to easily find wineries, track your visits and earn a prize along the way. You may also choose to book a local wine tour company that will plan customized routes and safely transport sippers from place to place. If you’re all wined out, explore Charlottesville’s thriving craft beverage scene, including breweries, artisanal cideries and distilleries.
Eat Up: Food Scene
The Charlottesville area is lauded for its well-established restaurant scene. Global cuisine transports palates to lands afar, while regional bounty is highly celebrated by chefs and restaurant owners who collaborate with local farms in Albemarle County. Dining destinations include Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, a pedestrian’s paradise dotted with outdoor restaurants, shops and entertainment; the Dairy Market, an innovative dining experience featuring food stalls, a brewery, restaurant, bar and retail shops; and the Wool Factory, home to a craft brewery, elegant dining set in a historic textile mill and a coffee and wine shop. Recently creating quite a culinary buzz is Marigold by Jean-Georges, which welcomes guests in a rustic chic atmosphere at Keswick Hall to delight in unforgettable cuisine reflective of the restaurant’s commitment to fresh, local, organic ingredients.
Live It Up: Outdoor Activities
It’s always a great time to visit Charlottesville and Albemarle County, but summer months are especially ideal for exploring endless outdoor activities. Hike or bike your way through the pristine trails of the nearby Shenandoah National Park or along the beloved Blue Ridge Parkway. Cool off with a journey via kayak, canoe, tube or stand-up paddleboard along the Rivanna or James River. Explore Albemarle County’s orchards and farms where the whole family can pick fresh, local treasures for the tastiest souvenirs you could imagine.
Wind Down: Accommodations
While it’s possible to experience several activities in a single day, the Charlottesville area is best savored dur- ing a long weekend. Or, to score even better deals, consider booking an excur- sion during the week! Luckily, there are accommodations to suit every style and preference. Bask in the plush amenities of a luxury resort or boutique inn. Relax in the familiar conveniences of a favorite chain hotel. Cozy up in a quaint cabin or bed and breakfast. You can even lodge at one of the fabulous wineries for an unparalleled experience. Plus, vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you’re on a romantic retreat, a girlfriends’ getaway or a journey for the whole family, it won’t be hard to find the ideal home away from home. Start planning your stay today at visitcharlottesville.org!