Charlottesville, VA is a city steep with history. Three of the Founding Fathers were from this once small town. It’s home to one of the oldest and most prestigious public universities in the United States. It’s also the hometown of Captain Meriwether Lewis, considered together with Lieutenant William Clark, as the greatest explorer that hailed from the Americas. The charms of Charlottesville aren’t limited to its historical sites however. The rolling hillsides of Albermale County are home to some of the regions best wineries and nearby are some of the best breweries and distilleries. Finally, Charlottesville is only a half hour’s drive away from the beautiful and natural wonders of the Shenandoah National Park.
Attractions in Charlottesville VA
It’s no secret that the house and home that our nation’s third president built for over three decades is one of the main attractions in Charlottesville VA. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to me is a work of a genius and a brilliant work of architecture. If you haven’t visited, I highly recommend that you do. The symmetry of the house, the gadgets that are displayed in it, and its incredible location are worth getting lost into for several hours. Monticello is also filled with historical anecdotes about Mr. Jefferson. Volunteers and workers within the estate will be more than happy to tell you lighthearted stories about Mr. Jefferson’s repeated attempts of making wine (he never succeeded) to the serious concerns he had about slavery in the country. Monticello is also the only presidential home in the United States awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
The University of Virginia
Thomas Jefferson felt very passionate about what he then coined as “ The Academical Village,” so much so that he had it immortalize in his gravestone. Mr. Jefferson had a hand in recruitment and creation of the curriculum at the University of Virginia (UVA). In addition, he also personally designed many of the original buildings within campus, many of which still stand today. They include the pavilions that line up both sides of the Lawn and the Rotunda that serves as the university’s landmark. These buildings are also considered heritage sites and are protected by UNESCO.
The UVA campus presents visitors a number of worthy attractions in Charlottesville VA. In addition to the Rotunda and the Lawn, it also has pieces of the Berlin Wall near the main library, a plaque over the door of No. 31 marking the room of Woodrow Wilson, Edgar Allan Poe’s preserved room, and the Gothic Revival-designed university chapel that is available for special services such as weddings, christenings, and funerals.
Vineyards at the Monticello Wine Trail and Breweries at Brew Ridge Trail
Charlottesville might be known as a university town, but make no mistake in discounting its affiliation with romance. If you’re a Virginian or have been traveling around Virginia, you would have noticed their tourism slogan that says, “Virginia is for Lovers.” They must have coined that while on holiday at one of the vineyards that line the Monticello Wine Trail. The trail includes over two-dozen vineyards within short distances of each other, giving visitors plenty of access to scenic views, good food, and great wine. Vineyard tours with accompanying wine tastings are often available on weekends.
This area of Virginia truly is the best of both worlds, at least as far as libations are concerned. Craft beer enthusiasts wouldn’t feel left out since there are also a number of breweries surrounding the city of Charlottesville. Those with a keen interest in beers will likely end up at one of the breweries on the Brew Ridge Trail. Like the vineyards within the Monticello Wine Trail, the six breweries that are part of the Brew Ridge Trail have tours and tastings available to the public.
Shenandoah National Park
Charlottesville’s close proximity to Shenandoah National Park is one of reasons so many people have chosen to make Charlottesville their home. Though technically not within the city boundaries and therefore not officially part of the attractions in Charlottesville VA, it’s possible for visitors to hike one of the many trails at Shenandoah National Park and be back in time for dinner. If hiking is not your cup of tea, you can still enjoy the park’s natural and scenic beauty by car. The Swift Gap entrance to Skyline Drive, the only public road that stretches the entire length of the park, is a mere 30-minute drive, with the next entrance/exit junction at Front Royal only an hour away.