Even despite its small size, historic Charlottesville VA, is one of the most historically significant and greatest outdoor towns in the United States. Located in central Virginia about 30 kilometers to the east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is surrounded by rolling farmlands and vineyards. Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive lie a short drive away. As great as these highlights may be, the greatest popular attractions in historic Charlottesville VA lies near the city center. This is where Monticello is located, the former home of Thomas Jefferson. Additionally, the University of Virginia is considered to be one of the most significant colleges in the nation. Together, Monticello and UVA make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Let’s delve deeper into the a handful of popular attractions in Charlottesville.
Historic Charlottesville VA: Heritage, National Parks, Wine & Shopping
The undeniable star attraction in this small city in rural Virginia is Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s former plantation house. Set atop a hill just a few kilometers outside of downtown Charlottesville, Monticello is a brilliant architectural feat, a place that reflects its former resident’s personality like no other in the United States. He designed the house himself—incidentally, he also designed the University of Virginia (see below). Nowadays, this is one of the absolute historic highlights in the entire country, a place so historically important that it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
University of Virginia
Another part of that UNESCO World Heritage Site is the University of Virginia and its Rotunda. Jefferson founded the university in the early-19th century. Designing the Rotunda and the Lawn—collectively known as Jefferson’s Academical Village—himself, Jefferson envisioned a stronghold of knowledge on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Nowadays, the University of Virginia is one of the top universities in the United States as well as one of the most historically significant.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park protects a part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, a quick drive from historic Charlottesville in Virginia, and features beautiful mountain landscapes, dozens of hiking trails, several campsites and a couple of spectacular drives. The park is crossed by the Skyline Drive, which runs along its length and is one of the country’s most scenic roads. To the south, the Skyline Drive connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs all the way south to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Probably the most popular attraction in downtown Charlottesville, the Downtown Mall is a pedestrianized street that occupies no fewer than eight city blocks in the heart of the city. It is one of the nation’s longest pedestrian shopping malls and lined with restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and offices—a strongly recommended place to go for an urban stroll.
Vineyards and Breweries
The countryside around historic Charlottesville VA is dotted with vineyards and wineries, while its city center is home to many fun craft breweries. After a well-filled day of sightseeing or adventuring, kicking back with a glass of wine or pint of ale is a well-deserved way to finish off the day. It’s also possible to dedicate a whole afternoon to visiting wineries or breweries—there are several great winery and brewery tours.