Home to founding fathers and future leaders, Charlottesville is a town that is both steeped in tradition and forward thinking. Its small-town feel, access to the Blue Ridge Mountains and a thriving arts community make Charlottesville the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Foodies flock to Charlottesville for its farm-to-table dining scene while oenophiles sip their way through more than 30 wineries.
When to Go
Autumn's changing colors and the wine harvest make fall the most popular time to visit Charlottesville but it really is a four season destination. Mountain meadows erupt in a riot of color with dogwoods, azaleas and wildflowers blooming each spring while summer brings about hiking and paddling on the James or Rivanna Rivers. Winters are typically quiet but offer an opportunity to explore Charlottesville's wineries without the crowds or visitors may opt to head to one of the nearby ski resorts.
Every March bibliophiles make their way to Charlottesville to celebrate the written word during the Virginia Festival of the Book. The festival brings in notable authors such as David Baldacci and Representative John Lewis for five days of readings, discussions, performances and book signings across 70 venues throughout the Charlottesville area.
What to Eat
The same mild climate and rich soil that makes Charlottesville a premier wine region also makes it a prime spot for growing apples. Orchards grow more than 20 varieties of apples in the mountains surrounding Charlottesville and are made into classic baked goods such as apple pie and cider donuts as well fuel for Charlottesville's growing number of craft cideries.
Souvenir to Take Home
The Blue Ridge Mountains have long been a muse for artists but the realities of mountain life have placed a priority on items that are functional as well as beautiful. Stop by the C'Ville Arts Cooperative Gallery to peruse the wares of more than 50 artists featuring everything from leather goods and handspun pottery to expertly crafted woodwork.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Farm-to-table is more than just a catchphrase in Charlottesville. The hills surrounding Charlottesville are home to small independent farms, some of which have been run by the same family for generations, producing everything from peaches and apples to free range meats and dairy. Stop by one of these family farms for a chance to pick your own produce or get a behind-the-scenes look at farm life on an interactive tour.
A short drive south on the Blue Ridge Parkway will bring you to Raven's Roost Overlook, which at an elevation of 3,200 feet provides sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Time your visit for 30 minutes before sunset for a kaleidoscope of color as the sun sinks below the horizon.