A couple of weeks ago, Alex and I spent a night in Charlottesville, VA. We had an amazing time and definitely want to go back! Charlottesville is a great place for a romantic getaway or a short family vacation. We only spent one night, but I'd recommend spending a weekend there. Here's an itinerary of what we did:
Walked Around Downtown
We strolled around downtown Charlottesville. The downtown is adorable and there's lots of cute shops and used book stores (Alex almost bought The Collected Works of John Bunyan...the book was several hundred years old!). There's also a lot of music history in Charlottesville. Dave Matthew's Band got their start at Miller's (a bar in downtown). One suggestion I have if you want to go into the shops is to get downtown earlier in the day. I was sad the find that most of the shops closed around 5 (might be different on the weekends).
Ate Dinner at Hamiltons' at First & Main
We had an AMAZING dinner at Hamilton's! I highly recommend it if you're looking for a nicer dinner out! It's right downtown and it has a great ambience. There was live music while we were playing and I had an unbelievably good plate of shrimp and grits.
Got Gelato at Splendora's
I LOVE Gelato and was super excited to find a gelato place downtown. Splendora's was excellent! My favorite flavor is stracciatella.
Drove Around UVA's Campus
If we had more time, we would have spent a few hours walking around the campus. Since our time was limited, we quickly drove around. UVA's campus is GORGEOUS and definitely worth seeing! I love that all the buildings have Jefferson's distinct Palladian architectural style (he designed the school).
Stayed at the English Inn of Charlottesville, VA
Alex found the English Inn and did a great job! We wanted a reasonably priced hotel that was close to downtown. The English Inn was a great value and was really close to everything. It's an older hotel but was very unique and quaint.
You can't take a trip to Charlottesville without visiting Monticello! Alex is a big Jefferson fan and has read a lot of biographies about him and so he was particularly excited. Jefferson was a fascinating man and had so many unique interests and ways of thinking and so his home really is amazing. I'd recommend setting aside 2-3 hours for this. The tour of the home only takes about an hour, but then there's fairly large grounds you can walk around (with a beautiful view overlooking the mountains), as well as other parts of the house you can see that aren't included in the tour like the slave quarters, basement, Jefferson's grave, etc. I'd also recommend getting to Monticello 30 minutes before your tour is supposed to start. You have to take a shuttle up to park and take a shuttle up to the house.
Lunch at Monsoon Siam
This restaurant is a gem! It's probably the trendiest Thai place I've been to and the food is amazing! Seriously, not exaggerating, I had the best Panang curry I've ever had. I regret not taking a picture of it but just trust me, it was SOOOO good! Our waitress was also the sweetest and she told us all about the time that Dave Matthews came in and she served him Red Curry.
Visit Carter Mountain Orchard
This is definitely worth doing! I read that Carter Mountain Orchard has the best view in Charlottesville and we were not disappointed! Be prepared for a VERY steep drive up a mountain. You can also go apple picking and shop their adorable store for apples, apple butter, apple doughnuts (they were delicious), etc.
Visit Ash-Lawn Highland
Once you visit Carter Mountain, you can keep driving through beautiful, windy mountain roads and you'll drive by Ash-Lawn Highland as well as several vineyards. We didn't have time to tour it, but we drove up and briefly saw President James Monroe's home. If we had more time, we'd love to go back and do a tour of Ash-Lawn Highland as well as Montpelier (James Madison's home).
Wine Tasting at Blenheim Vineyards
I wanted to do a tasting at a vineyard (there's 30 or so in Charlottesville) and so to satisfy Alex's Dave Matthew's fanboy desires, we went to Blenheim. Dave Matthews opened Blenheim Vineyards several years ago. I'm no wine connoisseur but I loved seeing the vineyard and tasting wines. My favorite wine is typically Pinot Noir but the grapes for Pinot Noir are mostly grown in California and Italy. Charlottesville is known more for lighter wines. My favorite wine at Blenheim was the Rose. We also drove by Trump Winery at it was GORGEOUS (that's right...owned by Donald Trump himself). Another vineyard I'd love to visit/my dream location to shoot a wedding is Pippin Hill.
I think we accomplished quite a bit in 24 hours! Hopefully next time we'll get to stay a little longer. I highly recommend visiting Charlottesville! If you've been there, what are some of your recommendations?