Charlottesville, VA

Destination Location

  • 38.029306, -78.476678:primary
  • 38.138639, -78.45286:secondary

Overview

A visit to Charlottesville is all about following the trails. Walk downtown or visit Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello or his legacy at the University of Virginia to follow the path of early American history. Or dive into one of the many themed "trails" to find activities you're passionate about. Whichever way you go, you're bound to find something to make your visit great.

If art is your thing, the Monticello Artisan Trail will get you on the right track. A network of artisans have come together to create an easy way to tour studios and galleries and participate in events and workshops. Another option is to take in the city's thriving arts and entertainment scene. See famous names in lights at downtown marquees and catch some live music to get your toes tapping.

If you prefer your entertainment in a glass, try the Monticello Wine Trail. Move over Napa – the Virginia landscape offers a natural advantage. Mountains have eroded down into rolling hills that feature subtle differences in altitude and aspect, soil and light, which causes slight differences in grapes from one vine to another. More than 20 vineyards have discovered this secret and share it with visitors through tours and tastings.

Another choice is the Brew Ridge Trail, which will satisfy hops lovers. Virginia was once known as the hops capital of the world, and the brew industry is still going strong. Award-winning small-batch breweries offer handcrafted ales and lagers as well as hard ciders.

If actual outdoor trails are more your style, you'll find undeveloped forests and fields and scenic drives just outside the city. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak the James or Rivanna rivers, wander through orchards, go for a hike, or try out the area's bike trails.

You can also take your clubs to the region's manicured greens. There are four golf courses to choose from, including links designed by Pete Dye and Associates and an Arnold Palmer Signature Course. On the other end of the dirt spectrum, agritourism will provide insight into the long history of agriculture and the business of farmers in the area.

When you get to Charlottesville, pick a trail, any trail! It will get you where you want to go.

WestJet is pleased to offer service to this destination through our code-share agreement with our great airline partners.

Destination basics

Looking for a vibrant experience? Visit Charlottesville in the fall. The foliage will awe you, as will the remarkable reds and oranges dancing off the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Winters are also very kind to visitors, with mild weather and very little snow. Average high temperatures into November still hit 15 C (60 F) or better, and the warm temperatures return by March, when the flowers also start to bloom. Like similar regions, summers are hot and humid, but here they’re broken up by a cool valley breeze that provides relief on really hot days. If you're a storm-watcher, Charlottesville might even treat you to a thunderstorm.

When it comes to dining, Charlottesville will leave you spoiled for choice. The city’s restaurants make the most of the region’s bountiful natural resources, offering creative and classic menus fashioned from fresh local ingredients. 

American Cuisine
Savor classic American fare, in an elegant setting at restaurants like the Ivy Inn, and the Downtown Grille. Here, dining out is an experience to be cherished, and these restaurants are the perfect choice for a special occasion. Succulent steaks and seafood are served alongside impressive wine lists that showcase the region’s best, complemented by top notch service. For a more contemporary take on the classics, Hamiltons’ on First & Main is a local favorite, while the Old Mill Room at the Boar’s Head is a more refined alternative. The Local and Chicken Burger Bar both epitomize farm to table dining, with menus that are packed with delicious New American options created using local, organic ingredients. For a taste of east coast seafood, head to Public Fish & Oyster, while Mel’s is your best bet for casual comfort food with oodles of Southern flair. 

International Cuisine
Amidst a culinary scene teeming with restaurants that showcase regional cuisine and New American fare, the city’s dining scene caters to international tastes as well. Savor succulent kofte and Turkish coffee at Sultan Kebab, or delve into the flavorful world of Spanish cuisine at Mas Tapas. 

Wineries
Charlottesville’s diverse dining scene is an apt complement to the region’s vast vineyards and fabulous wineries. Surrounded by sprawling vineyards and lush orchards, Charlottesville is home to a host of fabulous wineries including First Colony, Gabriele Rausse and Trump, making this a worthy stop along the Monticello Wine Trail.

A university town with a storied past, Charlottesville is a city with much to offer. Here, you will find trendy boutiques and contemporary restaurants thriving alongside long-standing institutions and the markers of a proud past.

Historic Downtown

The Historic Downtown of Charlottesville forms the core of the city, centered around the fabulous pedestrian mall designed by Lawrence Halprin. The neighborhood is a mix of historic residential and commercial buildings, most notable of which are the Courthouse, Levy Opera House, Number Nothing, Christ Church and Beth Israel Synagogue - each with origins in the 1800s. The historic Court Square is an especially intriguing picture of the past interwoven with the present. Here, historic facades have been restored and repurposed as residential and commercial space. Nearby, the historic Downtown Mall forms the heart of the neighborhood and lies at the center of Charlottesville’s cultural sphere as home to several independent boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and historic entertainment venues like the Paramount Theater.

The Corner

What was once nothing more than a literal corner at the point where Main Street met the gates of the University of Virginia, is today one of the city’s most popular dining and shopping destinations. Much like the Historic Downtown Mall, the Corner is dominated by locally-owned, independent boutiques and restaurants, with a charm that is all its own. The past and present intersect at the Corner where historic attractions like the C&O Railroad Bridge and the Corner Building stand side by side with more recent additions. Infused with a lively, laid-back vibe, the Corner boasts a trendy ethos spurred by the cosmopolitan University crowd.

Woolen Mills

The neighborhood of Woolen Mills is one of the city’s oldest and boasts a bountiful rural charm. The splendid Victorian facade of the Woolen Mills chapel is a testament to the neighborhood’s historic roots, with origins that can be traced back to 1887. Bordered by the Rivanna River, Woolen Mills is also a popular destination for those who enjoy the outdoors, with ample opportunity to indulge in a host of activities at Meade Park and the Rivanna Greenbelt Trail.

For a city of this size, Charlottesville boasts an astoundingly varied cultural scene, with entertainment venues that range from major historic theaters, and arenas, to more intimate choices that favor the independent arts scene.

Theater
Built in 1931, the Paramount Theatre was originally a movie theater. Today, the historic theater has been restored to its former glory and transformed into a veritable palace for the performing arts. The theater not only hosts theatrical performances, dance recitals, and concerts but also offers a robust program of community events and educational workshops for all ages. Nearby, the simple and more intimate Live Arts hosts community theater productions that are nonetheless delightful. There is no dearth of choices outside of Downtown either, with options like the Heritage Repertory Theater at the University of Virginia, and the New Lyric Theater at the top of the list.

Music
Home to artists like Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford of the infamous Dave Matthews Band, and reggae/blues musician Corey Harris, Charlottesville supports a thriving music scene. The majestic Jefferson Theater forms the heart of the city’s live music offer - a historic theater that is today one of the city’s most beloved concert venues. While the Jefferson is the place to catch some of the nation’s top acts in action, the Southern features a program of lesser-known local and touring bands. As you chow down on classic southern fare at the bar, let the local talent on stage show you the city’s passion for music. During summer, the Sprint Pavilion is the place to be. Concerts featuring national bands take the stage at this fabulous outdoor venue in a sun-soaked celebration of music.

Festivals
When it comes to celebrating the arts, Charlottesville knows how to do it right. The annual Virginia Film Festival attracts the likes of Sandra Bullock, Anthony Hopkins, and Sigourney Weaver, with screenings of over 70 American and international films, alongside lectures, workshops, and discussions led by some of the industry’s best. The Virginia Festival of the Book is another annual event that attracts much attention. This five-day celebration of the literary world is a source of sheer delight for bibliophiles with author events, readings, and lectures from a host of bestselling authors.

Art Galleries
Just one block away from the West end of the Downtown Mall, the McGuffey Art Center is the ideal place to begin your exploration of the city’s art scene. This artist cooperative hosts varied exhibitions, workshops, performances and artists residencies.The Downtown Mall itself boasts a heady concentration of art galleries that exhibit artwork by local, established and emerging artists. C’ville Arts and the Second Street Gallery are two of the most popular the Mall has to offer. The First Friday art walk, hosted on the first Friday of each month, is a popular event amongst art enthusiasts. For one day, the art galleries of Downtown host an open house, inviting all and sundry to experience the fine arts.

Shopping
If you fancy a day of retail therapy or window shopping, Charlottesville will not disappoint. Downtown Mall and the Corner both boast an amazing array of independent boutiques and specialty stores that offer unique wares. If you prefer shopping at a mall, the Barracks Road Shopping Center, the Shops at Stonefield and the Seminole Square Shopping Center are all great choices. For local specialties, artisanal crafts, and fresh produce, the weekly City Market at the Downtown Mall is your best bet.

Outdoors
Set against the Southwest Mountains, along the banks of the Rivanna River, Charlottesville is a treasure trove of delights for the outdoors enthusiast. You’ll find plenty to get your adrenaline pumping around the city and the surrounding Albemarle County. The Rivanna Trail is a fine choice for those who do not wish to venture beyond city limits but still crave a taste of the wilderness. Further away, the Shenandoah National Park is riddled by an extensive network of trails suitable for hikers of every caliber.

Sports
Although Charlottesville has no national teams of its own, the city is home to the University of Virginia’s varsity athletic teams - the Cavaliers. Join the locals as they cheer on the beloved Cavaliers at Scott Stadium and the John Paul Jones Arena - two of the city’s premier sports venues.

Charlottesville

State: Virginia

Country: United States of America

Charlottesville by the Numbers
Population: 49,071 (city); 229,304 (metropolitan)
Elevation: 594 feet / 181 meters
Average Annual Precipitation: 44 inches / 112 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 16 inches / 41 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 35.9 °F / 2.2 °C
Average July Temperature: 77.2 °F / 25.1 °C

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, AC

Time Zone: GMT-5 (GMT-4 Daylight Saving Time); Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Code: 434

Did You Know?

When artist Georgia O’Keeffe was 21 years old, she was convinced she would never paint again. In fact, she claimed that the smell of turpentine made her sick. However, in 1912 she took a summer art class at the University of Virginia. Inspired once again, she went on to become one of the nation’s most revered modern artists.

Orientation

Charlottesville is located at the heart of Virginia along the banks of the Rivanna River, and to the west of the Southwest Mountains and the Blue Ridge. Richmond, VA, is 70 miles (110 kilometers) away, and Washington, DC, is 115 miles (185 kilometers) away from Charlottesville.

Established in 1762 and incorporated in 1888, the city of Charlottesville was named after the Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III. Although formally established in the 18th Century, Charlottesville began as the site of a Monacan village along the historic Three Notched Road – a well-traveled trade route that ran between Richmond and the Great Valley - what is today U.S. Route 250.

Home of presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, Charlottesville has long been a part of the country’s political history. During the Revolutionary War, between 1779 and 1781, British and German prisoners of war were housed at the Albemarle Barracks of Charlottesville. Although the barracks are long gone, a plaque marks the site at the foot of Barracks Farm Road. During the American Civil War, the city played its part by caring for wounded confederate soldiers and manufacturing uniforms for the confederate army, yet emerged largely untouched at the end of the war, unlike others that were reduced to cinders.

The establishment of the University of Virginia in 1819 marks an important turn in the city’s history. Renowned as one of the country's original public Ivies, the university remains a preeminent educational establishment; the embodiment of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “bulwark of the human mind in this hemisphere”. Centered around Jefferson's Academical Village, the university has played a major role in the development of the city, through an economic boom spurred by the influx of students, faculty and support staff, lending the city a more diverse and energetic ethos. Years later the G.I. Bill lent further impetus to the development of Charlottesville, through the growth of the university following World War II.

Today, Charlottesville is a vibrant, modern city, that is nonetheless rooted in its identity as an agricultural center and educational stalwart.

Points of interest in Charlottesville, VA

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