The stately Virginian town of Charlottesville is best known for its most famous sons, former U.S. presidents James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson. But beyond its reputation as a presidential incubator, Charlottesville also regularly ranks as one of the country’s best cities to live for its mild climate and high quality of life. The bustling University of Virginia campus, a can’t-miss destination for anyone who decides to travel to Charlottesville, contributes to a vibrant downtown area full of bars, restaurants and boutiques. The city’s charming colonial-style buildings are steeped in history. When you visit Charlottesville, check out the surrounding Albemarle countryside to ride horses and sample local vintages from sprawling vineyards. Our Charlottesville travel guide will point you to the can’t-miss sights of this history-rich destination.
Things Not to Miss in Charlottesville
• Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello
• James Monroe’s residence at Ash Lawn-Highland
• The University of Virginia campus, also known as “Mr. Jefferson’s University”
• Downtown Mall, the city’s pedestrian-friendly hub of culture and entertainment
• Horse and wine country, west of Charlottesville
• Michie Tavern, a former inn dating back to 1784
• The Virginia Discovery Museum
• The Blue Ridge Mountains
When to Go to Charlottesville
Fall is peak season in Charlottesville, when students return to the UVA campus and the foliage – plus the UVA football team, the Cavaliers – attract a great number of tourists. Even at peak times, Charlottesville is not as crowded as some of the larger U.S. cities, so feel free to visit Charlottesville in September through November, despite the crush of students. The fall season also makes for great hiking in the nearby mountains. Winters in Charlottesville are mild, and tourists who travel to Charlottesville during the winter will find reasonable hotel rates and decent skiing at nearby Wintergreen Resort. Make your Charlottesville travel plans during the summer (May through August) for the quietest travel times; the students are gone, the gardens at Monticello will be in full bloom, and you can cool off after a hot day by going tubing on the James River.