What to do if you only have 48 hours in Charlottesville? Great question! My hometown has a lot of great tourist attractions and things to do. I’ve previously shared some parts of the different neighborhoods of town here. However, I wanted to give you some more ideas because so many people do come for shorter visits.
Visit Historic Charlottesville
Oddly enough, most of the historic places are not in Charlottesville, but in surrounding counties!
The Local Presidents’ Residences
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello | Monticello has recently changed their tour and have added in more information about slavery. Depending on when you go, there are hands-on activities to do. If you want to make a day of it in warmer weather, you can also walk up the Saunder’s-Monticello Trail. It’s about 2 miles up, and 2 back. However, if you plan on doing it with a tour of Monticello, it’s quite a bit of walking! Heads up, if you’re just going on the hike, no dogs allowed on the bridges.
Montpelier | The home of James Madison is another fabulous place to visit. Montpelier is also the home to a steeplechase in the fall. One great aspect of Montpelier that other places don’t offer, is total access to the grounds. You can go on hikes while you’re there instead of touring the house.
James Monroe’s Highland | In case you haven’t noticed, Charlottesville is the home to multiple presidents. Their homes are all kept nicely restored and historically accurate, including Highland. Highland has a lot of hands-on activities as well, and they used to have some farm animals. Sadly, I don’t think animals are a part of their tour anymore. However, there is recent excavation work that leads to more knowledge about the origins of Highland, and why it was formally known as Ashlawn Highland.
Other Historic Places
Michie Tavern | Learn the Virginia reel and how a real tavern operated. Take some time to have lunch at the Ordinary before or after your tour. You will not find better fried chicken or mashed potatoes anywhere else in town!
University of Virginia | UVA was one thing Thomas Jefferson is best known for, outside of writing the Declaration of Independence. UVA has tons of historical information around, including new information about the impact of Slavery on the university. Moreover, UVA is the second oldest university in Virginia, but only to William and Mary in Williamsburg. You can also watch a variety of sports, depending on the season. If you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of our 2019 Men’s Basketball National Championship Trophy!
Eating in Charlottesville
Charlottesville is a food mecca.
The College Inn | Located on UVA’s The Corner, you will find some delicious food! It’s a mixture of American and Italian.
The White Spot | Located toward the bottom of The Corner, you’ll find classic diner food with the authentic diner feel.
Boylan Heights | Across the street from The White Spot, you’ll find a burger joint called Boylan Heights. It’s got any burger you could possibly dream of. Select one of their menu burgers, or create your own with the scantron form. Also, I highly suggest their milkshakes.
The Korner Restaurant | Just past the hospital, you’ll find the Korner Restaurant. You won’t find better all-American food available anywhere in Charlottesville. Sadly, they are not opened on the weekends anymore and are only open for dinner on Friday nights. However, they’re open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday.
The Villa | Just past UVA you’ll find Barrack’s Road and the Villa! Delicious food for great prices. You will definitely find something you like and then some! A great bonus is a lot of the options are healthy.
Bodo’s Bagels | The best bagels in America (sorry New York). Get here early or risk waiting in a line around the block (I wish I was kidding). If you’re not a fan of bagels, they do have salads and some other options.
Wineries, Breweries, and Cideries
Welcome to the heart of Virginia’s wine and brewery country! Again, like the historical parts of Charlottesville, most of these are located in the counties surrounding the city.
King Family Vineyard | King Family is one of the “original” tasting rooms in Charlottesville. It’s also a premier wedding venue. On Sundays in the summer they have polo! Additionally, it’s got tons of space for walks and beautiful views.
Mount Ida Reserve | A great option in the southern end of the county. It’s got drop-dead gorgeous views!
Jefferson Vineyards | Also located in the southern end of the county, the views are gorgeous and you have plenty of wine choices!
Keswick Vineyards | A wedding venue with great views and outdoor seating. Enjoy the tasting room, or take a walk. There is a plenty of space at Keswick to enjoy their award winning wines!
Blenheim Vineyards | If you’re a fan of Dave Matthews Band, you’ve probably heard of Blenheim Vineyards. Especially since it’s actually owned by Dave Matthews. While Blenheim does not have some of the views other vineyards do, it’s still got a fantastic mountain view and award winning wine!
Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards | Another fantastic wedding venue. Pippin is actually where the old county fair was held. Consequently, it’s got gorgeous views, a great barn, and everything else you need for an aesthetically pleasing wedding. It’s also got a great tasting room and plenty of space outside!
Trump Winery | Trump Winery is located in the southern end of Albemarle and has beautiful views. The actual tasting room is across the road from the main house vineyard. Additionally, this is another great location for a wedding! Weddings are held on the same property as the house, not where the tasting room is.
Veritas Vineyard and Winery | Veritas has Starry Nights during the summer and has great views!
Cideries and Breweries
Albemarle Ciderworks | Located in North Garden (follow the signs to Lynchburg) you’ll find a cidery located in an apple orchard. All of the ciders come from locally grown apples.
Bold Rock Cidery | While the original cidery is located in Nellysford (drive like you’re going to Waynesboro, VA), you’ll find Bold Rock available at Carter Mountain Orchard and Chiles Peach Orchard, as well. Additionally, Bold Rock has a ton of outdoor seating.
Devil’s Backbone | Just down the road from Bold Rock, you’ll find Basecamp, home to Devil’s Backbone. They’ve got space to camp and delicious food!
Blue Mountain Brewery | Stay on the same road from Bold Rock and Devil’s Backbone and you’ll find Blue Mountain Brewery. An added bonus: they’ve got great options for food in addition to alcohol.
Kardinal Hall | Located close to downtown, this is known as the “old Coke building” because it was the old Coke distribution center. It’s got great food, good atmosphere, and lots of choices! They have a gorgeous outdoor patio with string lights, too!
Carter Mountain Orchard & Chiles Peach Orchard | Don’t miss Sunset Series on Thursday nights at Carter Mountain if you can help it! Furthermore, it’s got a great atmosphere, alcoholic options from Prince Michel Winery and Bold Rock. Plus, live music and great sunset views. This year, they were ticketed to help with crowd control and COVID. In the spring, you can pick peaches, and in the fall you can grab fresh apples.
Downtown Mall | Great shopping, great food. Saturdays in the summer you’ll find the City Market in the parking lot just outside the Market Street Parking Garage.
Garden Week | Once a year, visit some of the best gardens in Virginia!
Kayaking, Canoeing, Floating, and Fishing | Enjoy the James and Rivana Rivers and all that they have to offer. There are plenty of put in and take out areas, and you can also call one of the many local companies for rentals or suggestions. If you have a while, you can also camp along the James River.
Shenandoah National Park, The Appalachian Trail & Hiking| Love hiking? First and foremost, there are tons of places to go that are not even included in the SNP or part of the AT.
Trail Riding | Several local barns in the area offer trail rides on horseback. Some places will even take you to vineyards for a ride!
Virginia Film Festival | Every year, Charlottesville plays hosts to the premiers of films. You can see a variety from UVA produced films and internationally known films.
Virginia Festival of the Book | Another annual event is the week-long Festival of the Book. Growing up, an author used to come to school and talk about their book every year. When I was a TA, Anna Dewdney came for the Festival and spoke at the school I worked at. She writes the Llama Llama books. I also got to meet an author who was a Holocaust survivor.