Best Places to Visit in Charlottesville
Located in the heart of Central Virginia’s Piedmont region, historic Charlottesville offers its visitors active adventures along the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as scenic gardens, remarkable neoclassical architecture, great museums and art installations such as IX Art Park and a wealth of important works. civil buildings. War relics. Along the way, you’ll find the Downtown Mall, one of the longest pedestrian streets in the United States, a brick-and-mortar boulevard with eight boutique shops and restaurants.
Located in what Thomas Jefferson called “American Paradise,” this thriving university town welcomes visitors with family-friendly activities, warm hospitality, and winding mountain roads that are the journey’s destination.
To get the most out of your visit here, be sure to check out our list of the Best Places to Visit in Charlottesville and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Charlottesville
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Charlottesville:
1. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
After Jefferson completed his third term as president of the United States, he chose “The Hill” of Monticello for his sprawling plantation, working farm and ranch. A UNESCO World Heritage Site today, Monticello is a must-see, and for good reason: The site is home to thousands of artifacts and the rare Jefferson mayfly.
Take a closer look at his documents, books, and furniture on a guided tour of his home and grounds. In his work, pay particular attention to the polygraph copier, a device that Jefferson called “the greatest invention of our time.”
Monticello offers a variety of different tour options. The house and garden tour provides a comprehensive look at everyday life here, and historical accuracy finds Monticello faced with difficult problems such as Jefferson’s use of slavery.
Visitors should take the time to explore Mulberry Street to better understand the conditions of slavery that existed at the time. The industrial heart of slave habitats and plantations sits on the “row” and special “Monticello Slavery” tours are also available. It’s best to schedule a visit later in the day to avoid crowds.
Address: Charlottesville, Virginia 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Official website: www.monticello.org
2. Downtown Mall
The Charlottesville Downtown Mall is a seven-block, pedestrianized area located on historic East Main Street in downtown. If you’re hungry but not sure what your mood is, this is the place to be inspired, with three dozen cafes, restaurants and eateries for every taste.
It is also the center of the Charlottesville arts scene, with numerous galleries and performance venues, including the concert hall at the Jefferson Theater and several performances at the Paramount Theatre.
There’s also plenty of shopping, with two bookstores (one for used books and one for shiny new books), a record store, gift boutiques, a luxury pawnshop, and even a day spa.
Address: 108 5th Avenue NE, Charlottesville, Virginia
Official website: www.downtowncharlottesville.com
3. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia (UVA) is a cornerstone of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy and lifelong commitment to education; Its floors and neoclassical architecture date back to its intimate plans.
The university offers free daily campus tours during classes. Run by student volunteers, one-hour tours begin at the central rotunda of Jefferson’s “Academic Village”, the heart of the university’s original campus. Modeled after Rome’s second-century Pantheon, the Rotunda has been the iconic symbol of the university since its completion in 1826.
Visitors can wander along passages and corridors on the lawn, a large grassy courtyard surrounded by 10 pavilions for students and staff.
The various UVA gardens are easily accessible when visiting campus. The gardens along the east and west pavilions feature intricate geometric designs, ornate boxwood patterns, and the native trees, shrubs, and plants Jefferson loved. Hall X in the East Hall is one of the largest gardens at more than 150 feet wide – the large oval design with “elephant ears” is based on Jefferson’s plan to build a similar garden at Monticello.
If you have time, it is also worth seeing the Fralin Art Museum; The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, home to UVA’s extensive collection of Australian Aboriginal art; and the McCormick Observatory, which offers regular evening programs to the public.
Official website: www.uvaguides.org
4. Civil War Historical Sites
Central Virginia played an important role in many important battles and historically significant operations during the Civil War. Just 50 miles from Charlottesville, visitors can explore Appomattox Court National Historical Park, where Robert E. Lee (General of the Army of Northern Virginia) surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant. The park includes period recreation of the hamlet discovered in the mid-1800s, architectural walking tours, and the Appomattox County History Museum.
Located near Gordonsville, the Exchange Hotel Civil War Medical Museum presents visitors with the hotel’s remarkable history as a reception hospital for the Civil War. The building houses numerous medical and Civil War artifacts and is the only surviving hospital of its kind in Virginia.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was one of the most devastating of all civil wars. The Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center has two floors of memorabilia and artifacts that help tell the “war between nations” story. Note the actual drums of the Massachusetts 28th Volunteer Regiment of the Irish Brigade going into battle.
Visitors can also learn about the Battle of Chancellorsville, 20 miles south of Fredericksburg, where Stonewall Jackson was killed by friendly fire in the decisive engagement.
5. Shenandoah National Park
Skyline Drive has been designated a National Historic Landmark on the National Scenic Byway and Register of Historic Places. Easily accessible from Charlottesville, this legendary American trail is one of the most scenic and enjoyable mountain bike rides in the country, whatever the season. Skyline Drive is a 105-mile straight road less than 30 minutes from Charlottesville, accessible via Skyline Drive and the northern Parkway terminus at Interstate 64.
Head north from the terminal near Waynesboro to the legendary Blue Ridge Mountains, which stretch almost the entire length of Shenandoah National Park, where there are some great hiking opportunities. Bring your camera and prepare for an easy pace as there are 75 lookouts on Front Royal road.
Plan to take the entire drive for at least three hours, but don’t be surprised if it takes longer, as there are plenty of opportunities to stop, take pictures, and enjoy the stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley. Located at Milestone 40.5, Thorofare Mountain Overlook is the best place for an early morning view.
Official website: https://visitskylinedrive.org
6. Blue Ridge Mountains
It’s hard to get a hot air balloon view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia from 1,500 feet high. This four-season adventure offers breathtaking views of the rolling foothills and gorgeous farmland that make up the patchwork quilt of Albemarle County. Driving times range from 60 to 90 minutes, including ground transportation to the launch site.
Monticello County Balloons and Blue Ridge Balloons are among the local operators to create the perfect ride for guests. Do not overdress, because the air at height is very similar to the air on the ground; You will be comfortable with daily clothes and sneakers.
7. James Monroe’s Highland
Home to the plantation of US President James Monroe from 1799 to 1823, Heights is another major landmark to include in your Charlottesville itinerary. Located just minutes from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, this very beautiful property is as well preserved as it was during the Monroe era. Now a working farm and museum.
In addition to the main wooden residences, you can visit several buildings, including a guesthouse from 1818 and additions built in the late century, including a farmhouse.
Other notable features include a reconstructed ice store, smokehouse, watcher’s lodge, and slave quarters. Be sure to take time to wander the hotel’s trails for some of the most picturesque rural scenery anywhere in the state. Guided tours are available and a stop at the museum shop is recommended.
Address: 2050 James Monroe Pkwy, Charlottesville, Virginia
Official website: https://highland.org
8. Virginia Discovery Museum
Families looking for a distraction will want to visit the Virginia Discovery Museum at the east end of the Downtown Mall. Designed for children aged 0-8, the museum features more than a dozen hands-on exhibits that encourage learning through play and interaction.
For the youngest visitors, the Sensory Studio has a play area suitable for newborns up to two years old, including a separate area for nursing mothers and easy access to the toilet. The massive Light Bright wall nearby encourages fine motor skills and color recognition, while the Showalter Cabin ignites children’s interest in history, pretending to be living in a real 18th-century cottage.
Other exhibits include a STEM lab, a literacy hall, a sound and music studio, and several themed playgrounds, including a bakery, farm, and post office.
Address: 524 East Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia
Official website: https://vadm.org/
9. Walnut Creek Park
Walnut Creek Park is a favorite spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The forested 525-acre state park features several well-marked hiking trails around Walnut Creek Lake and a fish pond with largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, and catfish. Canoe rentals are available here, and the park’s two beaches offer seasonal swimming.
Walnut Creek is also very popular with mountain bikers. Best for intermediate to expert riders, the bike paths here are often steep, with steep climbs and quick descents. Riders will be rewarded with a good workout, but they need to be mindful of exposed roots and loose rocks. The longest and perhaps the most scenic trail is the Wilkins Trail, which is just over four miles in length. The loop runs along the perimeter of the lake and is easily accessible from the main parking lot just off Highway 631 south of Old Lynchburg Road.
The park also has an 18-hole disc golf course, one of only 23 golf courses in Virginia. The Frisbee “shooters” of Walnut Creek have a lot to challenge their weaponry and strategic approach. Beginners are advised to avoid water on the second hole and opt for the longer but less risky approach along dry land.
Address: 4250 Walnut Creek Parkway, North Gardens, Virginia
10. Keswick Hall
Golf has a rich history at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville. The original Italian mansion was built in 1912 as Crawford House, home to a local couple and their families. Re-established as Keswick Country Club in 1948, it has since hosted spectacular golf courses and hosted the Virginia Open twice.
Completely renovated by World Golf Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye in 2014, the course is now known as the Full Cry, in homage to the ongoing fox hunt (without fox) and the greyhounds accompanying on a walking tour.
It includes daily rate classes, full treatment facilities, locker rooms, and a full-service spa. The visually stunning layout appeals to golfers and players with high disabilities, with alternate routes, multiple tee boxes and a fast but realistic placing surface.
After-dinner meal includes a light meal at the adjacent Club Grill restaurant or at Keswick’s signature restaurant, Fossett’s, serving local, Southern inspired cuisine. Guests can enjoy archery, croquet, tennis and garden walk on the grounds.
Official website: www.keswick.com
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Charlottesville. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Charlottesville, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.