When is the best time of year to visit Charlottesville?

Like many small towns, Charlottesville shines in select seasons. There’s always something to do throughout the year, but Forbes Travel Guide’s editors love visiting in the fall. The leaves transform to vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow, and the scenery looks like it’s straight out of a postcard. With the foliage in the background and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in the foreground, you can’t help but revel in the beauty of Charlottesville. The temperatures hover around the 60s (even into November) and the days are filled with the refreshing smell of autumn. No matter how the University of Virginia’s football team is doing that year, it’s always fun to catch a game during the season and tailgate at Scott Stadium.

  • On October 12, 2012
    Aaron Cross answered the question: Aaron Cross

    What are the five best Charlottesville food experiences?

    The best five food experiences in Charlottesville are:
     
    1. The City Market (open every Saturday from April through November).

    2. Gouda cheese from Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in nearby Crozet.

    3. Coffee from Shenandoah Joe Coffee.

    4. Gearhart chocolates.

    5. Anything picked at Carter Mountain Orchard.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    When is the best time of year to visit Charlottesville?

    Like many small towns, Charlottesville shines in select seasons. There’s always something to do throughout the year, but Forbes Travel Guide’s editors love visiting in the fall. The leaves transform to vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow, and the scenery looks like it’s straight out of a postcard. With the foliage in the background and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in the foreground, you can’t help but revel in the beauty of Charlottesville. The temperatures hover around the 60s (even into November) and the days are filled with the refreshing smell of autumn. No matter how the University of Virginia’s football team is doing that year, it’s always fun to catch a game during the season and tailgate at Scott Stadium.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best thing to bring home from Charlottesville?

    With two of Thomas Jefferson’s masterpieces being the pride and joy of Charlottesville — the University of Virginia and Monticello estate — it’s only proper that you bring home a souvenir from both. Chances are that if you’re in this Southern city you’ll be visiting the University of Virginia at some point or another. Stop by the student bookstore on campus and pick up a shirt or two to remember your time in Charlottesville. After getting your Virginia Cavaliers gear, head to Jefferson’s other crown jewel: Monticello. Stop into its museum shop to grab a bottle of wine or some historic seeds.
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  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Charlottesville food experiences?

    Charlottesville is brimming with exciting food experiences — whether you are being served colonial fare by servers dressed in 18th-century garb or noshing on a burger at one of the University of Virginia institutions. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best Charlottesville food experiences:
     
    1. Michie Tavern. Recipes like colonial fried chicken and hickory-smoked pulled pork barbecue date back to the 1700s — and that’s just the food. The atmosphere of the historic restaurant is traditional, to say the least. The servers are dressed in authentic 18th-century garb and the restaurant is a Virginia landmark.
     
    2. Blue Light Grill & Raw Bar. This cozy spot serves up some of the freshest seafood in town. Located on the Historic Downtown Mall, Blue Light Grill & Raw Bar is both cosmopolitan and intimate. It’s an upscale dining experience with an eclectic menu dominated by seafood.
     
    3. Littlejohn’s New York Deli. Grab a quick sandwich here at any time of day — Littlejohn’s is open 24-hours and serves up mouthwatering bites. Located on “The Corner,” this popular deli names many of its sandwiches after famous faces from the University of Virginia community (think football players Robert Redd and Chris Long).
     
    4. Aberdeen Barn. Come here for some surf and turf. The steak is prepared over the fire of an open-charcoal hearth, leaving each cut dripping with flavor. Aberdeen Barn is Charlottesville’s premier steakhouse and has been a favorite for more than 45 years.
     
    5. Boylan Heights. Moonlighting as a popular hangout for University of Virginia coeds, Boylan Heights churns out a mean burger. It’s as much of an institution as the university’s prestigious lawn, but not nearly as exclusive. Boylan Heights is decked out with HD-TVs throughout the restaurant, so you don’t have to worry about missing the game.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best nightlife in Charlottesville?

    Charlottesville is home to the prestigious University of Virginia, so much of its nightlife is filled with college kids. If you’re looking to relive your glory days, head to “The Corner” to find places like Boylan Heights, Trinity Irish Pub and Christian’s Pizza, where you can have a late-night slice after the bars.
     
    If you’re looking for live music, head to the Historic Downtown Mall. Charlottesville may be famous for its university, but in the music world, this Southern city is known as the home of Dave Matthews. You can even visit the dive bar Miller’s, where Matthews worked and started his band. Though it’s a dive, its combination of live music and an outdoor patio make Miller’s a prime spot. Also on the pedestrian mall are Rapture and X Lounge, which are both swanky nightclubs.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best way to see Charlottesville in one day?

    Not only is Charlottesville home to the beautiful University of Virginia, but it was once the stomping grounds of not one but two U.S. presidents. In order to see all that this picturesque Southern city has to offer, you should be ready to have a jam-packed day.
     
    Start your morning with breakfast at Bodo’s Bagel Bakery on “The Corner.” It’s a go-to breakfast joint in Charlottesville and a quick way to get some energy. Across the street from the bagel shop is the University of Virginia’s campus, which is the centerpiece of the city. Head to the Rotunda to take a tour of the Thomas Jefferson-founded school; you’ll wander the pristine grounds and onto the legendary lawn, all while learning the history of Jefferson’s architectural designs.
     
    After you’ve relived your college days, hop in the car and drive to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate. You’ll notice that the main house looks nearly identical to the university’s Rotunda — that’s because Jefferson designed both of them. You can tour the gardens, which include an orchard, vineyard and vegetable garden, as well as the home, which is filled with much of the original furnishings.
     
    Once you’ve gotten your history lesson, get back in the car and prepare for one of the most scenic drives of your life. Skyline Drive runs along the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and through Shenandoah National Park. We don’t expect you to drive the entire 105-mile road, but even if you see just a portion of it, you’ll be provided with postcard-worthy vistas.
     
    Snap a few photos and make your way back to your hotel, where you can clean up for dinner on the Historic Downtown Mall. This pedestrian-only area is lined with restaurants, shops and laid-back bars. If you’ve still got some energy to burn after dinner, head to “The Corner” to experience Charlottesville’s nightlife scene. This area is generally filled with students, but it’s a great way to get a feel for the Virginia town.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to eat in Charlottesville?

    Getting a taste of traditional Southern fare is great, but Charlottesville has so much more to offer than just fried chicken and pulled pork. Whether you are in the mood for Southern cuisine with a modern twist or classic French cooking, you’ll find it in this Virginia city. Check out Forbes Travel Guide’s list of the best places to eat in Charlottesville.
     
    1. Fossett’s Restaurant. This restaurant inside the Keswick Hall hotel serves classically inspired culinary creations. Between courses featuring dishes like roasted beets straight from the accompanying hotel’s garden and Chesapeake bouillabaisse, you can admire the picturesque views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. On a nice day, dine alfresco on the patio.
     
    2. Old Mill Room. Located within The Boar’s Head, Old Mill Room is a classic Charlottesville restaurant. Boasting a Virginia atmosphere, the dining room was built from the remains of an old grist mill on the Hardware River. The menu reflects the romantic ambiance with dishes like pan-fried Carolina quail and rock shrimp crusted halibut.
     
    3. C & O Restaurant. Though not as formal as some of the other locales, C & O serves six unique dining experiences, each with its own personality. Whether you’re eating in the bistro or dining on the terrace, you’ll find a menu that’s peppered with traditional Southern offerings with an upscale twist — think house-smoked pork loin and sweetbreads.
     
    4. Clifton Inn. This Relais & Chateaux restaurant is located within the eponymous inn. Dishing out a delightful combination of world flavors, Clifton Inn splits its menu into four parts — delicate, light, full-bodied and robust. Pair your meal with wine from the restaurant’s top-notch wine cellar, and you’ve got yourself quite the gourmet meal.
     
    5. L’Etoile. Pulling the finest ingredients from local farmers, L’Etoile churns out delicious dishes created with the chef’s French culinary techniques. You’ll find items such as shrimp and grits with petit mirepoix, roasted tomato and applewood smoked bacon, as well as entrées like sea bream with carrot risotto and kale. On Wednesday and Thursday, L’Etoile offers a special three-course prix fixe menu.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to stay in Charlottesville?

    While Charlottesville feels like a small town, there are plenty of places to stay — whether you want a historic bed and breakfast or a grand resort. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks of the best places to stay in Charlottesville:
     
    1. Keswick Hall at Monticello. The 600-acre estate sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and features 48 unique and modern guest rooms. Inside the rooms, you’ll find plush furniture, club chairs, Aubusson rugs and canopied four-poster beds. And as a guest you’ll have access to the members-only Keswick Hall, allowing you to enjoy the indoor/outdoor pool, tennis courts, spa services and 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf course.
     
    2. The Boar’s Head. This beautiful resort finished an extensive renovation in March 2012. Bringing the rooms up to speed with modern amenities, The Boar’s Head retains its charm with antique furnishings and unique décor. Plus, it comes with one of the best restaurants in town: Old Mill Room.
     
    3. Omni Charlottesville Hotel. Located on the pedestrian-only Historic Downtown Mall, Omni Charlottesville Hotel is within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Guest rooms offer views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and historic Charlottesville. The traditional guest rooms are outfitted in a relaxing palette of yellow and green, with a few different shades mixed in.
     
    4. Clifton Inn. With just 17 rooms, this Relais & Chateaux inn is both charming and intimate. Clifton Inn boasts a beautiful plantation house set on 100 acres, allowing you to revel in Charlottesville’s natural surroundings. And like a traditional inn should, Clifton Inn serves daily afternoon tea, which is included in your room rate. The restaurant is exquisite and the setting is even better.
     
    5. Cedar Spring Inn & Spa. Just 11 miles outside Charlottesville is the picturesque Cedar Spring Inn & Spa. Considering that the property was originally built as a private home, it’s no surprise that there are just five guest rooms. But these are gorgeous rooms — with king-sized beds, spacious bathrooms, patios and fireplaces.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best shopping in Charlottesville?

    While Charlottesville isn’t much of a shopping destination, there are a few areas that are chock-full of interesting stores that sell everything from antiques to designer clothing. One of our editors’ favorite spots is the Historic Downtown Mall. It’s a pedestrian-only area that offers stores such as Posh Style (a designer boutique) and DeLoach Antiques (for relics from the past). You can also take a break and refuel at one of the many restaurants or go ice skating in the winter. With 120 shops and 30 restaurants — all housed in historic buildings — this pedestrian mall is charming and gets the shopping done. You’ll also find plenty of stores throughout Charlottesville selling University of Virginia gear, which you’ll want to buy if you plan on going to a game and cheering on the Cavaliers.
  • On July 30, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do with kids in Charlottesville?

    Learning about history is much more exciting for kids when they get to explore past presidents’ estates and dine in a colonial atmosphere. But beyond historic sites, kids will have a blast playing in the park, discovering the exhibits at a museum and even cheering on the beloved University of Virginia Cavaliers. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to do with kids in Charlottesville.
     
    1. Explore Monticello. Considered a classic example of American architecture, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate features an orchard, vineyard and vegetable garden. Most of the interior furnishings are the originals, adding to Monticello’s deep history. Your children won’t even realize how much history they are absorbing during the tour.
     
    2. Cheer on the Cavaliers. Much of Charlottesville is centered around the University of Virginia, and your kids will love watching a sporting event at the university — even if you don’t have any ties to the prestigious school.
     
    3. Dine in the past. Dive into a colonial lunch at the historic Michie Tavern. The servers are clad in traditional 18th-century garb, making the experience that much more authentic. Recipes date back to the 1700s and are classic Southern dishes, like colonial fried chicken and hickory smoked pulled pork barbecue.
     
    4. Discover the outdoors. From hiking and biking in nearby Shenandoah National Park to canoeing and tubing on the James River, there’s plenty to explore in Charlottesville’s nature. Come winter, kids can ice skate at the Historic Downtown Mall and even ski at nearby Wintergreen Resort. A great way to enjoy the scenery is to pack a picnic and head to one of the many parks for the afternoon.
     
    5. Play at the museum. Kids will love playing at the Virginia Discovery Museum because it’s made for youngsters. It features quirky exhibits like “A-Mazing Airways,” where spurts of air push balls and scarves through a series of tubes, and the Rainforest Hallway.
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