If you’ve made the decision to attend the University of Virginia then congratulations! Your life just got a little more beautiful.
With a population of around 45,000 Charlottesville has all the glorious perks of city life but with a small town feel. There is so much to see and do outside of Grounds so make sure to take advantage of free trolley and buses to discover all that Charlottesville has to offer!
Here are just a few of my favorite things
Carter Mountain Orchard
Enjoy everything from picking peaches to their annual Easter Egg hunt, Carter Mountain is perfect for any season. Students best attend the orchard in the fall for apple picking so put your best cardigan and welcome in Charlottesville’s most beautiful season with handpicked apples, fresh apple cider, and unbelievable apple donuts. Note: requires driving so start befriending someone with a car in August.
Hop on the Trolley any weekend and head to the Downtown walking mall, there is always something going on. Each Saturday morning (except for the winter) there is a Farmer’s Market where local artisans, farmers, and food vendors come to sell their products that is a fresh (literally) change of pace from the dining hall. Be sure to check out an event at the gorgeous Paramount Theatre, write on the Freedom Wall, or listen to a concert at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion. Downtown Charlottesville is a great place to visit any season, there are enough restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries to keep you occupied for all 4 years!
This is a personal favorite. I hiked Humpback for the first time at the beginning of my 4th year to watch the sunrise and it is an image that you will not be able to get out of your head. I am no hiker but one of the most rewarding feelings is being tired from trekking up rocks and through mud and then reaching the top of your climb. It’s breathtaking.
I think this speaks for itself. It is the home of our founder, Thomas Jefferson after all.
Of all places outside of Grounds you will probably visit the Corner the most as it’s the closest and most convenient location. I advise expanding your Corner experience past late night Little John’s and cheap snacks at Kohn’s though. Take advantage of things like Mellow Mushroom trivia night on Wednesday nights, nabbing the #1 ticket at Bodo’s, or enjoy $5 student brunch at the Pigeon Hole on weekdays (yeah that’s right…$5 brunch on weekdays! I only learned that this month so this is a SPECIAL insight y’all are getting). Walk a little away from the Corner (towards Downtown) and you will discover more Charlottesville nuggets such as Sweethaus cupcakes (literally the best! I’m also biased from volunteering there) or the delicious tastings of the Blue Moon Diner. Soon enough you will have your favorite ‘go-to’ place too!
Vineyards & Breweries
This may a little less applicable to First Year life so just store this in your mind for a few years from now. Charlottesville is a heart of Virginia’s wine and beer culture that dates all the way back to wine connoisseur TJ himself! Until you reach the ripe ol’ age of 21 (get it? It was a grape joke…you know because we’re talking about wine…anyone? No? Ok…continuing on…) volunteer to DD so you can at least enjoy the beauty of a Charlottesville vineyard on a spring day! Charlottesville is also home to many breweries to make it a wonderful scene for local craft beer (if you’re into that). You really can’t go wrong if you’re looking for classy (and RESPONSIBLE) options for going out.
These places only scratch the surface of things to do but no matter what you’re interested in you will be able to find something to enjoy about Charlottesville as a whole.
The world is yours young Hoos! Venture onward!