There’s a lot to do and see in the Charlottesville area. Here are a few suggestions:
The University of Virginia
UVa was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. The university and Jefferson’s nearby home, Monticello, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranking in importance alongside sites like Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China. Discover the history of Mr. Jefferson’s university by taking a tour.
Monticello, Montpelier, and Highland
In addition to his many other accomplishments (authoring the Declaration of Independence, for example), Thomas Jefferson was also a skilled architect, inventor, and farmer. His home, Monticello, is an exemplary piece of neoclassical architecture, augmented by Jefferson’s own inventions. Take a tour to learn about Jefferson’s life and the time he lived in.
There are also two other presidential homes near Charlottesville: James Madison’s Montpelier (a 45-minute drive from UVa), and James Monroe’s Highland, sometimes called Ash Lawn (a 20-minute drive from UVa).
If you like hiking, the Saunders-Monticello Trail is a 2-mile-long nature trail that leads up to Monticello from a parking area at the base of Carter Mountain. The trail incorporates elevated boardwalks, a pond, an overlook and an arboretum of native trees and shrubs. It’s accessible all year long.
Ragged Mountain Natural Area
Edgar Allen Poe wrote a story called A Tale of the Ragged Mountains. Poe was a student at the University of Virginia, and the story is set in the “Ragged Mountains” just ten minutes from Charlottesville. Today, you can visit the Ragged Mountain Natural Area, which includes a 7.3-mile trail that loops around the Charlottesville reservoir.
Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall
Downtown Charlottesville features a pedestrian mall that has a wide variety of restaurants, bookstores, movie theaters, music venues, and shops.
The Leander McCormick Observatory began operating in 1885, and still used for research by UVa’s department of astronomy, although most of the department’s work has moved to other facilities. The Observatory hosts “Public Nights” on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month, except holidays.