15 Must Do Things In Charlottesville, VA
15 Best Things to do & Activities in Charlottesville Virginia, plus the best places to eat while visiting. Don’t forget to check out these wineries in Cville, VA during your next trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
My love for Charlottesville, Virginia started in fourth grade when our small elementary school class took a trip to Monticello, as part of the 4th grade annual tradition. My grandfather was a chaperone for the trip that year and I have this permanent memory of the two of us standing in front of Monticello & one of me hanging outside of the iron gates of a headstone on the grounds. (I’ll have to find that picture- it was on film!).
I love this snapshot and I will forever be grateful that he went on the trip with me. While I didn’t have a young grandpa, I certainly had a cool grandpa. In fact, since he was such a history buff, it made the tour even more exciting because he could contribute real stories to add to the information and sights we were seeing.
My love for Charlottesville continued through college when some of my best friends went to school at UVA. I would drive up for the weekend, hit a few college parties, walk around downtown and then slug over to Bodo’s Bagels to cure the inevitable morning headache.
Now as an adult, we take the kids to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, the Caverns, orchard and more. It’s a place full of fun things to do as a family that keep the memories alive.
Attractions & Things to Do in Charlottesville
Number One on the Things to Do in Charlottesville list has to be Monticello. As a lover of interior design, the architecture is colonial and exquisite. The grounds are gorgeous and lovely to walk.
If you have the kids with you, do the self guided tour; if you are on a romantic weekend getaway spend the extra money for the behind the scenes tour where you can see all of the estate and not just the first floor.
Make sure to visit Monticello while you’re in Charlottesville, VA. It’s a must see for any history buff and has an impressive architecture that will make your jaw drop! Not only is it home to our dear Thomas Jefferson, but you’ll see all of the complexities of this historical home.
Grab a behind the scenes pass for exclusive access to all three floors, including the dome room, of Monticello.
Price: Self Guided Tour:: $32 for adults, $10 for 12-18, Free for 9 and under
Blue Ridge Parkway
Learn how driving on the Parkway differs from driving on other roads. The Blue Ridge Parkway, often called “America’s Favorite Drive,” is beautiful, but requires extra care while driving.
Orient yourself to the parkway’s primary wayfinding tool—Parkway Mileposts. If the marker is on your left, you are traveling north on the parkway. If the marker is on your right, you are traveling south on the parkway.
The parkway connects Shenandoah National Park, near Waynesboro, VA (Milepost 0) with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Cherokee, NC (Milepost 469). Asheville and Boone, NC and Roanoke, VA are the largest cities along the way.
Carter Mountain Orchard
The mountains are calling, and they have good news: we’re now picking #PinkLady apples! These beauties are a fan favorite, and there’s no question why. C’mon out to the orchard and try ’em yourself!
How can you not want to rush over to the Carter Mountain Orchard after seeing those photos of the gorgeous pink ladies, peaches and spiced donuts. No matter the season, there’s something fun to do here!
January 1–March 25: Weekends Only
Friday–Sunday, 11 AM–5 PM
Daily, 10 AM–5 PM
Closed Easter Sunday, 4/4
Friday–Wednesday, 10 AM–5 PM
Thursday, 10 AM–9 PM
Friday–Tuesday, 9 AM–6 PM
Wednesday–Thursday, 9 AM–9 PM
Friday–Wednesday, 9 AM–6 PM
Thursday, 9 AM–9 PM (tix req. after 6P)
Daily, 9 AM–6 PM
November 7–November 28:
Daily, 9 AM–5 PM
Closed Thanksgiving, 11/25
November 29–December 30:
Daily, 10 AM–5 PM
Closed Christmas, 12/24-25
Closed New Year’s, 12/31-1/1
January 2–March 24, 2022:
Friday–Sunday, 11 AM–5 PM
Blue Ridge Tunnel
|Web||483 Three Notched Mountain Hwy|
Waynesboro, VA 22980
If you are looking for something unique and outdoorsy while in Charlottesville, VA you have to hike through the Blue Ridge Tunnel – a restored railroad tunnel through Afton mountain. There are two trailheads – the East is the easier trail to walk.
If you complete the entire trail, it clocks in at 4.6 miles, starting from the parking lot at the west entrance and back to the start.
Don’t forget to bring along a flashlight or headlamp as you navigate the mile long tunnel in complete darkness.
The Blue Ridge Tunnel is a historic railroad tunnel built during the construction of the Blue Ridge Railroad in the 1850s. The tunnel was the westernmost and longest of four tunnels engineered by Claudius Crozet to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains at Rockfish Gap in central Virginia.
The park at Grand Caverns is filled with scenic trails for hiking, running, and biking. There are also picnic shelters, a pool, a miniature golf course, an updated playground, beautiful areas for fishing; and our fitness trail featuring exercise stations with instructions at each stop. The peaceful setting at the park makes for an extra special experience here in the Shenandoah Valley!
America’s oldest continuously operated show cave, voted #2 in America by Parade magazine, and a National Natural Landmark, Grand Caverns is a stately and powerful example of nature’s handiwork.
Blue Ridge Pottery
|9 Golden Horseshoe Rd |
Stanardsville, VA 22973
They’ve been making pottery for 25 years and it’s a sight you have to see. Find a unique piece of hand thrown pottery that will remind you of your time here in the blue ridge mountains.
Wildrock’s mission is to “promote nature play for health and happiness.” Visitors to Wildrock enjoy three-acre nature playscape, a Discovery Loop Trail, walking labyrinth, and Discovery Barn Center.
Montpelier (James Madison’s Montpelier)
|11350 Constitution Highway |
Montpelier Station, VA 22957
Montpelier welcomes visitors to access and enjoy its grounds, gardens, trails, and Museum Shop, and offers guided tours. A guided tour will grant you access to the House and is definitely worth it (read details below)
|Property Pass||– Explore Montpelier’s gardens, grounds, trails, and exhibits on your own|
– Access to the House is not included
– Orange County residents may access the grounds free of charge
– $12/Adult (13+), $7/Child (6-12), Free/Child Under 6
– $35/Annual Pass – Per Carload
– Online purchase is strongly recommended.
|Guided Tours||– Discover Montpelier with a “Highlights of Montpelier” or Private House Tour|
– $35/adult (13+), $15/child (6-12), Free/Child Under 6
– Private House Tours: are offered by appointment only; reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance: $400, maximum 8 persons
– Online reservations are strongly encouraged
Horseback Riding at Devils Backbone
|Devils Backbone Brewery Ride|
FB: Indian Summer Guide Service
Rates: $175/per person (2 Person Minimum)
|200 Mosby’s Run,|
Roseland, Va 22967
Open 12-8pm Daily
The Looking Glass Immersive Art Space
Step into an otherworldly enchanted forest at this immersive and interactive art space created by 14 Charlottesville, Virginia artists.
Virginia’s first and only immersive art space, featuring a larger-than-life interactive enchanted forest and kaleidoscopic cave!
Best Places to Eat & Drink in Charlottesville
The Blue Ridge Pig
|The Blue Ridge Pig (FB)|
|2198 Rockfish Valley Hwy |
Nellysford, VA 22958
Come visit the place everyone has been writing about! If you like Barbecue, then you’ll love The Blue Ridge Pig.
Praised by Bon Appetite, Food Network, Food & Wine, Leisure, National Geographic, North Carolina Life, Maxim/Anthony Bourdain, Mountain Homes, Philly Enquirer, Washington Post, Nelson County Life and many others!Whether it be the classic Pork Barbecue with slaw or the Turkey Croissant with the works (Lettuce, Tomato, Cheddar Cheese, Mayo, and our special Dill Sauce), this quaint establishment will always keep you coming back for your Blue Ridge Pig fix.
All of our meats are smoked on-site behind the restaurant by none other than Strawberry Goodwin himself. Every one of our recipes is unique, not only to the local area, but also to the entire east coast. The only way to experience this one-of-a-kind hog heaven is to stop by and check it out for yourself!
SANDWICHES – Pork BBQ, Beef BBQ, Chicken BBQ, Turkey Croissant, Pork Tenderloin Croissant, Country Ham Croissant, Veggie Croissant, and Grilled Cheese for the kids.
PLATES COME WITH A SANDWICH AND TWO SIDES
PLATES – Pork BBQ, Chicken BBQ, Turkey Croissant, Country Ham Croissant, Veggie Croissant, Ribs
SIDES – Baked Beans, Dill Potato Salad, Macaroni Salad, and Cole Slaw
|Monday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM|
Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|102 Martinsburg Ave|
Gordonsville, VA 22942
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11am-7pm
Friday: 11 am – 8 pm
Saturday: 11am – 8 pm
Sunday: 11am – 7 pm
HOURS (Vary by Location)
MON-FRI: 6:30AM – 8:00PM
SATURDAY: 7:00AM – 8:00PM
SUNDAY: 7:30AM – 4:00PM
|505 Preston Ave. (Downtown)|
Charlottesville, VA 22903
1609 University Ave. (UVA “Corner”)
Charlottesville, VA 22903
1418 Emmet St. (Rt. 29)
Charlottesville, VA 22903
“… the legendary bagelry that has become
a Charlottesville institution …”—The Hook, 6/1/06
“The number one thing people miss when they move away from Charlottesville …”—Real Estate Weekly, 9/2/08
“When you are in Charlottesville, going to Bodo’s is just something you do.”
—The Charlottesville 29
Bodo’s Bagels has to make your Must Eat in Charlottesville list. When I was in college, I would drive up to UVA some weekends to visit friends. That’s where my love for Bodo’s began, in the slow mid morning shuffle after a way too late night, we headed to get breakfast.
While I’m up 6 hours earlier for breakfast these days, my love for Bodo’s hasn’t changed one bit. What you’ll see: A blustery parking lot filled with cars and people walking. When you get inside it’s loud and busy, the place is packed with people wall to wall and the there is usually a wait time.
BUT, it’s an experience and amazing breakfast. So, order a cup of BoJoe coffee and enjoy the wait for the world famous bagels while you’re in Charlottesville.
King Family Vineyards
|6550 Roseland Farm |
Crozet, VA 22932
10:00 AM – 5:30 PM
King Family Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Crozet, Virginia just fifteen minutes from Charlottesville.
The winery specializes in the production of ultra-premium wines that showcase the remarkable quality and terroir of the Monticello AVA. Beginning with carefully selected estate grapes, winemaker Matthieu Finot creates wines inspired by the old world, but are uniquely expressive of Virginia.
Phone: (540) 832-3824
|17655 Winery Rd |
Barboursville, VA 22923
|Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
Monday- Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
FINAL ROUNDUP ON THINGS TO DO IN CHARLOTTESVILLE
Things to Do in Charlottesville
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Carter Mountain Orchard
- Blue Ridge Tunnel
- Grand Caverns
- Blue Ridge Pottery
- Horseback Riding at Devils Backbone
- The Looking Glass Immersive Art Space
Best Places to Eat in Charlottesville
- The Blue Ridge Pig
- BBQ Exchange
- Bodos Bagels
- King Family Vineyard
- Barboursville Vineyard