John’s note: The Local’s Take is a series where I interview some of my favorite travel bloggers and turn the tables, asking them to share their hometowns with us. After all, what better way is there to learn about a destination than from a travel writer who calls it home? So join along and learn how to make the most of a visit to Charlottesville, Virginia with Traveling Liz of L’appel du Vide.
Tell us about Charlottesville, VA.
Even though I live in Washington DC now, I went to College in Charlottesville, VA and loved every moment of the four years I lived there. It’s located in central Virginia, about two and a half hours from Washington, DC. In addition to being the home of the University of Virginia, it’s also the location of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.
What makes Charlottesville unique?
For being a small town, Charlottesville has ton to see and do all located in a beautiful setting. It’s also located very near Washington, DC so it makes a great trip for people visiting the capital. Also, in my opinion the food is amazing.
What is Charlottesville best known for?
It’s best known for being Thomas Jefferson’s hometown (you can visit his estate of Monticello) and also for the University of Virginia, which is located there.
What are the can’t-miss sites?
The can’t miss sites are Monticello, The Lawn at the University of Virginia, and the wineries which are located nearby.
What’s a unique experience that can only be had in Charlottesville?
My favorite place to visit is The Lawn on the University campus. The lawn is a large grassy area headed by the famous Rotunda and flanked by the original student housing. The entire area was designed my Thomas Jefferson and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
On warmer days, the Lawn is packed with students and locals playing games, studying and enjoying the weather. Near Christmas, the whole Lawn is decorated and lights which are all turned on in a fun celebration at the beginning of December.
It’s a university tradition that every student must streak the Lawn before graduation. So, if you show up after dark, you will probably spot some brave students making a dash for it.
When is the best time to visit Charlottesville?
The best time to visit is in the early fall when all the leaves have changed color. The area around Charlottesville is pretty rural and it’s a beautiful time to drive around and see the countryside.
What is the best restaurant/food experience in Charlottesville?
The best food experience, in my opinion is Bodo’s Bagels. This local bagel shop has three locations and is famous for its homemade boiled bagels. I know bagels don’t sound like anything to write home about, but trust me they are amazing.
I also love Marco and Luca dumplings, another local favorite. They serve great dumplings at amazing prices. There are two main restaurant areas in Charlottesville. The first is The Corner which is located on the university grounds and has tons of affordable and delicious food. The second is the Downtown Mall which is located nearby but has a slightly more upscale food selection.
Where is the best place to grab a pint/cocktail/glass of wine?
Charlottesville is actually smack dab in the center of Virginia’s famous wine region. There are dozens of wineries within an easy drive of the town, most of which offer complimentary wine tasting. In addition to delicious wine, the wineries are also set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so they have great views. Overall it’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
What’s the best way to get around Charlottesville?
The best way to get around is walking or driving. If you are visiting the campus, everything can be reached by foot. To take a trip to Monticello or the wineries you will need a car.
How would you spend a perfect day in Charlottesville?
My perfect day would involve waking up with a trip to Bodo’s Bagels. I would get the order to go and eat it on the Lawn. Then I would head out for a drive around the countryside stopping at a few wineries for tasting and lunch. After lunch, I would head back and go shopping on the Corner before heading to dinner on the Downtown Mall.
Are there any good day trips from your town? If so, where/what are they?
Shenandoah National park is located nearby, and a great day trip is to head out the Humpback Rock for an only slightly strenuous hike to the top. It’s a good couple of hours of fun with a rewarding view at the top. Charlottesville is also near Skyline Drive which is a great drive with some amazing views.
Thanks again to Liz for her participation in the The Local’s Take. If you’re a travel writer and are interested in participating in a future edition of The Local’s Take, get in touch!
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