I barely remember my first visit to Charlottesville, but it wasn’t too long after my family moved, along with hundreds of other families, to the D.C. area when my father’s company bid adieu to its iconic 42-story headquarters on East 42nd Street in Manhattan to plant roots just inside the beltway. Like most first-timers, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was the initial draw to the central Virginia city set along the eastern foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Construction began on the plantation estate of America’s third president in 1769, well over a century before Newport’s Gilded Age mansions were commissioned by wealthy industrialists. By high school, then college, trips to Charlottesville to visit friends at the University of Virginia were commonplace — parties on Rugby Road (caught a DMB show at a house there too), sunning on The Lawn, and shopping or noshing at the Downtown Mall. Years later came weddings at area wineries (C’ville is considered ‘the Birthplace of American Wine” and there are more than three dozen wineries in the area). So, when I was assigned this piece for Artisan’s List, the popular website and resource directory for traditional home restoration trades, craftspeople and local city guides focusing on food, culture, architecture and antique/treasure stores, it brought back some wonderful memories (and questionable decisions, like bodysuits, which were a popular if misguided fashion choice in the 90s).
Please enjoy this Historic Guide to Charlottesville which includes where to stay, where to play, what to do, where to eat and more.
Photo of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards by Eric Kelley