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Snapshot: Charlottesville, Virginia

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Snapshot: Charlottesville, Virginia
The rotunda at UVA, Photo by Sarah Cramer Shields | Written by Sara Kate Garber

More Than Monticello

Charlottesville is Jeffersonian grandeur and college town energy, with a good dose of creative entrepreneurialism. For most of the year, the city is home to 16,000 University of Virginia undergraduates. Outside of the academic realm, there’s no shortage of brilliant chefs, artists, and doers of all sorts. The nearly 200-year-old university has shaped Charlottesville’s identity, but there’s more to this place. From its mountaintop perch, Monticello has watched the city’s culture evolve, shaped by art, food, music, and business. The horizon is punctuated by the rounded Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, a welcome sign to those traveling home to “Cville.”

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The popularity and scale of the farmers market is indicative of Charlottesville’s appreciation for locally sourced goods.

Juice Laundry, Photo by Meredith Coe

EAT

For breakfast, go for a café au lait and a chocolate almond croissant at MarieBette. This haven for Francophiles has a counter brimming with fresh pastries and breads, plus a full sit-down brunch. Beer Run is another well-loved spot for brunch and it’s a one-stop shop for Virginia craft beers. Blenders whir with vibrantly colored fruit smoothies and açaí bowls at the Juice Laundry. If it’s carbs you need, try Bodo’s Bagels for an egg and cheddar on an everything bagel. Stroll down pedestrian-friendly West Main Street toward the university, and you’ll find some of the best specialty foods in town at Feast! Walk a little farther and ask a backpack-toting UVA student to point you toward the Lawn. Grab a Virginia ham sandwich at Take It Away to enjoy in the shadow of Jefferson’s iconic Rotunda.

Tavola, Photo by Sarah Cramer Shields.

If you’ve spent an afternoon on the trails of Shenandoah National Park, there’s Blue Mountain Brewery and dozens more craft beer spots with great food. Also scattered around the area is the Monticello Wine Trail, comprised of thirty wineries, all with unique styles and stunning views. Back in town, C&O Restaurant is Charlottesville’s quintessential fine dining experience, with an unbeatable wine list. It’s also worthwhile to visit Belmont for dinner. On the outskirts of this popular residential neighborhood is authentic neapolitan pizza purveyor Lampo. Order a local draft and the margherita D.O.C. as you sit in awe of the restaurant’s 6,000-pound Italian-made oven. An assembly of some of the best restaurants in town are nestled sideby- side in the center of Belmont. You can’t go wrong with anything on the laundry list of small plates at Mas Tapas. And at chef Melissa Close-Hart’s new spot, Junction, she puts a modern spin on Mexican food. But before you book reservations anywhere, check the menus at Tavola and the Local. After dinner, it’s back downtown to the Alley Light for a Dealer’s Choice made by celebrated mixologist Micah LeMon, who crafts many of the bar’s tinctures and infusions in-house.

SHOP

Boasting some ninety stalls, Charlottesville City Market is a hub of activity on Saturday mornings between April and December. The popularity and scale of the farmers market is indicative of the city’s appreciation for locally sourced goods. The market is adjacent to downtown’s open-air pedestrian mall, which is the best area to stroll and shop. Check out New Dominion Bookshop, the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia.

STAY

The Townsman

For a base in a prime location, the Townsman has four rooms tucked in a cozy spot on the downtown mall. Clifton Inn is another notable boutique option located near Monticello. On a larger scale, the Boar’s Head Inn is a 175-room resort with a golf course and spa.