Did you know Country Roads isn’t actually about West Virginia, it’s about Western Virginia? And honestly, it could have been written about Western Albemarle- “Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River…” Just saying. If you want to get to know those infamous spots a bit better, Charlottesville is your best bet. Whether you want an hour of sweating it out for some prime views, or a day of soaking up rays on the river, you’ll find it here.
C’villians are hikers, plain and simple. In the early fall, most porches in town are littered with a collection of slightly muddy boots, and the Instagram feeds are full of the young and young-at-heart, hands to the sky on the edge of their favorite peak. To join them, take the quintessential Charlottesville hike up Humpback Rocks. It’s a short, deceptively steep climb with plenty of spots to stop. Pack a picnic lunch and a DSLR, and you’ll be posing above the birds in no time.
2. Get on a Boat – or Go for a Float.
Speaking of that Shenandoah- Charlottesville has more rivers than most of the locals can keep track of. We’ve got the James, the Moormans, the Rivanna, the Rappahannock, the Rapidan, and two forks of the Shenandoah within an easy drive. With so much water, it’s almost criminal to not enjoy it. There are two major river trip guides- James River Rafting down in Scottsville, a favorite for relaxing tube floats and whitewater rafters, and Rivanna River Company, best for kayaks, canoes, and in-town trips. Rivanna River Co even has a “paddle to pints” trip, finishing up in the heart of town at Random Row Brewery. After all, who doesn’t need a beer after a day on the river?
3. See the City on Two Wheels
Charlottesville is a bicycle-friendly city. There are just about as many bike lanes throughout the city as there are sidewalks. Blue Ridge Bicycle Tours offers tours of the historic city of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. They can also create a custom tour for areas in which you’ve always wanted to visit. Group events, such at team building or corporate outings, are available, as well.
4. Go Up Up Up
Plenty of open fields and spectacular views make Charlottesville uniquely suited to balloon aeronauts. Monticello Country Ballooning offers sunrise flights for the early birds, sunset flights for the romantics, and includes a champagne toast with every flight so you can welcome the day– or the night– in style.
5. Fall Out of the Sky
Please don’t confuse this one with the ballooning trip. A few miles down the road from Charlottesville, you’ll happen upon an airstrip and a couple of hardened adrenaline junkies packing their chutes. If you’re looking to knock something off your bucket list and get a totally unbeatable view of Virginia, head over to Skydive Orange (with reservations!). If you go for a later jump on a Saturday, you might get a chance to hang out by the firepit after hours and hear some truly unbelievable stories from the sky.
6. Beach It
Believe it or not, Charlottesville has a beach. No, the Atlantic didn’t take a surprise trip inland- our sandy shores are lakeside. About 15 minutes down Route 20, you’ll find Walnut Creek Park, with two acres of sand beach ready for you and yours to lay down towels, chairs, and sandcastle building kits.