Downtown Charlottesville

Charlottesville Visitors Guide

Charlottesville Visitors Guide 

Different people come to Charlottesville with different ideas of a good time. We have recommendations for every kind of Charlottesville tourist from lovers of the outdoors to family travelers to history buffs and foodies. 

The Cultural Visitor

Hello and welcome, art lover! You’re a Cultural Visitor, and Charlottesville has plenty to satisfy your highbrow tastes.

•Check out the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, where you’ll see some of the 14,000 art items in the permanent collection and can find rotating exhibits of painting, sculpture and photography.

•Head downtown and stroll through the McGuffey Art Center, where some of Charlottesville’s most talented artists create and display their works.

•Go international for lunch with the buffet at Himalayan Fusion or or some curry from Monsoon Siam, then browse the shelves at New Dominion Bookshop or one of several used bookstores downtown.

•If you still have energy, catch a live show at one of Charlottesville multiple live music venues like The Southern or The Jefferson Theater.

Art on easels

The Outdoorsy Visitor

You’re as nimble as a mountain goat, and nothing fills you with inspiration like a beautiful vista. That means you’re an outdoorsy visitor, and there’s no shortage of ways to get your heart rate up while taking in some of the Charlottesville area’s most gorgeous natural sights.

•If you’re an early riser, a hike up to Humpback Rock at sunrise is an unforgettable experience.

•Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop at the scenic overlooks to snap photos.

•Back in Charlottesville, grab lunch at the cycling-inspired Peloton Station, where beef sliders or nachos can fuel you up for more fun.

•Let the food settle while you shop for running shoes at Ragged Mountain Running Shop or hiking equipment at Great Outdoor Provision Co.

•End your afternoon with mountain biking at Panorama Farm or Walnut Creek Park.

Bike handles in woods

The Family Visitor

You have a high tolerance for whine with your wine? You’re a Family Visitor, and Charlottesville Insider is here to help you maximize the wining and dining while minimizing the whining.

•Start with a walk along the paved Greenbelt Trail starting from Riverview Park. It’s stroller- and bike-friendly, and when the water’s low on the Rivanna, kids can play on rocks and splash in pools.

•A playground in Riverview Park is another opportunity to expend some energy before heading to Christian’s Pizza or Chap’s Ice Cream on the Downtown Mall for a kid-friendly lunch.

•Afternoons at the Virginia Discovery Museum are an ideal time for children who no longer nap, and if whining revs up again, bribe ‘em with a small trinket from Alakazam toy store.

•Burgers and fries at Citizen Burger Bar are sure to be a hit for the whole family!

Two young boys

The History Buff Visitor

The days of yore are your thing. You’re a history buff, and now that you’ve arrived in Charlottesville, there are a few places you must visit.

•Start with a tour of Monticello. Both the house and the grounds are open to the public, and in recent years, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation has placed an emphasis on the history of enslaved people at the third president’s former home.

•Eating lunch at Michie Tavern will transport you to an earlier century, and when you’re packed full of traditional Virginia foods, you’ll be ready to stroll the grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s most significant architectural accomplishment: the University of Virginia.

•Stick around the corner for dinner at Charlottesville oldest restaurant, The Virginian.

The Foodie Visitor

A hearty greeting to you, epicurean travelers! Here in Charlottesville, we know you’ll find dishes that can meet and exceed your exacting standards.

•Wake up to divine pastries and coffee at Marie Bette bakery, where baking is an art form.

•Stroll the Downtown Mall window shopping and perusing menus. You’ll have to make some tough choices. Will lunch be at longtime favorite Hamiltons or the newcomer French restaurant, Cafe Frank?

•You won’t want to miss sweet and savory pies from Quality Pie in Belmont, and who can resist Neapolitan pizza done as well as Lampo does it?

•Treat yourself to some new kitchen gadgets from The Happy Cook at Barracks Road, and if you’re here through a weekend, head to the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Ix Art Park to pick up fresh vegetables or local raised meat. 

Cafe Frank in Charlottesville
Cafe Frank is a foodie's delight.

The Boozie Visitor

Do your weekend getaways resemble time travel to the roaring '20s? If so, you’re a boozie visitor, and Charlottesville offers unparalleled ways to get parallel.

•Let Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Co. take you on a tour of the Monticello Wine Trail or down Nelson 151 which includes breweries, cideries even a meadery!

•Enjoy fine dining at Palladio while enjoying award-winning reds and whites from Barboursville Vineyards.

•Into the hard stuff? Check out Vitae Spirits or Silverback Distillery.

•More traditional? Go for fine wine and authentic Italian fare at Tavola in the heart of Charlottesville's Belmont neighborhood. 

wine flight