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They’re places we exercise, commune with nature, gather with friends and have picnics. Various Charlottesville-area parks offer playgrounds and trails, swimming, boating, biking and ultimate frisbee. From small neighborhood parks to vast state parks, there’s no excuse for staying inside!

Belmont Park

This quintessential neighborhood park packs a big punch. It features a full basketball court, spray fountain for warm weather kiddie splashing, playground and plenty of grass for picnics or throwing a Frisbee. It’s a top pick for Charlottesville Insider Linnea White.

Saunders-Monticello Trail

A crushed gravel path with a gentle incline leads from Route 20 South up to Monticello. Perfect for walking, biking and pushing a stroller. Dogs on-leash are welcome on the lower portion of the trail.

Riverview Park

As you might guess from its name, Riverview is nestled alongside the Rivanna River in the Woolen Mills neighborhood. There’s a playground, a big field and fun rocks to climb on in the river when the water's low. But it’s best known as the trailhead of the paved portion of the Rivanna Trail known as the Greenbelt.

Sugar Hollow

All the way out Garth Road past White Hall in Albemarle County is one of Charlottesville's most popular outdoor parks. Our Insider Logan Hall is a big fan. “It’s huge, there are multiple swimming holes, and it’s especially beautiful and secluded," he says. "You can’t hear the road once you’re hiking. It feels like you’re in the wilderness.”

Walnut Creek Park

One of Albemarle County’s most popular parks for its size, extensive trails, and lake for swimming in the summer, Walnut Creek is also a go-to for mountain bikers. Charlottesville Insider Ian Dillard heads to Walnut Creek for the “tranquility.”

Chris Greene Lake Park

Located north of Charlottesville in Earlysville, Chris Greene is popular for its lake and trails. Swim in the summer and rent canoes, and bring the pup for a hike and a visit to the waterfront dog park.

Biscuit Run State Park

A new addition to the local park scene, Biscuit Run State Park has trails of varied lengths that make it a favorite for Insider Olivia Branch.

Ragged Mountain Natural Area

With nearly 1000 acres of forest and seven miles of trails, Ragged Mountain is where Insider Ty Cooper goes to unwind. There's no swimming allowed in the reservoir, but non-motorized boats are permitted. To preserve the quiet and prevent disturbing wildlife, no dogs are allowed.