Travel Guide October 10, 2019

Glam Guide: Charlottesville, Virginia

Outfit Details:
Gal Meets Glam Collection Cassandra Dress

It has been a while since our Gal Meets Glam Collection fall shoot, but our team is still raving about their time in Charlottesville, Virginia. They spent most of their trip at Pippin Hill and The Clifton and loved both! Now that fall is in full swing, everyone is eager to plan a return trip to experience the area at the height of its natural beauty. It’s clear from our readers’ comments that we aren’t the only ones enchanted by this charming mountain city. To help us plan our next trip, we asked our friend and Charlottesville native, Robin Verrier of Verry Robin & Co., to share a little bit about the city where she was born and raised. A talented prop stylist, photographer, and art director (stay tuned for a gorgeous project we worked on with her coming soon!), Robin has both exquisite taste and an eye for all things uniquely memorable, beautiful, and high-quality. Whether you’ve been visiting Charlottesville for years or it’s on your travel bucket list, we hope you find plenty of new gems to explore in this insightful interview!

charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide

What would you say Charlottesville is known for?

Thomas Jefferson, Dave Matthews, The University of Virginia, our wine, The Blue Ridge Mountains, Monticello… the list goes on. Since I was born here and have lived here most of my life, though, I would say it’s a bit more than that: it’s the people and the countryside. Charlottesville has been voted happiest city in America time and time again, as well as the best city to live in in America, and it totally lives up to the hype. It is home to some of the most kind, loving, smart, inclusive, progressive, and wonderful people I’ve ever met. There’s a reason our state slogan is ‘Virginia is for Lovers’!

charlottesville virginia guide

When are the best times to visit Charlottesville?

There isn’t really a bad time, but I have to say spring and fall here are absolutely breathtaking. In the spring, the entire city’s in bloom. The fall, though, is another level of gorgeous. Since we live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we get a 360-degree view of color. If you drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can hike or stop at some of the pull-offs to see some incredibly scenic views. If you time it just right, you can see the Valley, Charlottesville, and the surrounding areas glowing in hues of camel, ochre, red, and chocolate before the leaves fall off. People travel to Charlottesville just for this!

charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide

Where do you suggest first-time visitors stay?

If you’re looking for a luxe experience, I recommend Keswick Hall. It’s a five-star hotel and is absolutely stunning from top to bottom. A great spot to host a wedding as well! It’s currently being renovated but will have a grand reopening in the spring of 2020.

If you want a gorgeous place to stay for a wedding or when celebrating a birthday or anniversary, I would highly recommend the gorgeous Boar’s Head Resort. I grew up going to the sports club there to play tennis and I was also a lifeguard there many years ago (hello first job)! The resort is beautiful–they’re a AAA Four Diamond resort, as well as part of the Historic Hotels of America. The food, scenery, and spa are out of this world too!

If you’re looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, I recommend The Graduate. This recently renovated building is a super cute place to stay and hang out, and since it’s right on The Corner by the University, it’s in the middle of everything! You can easily walk to campus, as well as downtown.

charlottesville virginia guide

What are your top recommendations for activities in Charlottesville?

Depending on when you visit, there are lots of things happening all over Charlottesville and the surrounding areas! If you’re here in the fall, apple picking is a must. Carter Mountain has some of the best views in Charlottesville and the most amazing apple cider doughnuts you’ll ever have in your life. Townie note: in the fall, the lines are incredibly long to get up the mountain, so I recommend going during the week if you can. If not, don’t worry–it’s worth the wait!

Visiting the University of Virginia‘s campus is another must. It’s historic, gorgeous, and makes for a lovely walk.

Don’t miss our historic Downtown Mall. It has some of the best shopping in town and is so beautiful. There are also some amazing restaurants there, so it’s a great place to visit any time of day/year!

Ivy Nursery is a plant nursery and a gorgeous gift shop in Ivy, VA. The views on the way there are part of the experience! Tell them I sent you!

If you’re here when they’re open, check out the Farmer’s Market by the Downtown Mall. It’s packed with vendors from all over Virginia offering some incredible food, handmade goods, coffee, flowers, clothing, jewelry and more.

There are many historic tours year-round, but a few of my faves are Historic Garden Week (worth planning your trip around!), James Monroe’s Highland Tour, Monticello, and Montpelier.

charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide

What are the best locations for wine tastings in the area?

Charlottesville has some of the best vineyards and wine around! Here’s a list of some of my favorites and what each of them offers.

Veritas Vineyard & Winery: The folks behind this place are awesome–they really engage with the community and support local organizations. You can horseback ride through their vineyards with Indian Summer Guide Service, and, of course, they also make great wine.

Stinson Vineyards: Gorgeous views and interesting, boutique wines that are still accessible to the casual wine drinker.

Flying Fox Vineyard & Winery: Really interesting and dynamic wines. Their tasting room feels like Garden & Gun meets Brooklyn art gallery–it is really cool!

King Family Vineyards: Good wines, good views, polo on Sundays–what could be better?

charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide

What are the best routes for a scenic drive and/or hike?

A few of my favorite trails are part of the AT (Appalachian Trail). You can head west to Afton Mountain, north to Shenandoah National Park, or south to George Washington National Forest. The hikes range from the popular (Humpback Rock) to the relatively unknown sections of the Appalachian Trail. The level of difficulty ranges from a stroll with views (Dripping Rock to Overlook) to The Priest or Three Ridges Wilderness loop, which have 3,117 and 4,290 feet of elevation gain, respectively. My husband and I like the easier walks with overlooks between Reed’s Gap and Afton Mountain.

The best places to go for a scenic drive are out through Keswick to Gordonsville, Ivy to Staunton and the Valley, and The Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is the best place to drive around, see the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, and visit some of their pull-offs where you can take beautiful scenic photos!

charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide

What are some of your favorite local places to eat that we should know about?

Charlottesville is foodie central! Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie has some of the best pizza you can eat, period. It’s a fifteen-minute drive out of town but it’s well worth it. Another great spot is Bodo’s Bagels. Sorry, New York–these bagels are better and I’m not afraid to say it! If you’re in the mood for an amazing salad, Roots on the UVA campus is unbelievably good. My husband and I eat there at least twice a week! Another fun little spot is Foods of All Nations. It’s a family-owned grocery store that has been here for as long as I can remember, and they make some of the best sushi, sandwiches, and fresh salads.

My husband and I are vegetarians and have friends who are gluten-free, vegan, etc. We all find it super easy to find yummy food here. If you have allergies or dietary restrictions, one of the best options is Burtons Grill. When you sit down there, they ask who has a dietary requirement and then they hand you a menu with delicious options you can choose from. Another place that’s great for vegetarian/pescatarian folks is The Local. They have wonderful options and everything is made with ingredients from nearby farms! If you’re vegan and looking for a delicious lunch spot, I would again recommend Roots by the university.

charlottesville virginia guide
charlottesville virginia guide

What are your top three restaurants in town for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Breakfast:

Marie Bette: A delicious bakery and restaurant in the heart of Cville, they make every single baguette, pastry, dessert, and bread from scratch on-site. They have the best French pastries I’ve had outside of France. You absolutely must visit if you’re in town!

Hot Cakes: Yummy spot for quiche, egg sandwiches, coffee, pumpkin muffins (my personal fave), and any delicious side you can think of.

The Bluegrass Grill: One of the best brunch spots in town with hands down the best biscuits money can buy. Be sure to go here while you’re visiting, but know they are always packed and accept cash only.

Lunch:

Feast: This place is an absolute favorite! It’s a luxe grocery store and shop and also makes some of the best ready-made foods in town. Salads, sandwiches, artisan wraps, and soups…it’s all delicious! You can also pick up local cheeses and charcuterie items while you’re there to snack on later.

Ivy Provisions: A yummy sandwich shop in lovely Ivy that is both a student and townie favorite!

Bellair Market: I’ve been coming here since I was tiny, ordering delicious sandwiches and pickles to my heart’s delight. All of the sandwiches are named after places nearby and they have a great array of yummy options for meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike. The Yogaville with banana peppers is my go-to.

Dinner:

Now and Zen: Some of the best sushi I’ve ever had is from this delicious little restaurant. My husband and I have become friends with the owner and jump at any excuse to go. My hubby lived in Japan for almost two years before we met and he says this is some of the most authentic Japanese cuisine he’s had in the States! Townie note: this is a small place and it’s always packed on weekends. Be ready to wait for a bit but know that it’s so worth it.

The Alley Light: Talk about a gorgeous hole in the wall (literally, there is no sign and you walk through an alley into an unmarked, pretty door–off to a fun start!). They make some of the best cocktails in town, as well as some delicious small bites that are fun to share. This is a low-lit, lounge-like atmosphere that may not be the best for older folks, but it’s a fun place to catch up with friends!

Ivy Inn: Looking for a great place to celebrate an anniversary or birthday or host a wedding? The Ivy Inn is your spot. One of the best sit-down, fine dining places in town for any of these events, they also have some of the best food.

Thank you, Robin! If you’re a Charlottesville local or frequent visitor, let us know if we mentioned your favorite spots, or if you have any recommendations to add to the list.

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