Charlottesville, Virginia is a destination that has been on my radar for a while thanks to Brigitte Belanger-Warner. I met Bri at a travel conference a few years ago and she keeps on giving me more reasons to want to come and visit.
I invited her to share more about the Charlottesville area because I wanted you to hear a perspective from someone who lives in the area, who still loves and believes in the local community. I believe that there are more positive stories that need to be told as this city’s narrative continues to move forward.
How long have you lived in Charlottesville?
I have lived in the Charlottesville area since the summer of 2006, when I moved here with my husband Steven and my son Alexandre from Las Vegas, NV, in search of a more family-friendly place to raise him.
What is your favorite thing about the community?
The Charlottesville region has all the advantages of a larger city without some of the inconveniences, such as heavy traffic, etc. I love the strong sense of community, which is shared in the neighborhood where I live as much as in the district where my office is located, in downtown Charlottesville. The community is comprised of an interesting blend of the students and faculty from University of Virginia, but also artists and farmers, as well as other residents of the City of Charlottesville and the surrounding County of Albemarle, which creates such an interesting blend and unique feel to this area.
In addition, there are so many festivals and events taking place on any given day, the biggest challenge is to choose! From the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Heritage Harvest Festival, the Heritage Theater Festival and the Virginia Film Festival to the Tom Tom Founders Festival, Tops of the Hops, the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest and the Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival, to only name a few, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Where are your favorite places to visit?
I always enjoy going back to some of the places tourists love, such as our historic presidential homes (Monticello, Highland, and Montpelier), as well as many of our wonderful wineries, cideries, and craft breweries. Of course, regular visits to the nearby Shenandoah National Park are necessary to clear my mind and reconnect with nature. When I am in the mood for the best fried chicken around, I pay a visit to my Friends at the historic Michie Tavern and they head to the nearby Carter Mountain Orchard for amazing views of the area, and their famous and delicious apple cider donuts! Finally, it is always a wonderful experience to explore sites at the University of Virginia, such as the Rotunda, the Small Collections Library, and the Fralin Museum of Arts.
What are your favorite hidden gems in Charlottesville?
Charlottesville has such a strong artistic community, and it provides many opportunities for anyone to “bring out their inner-artist”, with fun places like The Glass Palette (where you can create an artifact out of glass), City Clay (where you can try your hand at the pottery wheel, it is a great place for date night) as well as Muse Paintbar or Wine & Design, the perfect place to create a painting for the first time.
What are you favorite places to eat at and what do you order there?
Wow, this is a tough question. Charlottesville & Albemarle County is definitely a destination foodies love due to all the amazing restaurants, which are supplied by the dozens of farms & orchards nearby. Whereas “farm to table” has been a marketing fad used by many destinations in recent years, it has been a way of life here in the Charlottesville area for decades. Some of my favorite places to eat are Monsoon Siam (try the Panang curry with chicken), Citizen Burger Bar (their minis are awesome and just the right size for me), Bashir’s Taverna (they have a curried shrimp salad, which is delicious), and the Old Mill Room at Boar’s Head (their lunchtime buffet is absolutely wonderful).
What do kids enjoy doing in Charlottesville when they visit?
Younger kids love going to the Discovery Museum, located on the Downtown Mall, older kids will definitely enjoy Monticello and the other presidential homes (Monticello has an exhibit designed with kids in mind, the Griffin Discovery Room, it is not to be missed). The entire family will enjoy a hearty lunch at Michie Tavern (with staff dressed in period costumes as well as a museum and a few unique shops to be discovered as well). To expend some energy, a visit to Jump CVille, an indoor trampoline park, will thrilled kids (and adults!) of all ages.
What do you want people to know about your community?
In addition to the historical sites, the numerous wineries, cideries, and craft breweries, the many places where one can enjoy outdoor activities, and our amazing food, Charlottesville is also a mecca for music. For a relatively small destination, we have had some of the biggest names in music perform here, such as U2, Lady Gaga, The Rolling Stones, Sir Paul McCartney, and of course, Dave Matthews Band, our local favorites. There are numerous places in Charlottesville where live music can be enjoyed, from the larger venues such as the John Paul Jones Arena (home of the U.Va Cavaliers basketball teams!), the Sprint Pavilion (an outdoor venue located on the Downtown Mall), and The Paramount Theater to the more intimate ones such as The Jefferson Theater, The Southern, Miller’s (where Dave Matthews’ career began years ago), and The Garage (this is an actual, small garage used as a performance venue!)
How can we help your community heal?
By coming to visit the Charlottesville area, you will help support local businesses, with owners and staff who are eager to welcome you and share with you their destination. The Charlottesville community is one that has endeared countless individuals, whether through their association with the University of Virginia, on business travel, group events, or simply enjoying the many leisure activities this area provides. Year-after-year, the greater Charlottesville area receives accolades that celebrate its hospitality, sustainability, technological innovation, diversity and charm and we hope to share this with as many visitors as possible.
Thanks again to Brigitte for giving us more information on the area. You can find out more additional information to plan your next getaway from the Visit Charlottesville website.