13 Best Places and Things To Do in Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia, is a charming and historic city known for its rich heritage, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant cultural scene. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or exploring local cuisine, Charlottesville has something for everyone. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Charlottesville.

1. Monticello

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monticello

Start your journey by visiting Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers guided tours that provide fascinating insights into Jefferson’s life, architecture, and innovations.

2. James Monroe’s Highland


Image Source: https://highland.org/highland-and-slavery/

Explore the historic home of James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, at James Monroe’s Highland. This beautifully preserved estate offers guided tours that delve into Monroe’s life, political career, and the history of the property. Enjoy the scenic grounds and the peaceful atmosphere.

3. Saunders-Monticello Trail


Image Source: https://www.monticello.org/visit/the-saunders-monticello-trail/

Nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers should explore the Saunders-Monticello Trail. This scenic 2-mile trail winds through the woodlands, providing beautiful views of the surrounding area and leading to the entrance of Monticello. Enjoy a peaceful hike or jog along the well-maintained path.

4. Mulberry Row

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The buildings on Mulberry Row represented a diverse range of trades and skills, such as carpentry, blacksmithing, cooking, weaving, and more. Enslaved individuals living on Mulberry Row played essential roles in the daily operations of Monticello, contributing to its self-sufficiency and productivity. Today, Monticello has made significant efforts to restore and interpret Mulberry Row to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the lives of the enslaved people who resided there. The site features reconstructed buildings and exhibits that shed light on the labor, skills, and contributions of the enslaved community.

5. Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kluge-Ruhe_Aboriginal_Art_Collection

The collection at Kluge-Ruhe began in the late 1980s when John W. Kluge, a philanthropist and collector, started acquiring Aboriginal art from various regions across Australia. In 1997, Kluge gifted his collection to the University of Virginia, and it subsequently grew through donations, acquisitions, and collaborations with Aboriginal artists and communities. The museum’s mission is to promote the understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal art and culture. The collection comprises a wide range of art forms, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, prints, and multimedia installations. These artworks reflect the diverse styles, stories, and techniques employed by Aboriginal artists, providing a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and ongoing artistic practices of Australia’s indigenous peoples.

6. Ivy Creek Natural Area


Image Source: https://www.charlottesville.gov/facilities/facility/details/Ivy-Creek-Natural-Area-58

Ivy Creek Natural Area also offers educational programs and events for all ages. Guided nature walks, workshops, and lectures provide opportunities to learn about the local ecology, conservation efforts, and the importance of preserving natural habitats. The area serves as a valuable outdoor classroom for school groups and community organizations interested in environmental education.

7. Virginia Discovery Museum


Image Source: https://www.vadm.org/museum-exhibits

If you’re visiting Charlottesville with children, be sure to stop by the Virginia Discovery Museum. This interactive children’s museum offers hands-on exhibits and educational activities that engage young minds.

8. Fralin Museum of Art

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fralin_Museum_of_Art

Located on the grounds of the University of Virginia, The Fralin Museum of Art houses an impressive collection of art spanning diverse periods and cultures. Explore their permanent collection and rotating exhibitions that showcase works by renowned artists.

9. Bounce-n-Play

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The main attraction at Bounce-n-Play is its expansive indoor inflatable playground. It features a range of inflatable structures, such as bounce houses, slides, obstacle courses, and interactive games. Children can jump, slide, climb, and explore these inflatable structures, allowing them to burn off energy and have a blast in a controlled and supervised setting. In addition to the inflatable playground, Bounce-n-Play offers other activities to keep kids entertained. They often have designated areas for sports activities like soccer or basketball, providing opportunities for friendly competitions and active play. Some locations also have arcade games, air hockey tables, and other interactive games that add to the overall entertainment experience.

10. Michie Tavern

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Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michie_Tavern

Experience colonial-era dining at Michie Tavern, a historic landmark offering hearty Southern fare in a restored 18th-century tavern. Indulge in traditional dishes like fried chicken, biscuits, and Virginia ham while immersing yourself in the ambiance of the past.

11. Ragged Mountain Natural Area


Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragged_Mountains

One of the main attractions at Ragged Mountain Natural Area is its extensive trail system, which provides options for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking. The trails wind through diverse terrain, including wooded areas, open meadows, and along the shores of Ragged Mountain Reservoir. The varying difficulty levels of the trails cater to both novice and experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers and nature lovers can explore the trails to experience the natural beauty of the area. The forested sections offer shade and a peaceful ambiance, while the open meadows provide scenic vistas and opportunities for wildlife spotting. Birdwatchers will appreciate the abundant bird species that inhabit the area, making it an ideal spot for birdwatching enthusiasts.

12. Holy Comforter Roman Catholic Church

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Holy Comforter Roman Catholic Church offers regular Masses throughout the week, providing opportunities for worship and spiritual nourishment for its parishioners. The Masses are conducted with reverence and follow the liturgical traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, the church offers sacraments such as baptism, reconciliation, marriage, and the anointing of the sick.

13. Chris Green Lake Park


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The lake at Chris Green Lake Park is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. It is stocked with a variety of fish species, including bass, catfish, and sunfish, providing ample opportunities for anglers to cast their lines and enjoy a day of fishing. Fishing permits are required, and visitors should check local regulations and guidelines before fishing.

Charlottesville offers a blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural attractions that make it a fantastic destination for travelers. Whether you’re interested in exploring American history, enjoying outdoor adventures, or indulging in local flavors, Charlottesville will leave you with lasting memories.