Experience Charlottesville and Albemarle County at Its Natural Best, No Matter the Season

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Cover Photo: Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

Enjoy the outdoors at an easy pace along a riverside trail, on a hike to a ridge or peak, from the seat of a bike, afloat on one of our rivers, relaxing comfortably in the shade at a winery with a clear view of a sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains… however you’d like to appreciate our spacious countryside, we can point you in the right direction. In an effort to ensure the safety of all, wearing a face covering is now mandatory in all public spaces. Local restaurants, shops and attractions have implemented comprehensive plans to ensure that your visit is both exceptionally enjoyable and appropriately responsible. Visit by car in order to maintain a comfortable social distance and maximize mobility for the duration of your trip: everything mentioned above and detailed below can be enjoyed within a 25-minute drive of downtown Charlottesville.

Tubing on the James River

Kayak, tube, raft, or paddleboard on the James or Rivanna Rivers. The Rivanna is calm and wide, lined with shaded rocky banks, and close to the heart of downtown. The James, broad and beautiful, is our biggest river. On your way to or from the James, stop by Scottsville’s quaint, historic downtown for a drink or a bite to eat. From the Rivanna, try the pedestrian mall in the heart of Charlottesville, an eight-block stretch of shops, restaurants, cafes and public art. It’s a great place to enjoy a socially-distanced outdoor lunch, dinner or morning coffee. Don’t worry about bringing your own equipment to either river. Look to the Rivanna River Company at the Rivanna, and James River Runners or James River Reeling and Rafting near the James for any rentals you may need.

Be sure to spend some quality time in our parks and natural areas during your visit. The highest and most iconic trails can be found in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Try the Humpback Rocks Trail, a steep, short hike to a 360-degree view atop the rocky peak. There you’ll see as much of the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains of Albemarle County as you would out of the windows of a private jet. The ever-popular Saunders-Monticello Trail, adjacent to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and Carter Mountain Orchard, is another excellent place for a hike, no matter the season. Put the Rustic Highland Trails at nearby James Monroe’s Highland high on your list for consideration as well.

Carter Mountain Orchard

The USA Cycling National Team trained here in Charlottesville and Albemarle County prior to the 2015 UCI Road World Championships for a reason. Scenic and hilly, our roads make for perfect training grounds. The southern end of Skyline Drive, the road at the center of Shenandoah National Park, meets with the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway just west of Albemarle County, and either route is perfect for an intense bike ride. Find flatter, breezier trails and roads closer to the city. The roads and trails in and around downtown Charlottesville are excellent for biking, running, hiking and walking with friends or family. 

Sunset at Humpback Rocks

The most spectacular season in our part of Virginia in terms of natural beauty has to be fall. Leaves near the peaks of the mountains begin to change in late September. Peak fall color usually arrives in mid to late October. Visit Carter Mountain Orchard, from which you can see the entirety of downtown Charlottesville below and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west in all their fall splendor. And, of course, for the ultimate perspective on the area, float overhead in a hot-air balloon. 

When it’s time to rest up after your outdoor adventures, our area boasts the full range of lodging options, from resorts and boutique hotels, to remote bed and breakfasts and everything in between. 

Our part of Virginia has safely reopened. Join us when you can! This video, produced in May 2020, features must-see local landmarks and a socially distanced performance of “Space for Days” by Kendall Street Company (a Charlottesville-based band).

Should you have any questions when planning your visit, give us a call, visit our website, or stop by one of our visitor centers to speak with our knowledgeable travel specialists. Plan your trip today at www.visitcharlottesville.org.

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