WanderLove is about reconnecting with what you love. Experience peaceful rivers, relaxing wineries, and all of the winding roads in between when you road trip through Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Va.
Nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just a short drive from our nation’s capital, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful vistas and endless outdoor adventures. After a day soaking up the sun, kick back at one of the unique culinary and spirit experiences in the area. Discover the best spots to play, eat, and stay in this guide to Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Go Outside and Play
The greater Charlottesville area offers outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds a place to get outside, from city and national parks to two nearby rivers.
Starting at Kemper Park with an arboretum of native flora, the Saunders-Monticello Trail winds two miles through hardwood forests and deep ravines to the visitor center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The path is open for hikers, cyclists, and those in a wheelchair. Or walk the new Highland Rustic Trails at James Monroe’s home for views of the historic property and working farm. Parks in the area, including Walnut Creek, Riverview, and Ragged Mountain Natural Area, provide a variety of walking, running, and biking trails.
Half an hour from city limits, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park meet for endless hiking and sightseeing. October is peak season for enjoying the fall colors from the trails or the winding country roads. Take your pick of hikes featuring waterfalls and stream crossings or panoramic views of the region. Although it’s a steep and strenuous climb, the views from the top of Humpback Rocks are worth it.
At the southern border of the county, the James River passes by Scottsville for rafting and floating trips. Or you can head out for a day of excellent smallmouth bass fishing. A mile from downtown, enjoy a scenic float through the area on the Rivanna River. Both rivers are serviced by outfitters if you need to rent a boat for a few hours.
Several outfitters offer hot air balloon rides for a thrilling float above the area. Fall is the perfect time to take in the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the changing leaves from the air.
You’ll need to keep your energy up for a full day of outdoor fun. Stop at Crozet Pizza, named best pizza in the world by National Geographic, for a taste of their epic homemade dough and sauce. Bodo’s Bagels serves up some legendary bagels that lure visitors back time and time again. The historic pedestrian Downtown Mall offers plenty of al-fresco dining options and boutique shops. It’s also the perfect spot to go for a post meal walk during this time of year.
Enjoy a post adventure drink at one of the 35 wineries in the area. They are the perfect spot to sit back in wide-open spaces and take in the views while sipping your favorite Virginia wines. Indian Summer Guide Service offers horseback riding tours through seven of the vineyards, complete with knowledgeable guides and a tasting at the end.
Visit IX Art Park to take a photo with the LOVE sculpture designed by two area artists. Stick around for live music or step into The Looking Glass for an interactive art museum experience. Or view the LOVEwork at the Shops at Stonefield before browsing the storefronts and dining at one of the many available options.
Relax and Unwind
Get the most out of your trip to Charlottesville with a multi-day stay at one of the area’s comfy lodging options. From upscale properties with a resort feel to chain hotels, bed and breakfasts, inns, and campgrounds, you’re sure to find a place that fits your getaway style.
Experience WanderLove for yourself when you visit Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Va. Please check local guidelines and regulations before making plans to get outside. Remember to practice social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and respect others’ health when outside.