Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a guide, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Charlottesville, Virginia?”
Charlottesville, Virginia. Part-progressive academic outpost, part-small southern town. Where the M.O. is red brick, humid summer and ecstatic dogwood-blossom spring. You might know it as the home of two US presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Or as the site of the University of Virginia, a public university that’s also a UNESCO world-heritage site. From the headlines in 2017, when white nationalists violently gathered over the removal of Confederate statues, turning a peaceful counter-protest into a site of mourning.
More than headlines, it’s a grassroots music and art hotspot, hosting a growing number of arts residency programs and initiatives, multiple folk music schools, and performance venues. Craft breweries outnumber chain restaurants, and regional vineyards multiply each year. It’s been named a top place to live and is the D.C. Jackie-O-esque millennial momma’s fave weekend getaway. In recent years, educators and activists have helped reshape public narratives of race and local history, and promoted visibility of underrepresented businesses and organizations. Which is all to say, this historic college town is well-established as Virginia’s most multifaceted destination. Here’s an insider guide to the city’s best, hip and historic.