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Road Trip to Charlottesville & Albemarle County

A charming region full of history, wineries, restaurants, and a vibrant arts community 

Nestled against the foothills of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains, and about a hundred miles southwest of Washington, D.C., Charlottesville and Albemarle County offer visitors a thriving community of arts and culture that is both boldly innovative and grounded in rich tradition.

One of the most celebrated aspects of the Charlottesville area is its surroundings. The city is located within Albemarle County, which contains hundreds of beautiful hiking trails—some of which feed directly into the Appalachian Trail. Wine tours of the 40+ wineries located along the Monticello Wine Trail are available as well. If you feel like taking on a challenge, head over to Humpback Rock, a popular destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway with breathtaking views of the mountains and Shenandoah Valley. For a small fee, take a scenic drive on nearby Skyline Drive, the backbone of Shenandoah National Park, where you’ll have access to 500 miles of trails, cascading waterfalls in deep canyons and a variety of wildlife flourishing in the oak-hickory forests.

Residents and visitors alike can’t help but love the area’s many wineries, but there are plenty of breweries cideries, and distilleries here as well. Each offer quality libations with picturesque views, with some offering fascinating tours on craft production and samples too! Spend an afternoon at one of these popular imbibing destinations or follow one of the wine or beer trails that traverse the landscape.

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is the area’s most internationally significant fixture (Monticello and the Rotunda at the University of Virginia are a collective UNESCO World Heritage site). Jefferson designed Monticello when he was 26 years old, after inheriting land from his father. The plantation was originally used for the cultivation of tobacco and mixed crops. Jefferson then switched to having wheat planted in response to changing markets. In addition to its architecture and elaborate estate, Monticello was known for its expansive gardens. Every year hundreds of fruit and vegetable varieties were grown, and although grape vines continuously failed to thrive there, he is recognized as one of America’s first aspiring viticulturists. Today, Charlottesville and Albemarle County make up the vast majority of the Monticello American Viticultural Area (AVA), an acclaimed and significant wine region east of the Mississippi River.

There are many ways to become acquainted with the city of Charlottesville. Hop on the free trolley to navigate easily between downtown and the University of Virginia. Be sure to take a lap around the Academical Village and stroll the length of the Downtown Mall, one of the longest pedestrian malls in the country. Dining on the Downtown Mall, especially from late spring to early fall, is one of the best ways to enjoy a calm, sunny day. Here you will find dozens of shops and restaurants, plus multiple music venues on and around the city’s historic Main Street. 

Whether you are in town for the weekend or here for a day trip, the attractions, dining, shopping and breathtaking scenery offered in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are sure to provide an experience you’ll never forget. Start planning your trip today at visitcharlottesville.org!