Named in honor of Queen Charlotte, the wife of George
III, Charlottesville was settled in the eighteenth century on
a hill overlooking the Rivanna River. Today, Charlottesville is
a small, thriving city that has kept up with the cultivated tastes
of its inhabitants. Money Magazine named Charlottesville among
the top cities in the United States for its charm, good public
school system, clean environment, absence of crime and style in
Charlottesville uniquely offers a picturesque and cultivated countryside
rich in historical associations and cultural opportunities that
has won praise for years.
Charlottesville and Albemarle County have a combined
population of around 150,000, with higher education, tourism,
light manufacturing, agriculture, and retail trade constituting
their economic base. Over the years, much has been done to preserve
the natural beauty and character of Albemarle County. The countryside,
especially in the springtime, ranks among the most beautiful sites
in the nation. Beautiful estates, tucked against the backdrop
of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and bounded by split-rail fences
and cedar trees, dot the rolling-hill landscape.
The Downtown Mall: Downtown Charlottesville
is the legal, financial, and social meeting place of the community.
The Downtown Mall, a tree-lined pedestrian walkway connects Charlottesville's
convention center and ice-skating rink with the city's new community
amphitheatre. The mall has recently experienced a resurgence,
as internet coffee house, art galleries, open cafes and restaurants
have lured people to the area for business and leisure. Downtown
Charlottesville transforms from a sleepy Southern town to a animated
small city each day as restaurants and retail stores on the mall
open, and as professionals, students, and townspeople stop for
coffee or lunch.
The Corner: A collection of student shops,
bookstores, cafes, and night spots, the Corner is the center of
student life at the University. The Corner is always full of life,
but it is especially active midday when faculty, staff, and students
break there for lunch. Patrons of its numerous sidewalk cafes
can be found spending time leisurely drinking coffee, reading
or simply watching people walk by.
Albemarle County & Surrounding Areas
Ash Lawn-Highland: Slightly more than two
miles from Monticello. The restored home of President James Monroe,
this 550-acre estate features gardens, farm-crafts demonstrations,
and a hiking trail. The scene of many special events such as the
summer Opera Festival, the Champagne and Candlelight Tour, and
the Colonial Crafts Weekend. (Mar.-Oct.: 9-6; Nov.-Feb: 10-5;
open daily except Christmas, New Year's Day, and Thanksgiving.
Admission is charged.)
Charlottesville/Albemarle Convention and Visitors
Bureau: Route 20S at I-64. A rich source of information about
area sites, food, and lodging. The special exhibit, "Thomas Jefferson
at Monticello," is an excellent preparation for a visit to Monticello.
Monticello: On Route 53, several miles from
the junction of Route 20 South. Monticello is the mountaintop home of Thomas Jefferson, which
he built over a period of forty years as an expression of his architectural genius. (Open seven days
a week. Tours every five minutes. Mar-Oct: 8 -5; Nov.-Feb. 9-4:30,
open daily except Christmas. Admission is charged.)
Montpelier: A forty-five minute drive north
in Orange County on Route 20. Home of President James and Dolley
Madison. Restoration in process. (Open daily from 10-4. Admission
Virginia Wineries: A number of wineries within
easy drive of Charlottesville are generally open from spring to
Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway: Take Route
250 or I-64 west. Take a beautiful drive or hike in the Appalachian
The Heritage Repertory Theatre: Professional summer
theatre on the Grounds of the University of Virginia (June - August).
Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Opera Festival: Outdoor
operas and lectures in repertory schedule (June - August).
Fridays after Five: Weekly after-work-celebration
includes lively concerts in the grassy amphitheatre at the western
end of the historic downtown mall.
Independence Day Celebration: McIntire Park and
Fall brings regional crafts fairs to the area, wine
tasting tours, and breathtaking scenic drives through the Blue
Ridge Mountains to view the fall foliage.
Every holiday season brings First Night Virginia's New Year's Eve festivities
for families, featuring live music, entertainment, and fireworks