Things to do in Charlottesville:

Explore: Eat:

We hope you'll be able to make the Evans-Toton wedding into a nice getaway. As the home of three of the good ol' U-S-of-A's founding fathers, there is plenty of sightseeing to do in the area. Charlottesville is also located in the heart of the Virginia wine country, so all you wine enthusiasts can check out some wineries or perhaps just the wine bars in town. (We're told that Virginia is stronger in white wines than red, but maybe you'll want to find that out yourself.) There's plenty more to do including checking out cute (or funny, if you will) small southern towns, antiquing, hiking, celebrity spotting (John Grisham, Robert Duvall, etc.), and more. Below are some highlights.

  • Tour the University of Virginia: the wonderful state university designed by Thomas Jefferson and known as an "academical" village. TJ designed many of the buildings in the central grounds area (no, don't call it the campus, it's the "grounds"). You can even find where Edgar Allen Poe spent many a wary night studying for classes and perhaps pondering ravens.
  • Visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home. The house sits on the hill overlooking his academical village below. You can see many of his handy inventions and how other people of his household lived.
  • Check out Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of President James Monroe. We haven't been there yet, but it does look pretty nice from the website.
  • While you're at it, you may as well visit James Madison's Montpelier as well. According to it's website, Montpelier is a 2,750-acre estate that includes farmland, racecourses, a terraced two-acre formal garden, a panoramic landscape, a National Landmark Forest, active archaeological sites, and more than 130 buildings, including the main house. They are currently restoring the main house to Madison's time (as it was greatly changed by the DuPont family), but there remains much to see. Montpelier is approximately 45 minutes from Charlottesville.
  • Walk through the Downtown Mall. In the previous century, the city decided to close off a portion of main street in downtown and turn it into a pedestrian thorough fare. Apparently it didn't do so well for years, but now it's thriving and you'll find many places to shop and eat in addition to an ice skating rink. It's also a great place for people watching. Also look for Miller's at the end close to the Omni Hotel - it's the famous bar where Dave Matthews used to tend bar and has some music acts playing there.
  • Explore some wineries and do some wine tasting. As mentioned above, Charlottesville is located in the middle of Virginia wine country and thus there are several wineries within the area. A good place for more information on the local wineries is the Monticello Wine Trail website: Additionally, there are a few wine bars downtown where you can taste many local wines from the convenience of a comfortable table and chair. These include Vavino and Tastings.
  • Check out some great artwork at the University of Virginia's Art Museum. The Art Museum is adjacent to the central grounds and is well worth a visit.
  • Listen to local music at the Gravity Lounge or Starr Hill. Charlottesville actually gave birth to quite a few music groups. Also, the city has added a new pavilion downtown and during the summer, there are frequent free music evenings, especially on Friday nights. It may be worth checking out.
  • Hike the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Shenandoahs. Even if you don't have time or the energy to hike, it's worth a drive along Skyline Drive or in the area just for the breathtaking views.
  • Play some golf. Although we're not golfers ourselves, we're told that there are some decent courses around town. Among them are: Birdwood which is apparently super nice and along the road where country clubs and large estate homes are plentiful. It's also associated with the University of Virginia (reservations: 434-293-4653 / info: Then there's the cheaper, but decent and still challenging municipal golf course, Meadow Creek (reservations: 434-977-0615 / info:; and lastly Old Trail Golf Club which was renovated recently, but a little further out (reservations: 434-823-8101 / info:
  • See Virginia from new heights in a hot air balloon. As many of you know, Virginia is filled with rolling hills, expansive farms and historic homes. You can see it all from above in a hot air balloon. Check out: for more information.
  • Tour historic Charlottesville: The Albemarle County Historical Society offers walking tours of historic downtown Charlottesville every Saturday at 10 a.m., April through October. Tours leave from the McIntire building, 200 Second St., NE, across from Lee Park. Stroll around the Court Square familiar to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Learn about the early years of Charlottesville, its citizens, businesses and buildings. During a one-hour tours you will see reminders of over 250 years of our community's heritage. A $3.00 donation per person is suggested; no advanced reservation is required. Children under 12 and school groups are free of charge. Group tours may be arranged for other times. Call for further information or, in case of severe weather, to inquire about the tour schedule. Phone: (434) 296-1492 /
  • Tour historic Marc and Kari's house!: This lovely abode boasts the living quarters of two of Charlottesville's most notorious individuals. Known for one of the area's largest coca-cola collections, new renovations make this home a must see! Mention Jonathan's name for a special discount. If the individual who answers the phone begins to curse at you, simply hang up and try again. Phone: (434) 296-5601

Since we are relatively new to town, we're still working on a good list of places to eat, but here's the bare minimum:

  • Eat lunch at the Michie Tavern. This old tavern has been around since the olden days of yore (aka, colonial period) and serves a supposedly authentic colonial lunch. We had wanted to have our reception there with the beer wenches serving, but unfortunately it was not to happen.
  • Downtown: the Downtown mall has the largest concentration of restaurants, most of which are good. We'll pick out a couple below that we've been to.
  • West Main: This a casual but nice restaurant close to the downtown area, but just before it on West Main Street. There is rarely a wait, but the food is very yummy. 333 W Main St
  • Sticks Kabob Shop: This is super casual restaurant (just above fast food) with very yummy kabobs with your choice of meats and sauces. Lily loves this place because she can get souvlaki-like food. It's located just slightly to the Northeast of downtown on Preston Street (917 Preston Ave)
  • The Tavern: this is where the students, visitors and the townspeople meet for breakfast. It's known for fast, brusque service with a wide assortment of pancakes and all other breakfast items. Jonathan is a big fan of the chocolate chip pancakes. It's located on Emmet Street (aka Rt 29) across from the big Barracks Road shopping center (1140 Emmet St N)
  • The Hardware Store: Yes, that's right. It's an old hardware store someone turned into a restaurant. The decore is interesting, and the menu extensive... but the food is only so-so. Still, it's kind of a kick to go there. On the Downtown Mall. 316 East Main Street Mall, 434-977-1518.
  • Michael's Bistro: This is a great yummy restaurant near campus in the area known at the Corner. However, don't eat too much as they are catering the reception! (1427 University Ave)
  • C&O Restaurant: This is an upscale French restaurant located adjacent to the downtown area. It's recognized as one of the top restaurants in town. Reservations are recommended. 515 E Water St. (434) 971-7044
  • Hamilton's: This is another great upscale downtown restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine. It's located on the downtown mall at 101 West Main Street. Reservations are recommended but not necessarily required. (434) 295-6649
  • Fuel Co.: A fancy restaurant that was made out of a gas station, you can still pump your gas here! It's actually not the only one in Charlottesville, but it's certainly the best. It's located at 901 East Market Street. Uniquely Charlottesville. (434) 220-0864
  • Northern Exposure: This is the place where companies and political groups take their members for "special meals." But not the cheap-o type of meal; the actual decent stuff. Located at 1202 W Main Street, they have three dining rooms, an oak bar, and a rooftop deck. Parking's behind the building, and can be a little tricky, so you've been warned. Definitely recommend.
  • South Street Brewery: What great town doesn't have a great brewery. This fun brewery is adjacent to the downtown mall and serves yummy food with its fine beer selection. Expect the quality of food to be above what you'd normally find in a pub. 106 W South St
  • Bodo's Bagels: This is a Charlottesville tradition for bagels. Where Lily grew up, they sold bagels plain or with cream cheese and perhaps even lox. But in Charlottesville, your bagel is a very full meal and you can get just about anything and everything on it, and eat it at just about any time of the day. There are several locations including along the Corner, near downtown and along Route 29.