72 Hours In Charlottesville, Virginia

Explore one of the best adventure towns in the country.

By: Christin Healey
December 16, 2015

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When most people think of Charlottesville, VA, inevitably Thomas Jefferson, UVA, and Monticello come to mind. But don’t be fooled, this bustling little college town tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains is overflowing with more hiking trails than you could possibly fit into a weekend, mountain biking circuits that will challenge any cyclist, and more breweries and wineries than you can count. As an avid outdoors person, lover of a good craft brew, and wanna-be foodie, I’ve mapped out all the best spots to hit up for your long weekend in and around C’ville.

Friday

Explore Walnut Creek Park | Photo: Christin Healey

Start your day off right with a trip to a Charlottesville staple, Bodo’s Bagels. You can’t go wrong with an egg sandwich here, and don’t be scared off by the long lines — it moves fast and is completely worth it.

After your carb-fueled breakfast, hit up one of the best mountain biking parks around, Walnut Creek Park. There are 15 miles of trails here from beginner to advanced, and if you are visiting in the summertime, you can cool off in the lake or rent a canoe afterwards. If you don’t have your mountain bike with you, you can rent one for $45/day from Blue Ridge Cyclery.

Spend the afternoon stretching your legs and cruising around the beautiful Grounds of the University of Virginia, and take in the Jeffersonian architecture while getting swept up in the bustle of the co-eds rushing to and from class. “The Corner” is where all the action can be found, and there are food & drink options for everyone. A personal favorite for a great burger and people watching is definitely Boylan Heights - great beer on tap, burgers (and veg options) using all local ingredients in a fun atmosphere. You can thank me later.

Saturday

Photo: Christin Healey

If you are around in April-October, the local farmer’s market is a must. Get there right at 7am to avoid the lines and don’t miss the taco stand and a cup of coffee from Shenandoah Joe’s.

Time to hit the trails! Shenandoah National Park is only 40 minutes outside of town, and Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway are some of the most beautiful drives around. You can pick up a trail map at any entrance station to the park, but one of the most popular hikes for maximum views with minimal effort is definitely Humpback Rocks. If you are exploring during the wintertime, be sure to check for road closures. The hike is still doable, it will just take a few extra miles of trekking.

Hike Humpback Rocks | Photo: Christin Healey

After summiting Humpback, it’s time to quench your thirst. Whether you prefer your drink made with hops or grapes, there is something for everyone. You can find some great ones here or here. There is nothing quite as sweet as sipping your drink, sun on your face, and taking in the views of the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge. It’s easy to see why Mr. Jefferson was inspired to bring vines over from France in this moment.

Bikes and Brews on Route 151 | Photo: Christin Healey

Wrap up your Saturday night with dinner and some tunes! If you didn’t get to imbibe in all the local brews in the afternoon, don’t worry - I got you. Beer Run not only has great food, but an amazing, curated selection of local and regional craft brews. Afterwards, dance it all off at one of our best music venues, all within walking distance right downtown. “The Pav” is hands down my favorite place to catch a show; don’t miss it if someone good is jammin’ on this stage. In the winter, or for a more indie band, The Jefferson is a gorgeous venue with lots of charm and talented artists.

If you’ve worked up a sweat jumping around to all that great music, C&O has the best late night menu around, not to mention Greyhounds made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It’s tucked away in an old railway station, and it just doesn’t get more charming than this place.

Sunday

Kayak Beaver Creek Lake | Photo: Christin Healey

It’s your last day in the ‘Ville, and Sundays are made for relaxing. After sleeping in a bit, head on over to the Bluegrass Grill for the best brunch around. Dave Matthews sightings here are a common occurrence, and their motto is, “relax...we have bacon.” What’s not to love?! After some bacon, hit the water for a relaxing paddle or some fishing over at Beaver Creek for the perfect end to your trip.

If you aren’t in a hurry, be sure to drive home via Skyline Drive for your final views of those mountains.

Photo: Christin Healey

I hope y’all enjoyed this guide to the little town I have called home and had some amazing adventures in for nearly 7 years. Next time you are in the Central Virginia area, by all means buff up on your T.J. trivia, but don’t forget your hiking boots! Happy travels, friends.

Cover photo: Christin Healey

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.