Charlottesville Family Friendly Getaway

Photo by Brian Yost

From float trips and fruit picking to historical houses in Charlottesville

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Offering a host of exciting age-appropriate options, Charlottesville, Virginia is the perfect city for a family friendly getaway of a weekend or longer.

Friday in Charlottesville

Check in at your hotel in the late afternoon. Something near the downtown mall is ideal, but not absolutely necessary. Consider booking a room at the Omni or Residence Inn. From either you will be able walk out the door and have access to the pedestrian-only downtown mall.

After settling in, make your way to the downtown mall. April through September, there is a free concert featuring local talent in the Sprint Pavilion at the east end of the pedestrian zone. While strolling the length of the mall, listen to a few of the street musicians and take note of potential dining options.


April through December there is a vibrant city market on Water Street (near the downtown mall). Between 7:00 am to noon you can wander among the stalls and pick up breakfast from one of the vendors. There is a wide range of ethnic and American cuisine available.

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From downtown, it is only a 15-minute drive to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The new visitor center offers a film and a variety of exhibits. You will need to purchase a ticket to tour the house, but a walk with your family through the grounds and gardens can also be a fun afternoon.

On the drive to Monticello, you will pass two alternate or additional afternoon stops.

Carter’s Mountain is a peach and apple orchard. There is frequently music and fruit picking in season. There is a variety of other items in the gift shop. While there, try one of their amazing apple cider donuts. It also offers an amazing view of Charlottesville and the distant Blue Ridge Mountains.

Michie Tavern dates back to 1784. In addition to a functioning gristmill, there are other historic buildings and exhibits on the property. Browse or make reservations for a lunch of southern fare served by staff dressed in period attire.


In appropriate weather, try a half-day float trip on the historic Rivanna River can be a fun family-friendly adventure. Whether running the river on a tube, kayak or canoe, Rivanna River Company offers options for most ages and skill levels.

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If you are not in a hurry to get on the road, consider a visit to Roseland Polo at King Family Vineyards. Every Sunday from Memorial Day thru mid-October there is a polo match beginning at 1:00 p.m. Take a picnic and tailgate next to a polo field that sits in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In addition to the itinerary set out above, you may consider substituting or adding one or more of the following family-friendly options: the homes of Presidents Monroe and Madison are nearby; in addition, a stop at the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center will help you learn about their famous journey that began in Charlottesville; finally, the Shenandoah National Park is a short 30-minute drive from downtown.

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