Experience the most vibrant arts and entertainment scene of any small city in America. You simply won’t believe the scope of what Charlottesville has to offer. You will find dozens of art venues and a variety of live music paired with hundreds of dining options.
Prior to your trip, visit C-ville Weekly online for a calendar of local events during your planned visit. You will find the most up-to-date listings to help fine tune your itinerary.
Check in at your hotel in the late afternoon or early evening. Consider booking a room close to downtown. This will allow you to walk to most of the venues.
Main Street runs from the downtown pedestrian mall to the University and it is one of the hot new areas to dine with a wide variety of options. Park, walk and pick a place to eat. We really like Doma (Korean fusion), Bellas (Southern Italian) and Orzo (Mediterranean), but there are no bad choices.
After dinner stroll back toward the mall. Stop for a drink or gelato. There are also a variety of music venues.
If it’s not past your bedtime, consider Miller’s for Jazz. The John D’earth quartet plays every Thursday starting at 11:00 p.m. D’earth is a brilliant jazz trumpeter. Give him a Google search.
Note: On the “First Friday” of every month all of the Charlottesville art studios open their doors. This may alter your evening plans.
Take a trip to University of Virginia. Have lunch in the Corner District and then walk three blocks to the Fralin Museum of Art on Rugby Road. On the way you will pass the rotunda, which is part of Jefferson’s original university. Consider a stroll through the old grounds and explore some of the gardens behind each of the pavilions.
If time permits, visit the noteworthy Second Street Gallery just off the downtown mall. It only open Tuesday through Friday.
Every Friday evening from April to September, there is a free concert featuring local bands at the Sprint Pavilion on the east end of the mall. The entire downtown comes alive for “Friday’s After Five.”
Stroll the length of the mall and check out some of the street performers. While walking, keep your eye open for a place to dine. There are too many great restaurants to mention.
Check out the City Market. It is open from 7:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday from April through December on Water Street (one block from the downtown mall). You will find many local artists and artisans along with local produce and other food items. This can also be a breakfast option. We love to graze at the many American and ethnic food stalls.
Visit a couple of noteworthy downtown galleries. C’ville Art on the downtown mall (Main Street) is a cooperative gallery and storefront featuring local artist and artisans. Especially relevant is the McGuffy Art Center, which is a short walk from the mall.
Time permitting, visit the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, which is outside the city limits, but just minutes from downtown. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to Australian Aboriginal art.
Visit the Belmont District for dinner. We really like Mas (Spanish tapas), The Southern (Mexican fusion), or Tavola (very high-end Italian), but all of the restaurants are exceptional. Most venues do not accept reservations, but they are worth the wait.
If you don’t need to get on the road right away, there are a large number of brunch venues. We really like MarieBette Café and Bakery, Hamilton’s and Bluegrass Grill and Bakery.