The Insider Guide to Visiting UVA
The University of Virginia in Charlottesville is regarded as one of the most beautiful and prestigious universities in the country. In fact it is the only university in the world to have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only is UVA an excellent school, Charlottesville, Virginia is also a very special small Southern city to visit.
You can’t come to Charlottesville without walking around the UVA Grounds. Begin your tour at the Rotunda at the north end of the Lawn, a grassy area designed by Thomas Jefferson to be the center of the university. The Lawn is surrounded by academic and residential buildings dating back to the early 1800s. If it is your first trip to UVA and Charlottesville be sure to schedule a tour with The University Guide Service. The UGuide’s offer Admissions, Historical and various specialty tours which provide a great introduction to the University and the history of Charlottesville.
While the University of Virginia is central to the history and culture of Charlottesville, the city has much to offer beyond the University. From the resplendent vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a growing wine industry, bustling arts scene and farm-to-table restaurants rivaling some of the best in the world, you will find yourself looking to return to Charlottesville time and time again.
WHAT TO DO
Visit The Corner. Located directly across the street from the university, The Corner is a busy intersection and thriving business district full of shops and restaurants that are frequented by UVA students. A stop here for lunch and some shopping is a must after touring the Lawn as you will get a true sense of what UVA life is like. Suggestions on where to eat & shop on the corner can be found below.
Visit the Historic Downtown Mall (108 5th Street Northeast). The historic Downtown Mall is one of the longest pedestrian malls in the country and is home to over 150 local shops and restaurants. On Saturday mornings, make sure to visit the farmer’s market in the Water Street parking lot to shop fresh, local goods that are unique to Charlottesville. Fans of live music will love Ting Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue located at the end of the mall.
Cheer on the Wahoos at a local sporting event. One of the best things about a college town is the access to great sporting events. If you’re visiting in the fall be sure to experience singing the Good Old Song and seeing the Cav Man at a UVA football game at Scott Stadium. For those visiting UVA in the winter, a basketball game is a can’t-miss event. Held at John Paul Jones Arena, UVA basketball games are the perfect glimpse of the spirit and excitement of the university’s student body. In the spring UVA Lacrosse and UVA Baseball, with eight NCAA championships between them, are sure to bring some exciting games.
Tour Monticello. When The Academical Village at UVA was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, so was Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. For history buffs a tour of Monticello is a must.
Cheer on the horses at the Foxfield Races (2215 Foxfield Track). A UVA tradition, Foxfield has been hosting nationally recognized steeplechase races for over 40 years. We recommend the Fall Foxfield races for a family friendly experience that provides a taste of one of Charlottesville’s most anticipated events for students. This year’s fall Foxfield races are being held on Sunday, October 1st and the spring races will take place on Saturday, April 27th.
View the latest exhibits at the Fralin Museum of Art (155 Rugby Road). Part of the University of Virginia, the Fralin hosts a permanent collection of over 14,000 works ranging from African art to American photography. Enjoy a glimpse of the university’s art scene completely free of charge.
Explore the Great Outdoors: Outdoor enthusiasts visiting Charlottesville can’t pass up a hike through the majestic Shenandoah National Park or along Skyline Drive. Experience Virginia’s natural beauty at Shenandoah National Park, located just 30 minutes from Charlottesville. Enjoy 360 degree views of the area with one of the most popular hikes near Charlottesville, Humpback Rocks. Other popular hikes in the area include Old Rag Mountain, the Blue Ridge Tunnel and Sugar Hollow.
WHERE TO STAY
Quirk Hotel (499 West Main Street). A beautifully designed hotel with close proximity to both the University and downtown Charlottesville. During your stay, enjoy amenities like an upscale restaurant, rooftop bar, and coffee shop.
The Forum (540 Massie Road). Charlottesville’s newest luxury hotel, located on the grounds of UVA’s Darden School of Business. Inside of the stately exterior lies a vibrant modern space with several dining options and a flourishing botanical garden and arboretum. The Forum provides a unique opportunity to celebrate and connect with UVA’s dynamic community.
The Oakhurst Inn (122 Oakhurst Circle). A small, well-appointed inn nestled in a peaceful neighborhood adjacent to the university. Originally used as student-faculty housing, the four buildings comprising the inn were renovated in 2012 to form Charlottesville’s first boutique hotel. Make sure to stop by the adjoined cafe for a simple and sophisticated breakfast or brunch.
The Draftsman (1106 West Main Street). Located just a block away from the university, this upscale boutique hotel is sure to provide an element of luxury to your UVA visit. Enjoy upscale casual dining downstairs in the hotel’s restaurant The Ridley.
The Graduate (1309 West Main Street). This unique luxury hotel is perched at the end of UVA’s Corner and is within walking distance from Grounds. With multiple restaurants, a coffee shop, and free bike rentals, The Graduate provides everything you need for a perfect day at UVA.
Keswick Hall (701 Club Drive, Keswick). For those looking for a more relaxed approach to a college visit, Keswick Hall is the perfect pick. Keswick Hall is located 15 minutes from UVA’s grounds in the middle of the stunning Virginia countryside, providing a tranquil space full of luxury. Make sure to visit the on-site restaurant Marigold, fine dining by Jean-Georges featuring fresh, seasonal cuisine.
WHERE TO EAT & SHOP NEAR UVA:
Bodo’s Bagels (1609 University Avenue). You can’t come to Charlottesville without enjoying a Bodo’s Bagel. With Bagels so fresh they don’t need toasting, Bodo’s is a Charlottesville institution that’s beloved by students of the University. On weekend mornings, the line stretches down the Corner, so take a trip to one of their two other locations on Preston Avenue or Emmet Street to avoid the crowds.
The Virginian (1521 University Avenue). While small, the Virginian is packed with tradition as Charlottesville’s oldest restaurant. Enjoy a cozy ambiance inside, or sit on the patio and enjoy watching the hustle and bustle of the Corner. Make sure to try the famous mac and cheese while you’re there.
Take It Away (115 Elliewood Avenue). Take it Away has been on UVA’s Corner since 1992 and is a lunchtime favorite among locals and students alike. Enjoy one of their signature sandwiches or build your own but make sure you include their famous house dressing!
Boylan Heights (102 14th Street Northwest). Loved by UVA students and locals alike, Boylan Heights is a staple on The Corner. This prep-school themed restaurant is known for its burgers made with local ingredients and is a popular destination for students on game day.
FIG (1331 West Main Street). FIG is a cozy neighborhood bistro with a Southern and Mediterranean inspired menu. On the weekends, their brunch is a staple and features unique items that you can’t find anywhere else in Charlottesville.
Corner Juice (1508 University Avenue). Owned by UVA alum, Corner Juice is committed to providing fresh and nutritious foods in addition to their cold pressed juices. Stop in for a quick smoothie pick me up, or enjoy a fresh pressed panini for an easy, delicious lunch.
Grit Coffee (19 Elliewood Avenue). Coffee roasted locally in Charlottesville and Richmond, tucked away behind the Corner. Grit Coffee can also be found in Nau Hall, making it the perfect pick me up as you walk around grounds.
The White Spot (1407 University Avenue). A favorite late night spot for UVA students since 1953, now owned by UVA alums. Be sure to try their signature Gus Burger, or for those that prefer something sweet, the Grillsworth is a must try dessert.
Feast! (416 West Main Street). Take home a taste of Charlottesville with one of the many local treats and specialty foods found at Feast. Make sure to stop by their cafe for one of their gourmet salads, soups, or sandwiches. Feast is also the perfect spot to pick up all of your tailgate essentials when in town for a game.
Mincer’s (1527 University Avenue). Mincer’s has been an iconic part of the University of Virginia community since 1948. The store began selling UVA apparel in 1976 and has since become the go-to store for those searching for high quality clothing, gifts, and accessories. Each item sold has been custom-designed with the UVA community in mind to provide customers with unique pieces that reflect the spirit of Charlottesville.
Ragged Mountain Running Shop (3 Elliewood Avenue). A staple of the Charlottesville running community, Ragged Mountain Running has been supplying the city with running gear since 1982. Find the perfect running shoe thanks to their expertise, or simply stop by to chat about upcoming races and community events. UVA students and faculty also receive a 15% discount!
Heartwood Books (5 Elliewood Avenue). Located in the heart of the Corner, this used bookstore houses a collection of rare and unique books not often found in mainstream bookstores.
For additional recommendations on where to eat, stay and shop, check out The Charlottesville Dining Guide, Lodging Guide and Shopping Guide. Charlottesville is home to some wonderful locally owned businesses that truly help make the city the unique and vibrant place that it is. We urge you to visit, support and enjoy these local businesses while you are in town.