Charlottesville Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia
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Free Things To Do in Charlottesville

If you have extra time, Carter Mountain Orchard is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Charlottesville
    View all Photos
    #1 in Charlottesville
    1.5 miles to city center
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    1.5 miles to city center
    Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Charlottesville's popular shops, restaurants and ambiance converge in one main area, known as the historic Downtown Mall. Located, as you would imagine, on Main Street, this thoroughfare is home to more than 120 shops, 30 restaurants (many with outdoor seating), 10 art galleries, multiple performance venues, an ice skating rink and a Saturday farmers market. Stretching for eight blocks, this pedestrian-only area is popular with both visitors and locals, who say it's the perfect spot to shop, eat or simply people-watch.

    In the spring, summer and fall, the mall's Charlottesville Pavilion hosts musical acts like Modest Mouse, Wiz Khalifa and Alabama Shakes. You can also catch free concerts at the pavilion every Friday from mid-April to mid-September as part of its Fridays After Five concert series. The mall's historical Paramount Theater is a great space to catch fine art performances like the Ash Lawn Opera. The only gripe among recent visitors? Parking. There is limited street parking (which is free), but there are plenty of spots in the Water Street Parking Garage, which charges $2 per hour.

  • #2
    University of Virginia
    View all Photos
    #2 in Charlottesville
    2.3 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    2.3 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    A little trivia for you: Did you know the University of Virginia is the only university in the United States to be designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO? And it's not hard to see why  it's a bastion of U.S. education, and it holds an unofficial reputation for containing the country's most magnificent campus grounds. It's also historically significant, as it was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 as the first nonsectarian (or nonreligious) university in the country. Charlottesville visitors don't just tour UVA as prospective students, they also come just to relish in its spectacle.

    Recent visitors gushed about the gorgeous grounds and highly recommended taking a tour. Historical tours begin in the Small Special Collections Library and are offered daily (except on football game days at the university); hourlong tours start at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The university also offers "specialty tours," which expand on singular aspects of the university's past, such as the history of African Americans. These tours are offered at 4 p.m. every Friday. You can also request different specialty tours.

  • #5
    Carter Mountain Orchard
    View all Photos
    #5 in Charlottesville
    1.2 miles to city center
    Recreation, Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    1.2 miles to city center
    Recreation, Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    According to recent visitors, fall is the best time to visit Carter Mountain Orchard, and it's not just because it's prime apple-picking season. The sweeping views of Charlottesville's autumn colors as seen from the orchard's overlook are not to be missed. In fact, some recent visitors said the views alone are worth the trip to Carter Mountain Orchard.

    When you're not ogling the panoramic views, browse the country store for freshly picked fruit (from mid-August until mid-December, you can also pick your own) or other goodies like homemade apple cider doughnuts, apple pies and apple caramel cookies. Depending on the season, you can also pick your own pumpkins and hop on a hayride.

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