Getaways: Charlottesville, Virginia

enoteca and charlottesville mall

A month or so ago, Matt and I went on a weekend getaway to Charlottesville, Virginia. I was looking to shake DC for the weekend, and Charlottesville is about 4 hours away (round trip), a perfect weekend trip. Matt got his masters degree at UVA, and so he was thrilled to get to show me around his Alma mater.

We “named our own price” for a hotel on Priceline – something I encourage everyone to do, always. If you’re not familiar with it, you should be, you can save some SERIOUS money using it. We usually go for a four star hotel when we bid on travel, and I think we wound up getting the Holiday Inn for $60, over half off the $147 face price. If you’re willing to let go of a little control, or have a very well thought out strategy, you’re bound to wind up with at least half off the retail price wherever you go. We learned how to do Priceline through Bidding for Travel, it’s an easy way to educate yourself on good bidding strategy. It might be a little bit intar-webs ghetto, and the admin is a touch grumpy, but the site itself is a goldmine of bidding how-to and what you can expect to pay. But I digress.

So we packed up and headed down to C-ville. Matt raves about the food in Charlottesville, and so when we got settled, we headed down to the corner, this strip of shops across from campus. UVA people will assure you that the corner is so much more than just a strip of shops, it’s full of memories and happy times, and warm fuzzy feelings, hours spent studying…but honestly? that’s literally what it is. Just a strip of college-town. But hey, if anyone ever talked about Franklin Street like that, I’d probably get all defensive.

rotunda steps

So we had froyo at Arch’s Frozen Yogurt, something that was practically religious for Matt, and tasted pretty yummy to me. He took me on a stroll through campus, which is mighty pretty. Not as pretty as, say, Chapel Hill, but again, I digress. Matt, ever the teacher, told me all about the concept of the Academic Village, basically how Thomas Jefferson set up the campus so that professors and students lived together. Very cool. We also took a peek inside The Rotunda, the most famous landmark on campus, you know – the one on all the postcards? Students were everywhere, and the campus seemed alive, just like I think colleges should feel. Very pretty campus. Again… not as pretty as, oh, Chapel Hill, but you know… fine. ;)

downtown grille wine

So I think my favorite part of Charlottesville was the downtown mall. We had a fancy dinner at Downtown Grille. Yummy steak, mashed potatoes and asparagus. Plus some delicious wine. We seem to drink a lot of wine, now that I have started to document it. Anyways, the Downtown Mall is a long stretch of space, maybe two city blocks facing inwards with only foot traffic between rows of storefronts. Lots of shops, theaters, places to eat – and bustling with all kinds of activity. There are also stands to buy jewlery, scarves, your typical market fare. It seems like the Mall isn’t just for college students either, there were a good range of ages hanging around and plenty of townies.

downtown mall

After our meal at Downtown Grille, We wound up getting some wine at Enoteca. Enoteca is warm, friendly and with a superb selection of wines by the glass. We got to sit facing out the window, which made for fabulous people watching. The bar is sleek, with lots of sitting room, and plenty of room to relax outside, if the weather is warm enough. It might (MIGHT) even outshine Chapel Hill’s West End Wine Bar (since I’m stuck on comparing Chapel Hill to Charlottesville in this post, obviously). I had a delicious glass of Muscat.

A positive thing about our location at the Holiday Inn was our proximity to Bodo’s Bagels. Bodo’s is apparently a C-ville institution, and was jam packed around 8:30 a.m. bustling with families on their way to church. Plus, the NY-style water bagels are a total steal at .70 each. On our way out of town, we went apple picking, which I already wrote about for WLDC and you can check out here. We also stopped by Barboursville winery. Which is, for the moment, definitely my favorite winery in Virginia. I think we might have had somewhere around 8 glasses of wine that weekend. No wonder we can’t fit into our winter pants… sigh.

wine grapes

All in all, Charlottesville was a very fun weekend trip. It was fun getting to know another college town, visiting all of Matt’s favorite spots and doing fall activities like apple picking and wine tasting. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. What is your favorite college town? Or your favorite weekend trip out of DC?

Photos courtesy of flickr user Needlessspaces.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

7 thoughts on “Getaways: Charlottesville, Virginia

  1. Charlottesville is NOT 4 hours from DC. No more than 2 from Northern VA, possibly 2.5 from DC.

  2. If you want to make it a nice memorable drive, go via Skyline Drive to 64. From Bowie (not everything is in Virginia) Mapquest shows 4 hours plus. Relaxing is what get away traveling is supposed to be about. Thanks for the tip on the Downtown Grill (steak!)