SPONSORED BY VISIT CHARLOTTESVILLE & ALBEMARLE COUNTY
After the holidays, you deserve a little rest and relaxation—and we’ve got just the place! When you visit Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia in the off season, you’ll discover a cozy experience with crackling fireplaces, scenic mountain views, and so much more.
Situated in Central Virginia, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this unique and beautiful area is a short drive from the state capital of Richmond, and just a few hours southwest of Washington, D.C./Baltimore. They have Amtrak connectivity and a regional airport with connections to four major hubs—making it easy to get there.
And once you arrive, you’ll discover 40+ wineries along the Monticello Wine Trail, an incredible (and delish) culinary scene, outdoor recreation experiences, the historic pedestrian Downtown Mall, and so much more! But before you go, you have got to check out the Discover Black Cville Digital Passport. From new culinary creations, one-of-a-kind gifts, and art creations by talented local creators and artisans, it celebrates Black culture, Black stories and Black joy. And get this, when you check in at five of the Black-owned and -operated locations on the passport, you can redeem a special prize—a Discover Black Cville hat!
So, start planning now with our picks for where to stay, eat, and play!
Where to Stay
Start planning your winter stay right now—during the winter season you’ll enjoy lower rates at winery B&Bs, luxurious resorts, cabins, inns, vacation rentals, or familiar chain hotels. Check out our picks:
The Draftsman. Just steps away from the University of Virginia, this pet-friendly boutique hotel is an Autograph Collection property known for its luxe, yet contemporary vibe—and rooftop fitness center. It’s also where you’ll find fab dining at The Ridley restaurant, but more on that later!
Quirk Hotel. Downtown energy meets creative charm at this art-forward boutique hotel that celebrates the region’s culture and history. Savor a sip or two at the amazing rooftop bar, find great eats at the café or the Pink Grouse restaurant on site, discover local artists at the art gallery, or check out the historic pedestrian Downtown Mall—it’s just steps away.
Boar’s Head Resort. The area’s only AAA Four Diamond resort, this location boasts a spa, golf course, a state-of-the-art racquet and fitness club, and fine dining, all on site.
Local wineries. Many of the wineries found here have lodging options on site and make for some incredible wine-centric, sip-and-stay vacation options.
Where to Eat
While you’re here, you’ve just got to check out some of the amazing Black-owned restaurants. Here are some appetizing options—and they are included in the passport!
MarieBette Café & Bakery. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, and yummy baked goods, you can take it to go or sit and relax in their sweet café on Rose Hill Drive or in their second location, called Petite MarieBette near the historic pedestrian Downtown Mall. And while you’re there, be sure to sample their claim to fame—the brioche feuilletée. Is it a brioche? A croissant? A donut? You decide!
The Ridley. Part of the The Draftsman hotel noted above, it pays homage to Dr. Walter N. Ridley, the first Black student to graduate from The University of Virginia and receive a graduate degree from any major historically white public university in the South. It is the destination for upscale-casual dining and fresh seafood offerings in Charlottesville, so it’s a must!
Ralph Sampson’s American Taproom. If you love the sports bar scene, then this is the spot for you. Owned by Ralph Sampson, a UVA basketball legend from the 1980s, you’ll find local eats and brews from local breweries that are made for pre-game snacks, premium steaks, plus a special brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
Pearl Island. Located at the Jefferson School City Center, this family-run restaurant is making the diverse flavors of the Caribbean more accessible with a fantastic menu featuring pikliz (a Haitian-style coleslaw), plantains, and even stewed oxtail.
Things to Do
There is so much to do here and you’ll find something for everyone—but it should be noted that while this is a historically significant area, the history is complicated.
Historical. The region is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Monroe’s Highland, and the University of Virginia—all of these destinations are addressing their difficult and complicated histories with enslaved populations, which make them significant places to visit. It’s here that you’ll also find the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center. Its mission is to honor and preserve the rich heritage and legacy of the African-American community of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia and to promote a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, the contributions of African Americans and peoples of the Diaspora locally, nationally and globally. The Heritage Center features a permanent historical exhibit, a rotating contemporary art gallery, and a robust calendar of events, all of which combine to highlight the Charlottesville area’s African American history and culture of the African Diaspora.
Outdoor. Natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities abound in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. With easy access to the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park (both of which can be accessed in less than 30 minutes from downtown!), there are a variety of hiking trails located throughout the region. If you’re planning a trip in the warmer months, there are two rivers (the James and the Rivanna), featuring fun watersports like kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, that you can enjoy.
Monticello Wine Trail. Winter is a great time to explore the Charlottesville area’s wineries. It’s a bit quieter with fewer crowds, crackling fireplaces and fire pits. This cozy experience gets even better because it’s part of the Monticello Wine Trail Digital Passport. Use it as you explore the 40 wineries along the Monticello Wine Trail—a special wine glass will be waiting for you at the 10th participating winery you visit!
Shopping. Use the Discover Black Cville Digital Passport to get great deals! Check out Kank’s Store Organic and Handmade Cosmetics—when you check in at the Integral Yoga Natural Foods or at the year-round farmer’s market at Ix Art Park, you can get a 15% discount on their amazing, natural products. Shop Renee’s Boutique LLC and enjoy a safe place to shop for the latest looks for women—you’ll receive 10% off your first purchase. Then get 50% off at Dop3Fashion, the trendy boutique for women, men, teens, and kids! There is so much to explore—and save—when shopping in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Now that you’ve seen our picks, it’s time for you to plan your visit. Click here to start planning your winter getaway today!