22 Things You Need to Know About Charlottesville Before You Move There

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1. It’s an outdoor mecca

With the Shenandoah National Park just outside of town, and miles of hiking and biking trails winding through the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, C’Ville is ideal for outdoorsy types. The city has a reputation as being one of the healthiest in the United States, which basically means you’ll have a surplus of options for yoga classes, running routes, or gyms.

2. It’s a college town

One of the most prestigious public universities in the United States, the University of Virginia is responsible for nearly half of the population of Charlottesville. Thomas Jefferson founded the school in 1819, while he was still president, and today it remains the intellectual heartbeat of the city.

3. Architectural grandeur abounds

The Jefferson-designed Rotunda and Lawn on UVA’s campus, along with nearby Monticello, have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site — one of only 4 such manmade landmarks. The neoclassical Rotunda was modeled after Rome’s Pantheon, and is the historic centerpiece of UVA’s campus. Even the school’s arena is adorned with white columns.

4. Uncork at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains

If the idea of free-flowing wine and verdant natural vistas appeals to you, take advantage of the Monticello Wine Trail. With dozens of member wineries, you can spend countless weekends exploring the rolling hills and pastoral settings that surround Charlottesville — all while sipping cab franc.

5. Southern charm prevails

Charlottesville is a modern, progressive city that has managed to hold on to its hospitable, friendly character. With fewer than 50,000 permanent residents, its size lends a noticeable small-town appeal.

6. DC is right down the road

It makes sense that such a relatively small city has been home to three US presidents, when you consider it’s only two hours away from our nation’s capital. Charlottesville’s proximity to DC helps it attract an artistic, international crowd, and provides easy access to a bustling metropolitan area.  

7. Stroll around the Downtown Mall

You can do worse than spending your nights at Charlottesville’s well-maintained Downtown Mall. Shops, restaurants, and galleries line beautifully landscaped outdoor plazas that extend through 8 city blocks to create a vibrant entertainment hub.

8. The trolley is a great way to get around town

Free trolleys run seven days a week between downtown Charlottesville, campus, and several nearby neighborhoods. If you’re a student, this is the perfect way to ensure you’re back in your dorm after those downtown outings.   

9. If it was good enough for 3 presidents AND Tina Fey…

Residents are in good company, as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe all lived in Charlottesville. Other luminaries who have called the city home include Georgia O’Keefe, Katie Couric, and William Faulkner.

10. The weather is pleasant

Charlottesville certainly experiences all four seasons, but overall enjoys a temperate, inoffensive climate. Winters aren’t too cold, with around 15” of snow falling each year, and summers aren’t too warm, reaching a high of under 90 degrees at the hottest. 

11. The University of Virginia’s teams are the ‘Hoos

Although officially UVA’s mascot is the Cavaliers, students and alumni call the various sports teams the Wahoos, or ‘Hoos, for short.

12. There’s a farm-to-table ethos

Charlottesville’s thriving agriculture industry ensures that local produce is always readily available, lending a healthy, homegrown flavor to the menus of many of the city’s best eateries. Of course that also means farmers markets are abundant, allowing residents to take advantage of extremely fresh produce, meats, and cheeses.

13. You can take in live music all over town

Between the gorgeously preserved Jefferson Theater, the sprawling Sprint Pavilion, and a number of intimate venues around Charlottesville, there’s always music within earshot. For a small city, Charlottesville attracts fantastic live acts like Wilco, the National, and Shakey Graves.

14. There’s beer

If your tastes run more toward hoppy IPAs than chardonnays, take advantage of Charlotte’s disproportionate number of fantastic breweries. There are several options downtown, but Random Row on Preston Ave is the standout, with a solid variety of small-batch craft beer, plus pizza and bar snacks.

15. Bodo’s is bagel heaven

The super popular bagel shop is usually jam-packed with college students and professionals grabbing a quick bite. If you’re moving from NYC, this is the place to satisfy your bacon egg and cheese craving.

16. And C&O Restaurant is a Charlottesville institution

Named for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the restaurant has been a downtown stalwart for over 40 years. A New American menu, along with an excellent wine list and massive bar make for a prime date night.

17. The city is a literary historian’s dream

The University of Virginia Library houses vast collections of original manuscripts, letters, and personal works from several notable authors and poets, including Jorge Luis Borges, John Dos Passos, and William Faulkner, who was a writer-in-residence.  

18. Public schools are top-notch

Charlottesville has one of the best school districts in the commonwealth, ranking highly in teacher satisfaction and diversity. It’s no surprise that so many people choose to raise kids in the safe, family-friendly city.  

19. It’s home to world-class art museums, including the Fralin…

The Fralin Art Museum showcases art, sculpture, photography, and a variety of other mediums from around the world. In addition to rotating exhibitions, there are over 14,000 pieces on permanent display, along with courses for adults and educational programs for little ones.

20. …and the gorgeous Les Yeux Du Monde

Perched on a hill in the country, “The Eyes of the World,” is a small gallery that houses a number of evocative, contemporary works.

21. Pair craft cocktails with arthouse films

For fans of both big-budget and indie movies, the Violet Crown Cinema is a boutique theater in the Downtown Mall that curates unique film series, while serving up delicious food and drinks. 

22. You can pick your own apples

And strawberries, and peaches, and pumpkins. At the Carter Mountain Orchard outside of town, you’ll get all the autumnal vibes you can handle picking fruit, drinking cider, and taking in the views of C’Ville’s fall foliage.

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