Skip to main content

Cavorting in Cavalier Country: The Best of Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Viginia
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Charlottesville, Virginia and the surrounding area boasts something for all visitors — including culinary finds, wine tours, and even fly-fishing. Nestled into the foothills of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains you can spend a day on an urban foodie and shopping excursion, tour a plethora of vineyards or simply hike around Shenandoah National Park. Read on to find out what to do if you ever find yourself entering Cavalier country.

EAT & DRINK

Red Pump Kitchen

We have heard that fine dining is back in effect and we couldn’t be happier. When we want to spend good money on dinner, we want an environment that makes us feel a tad special. Besides all the candles, the greenery and the friendly hospitality, the food, of course, is the star.

Red Pump Kitchen-HD

The brainchild of the Easton Porter Group, The Red Pump offered a refreshing beet salad with goat cheese fondue, Atlantic Grouper with Black Garlic and some seriously decadent gelato for dessert. This is a must for one excellent night out.

Brasserie Saison

All hail the first brewery to open on Charlottesville’s downtown mall. Serving up Franco-Belgian delicacies such as traditional mussels as well as more off the radar items like pork & peanut paté. See if they have the blueberry & crème fraîche ice cream served with macerated local blueberries on the menu for dessert. If so, stay.

Oakhurst Inn Café

Located in an old house, hit up this laid back spot for breakfast. The Buckwheat Shortcakes were memorable as was the Baked Local Farm Egg. Sit outside and bring your pup.

oakhurst inn dining
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ace Biscuit and Barbecue

This may look like a hole in the wall spot for locals, but believe us, the word is out. Chef Brian Ashwood has lines out the door on Saturday and Sunday mornings. And for good reason. The biscuits, covered in gravy and topped with fried chicken just can’t be beaten. Get ready for a food coma after hitting up this joint.

Mudhouse Coffee

Back in 1993 everyone thought Lynelle and John were crazy to open their own coffee cart. 22 years later they have an actual storefront and are the center for local buzz and hanging out. In 2012 they started roasting their own coffee and now they even have gift subscriptions for those missing their local favorites.

Charlottesville Virginia
Old Cabell Hall on campus of University of Virginia Image used with permission by copyright holder

 DO

Monticello

You may yawn at most house tours, but those houses weren’t built by one of America’s smartest, wackiest and fascinating men. Thomas Jefferson built and rebuilt Monticello over and over until he got it right and it’s still cuckoo. There is a clock with counter weights that lower into the floor. There is a mantle that has a side panel where wine could be hoisted up from the cellar and Mr. Jefferson even built himself a walk-in closet above his bed that was only accessible by ladder. The grounds are pretty amazing as well including his 1,000-foot vegetable garden, the constant excavation around the property and the cemetery that is still in use.

Pippin Hill

Ok, so we have been to many a wine tasting. Usually, you park, enter a massive building and stand around with strangers trying tiny sips of several wines, get the slightest bit of a buzz and then leave. Not at Pippin Hill. This place is like wine Oz. We drove up a sweeping drive and parked across from a stunning barn and huge white tent. When we walked up to the barn we were greeted with one of the best damn views in Virginia. We were then sat down at a table overlooking said view where we ordered Spring Time Asparagus Salad, Fava Bean Ragout, Tapas and finished off with Crème Brûlée with flowering mint. Between courses, we could wander up to the tasting tables and sample a variety of their award-winning wines. And yes, we got pretty tipsy and ended up running through the vineyards. A cartwheel may have happened. This place is vino paradise.

Pippin Hill Vineyard
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Virginia Distillery Company

So if you aren’t a wine fan, we know Malt Whisky may raise some hairs. Now open, the company imports Malt Whisky from Scotland and finishes it in Virginia port-style wine casks. We were not able to visit  because it wasn’t open yet, but now that it is, we will report back once we return! The product is already in some of the best bars in New York and we can vouch for its rich, hearty taste.

The Albemarle Angler

If you are a fan of fly fishing, ring up these boys and head out on a day’s adventure to one of the many great trout and smallmouth bass streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Jackson River, the James River and the Shenandoah River. If you don’t have time to fish, their store is stocked with awesome gear.

blue ridge mountains virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Image used with permission by copyright holder

SHOP

J.M. Stock Provisions

J.M. Stock is Central Virginia’s premier purveyor & retailer of local, grass-fed beef and pasture raised meats. This is where the locals go to get the best beef, pork, and poultry around. Go check out this whole animal butcher shop and see how they do everything from snout to tail.  You can also find a curated selection of pantry items, in-house prepared foods, beer, wine, and a fine selection of artisan cheese from around the globe to take for a picnic or as a souvenir.

The Monticello Gift Shop

This is pretty much Virginia in a nutshell. You have hundreds of books, locally made products and snacks, wines, kids toys and even plants, seeds and of course, a bust of Thomas Jefferson.

moticello in virginia
Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, Virginia Image used with permission by copyright holder

New Dominion Bookshop

Today we all just click and buy so it is refreshing to darken the door of an old-fashioned book shop. Independently owned on the festive historic downtown mall, New Dominion is the oldest bookseller in Virginia. Go in and get lost in their aisles and pick up some souvenirs.

The Men’s and Boy’s Shop

So old school they don’t even have a website, this is the kind of spot your grandfather would approve of. While some of the brands are a tad boring, you can’t beat Filson, Barbour, and Pendleton. And come fall, you can’t go wrong with their socks, scarves, flannels and tweed caps.

And George

While this isn’t the most masculine of shops, if you are traveling with your lady she will thank you for stopping in. Full of cool antiques and custom made pieces; it is definitely worth a wander round.

SLEEP

Oakhurst Inn

We love the concept of Oakhurst; it is comprised of several old houses all converted into well appointed (but not stuffy) hotel rooms. So you get the B&B feel with the luxury of turn down service and fresh baked cookies on your bedside table. Added bonus is the café just a short walk away in, you guessed it, an old house converted to a cozy café. Oakhurst is conveniently situated right behind UVA if you are there visiting friends for a college reunion.

Oakhurst Inn Image used with permission by copyright holder

Clifton Inn

On the flossy side of things, the Clifton Inn has 17 luxury rooms on 100 acres. You can even rent out an entire farmhouse if you are having a family reunion or wedding weekend.

Cator Sparks
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Cator Sparks was the Editor-in-Chief of The Manual from its launch in 2012 until 2018. Previously, Cator was covering…
Travel tips: Why you need to set a flight alert even after you book a flight
Set a flight alert (even after you book) so you won't miss out
man holding smartphone in white shirt

When you finally book those plane tickets after weeks of research and price tracking, it can be tempting to kick back and stop monitoring flight prices. After all, you locked in your airfare and your travel dates, so why keep checking?

Here's why -- setting flight alerts for your booked itinerary can end up saving you a good chunk of money, preventing a lot of hassle, or both. Airlines constantly adjust pricing, and sometimes lower fares become available even after you purchase tickets. 
How do flight alerts work?

Read more
This luxury cruise is perfect for Aston Martin, F1 fans
Aston Martin and F1 take to the seas
Side view of Aston Martin Formula 1 car

The Aston Martin nameplate evokes images of style, sophistication, and performance. From the legendary DB5 to today’s Vantage, the company’s vehicles have a combination of muscle and verve that’s hard to match. Sultry bodywork and roaring powerplants make a scene, whether on the road or track.

Similarly, Formula 1 inspires passion and excitement like few sports can. Racecars on the leading edge of tech compete on storied circuits, requiring lightning-quick reflexes from the world’s best drivers. Each race brings tension and drama, as drivers and machines explore the limits of performance. 

Read more
How to check for bed bugs: Every traveler needs to know this
Bali, Indonesia bedroom with dark lighting

In the lead-up to a big trip, you can't wait to get away. In the days ahead, you’ll experience new people, places, and foods, letting you live life to the fullest and gain new perspectives. That could mean a trip to Nantucket, where you roam empty beaches and dine on just-caught bay scallops, all while enjoying a small-town setting. 

When you’re caught up in the moment and can’t wait to try the next thing, you probably won’t think much about the risks and hazards around you. One example is bed bugs. Barely visible yet capable of creating havoc, these minuscule creatures can turn a dream trip into a bad situation. Here’s how to check for bed bugs when you arrive and ensure they don’t join you on the trip back. 
What are bed bugs?

Read more