Lost Girl’s Guide to Charlottesville, Virginia

Bar Reviews, Food & Wine — By on May 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm
By Jill Martiniuk 
Special to Lost Girls 

With plane tickets and gas prices soaring, that big international trip you planned with your girlfriends might have to wait for a bit. Instead of giving up entirely on a fun girls only weekend, why not try a more budget friendly trip like a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia.

The small town has a mixture of activities to fit every budget & taste from wine tasting and polo matches to hiking and a weekly famers market.

Things to Do:

Virginia is the fourth largest wine producing state in the country, and Charlottesville sits in the heart of wine country. The choice of wineries can be overwhelming, but there are definitely a few gems that cannot be missed. If you’re looking for a preppy inspired day with the girls head out to the town of Crozet and neighboring town Afton to visit King Family Winery  and Veritas Winery. Once a month during the summer, Veritas offers Starry Nights, a music event on the winery’s stunning grounds. Most Sundays during the summer King Family features polo matches, which are free to the public. Both are perfect for picnics. If you’re up for an all day wine tour, and have a very patient designated driver, be sure to check out Cardinal Point Winery and Afton Mountain Winery as well.

If you’d like a little food and a view with your wine, Pippin Hill Farm & Winery is a must-visit winery. One of the newer wineries in the area, Pippin features a variety of wines and local seasonal food. If you’re content to sit around all day and talk over a bottle of wine, this is the place to do it. Those looking for a little brush of fame can also check out Blenheim Winery (owned by Dave Matthews) or Trump Winery, Donald Trump’s newest acquisition.

Every Saturday from April until December, locals and visitors alike can wander around the always popular City Market. The market features local produce and crafts as well as numerous food vendors. The market is loud and colorful, and features an amazing variety of produce. After you get your fill of the market you can head to the nearby Downtown Mall, a paved pedestrian area to grab some food or check out the numerous vintage shops and used bookstores. If you happen to be in town anywhere from April to October, you must check out Fridays After Five on the Downtown Mall. The event features free music by a variety of artists. It’s the perfect place to grab a beer and hang out for a while.

No trip to Charlottesville would be complete without a visit to Jefferson’s former home, Monticello. The stunning estate sits on top of a hill & offers a gorgeous view of the area. The area around Monticello has some nice hiking and walking trails for those wanting to get out in nature a bit.

Where to Eat:

There are reason why such celebrity chefs as Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Jose Andres and Alice Waters have all come to Charlottesville in the past year—Charlottesville is a food lovers’ town. The choice and variety of food promises something to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Mas  has been a Charlottesville favorite for years now. The Spanish restaurant offers an ever-changing menu of tapas featuring only fresh and seasonal ingredients. Those who adore the restaurant will insist you try the bacon-wrapped dates, which are so delicious they will make you forget the long wait for a table.

If you love trying regional food when you travel, head over to the aptly named The Local. This little restaurant features local food and drinks that keep locals coming back for more. Brookville Restaurant,  on the downtown mall, is a meat lover’s paradise with its claim to fame being bacon chocolate chip cookies. It’s not exactly vegetarian friendly, but it will keep the carnivores in your group talking about the restaurant for long after the meal is over.

Where to Drink:

Since Charlottesville is a college town, there is no short supply of places to drink. If you’re looking for a wild night among college students, head over to the area of town called The Corner. Here you’ll find lots of college bars featuring enough drink specials to keep your wallet happy.

If you’re looking for a slightly older and slightly less intoxicated crowd, you’ll want to head to the Downtown Mall for a night out. Almost every bar and restaurant on the Mall features both an indoor and outdoor dining area, so you can enjoy the nice weather during the summer. Old favorites include South Street for a selection of handcrafted beers and Zocalo for their mixed drinks. Newcomers to the Mall are The Whiskey Jar which features whiskey flights and Sky Bar, a rooftop bar that’s swiftly becoming a town favorite.

Whatever you idea of the perfect girls’ weekend is, Charlottesville is bound to have it for you. A visit to Virginia is a great way to get away without having to exhaust your wallet or frequent flier miles.

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