Hi, friends! I took a short trip to Charlottesville, Virginia for my birthday weekend a couple of weeks ago. We only stayed one night and didn’t do a WHOLE lot of stuff, but I still wanted to share what we did in case you are looking for a short weekend getaway idea.
WHERE WE STAYED – THE TOWNSMAN UNHOTEL
We stayed at The Townsman Unhotel which is sort of a hybrid between the traditional hotel experience and the Airbnb experience. They have a few rooms but no lobby or front desk. They provide a small fridge with bottled water and coffee in the hallway that is shared by the rooms. We loved staying at the Charlottesville location of The Townsman since it is right on Main Street and there were so many good eateries within (very short) walking distance. We didn’t see or come in contact with anyone during our stay.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON – WINERY & HISTORIC DOWNTOWN MALL
If you didn’t know (like me), there are so many wineries in Charlottesville! Since our trip was short and we did everything impromptu, we only made it to Jefferson Vineyards, which seemed like the most popular/default one. I was really impressed with how organized they were, particularly in regards to COVID. You’re briefed by a staff member on their social distancing practices before you park, the bathroom has one way traffic (separate entrance and exit, they are using disposable cups, and they have a huge outdoor area with plenty of room to spread. We shared two different wine flights.
We found out about Simeon Market on Jefferson Vineyard’s website and stopped by for lunch! I got the ham and brie sandwich, which was so simple but so dang delicious! In retrospect, I wish we had gotten the sandwich first and brought it to the winery (they allow outside food–I saw lots of people bring cheese and charcuterie and took note for next time), which might have given us time to hit up another winery. From my “research”, I already have two wineries I want to try next time I find myself in Charlottesville: Pippin Hill and Blenheim. If you are planning a trip soon, check the wineries’ websites as many require reservations.
Once we arrived downtown, it wasn’t quite time for us to check in yet so we walked around the Historic Downtown Mall. I visited a bookstore for the first time since quarantine began, and that might have been the highlight of the weekend! New Dominion Bookshop had a beautiful staircase in the back. I appreciated that they actually list the number of people inside by keeping the inside door locked and only letting in people up to capacity. I picked up a book of course, and I was very excited as you can see haha.
LOCAL EATS – TO GO PASTA, PAFFLES, AND MORE!
You KNOW I had to find good food for the one night we were staying in town! Like with the wineries, we were overwhelmed by the number of great looking restaurants in Charlottesville.
For Sunday dinner, we ultimately decided on a couple of (sister) restaurants Bizou and Luce, which were a block away from our hotel, They share an outdoor food hall called The Lot and offer contactless ordering and payment. Our dinner consisted of calamari from Bizou and a couple of different pastas from Luce (Cacio and Bolo, which is their ragu). Can we talk about how cute Luce is?! They’re a tiny to-go place with a takeout window, and their pasta comes in a tiny to-go box. But don’t be fooled–that pasta will fill you up! I couldn’t even finish mine.
We ended the evening drinking at South Street Brewery. They did not have outdoor seating, so we sat inside. But we were by the windows with the windows open so I felt safe and comfortable. It was also Sunday evening so it wasn’t crowded at all. My drink choice of the evening was Slippery When Wit, which was a delicious wheat beer. South Street was also within a short walking distance from the Unhotel (maybe two~three blocks)!
For breakfast on Monday, we tried Iron Paffles & Coffee! When we were researching the night before and Alex suggested Paffles, I was like um what are you talking about, sir?! Paffles turned out to be puffy pastry waffle sandwiches! The batter is like the egg waffle kind so your sandwiches do not get soggy and they keep their shape. We both opted for a Chicken Paffle–I chose the option with hot chicken, pickles, slaw and aioli, and Alex chose Mac & Cheese, sriracha, and spring salad. As I am writing this blog post, Alex and I are talking about how much we crave the Paffles right now. They have vegetarian and vegan options too! During this pandemic, they are operating as takeout only. We brought ours back to our hotel since this was also a short walk away.
HIKING AT SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK
Y’ALL, I hiked at a national park for the first time! Fun fact: I went to Rocky Mount National Park in Colorado a few years ago, but we were turned away at the hiking trails since our running shoes were not equipped for the snow left on the trails. Shenandoah National Park thankfully had no snow, and my “trail shoes” were sufficient (but I really want to invest in actual hiking shoes!!). We went on Dark Hollow Falls and Rose River Loop trails which put us at right under 7 miles (I was very whiny the last couple of miles) and took us to three waterfalls! It was a tad bit late for foliage, but it was lovely to be just outside and ~listen to the water~. On the way back, we stopped by Jack’s Shop Kitchen for a late lunch (no outdoor seating, but it was pretty empty since we went during a low time).
You might not know this, but my family used to live in Richmond, VA back in the day! I cannot believe this was my first time in Charlottesville. There’s plenty of things to do for a weekend trip, and it is a short drive (~3.5 hours) from Raleigh-Durham. I know I’ll be going back (hopefully soon) for more food and wine!