Are you ready to plan your own Charlottesville Travels? Along with our trips to Montpelier: Madison Presidential Family Estate, Virginia’s Monticello and Lawn-Highland Home of James Monroe we did some eating and drinking! Take advantage of our good (and bad) experiences to get the best bang for your buck!
Things To See
The 1910 Train Depot: Right outside Montpelier: Madison Presidential Family Estate (literally right beside the entrance) is the Montpelier Train Depot. It is free to enter and examine. The DuPont Family (who purchased the house and land after President Madison’s family) upgraded the station to move items in and out of their home with more ease.
The station has currently been restored to appear as it did in 1910- during segregation. If you look closely at the picture you can see the door on the right is for “colored” and the door on the left is for “white.” Each section is divided with a window in between for the employees. They have left the phones, telegraph machine and other items to play with.
That employee also would have been the postmaster for the area and the station is still a functioning post office for Montpelier Station.
Places To Taste Alcohol
Barboursville Vineyards (And Ruins): On our first trip to Charlottesville we wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck on a wine tasting. Barboursville Vineyards came up over and over again when I was doing research. The tasting fee was $7 and I believe we had around 20 wines. As far as price per taste it was the best deal I could find!
We had to walk the grounds a bit with water after the tasting to be sure we were 100% ready to drive- just from the tasting!
And there is plenty to see. We went on a tour of the winery where they showed us the entire process of how their wine is created. The winery tours are free and very interesting!
Also located on the property are the Barboursville Ruins- just a short walk from the tasting room. We climbed around as much as it would allow. It was easy to see the same person who designed Monticello had created this home as well.
Jefferson Vineyards: Right down the street from both Virginia’s Monticello and Lawn-Highland Home of James Monroe is Jefferson Vineyards. It is located where Thomas Jefferson and Philip Mazzei first began the American wine revolution (poor Jefferson could never get the grapes to grow properly).
Inside (the building was originally horse stables) we were greeted by very friendly people who were eager to talk about their wines. They explained that all of their wines are very dry- which eliminated me from drinking most of them. I prefer my wine almost sickeningly sweet. They were nice and gave us one tasting- I only drank the dessert wine and Joel drank the other 8. The tasting fee was $12 and I got to keep the glass!
When we finished the tasting we each got a glass (I got the Vin Blanc and Joel the Petit Verdot) along with a local cheese and we sat outside in the shade and enjoyed the beautiful view.
Castle Hill Cider: Tucked away in Keswick, VA is the Castle Hill Cider. It is absolutely beautiful though I was sad their products are not made on site. They made mainly dry ciders but there were still two I liked.
You could do tastings both indoors and outdoors. Since we were there on a nice spring day we grabbed our drinks, some cheese and bread and headed outside. After eating we played some cornhole with the boards provided. They also have a STUNNING room for events on the back of the building.
SALT Artisan Market: Tucked away near both Virginia’s Monticello and Lawn-Highland Home of James Monroe is SALT Artisan Market. If you go to either location you MUST stop and try the food. Everything is local down to the soda in the refrigerator. It specializes in sandwiches and cheese and charcuterie with emphasis on local, seasonal, and artisan foods.
Joel and I both got the seasonal grilled cheese sandwich- three cheeses with tomato and tarragon with sour dough bread (it was amazing). I chose sour cream and onion chips and he chose dill pickle chips. I chose poorly- his chips were delicious. It was around $20 for our two meals.
Citizen Burger Bar: In the beautiful Downtown Charlottesville area is a great place to grab a burger- Citizen Burger Bar. We tried the fried pickles (pictured above) and they were VERY good.
Joel ordered a burger off a special menu- something with bacon, cheese and ranch that looked amazing. He said it was good.
I ordered the Vegan Burger. It was one of the worst things I have ever eaten. DO NOT GET IT.
On an earlier trip I got a turkey burger and it was wonderful. So if you have the option grab it instead!
Things To Do
Carter Mountain Orchard: Up the steepest mountain I have ever ridden in a stick shift is Carter Mountain Orchard. I have heard about this place for years for one thing- their apple cider doughnuts. I am a BIG fan of doughnuts. There is also a Bold Rock Brewery- so we stopped there first to grab some ciders (nice and sweet- more to my liking than most wines).
I got the super sweet varieties and Joel went with the drier (which in all honestly aren’t terribly dry). As we drank our flights one of the most beautiful storms I have ever seen rolled into and out of the area over the mountains.
Once we finished drinking we went upstairs and checked out the stores. After looking through the shop and checking out the produce (pictured above) we decided to get some of the doughnuts I had so famously heard about. The problem was there was also pie. And it looked GOOD. So we got everything.
The peach and apple pies were amazing.
I now dream about these apple cider doughnuts.
There are also fun things for the “kids” to do.
Our trips to Charlottesville, VA have turned out to be some of my favorite experiences without a big budget. Be sure to check out all my Frugal Travel Ideas!