It’s early, ish, the morning swelling up from that infamous cobblestone and waking the town as it rises. Call it eight-thirty; or nine; if you’re at one of the several hotels clustered downtown between the University and the Mall, you’re within striking distance. Wash your face. Cover yourself in summer — the strappy sundress, the linen shorts. Walking shoes. Sunglasses. Chapstick. It’s late Summer in Charlottesville, and this is a perfect day.
Wander down the Corner to an unassuming blue awning bearing the signage “Corner Joe.” Recently described by one reviewer as “such a college coffee shop you should get a General Elective credit with your 10th cup,” Corner Joe is an ideal way to catch some collegiate flavor.
You knew this was coming. No trip to Charlottesville is complete without a walk around UVA’s hallowed grounds (not campus.) Luckily, you’re literally on the Corner. Step (carefully) across the street and head towards the most striking spot to enter the lawn: The Rotunda. Take a beat at Jefferson’s statue, take a picture on the steps, climb them, and walk the route of graduating 4th years- up over the marble balconies of the Rotunda and down onto the lawn, towards Homer and Old Cabell Hall. (Be sure to check out the mural in Old Cabell!) Give yourself an hour to finish your coffee and take in the Jeffersonian Architecture, then head back through the Rotunda to the Corner for a classic UVA breakfast of
Hopefully you worked up an appetite strolling grounds, because Bodo’s Bagels really are the best around (fight me, New York). The bagels are hot, the cream cheese is ample, and the line should be short by now.
Water, Wine, Lunch
Saturday is in full swing now, and it’s an ideal time of year to be on the river. Hop in your car and make your way down the winding scenery of Route 20 to Scottsville for a good old-fashioned river trip with James River Runners. Their 3 mile trip can be taken on tube, kayak, canoe or raft, and shuttles out every half hour between 10 AM and 2 PM. Bring sunscreen and a waterproof camera. Soak in the green scenery of the Blue Ridge foothills. Prepare to be on the river for 1 to 3 hours.
Floating works up an appetite, and nothing quenches peckishness like a glass of wine from the Monticello AVA. After you’ve dried off, take James River Road over to Blenheim Road, and check out one of Charlottesville’s newest winery-brewery combinations, the Tasting Room & Taphouse at Mount Ida Reserve. The Reserve knocks out four birds with one stop: fresh beer, local wine, the lunch you’re craving, and some of the best mountain views in the area. Plus, it’s on the way back to town. Does a nap await?
Dinner al fresco
When you make your dinner reservations (and you should have a reservation for a Saturday night) there are two golden rules: make them early, and make them outside. There’s something undeniably pleasurable about feeling the day ebb on those wisps of summer wind from the comfort of an unpretentious patio while buskers fill the space left in the air with music. We like Bizou for its fantastic wine list and artfully-served local mushrooms. Or maybe try the new Tavern & Grocery, up the hill on West Main. Newly operated by Ashley Sieg, here you’ll find cuisine that is both delicious and local, served with candle-lit elegance in a historic space on three levels. For seafood consider Public Fish & Oyster, also on West Main, whose selection of fresh oysters are the best in town.
Sunset + Cocktails
Nightime comes sooner now, which means the sky colors up starting at eight or so. You can catch the show from any of the outdoor spaces but to really make a point of watching, you’ll want a rooftop. We recommend The Graduate’s rooftop restaurant and bar space, open until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Recently rebranded as Camp 10-4, it’s the ideal way to end your day: looking out over the places you’ve been, and then places you have left to go. For now, spend as much time as you like looking out over the city lights, chatting with the locals and the other travelers, for tomorrow… there’s brunch!