Don’t miss Charlottesville’s historic downtown, pedestrian mall of East Main Street. Here you will find a number of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bookstores, antique shops and art galleries. Don’t miss the large Caspari store at 100 W. Main. Caspari has always been one of my favorite brands for stationery, invitations and cocktail napkins. This is their only store in the US. Don’t miss it.
Make sure to walk the campus of the University of Virginia. The highlight is The Rotunda and gardens and the academical village surrounding it. All were designed by Thomas Jefferson and is the focal point of the campus. It became an UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Monticello, in 1987.
Ash Lawn-Highland: A short drive from Monticello, is the home of President James Monroe. Monroe purchased the land in 1793 and built his plantation which was home to his family for nearly 25 years. Until recently the home on the site, was thought to be the main home. After finding the foundation of the main structure in early 2016, it is believed that the current home was built as the guest house. You can tour the home and stroll through the gardens and grounds and see the various out buildings. It is a lovely setting.
Monticello: This National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site is the famed home of President Thomas Jefferson. He designed, built and rebuilt the home over a 40 year period. Seeing the interior was very special. Make sure to buy your tickets online before you go. You arrive at the Visitor Center where you take a shuttle to the mountaintop where the tours begin. They recommend that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your tour time. The interior tours last around 40 – 45 minutes. You can also take a Gardens and Grounds tour or the Slavery at Monticello Tour. Make sure to visit the gardens and his grave site just a short walk down the hill. I also enjoyed seeing the wine cellar and the places where they stored and made hard cider. The Visitor Center has displays and a cafe.
It is important to understand the history of Jefferson, but more importantly the history of slavery and the impact that it has had on the country to this day. I think it helps to give us an historical prespective that we may not have totally understood or have been exposed to in the past.
Other sites you might enjoy, which I hope to see on my next trip include:
About 25 miles north is Montpelier, the home of President James Madison and First Lady Dolley Madison.
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection: This is a museum of the University of Virginia featuring Aboriginal art from Australia including paintings, on canvas and eucalyptus bark, photography, and sculpture.
The University also has the The Fralin Museum of Art. Its collection includes European and American paintings, photography, works on paper, African art and Native American art.
McGuffy Art Center: This is an art center with exhibitions,classes and artist studios. During gallery walks and special programs, you can see sculpture, drawing, painting, glass, fiber art, jewelry, ceramics, book arts, printmaking and photography. 201 2nd St. NW.