|Charlottesville is home to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello|
Because I had but three days to explore, I was forced to use my time wisely, so I made it a point to hit the hot spots. What I walked away with was a new appreciation for the area and its rich history.
Staying in the Heart of the Action
If convenience is high on your list of priorities, you can't go wrong by booking a stay in the historic district at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, located just 20 minutes away from the Charlottesville airport and steps away from The Downtown Mall.
The 205-room hotel has been named the "Number 1 Hotel in Charlottesville," by the Daily Progress and features a seven-story glass atrium, two pools (indoor and outdoor), a fitness center, coffee shop and an onsite restaurant (The Pointe), which I highly recommend. I'll allow the picture below to speak for itself.
|Our room at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville.|
|A delicious dinner done just right at The Pointe, Omni's onsite restaurant.|
It's not often anymore that you can walk out the front door of your room and find yourself in the middle of an outdoor mall, but that's what you'll find just a few steps from the front door of the Omni. The Downtown Mall is a shopper's paradise, with independent shops for blocks. Should you grow tired of spending all that money and need to take a rest, there are plenty of eateries along the way offering dining, either indoors, or al fresco. To me, that's just icing on the cake.
|This little throwback dates to 1951. I love the mid-century modern windows.|
|The Nook offers dining both inside and outside.|
|The New Dominion Book Shop is one of the oldest businesses located at the Downtown Mall.|
|Buskers play for college money.|
|Outdoor dining areas fill up quickly during the evening hours.|
One shop that caught my eye was Timberlake's pharmacy and when I saw it was established in 1890, I just had to wander inside to check it out.
|Timberlake Drugs was established in 1890.|
|Perfume, pies and pills are just a few of the items available at Timberlake's.|
Venture further back and you'll see a quaint space that will transport you to an era when soda fountains were prevalent inside pharmacies due to the common practice of mixing soda water with medicine. The one at Timberlake's has withstood the test of time and still draws its fair share of "regulars," who socialize while sipping on made-to-order drinks like egg creams and milkshakes. Proudly displayed on the wall are old newspaper articles that have been penned about the place over the years. In one article, the writer casually mentions customers ordering ammonia cokes up until the 1980s. Later research revealed "spirits of ammonia" was actually added to the coke and the drink was said to alleviate the side effects of a night on the town. Could it be the gentleman in the story knew where to go to nurse a hangover? I guess we'll never know. I do, know, however, that the place holds a soft spot in the heart of many as one of the oldest businesses in Charlottesville.
|Step inside Timberlake's soda fountain for a BLT, a coke (sans ammonia) and a side of nostalgia.|
|The Paramount Theatre operated from 1931-1974, then re-opened again in 2004.|
|The popcorn counter at The Paramount Theater.|
|A separate side entrance is a reminder of the days of segregation.|
While we were there we enjoyed a few small plates and creative libations like "Brunch at Becky's" made with Tanqueray, lime, Dolin Blanc and Green Chartreuse. We even spotted a bride and groom from our perch near a window overlooking the street.
|Finding the Alley Light is a little difficult--perhaps that's part of the allure?|
|Brunch at Becky's made with Tanqueray, summer herbs, Dolin Blanc and Green Chartreuse.|
Visiting Historic Monticello
Charlottesville is also the location of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, who is best known as the author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson spent decades in politics, serving as governor of Virginia, minister to France, the first U.S. Secretary of State, the second Vice President, the third President of the United States and the founder of the University of Virginia.
Today Monticello exists as an educational destination operated by the non-profit "Thomas Jefferson Foundation," which acquired the property in 1923. Approximately 440,000 visitors stroll the grounds each year, generating an estimated $47 million for the local economy.
Guests have the opportunity to choose from docent-led and self-guided tours of the interior and exterior of the property. Tours of the first floor of the 43-room mansion are conducted year round. Behind-the-scene tours are offered less frequently and offer guests a peek at the second and third floors, along with the dome room. Interior photography is prohibited, so I am providing this link for those who are interested in viewing gallery pictures of various rooms inside the mansion.
A tour of the garden and grounds gives guests a glimpse of Jefferson's enthusiasm for gardening, botany and agriculture. Visitors will see a colorful array of flowers and plants from around the world and learn that Jefferson grew approximately 300 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruits ranging from apples, to peaches and grapes, to name just a few.
|Views of the property.|
|"As Love Lies Bleeding."|
|A servant's house reconstructed to reflect the era between 1790 and 1830.|
|The Cook's Room was occupied by Monticello's head cook.|
|The Icehouse was used to store meat and butter and for chilling wine. It was packed with insulated wood chips, or straw.|
|Jefferson's wine cellar included an impressive selection of European wines.|
|Jefferson preferred bottles over casks to ensure their integrity during shipping.|
|The Monticello Graveyard.|
|A list of individuals who are buried at the Graveyard|
As a result of Jefferson's meticulous record keeping, Monticello is known as one of the best-documented, preserved and studied plantations in North America. To learn more about this designated World Heritage Site, or to schedule a tour, visit the website at monticello.org.
Michie Tavern Area
|The outside of the Michie Tavern.|
|Interior rooms at the Michie Tavern.|
"The Ordinary," situated next to the Tavern, serves a buffet lunch year round and is quite popular as you can see by the long line, which is often the case, according to our tour guide. "They serve some delicious fried chicken," she said. The Michie Tavern's Bill of Fare for that particular day was southern fried chicken, cornbread, black-eyed peas, stewed tomatoes, cole slaw, beets, green beans with country ham and peach cobbler.
|The Metal Smith Shop is housed in a cabin that dates back to 1822 and was once located just six miles south of where it stands today.|
|Remnants of the Old Mill at the Meadow Run Mill and General Store.|
|Jellies are just some of the products sold at the Meadow Run Mill and General Store.|