I must admit that Virginia was never on my radar before my daughter decided to go to UVA and, coming from New York, it does take some time getting used to the distance to get there.
We’ve done the car ride, explored the flight options but my comfort-zone lies on the train. It’s too stressful to go through the airport routine and it adds several hours to the journey anyway. Although my husband loves the drive, I find that equally stressful. From NY it is not relaxing at any stage, constantly weaving in and out of trucks with no clear road to relax even for an hour. Taking the Amtrak from Penn Station straight to Charlottesville proved to be very relaxing, with time to read, work, unwind or sleep.
For this trip I found an audio book, gazing at the fall foliage along the way, was perfect! We stayed at the Draftsman, a Marriott hotel, which is four blocks from the station; a little bit further is the campus itself, so location-wise, it’s ideal.
While we have not explored the majority of Virginia, we are getting to know Charlottesville pretty well by now. For anyone familiar with Cape May, New Jersey, the downtown mall reminds me of that town. The charismatic coffee shops, small boutiques and intimate restaurants only add to the charm of Charlottesville.
I would consider my husband a ‘foodie’ and much of his enjoyment comes from trying different restaurants with creative chefs. This town allows him to explore a bit. A few of our favorites at this stage are Public Fish, The Ivy Inn, and – my personal favorite – Fleurie. Don’t even get me started on the wine lists:)
The campus itself is spread out ,with beautiful scenery and architecture. It’s apparently the only US campus designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s regularly voted the most beautiful campus in America.
The students who go here walk many miles a day; that is obvious when you visit. While buses are provided, they seem to prefer the walks and it proved challenging to keep up with my daughter!
Not having that much experience with college towns, I used to imagine a Norman Rockwell painting and a New England campus, also thinking that it couldn’t possibly exist. Well, it does, and UVA is proof of that!
If you’re looking, Virginia could easily be considered a beautiful fall getaway.