Charlottesville is frequently voted one of the best places to live in the U.S. There’s good reason. Charlottesville ranked high in nearly every measure of what makes a great community. However, it’s the people that live here and the culture of this city that lures others here.
Charlottesville has an arts & culture scene that amazingly rivals that of any large city in the United States. Recent performers include artists such as Sheryl Crow, Lady Gaga, U2, Jay-Z, Elton John, Taylor Swift, Pearl Jam, Cold Play, Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen (twice), and the Lumineers. With all those big names, it’s easy to forget Dave Matthews created his band while bartending on our Downtown Mall (Millers) and now regularly plays sold out shows in Charlottesville.
The area continues to serve as an incubator for the next big artist to emerge from its thriving local scene, and concert venues of all sizes support the diversity of performers. From the 15,000+ seat John Paul Jones Arena, to the historic Paramount and Jefferson Theaters to the intimate, one-of-a-kind establishments like The Southern, to the Sprint Pavilion,
Charlottesville provides a range of venues that attract both the world’s biggest performers and small emerging artists. And then there is Fridays After Five, a free concert series, every Friday evening April through September at the Sprint Pavilion on the Downtown Mall.
Charlottesville is home to art galleries and museums that highlight the works of internationally and locally renowned artists such as UVA’s Fralin Art Museum and McGuffey Art Center. You will also find art scattered around the city and the BUTT at IX Art Park.
Year round, Charlottesville hosts an assortment of festivals and events that are enjoyable for all. Morgan Freeman, Sandra Bullock, Anthony Hopkins and thousands of movie buffs have all attended the annual Virginia Film Festival. The biannual Tom Tom festival celebrates local entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and creators from communities across our nation, which means lots of community events and block parties. Twice a year, people flock to Albemarle County to witness a premier steeplechase event called the Foxfield Races, but there is polo too! Other Festivals and seasonal events include The Dogwood Festival, Patriotism in the Park, Festival of Cultures, Pride, etc.
Just outside Charlottesville in all directions are vineyards where you can experience some of the best wine of the region (see Monticello Wine Trail). If wine is not your thing, there are just as many cideries and breweries in the area. Many of these establishments also host a variety of events such as Veritas‘ Starry Nights, Jefferson Vineyards‘ Sunsets Become Eclectic, Carter Mountain Orchard hosts its Thursday Evening Sunset Series where you can picnic on the side of the mountain, listen to music, and watch the sun set over Charlottesville.
Historically, Charlottesville is the home to to our nation’s third and fifth presidents: Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Throughout the year you can tour or attend various events at their home sites: Monticello and Ashlawn Highland. I highly recommend attending the July 4th naturalization ceremony at Monticello. You can also step back into time and experience dining in the 18th century at Michie Tavern.
University of Virginia, one of our nation’s top 5 public universities, also largely contributes to the Charlottesville community and culture. UVA sporting events are held year round. UVA hosts a number of public social events throughout the calendar year including Trick-or-Treat on The Lawn. UVA also invites the community to join its social club: UVA Club of Charlottesville. Looking for the student scene? Go to The Corner.
Other events that are somewhat unique to Charlottesville. Attend a CLAW brawl: a theatrical, fun affiliation of superbad women arm wrestling each other to raise money for women-initiated causes in our community. Join or attend a Derby Dames bout. Play Chick-a-Pig at Kardinal Hall.
Charlottesville has a number of beautiful public parks. There are also a number of natural areas, trails, and lake beaches within and around the city such as Walnut Creek Park, Ivy Creek Natural Area, Ragged Mountain Natural Area, Mint Springs Park, Monticello’s Kemper Park, and Chris Greene Lake. Just outside of the city, you will can explore Shenandoah National Park or take a scenic drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive.
Get to know the people of Charlottesville by joining social groups, volunteering, or learn something new. Join a social or competitive sport league. Take music lessons or learn to kayak. Don’t be surprised if locals initiate conversation with you…just about anywhere.
If you’re looking for a list of things to do that might be of interest to an Au Pair, check out the official CvilleAuPair bucketlist by yours truly. And let me know if you want to add to the bucketlist.
What C’ville Au Pairs have to say about living in Charlottesville:
Malina Fröschen, ‘I love the people and the culture in C’ville. Everyone is energetic, friendly and helpful. The amount of events, concerts, etc. are enormous in relation to the size of the city.
I like to spend my time Downtown, at the Corner, atop Carter’s Mountain in season and at one of the many pools and parks. Charlottesville has a great Au Pair community.”
Lina Thunström, “There are a lot of things to do in and around C’ville and it’s a beautiful place. Downtown mall, UVA, and Bodos are three of my favorite places. The people of Charlottesville are very kind, open and welcoming. Wherever you go, people start up a conversation with you.
Charlottesville is amazing and will always be my second home!”
Don’t forget. Virginia is for LOVERS (not haters).