A Weekend in Charlottesville

A Weekend in Charlottesville

The Downtown Mall
August 23, 2019
Kate Duvall

Welcome to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia School of Law! Wow, I am so jealous of the adventure you are about to embark on as you begin your legal career and get to know this city that I now call home after living here for almost 20 years. As a mom to two active young kiddos, it is not often that I get a weekend to do as I please in Charlottesville, so I am going to live vicariously through all of you.  Get out there and do these things and then come tell me all about them!

Of course, there’s studying the law to be done so maybe spread them out a bit?

Friday Night

Friday nights in Charlottesville are for exploring the Downtown Mall. When the weather is nice, the Downtown Mall is a central gathering place for folks from all over town. During the summer months, Fridays After Five are free concerts in the Pavilion. The first Friday of each month, art galleries and museums around the Mall and all over town open their doors for small receptions and opportunities to see the artwork on display. If an actual activity isn’t what you want, just wander the Mall – window shop, people watch, and support our local buskers and performers as you walk.

Grab a bite at one of the many great restaurants afterwards. A few of my favorites are ZocaloCitizen Burger Bar, and Ten Sushi. If there is still time, consider checking out a play at Live Arts, our community theater, get dessert at Splendora’s Gelato or the Pie Chest, or grab an after dinner drink on the roof at Commonwealth SkyBar.


Start your Saturday with bagels from the Charlottesville institution Bodo’s Bagels. You can get everything from a plain bagel with cream cheese to a hearty breakfast sandwich to soup and salad. Just don’t ask for your bagels toasted! If you want even more breakfast options, or to grab some farm fresh goodies to cook at home, head to the Charlottesville City Market to check out lots of local vendors.  

Charlottesville is nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which means there is no shortage of outdoor activities close by. Once you have loaded up on carbs at Bodo’s, get outside! The Rivanna Trail is a hiking trail the encircles the City of Charlottesville. You can hop on the trail right outside the back door of the Law School. Other hikes for everyone from beginners to experienced hikers can be found close by, too.  Rivanna River Company offers multiple ways to get on the “rivah” that runs right through town including tubing, canoeing, and stand up paddle boarding. During winter months, winter sports are a short drive away at Wintergreen or Snowshoe.

If you want a picnic lunch to take on your excursion, try The Market at Bellair (yes, it is in a gas station), Take It Away Sandwich Shop, or Feast.

If outdoors activities aren’t your thing, check out a UVA athletics event. Many Saturdays in the fall, there are football games in Scott Stadium. In the winter, there’s UVA basketball.  You may not have heard, but UVA Men’s Basketball is the 2019 National Champions. Go Hoos! In the spring, there’s lacrosse (also 2019 national champs!), baseball, and track and field. Student ticketing depends on the sport, so be sure to read up before making your plans.

Looking for something low key to do after your busy day? UVA’s art community offers plays, exhibits, and concerts regularly. Free student tickets are available to most arts events.


Take it slow! Man, what I would give to sleep in past 8 a.m. Get a leisurely brunch at Marie Bette Café and BakeryBluegrass Grill & Bakery, or First Watch.

Need to walk off that brunch? Consider a historical tour of the University’s Lawn. Be sure to go into the Rotunda and stop by the future site of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, where you can currently view an installation of powerful portraits of African Americans in Charlottesville in the late 1800s and early 1900s. If you can’t make it on a tour but are interested in learning more about the history of Race and Place at UVA and in Charlottesville, I can’t recommend this series of video tours strongly enough.

If you are looking to get outside the city, King Family Vineyards has free polo matches (weather permitting) from Memorial Day through early October.  The polo is fast-paced and exciting to watch, and you can buy food and drink from the vineyard shop or take your own. You could also consider apple, peach, or strawberry picking at one of the many orchards around town depending on the season.

Want to stay in town? Go for a walk along the Rivanna River at Riverview park, take part in the free roller skating at Carver Recreation Center, or hop on an e-scooter or rental bike for a ride around town