Virginia has more to offer than just the Metro-accessible Rosslyn. History buffs, nature lovers and those looking to simply relax should head to one of the gems of central Virginia. Tour the University of Virginia campus and read on the lawn in front of the famous Rotunda. Or, hit the trails. Charlottesville is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, making it the perfect place to hike and bike.
Charlottesville is just three hours away from the District by commuter rail. Take the Northeastern line on Amtrak for a $44 round trip. The train leaves daily at 4:50 p.m., and there are a few departure time options for the ride back to the District.
Stay at the Cavalier Inn at the University of Virginia (105 N. Emmet St.). This inn is fairly priced and recommended by locals. It is located a minute’s walk from the historic University of Virginia campus and right in downtown Charlottesville. The cost will be $249.82 if split between two people, or $499.63 for five nights.
While three of the Founding Fathers have called Charlottesville home, Thomas Jefferson cemented his place in local history with the establishment of his famous mountaintop estate, the Monticello (931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, tickets $24), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While it is too early in the season to tour the outdoor gardens and plantation, but you can still join one of the 30-minute guided tours of the slave-built mansion. You’ll see Jefferson’s furnishings and navigate through the restored wine cellar, kitchen, smokehouse and slave quarters.
Cross the campus for this Charlottesville staple, Bodo’s Bagels (1609 University Ave.) which has three locations. Bodo’s proudly makes its New York-style bagels bagels in-house from scratch every day. The secret? Boiling the bagels before baking them. They are open all day, so hungry students can pick up an oven-hot bagel for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And the bagels are only 70 cents.
Treat yourself to a meal at The Local (824 Hinton Ave.), a popular restaurant that takes its name very seriously: All the food is grown locally in the Shenandoah Valley, and even the tables and lighting fixtures were crafted by local artisans and businesses. Entrees are truly gourmet yet not outlandishly priced.
After touring Monticello, journey half a mile down the road to Michie Tavern (683 Thomas Jefferson Parkway), a Virginia Historic Landmark, opened in 1784. Tours are conducted during normal business hours, but make sure to come during lunchtime. The dining room, the Ordinary, serves “Hearty Midday Fare” – a buffet of 18th century Southern mainstays like black-eyed peas and buttermilk biscuits served on rustic tin plates. Added bonus: Servers wear period attire.