Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Girlfriends' Travel Guide to Charlottesville, VA

I had the pleasure of traveling to beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia with two of my girlfriends - Shelby of Pretty in the Pines & Taylor-Rae of Style Soufflé - for the ultimate Galentine's Getaway, and let me tell you: it was a blast! I traveled to Charlottesville around this time last year for Shelby's bachelorette trip but it was such a treat to head back and explore parts of Albemarle County that I did not get to see the last time I was there!

We left from Raleigh after meeting at Shelby's house and made the 4-hour trip to Virginia. Road trips are always fun when you're with friends, so we were glad to all pile into my car to travel. We went straight to our hotel before kicking off our excursions and loved every second of the experience. If you're looking for a guide of where to go while traveling to Charlottesville, look no further!

The Highlights:

Where to Stay:
- The Oakhurst Inn in the heart of Charlottesville, VA

Where to Eat:
- Oakhurst Inn Cafe & Espresso Bar
- Brasserie Saison
- Keevil & Keevil
- Red Pump Kitchen

Where to Visit:
- Neroli Spa
- The Downtown Mall
- Blenheim Vineyards via Monticello Wine Tours
- King Family Vineyards via Monticello Wine Tours
- Monticello

The Itinerary:

- Meet Shelby & TR in Raleigh and travel to Charlottesville

- Check in to the Oakhurst Inn
- Arrive for appointments at the Neroli Spa & Beauty Lounge
- Explore the UVA area and get ready for dinner
- Dinner at Brasserie Saison

- Breakfast at the Oakhurst Inn Cafe and Espresso Bar
- Meet Anna with Monticello Wine Tour & Coach Company
- Stop by Keevil & Keevil to pick up picnic lunch
- Blenheim Vineyards
- King Family Vineyards

- Picnic at King Family Vineyards
- Shopping
- Dinner at Red Pump Kitchen

- Breakfast at Oakhurst Inn Cafe and Espresso Bar
- Tour of Monticello

- Quick lunch at the Monticello Café
- Travel back to North Carolina

The Details:

From the time we checked in to The Oakhurst Inn to the time we departed Monticello, our experience was absolutely first-class. The staff of each establishment we visited were friendly, helpful, and knowledgable for what we were experiencing, and I have a list of where I'll be headed back to the next time I go to Charlottesville. Check out my suggestions below for a few favorites!

The Oakhurst Inn:

This charming boutique hotel does not disappoint! Located on the University of Virginia Campus, this unique inn offers rooms, suites and even a penthouse for your stay in Charlottesville. The inn was once a part of the campus itself as both boarding houses and professors' homes. In 2007, it was converted into what is now and offers modern comfort in the National Historic District.

We were fortunate to have the second floor of the main building to ourselves, complete with a darling sitting room where we spent much of our time! Though we each had our own room, it was great to have a common area to catch up, blog, and sit by the fireplace during our trip.  I loved my room, which featured a comfortable bed and large bathroom! Fun fact - room #7's bathroom was at one time a kitchen!

Neroli Spa & Beauty Lounge:
Need time for a little rest and relaxation? You've arrived at the perfect spot. Though Neroli offers many great services, I opted for a facial peel, and contrary to what the word peel may imply, I left with glowing skin that I kept receiving compliments on. Shelby and Taylor-Rae would highly recommend the signature massage!

What to get: one of their signature facials

Brasserie Saison:
This one-year-old restaurant offers the ultimate culinary experience. I'm a bit of a self-proclaimed picky eater, but I decided to try each thing that arrived to our table and I'm so glad I did! It was Fat Tuesday, so I chose the Mardi Gras-themed red beans and rice dish, but there were so many delicious items we tried that it's hard to choose just one favorite! But one thing is for sure - don't skip dessert. 

What to order: Simple Greens Salad, Waffles & Deviled Egg Dip, Half Chicken, Ollibolen (doughnuts), Ice Cream Trip

Oakhurst Inn Cafe & Espresso Bar
 We were very fortunate that our adorable inn also had an equally as adorable cafe which served an amazing breakfast. I loved what I had the first morning so much that I ordered it a second time! It was nice to be steps away from a charming breakfast place that has a great selection of locally-sourced options. 

What to order: Fresh-squeezed orange juice, cup of coffee, fresh fruit (served with incredible whipped-cream), & the breakfast sandwich (this isn't your average breakfast sandwich)

Keevil & Keevil Grocery & Kitchen:
We snagged a lunchtime picnic from this husband and wife-owned establishment and it did not disappoint! Though we grabbed our sandwiches to go, we spent a few minutes perusing K & K, and there are so many cute things to snag in addition to food! They have a great selection of giftables, including cards and artwork. 

What to order: Triple Decker Turkey Sandwich with a homemade chocolate chip cookie (Shelby's pick was the vegetarian sandwich, which she said is the best sandwich she has ever had)

Blenheim Vineyards
Did you know that Dave Matthews owns a vineyard? Because he in fact does, and it's Blenheim, a fun winery that has a tremendous view. I learned during this tasting that there are few white wines I don't like... though the ones with floral and fruity notes always ended up being my favorite. I loved being able to peer down into the wine making facility below the tasting room, and the views are incredible as you taste a few. Fun fact: Dave does the artwork for the Painted Red and Painted White wines.

What I purchased: Rkatsitelli (an un-oaked white wine with apricot, mandarin orange and pear notes) 

King Family Vineyards
This family owned and operated vineyard will not disappoint. The King family has created a winery experience that offers not only traditional wine tastings and wines available for purchase but also an event venue and a farm that hosts a variety of events, including polo matches from Memorial Day to mid-October! I've already told my husband we need to head back when the temperatures warm up to check out our first polo match. Our wine tasting was hosted by James King, who walked us through a variety of wines as well as let us preview the new rosé that was released on Valentine's Day. Every wine I tried, I liked, which made it difficult when it came time to purchase, but the good news is that their wines are available for sale on their website.

What I purchased: Crozé (rosé), Petit Verdot (red), Loreley (dessert wine for my mom)
Other favorites: Roseland, Vigonier, Meritage 2015

Monticello Wine Tour and Coach Company
Our trips to the wineries would not have been possible without this company! Thanks to Anna, who also is the Hometown Tourist of Charlottesville, we were able to explore our different stops on Tuesday without having to lift a finger. She picked us up at our hotel in a Suburban, which is perfect for group travel, and gave us insight to a variety of landmarks in town as well as facts about each place we visited (and some that we didn't get a chance to see). Especially since we were doing wine tastings, it was great to have a driver who knew the area. The good news is that this company does private and public tours, and they work frequently with corporate groups and bachelorette parties! For my next trip, I will definitely be giving Anna a call.

Red Pump Kitchen
Our final dinner during our trip was at Red Pump Kitchen, a great restaurant on the downtown mall. We actually went to this restaurant during Shelby's bachelorette trip last year, but it was so fun to go back and try some new things. I took a few recommendations from the sommelier and opted for a delicious pasta dish and a yummy cocktail! We finished the meal with a gelato trio and the peanut butter was amazing! The atmosphere is cozy but also sophisticated and makes a great location for date night or a girls' night out. 
What to order: La Dalia (cocktail), Local Greens, Kale Caesar, Bucatini (bolognese pasta - so good), & gelato trio

There's nothing like visiting the home of one of our country's founding fathers and walking halls that are hundreds of years old. I love history, so it was fascinating to learn about Thomas Jefferson's home. There's so much more to it than I realized and I had no idea that there were multiple stages of the home. We visited the gift shop before our tour and I snagged a jar of apple butter for my dad, who loves it, and then we took the shuttle up to the home. It has stunning views that I would love to see in April, when the hundreds of tulips are blooming! The tour was insightful but I also love that so many people work to preserve the home and make it as accurate as possible, down to doing paint sampling to determine the most accurate color. Stephen loves historic places, so this would be a great spot for us to go together when we make it back to Charlottesville. 

I love girl time, and it was a blast getting to see Charlottesville along side two great friends! I have already been planning another trip back to this charming and historic city, and though I'd love to visit some new places, these take the cake!

Thanks to the following Charlottesville, Virginia businesses for making this experience possible: 

Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
Bri and the team at CACVB put together an incredible itinerary that truly gave us a great view of Charlottesville. Thank you!

Red Pump Kitchen

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