Planning a Trip
For information, contact the Charlottesville/Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 178, Charlottesville, VA 22902 (tel. 877/386-1102 or 434/977-1783; fax 434/977-6151; www.pursuecharlottesville.org). The bureau's main office is at 610 E. Market St., on the eastern end of the Downtown Mall. It also operates the Monticello Visitors Center, on Va. 20 at Exit 121 off I-64, near Thomas Jefferson's home. The Monticello center is open March through October daily from 9am to 5:30pm; the rest of the year, daily until 5pm. The downtown center is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Both are closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Be sure to pick up copies of The Charlottesville Guide (www.charlottesvilleguide.com), a slick, advertiser-supported booklet containing maps and information about the area's attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shops; Charlottesville Arts & Entertainment (www.artsmonthly.com), a monthly mini-magazine concentrating on the town's cultural life; the Historic Downtown Dining, Entertainment and Shopping brochure, a valuable aid in exploring the Downtown Mall; and the town's two free weekly alternative newspapers, C-Ville Weekly (www.c-ville.com) and The Hook (www.readthehook.com), both packed with restaurant listings and news about what's happening. Bite & Sites, a C-Ville supplement, reviews every restaurant in town.
By Car -- Charlottesville is on I-64 from east or west and U.S. 29 from north or south. I-64 connects with I-81 at Staunton and with I-95 at Richmond.
By Plane -- US Airways, Delta, Northwest, and United fly commuter planes to Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO), 201 Bowen Loop (tel. 434/973-8341; www.gocho.com), north of town off U.S. 29. Taxis are available, and Van on the Go (tel. 877/973-7667 or 434/975-8267; www.vanonthego.com) provides shuttle service into town and shuttle service to the Washington, D.C., airports.
By Train -- The Amtrak station is at 810 W. Main St. (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com), midway between the Downtown Mall and the university.
Just as it has three personalities, Charlottesville has three centers of interest to visitors. One is on the southeastern outskirts of town, where Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland, and Michie Tavern are within 2 miles of each other. The second is the University of Virginia, at the western end of Main Street. Opposite the campus, between 13th Street and Elliewood Avenue, The Corner neighborhood is a typical campus enclave, with student-dominated restaurants, bookstores and clothing stores, and a dearth of parking spaces. The third area, Historic Downtown Charlottesville, a mile east of The Corner, is centered on the Downtown Mall, an 8-block, pedestrian-only strip at the eastern end of Main Street, between 2nd Street W and 7th Street E.
The easiest way to get between the university and the Downtown Mall is on the free trolley operated by the Charlottesville Transit Service (CTS; tel. 434/296-7433). It runs along Main Street every 10 to 15 minutes Monday to Saturday from 6:30am to midnight.
CTS also has bus service Monday through Saturday from 6:30am to 6:30pm throughout the city (but not to Monticello).
Parking -- On-street parking is extremely limited. In the Downtown Mall area, you can park free for 2 hours with merchant validation (take your ticket with you and get it stamped) in the garages on Market Street between 1st and 2nd streets NE and on Water Street between 2nd and 4th streets SE. The university's visitor parking garage is on the western side of the campus, on Emmet Street (U.S. 29 Business) a block south of University Avenue (which is the continuation of W. Main St.). On the eastern side of campus, two public garages are located opposite the University Hospital on Lee Street, off Jefferson Park Avenue. The Corner has public parking on Elliewood Avenue at 14th Street.