TEN DAY-TRIPS TOURING THE CHARLOTTESVILLE VIRGINIA COUNTRYSIDE
There is so much to do in the Charlottesville, Virginia countryside you can spend quite a few action-packed days with CEDAR SPRING INN as your headquarters. Eight of the following day trips never take you more than an hour from the Inn. For links to most of the bold-faced locations check out our Activities section, or for restaurant links go to Cuisine.
Day 1 – Monticello and Ash-Lawn Highland
Begin the week steeped in the history of the region. After a morning steam, enjoy a hearty breakfast looking toward the mountains. Then it’s on to Monticello (30 minutes), the home of Thomas Jefferson the third US President and the author of the Declaration of Independence. Allow at least three to four hours to see the home and grounds (longer if you’re really into history). Eat lunch in the nearly new $43 million Visitor’s Center on the property. When you leave, stop at Jefferson Vineyards for a tasting and winery tour. You should still have time to see Ash-Lawn Highland, the neighboring home of James Monroe the fifth US President. Or visit a couple additional wineries; Trump Winery and Blenheim Vineyards are nearby. Eat an early dinner at Mas (tapas), Tavola (Italian) or The Local, all located in the Belmont neighborhood between Monticello and downtown Charlottesville. Or back to the Inn for a swim and nap before a leisurely dinner at Rhett’s River Grill and Raw Bar just fifteen minutes from the Inn.
Day 2 – The University of Virginia and Downtown Charlottesville
Sleep late; once again enjoy a leisurely breakfast watching the bluebirds. Head downtown toward the University of Virginia (20 minutes). Recently ranked the #2 public university in the US, UVA is steeped in the Southern traditions of “Mr. Jefferson’s school”, where the campus is known as “The Grounds” and freshmen are “First Year’s”. The Rotunda and Academical Village date back to Jeffersonian times; take a free student-guided tour to get the feeling for this incredible institution. Walk around The Corner (the center of student life) across from the Rotunda, then head to the Downtown Mall, the historic shopping and eating district of Charlottesville. On the way stop at The Market for some artisanal cheese at Feast! and handmade chocolates from Gearhart’s. Once on the walking Mall take in the shops, an eclectic mix of used bookstores, Chinese antiques, Italian papers, French linens and local arts and crafts. Don’t forget to walk South on 4th Street to Garrett where there are more shops. Have an early dinner at C&O Restaurant on Water Street or at Hamilton’s, Zocalo, Bizou or Ten on the Mall, then head back to the Inn to relax in the hot tub.
Day 3 – Skyline Drive and the Southwest Wineries
Up early; enjoy the steam room, then breakfast. Today is hiking and wine day! Head Northwest to the entrance to Skyline Drive (20 minutes). Drive South on Skyline Drive stopping for a hike along the way. After the hike, continue South to the I64/Rt. 250 exit. Take Rt.250 East to Greenwood Market, a wonderful gourmet country store. Buy lunch provisions and continue on to one of several local wineries for a picnic on the property. Try King Family Vineyards, Pollack Vineyard and/or Veritas Winery, all with spectacular views of the western foothills. If it’s Sunday in the summer, enjoy the horse polo match on the King Vineyards Property. When it’s time to head back to the Inn, take Rt. 250 East and stop at And George to peruse the incredible antiques and interior design ideas. Back at the Inn, enjoy both the sauna and steam room to relax tired hiking and walking muscles. Then off for a casual near-by dinner … try Bonefish Grill, Guadalahara, Lord Hardwicke’s Pub or Fabio’s Cucina Italiana.
Day 4 – Montpelier and the Northeast Wineries
Enjoy a leisurely morning. Sleep late, take a dip in the pool, linger over a lazy breakfast. Spend the day at Montpelier (30 minutes), the home of James Madison the fourth US President and father of the Constitution. A recently completed renovation of this incredible property makes Montpelier the historical sleeper of the area. Don’t miss it! Combine your trip back in time with a visit to one of five area wineries: Horton Cellars, Barboursville Vineyards, Burnley Vineyards, Reynard Florence VIneyard, Keswick Vineyards. For lunch or dinner plan on visiting the terrific French Restaurant Pomme in Gordonsville, or Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Vineyards. For lighter fare order a picnic basket at beautiful Castle Hill Cidery around the corner from Keswick Vineyards. Back at the Inn hit the hot tub before bed.
Day 5 – Ballooning and Antiquing
Go hot air ballooning! (Launch usually within 20 minutes.) Watch the sunrise as you prepare to see the Virginia countryside from the basket of a hot air balloon. Check our Activities section for the list of local Hot Air Balloon Companies. You’ll be back at the Inn in time for breakfast. After breakfast take a swim and relax by the pool. Hike the property. Take a steam. Spend the afternoon antiquing in Ruckersvilleyou can easily get to Stonefire Kitchen for a gourmet sandwich and soup if hunger strikes. Or visit the Potter’s Studios (Suzanne Crane/Mud Dauber, Blue Ridge Pottery) in the area. Or travel up the Blue Ridge Mountains to Stone Mountain Vineyard for more spectacular views and great wine. Feel like a great unpretentious hamburger for dinner? Try Riverside Lunch, the local outpost of a Charlottesville tradition. For more menu variety try Timberwood Grill.
Day 6 – Golf and a Couples Massage
Spend your day in the Virginia Countryside playing golf (25 minutes) then lazing by the pool. After breakfast, tee off at Birdwood Golf Course or Green Hills Club. You should be back at the Inn in time to spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool. Use the sauna before enjoying a relaxing couples massage. Then off to a fabulous dinner at historic Silver Thatch Inn or The Ivy Inn. Return to Cedar Spring Inn for a dip in the hot tub before bed.
Day 7 – Horseback Riding and Fishing
This is the day to enjoy the Virginia outdoors! Start with a hearty breakfast on the upper patio or inside near a roaring fire in cooler weather. Time your Horseback Ride at Oakland Heights Farm to the season. After the trail ride pick up a picnic lunch or dinner at Stonefire Kitchen as you make your way to Chris Green Lake. At Chris Green you can rent a boat, fish off the dock or simply picnic near the lake. Return to the Inn in time to enjoy the sunset.
Day 8 – River Kayaking
If you love the outdoors and want to spend the day on the water, consider a kayak, canoe or raft trip. Rapidan River Kayak Company provides guided tours on the Rapidan River, beginning about forty minutes north of Cedar Spring Inn. No equipment or experience needed. Or you can tour without a guide on the James River; check out James River Reeling & Rafting or James River Runners, both in Scottsville about forty minutes south of Cedar Spring Inn. In either event, return to the Inn after a day on the water to enjoy the hot tub and the sunset over the mountains. Order a pizza from Nate and Em’s … great pizza and they deliver!
Day 9 –Follow the Brew (and Hard Cider) Trail
There are over twenty-five wineries in the Charlottesville area … but there are five craft breweries and three cideries as well. If craft beer is your passion, combine the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a day of tasting the best beer Virginia has to offer. After a breakfast viewing the Blue Ridge from our vantage eleven miles east, travel north to Rt. 33, then west to Skyline Drive. Take Skyline Drive from the entrance at Rt. 33 (Swift Run Gap) south to the next exit at Rt. 64. Enjoy the view, stop for a hike. When you exit take Rt. 250 east to Rt. 151 where you will find the Blue Mountain Brewery. Enjoy the brew and a snack or even lunch. Now the decision: to continue further south on Rt. 151 to two southern breweries, Wild Wolf and Devils Backbone Or, travel southeast on Plank Road to Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards (spectacular views and a wonderful tasting menu) and Albemarle Cider Works, where hard cider takes on a new meaning. If the beauty of the mountains leaves you hungry … stop half way back to the Inn for dinner at Savour, on Rt. 29 near Barracks Road. You’ll get back to the Inn just in time for a relaxing dip in the hot tub before the best night’s sleep yet!
Day 10 –Skyline Drive North and the Virginia CountrysideFor the guest who has come from afar and who wants to see the Virginia Countryside …. Who wants a drive off the beaten path … This day is for you. After a hearty breakfast that should hold you well past lunch, take Rt. 29 North to Rt. 33 West to the entrance to Skyline Drive. Proceed north on Skyline Drive, enjoying the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley to the West and the Virginia Piedmont to the East. Ask the ranger when you enter Skyline Drive to recommend the hike or overlook you shouldn’t miss. Take your time and enjoy the beauty all the way to the drive’s end at Front Royal. Return South via Rt. 522, meandering through Washington, Virginia, home of the renowned five star Inn at Little Washington, on through Sperryville and Boston, Virginia to Culpeper. Time your travels to an early dinner at It’s About Thyme or Foti’s in Culpeper. Alternatively, visit Prince Michel Winery on Rt. 29 and then Early Mountain Vineyard (turn right on VA-230/Wolftown-Hood Road). If you have time, stop in Ruckersville for some antiquing on the way back to the Inn.