24 Hours IncityTravel

24 Hours in Charlottesville, VA with Elisa Bricker

by Stephanie

24 Hours in Charlottesville, VA

To share a day with a local is always the best way to see a city. But if you can’t find one to take you around to see the sites, it’s always nice to have a photographer give you some amazing imagery to help guide you. Elisa Bricker, a local Charlottesville, Virginia photographer is doing just that with us today. From a morning fitness break and bakery pitstop to wine tasting and dining al fresco, Elisa guides us on an idyllic 24 hours in Charlottesville – including gorgeous pictures! –Stephanie

illustration by Libby VanderPloeg

Read the full guide after the jump…

all photos by Elisa Bricker

I began my life in Charlottesville as a student at the University of Virginia. Twelve years later (time flies!), I love this town even more than when I first arrived. Charlottesville offers a unique blend of small town life and big city amenities. 

8 am: Start the day out right at Pure Barre. I love these high-energy classes that lift, tone and burn. Bonus points for the positive atmosphere and upbeat music.

9:30 am: It’s off to the Corner – a stone’s throw away from the University of Virginia. Stroll across the iconic lawn, view the Rotunda, and peek in the gardens before heading to Para Coffee for the best coffee in town. This hip spot is beloved by students and townies alike, and creates its own nut milks in-house. My drink of choice? An almond milk flatwhite. Yes, please and thank you.

10 am: Want a mid-morning goodie? Food is never far from my mind, so on the way downtown for shopping and strolling, I stop by the Purple Building on West Main Street for some of the best gourmet goods to be found. I stop by Albemarle Baking Company for some Chocolate Cherry Bread for the husband, and some house made granola for me, then go next door for Gearharts Chocolates, one of the finest chocolatiers I know of (If you like dark, you’ll love the Maya, Taj and Earl Grey truffles. They are all equally my favorites). Other noteable spots in this building include The Organic Butcher and Feast (for the best cheeses and the finest grocery goods in town).

11 am: Ready to head downtown for a stroll on the walking mall. It’s full of great shops and resaurants. My favorites include Petit Bebe for beautiful curated baby clothing and gifts, eg for boutique women’s clothing, and Roxie Daisy for the best of home goods (think linen bedding, candles, and kitchen goods that remind you of France). I stop in to Rock Paper Scissors for all things paper and pretty.

1 pm: I’m off to ladies-who-lunch with close friend and hair and makeup artist Lora Kelley. Since I’m downtown, Revolutionary Soup is a great place to pop in. They label their locally sourced and made-from-scratch menu for ordering ease with gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options. I recommend the shrimp and grits, the gulf coast salad and their classic tomato basil bisque (which always comes with bread and an apple). 

2 pm: In the afternoon it’s time for one more rewarding shopping stop at Scarpa for the best shoes around. I find a few pairs I love, mentally negotiate with myself, make my decisions and then it’s time to head outside of town. To the south, there is Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard, owned by fabulous tastemaker Lynn Easton, with its unmatched views and great wine selection. If you appreciate good cider you are in luck – one of the world’s formost cidermasters, Brian Shanks, creates delicious brews at Bold Rock. Take a blanket and lay in the sun. If you’re in luck the food trucks will be on hand. For the history fan, head east of town for a visit to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and while you’re in the area enjoy an apple cider donut at Carter Mountain Orchard.

7 pm: I’m blessed with the dificult decision of deciding where to go for dinner and whether or not to see a show. I opt for just the former and the hubby and I decide to visit the bar at C&O for drinks (and a cheeseboard … and I might be back later for their crème brûlée) before making our way to Red Pump for dinner dining al fresco. Their pizzas and salads are delicious and their décor only adds to their charm.

10 pm: Mas, located in bucolic Belmont, is a great late-night scene with a hip vibe, perfect for meeting with friends over a drink and some artful Spanish tapas. We linger over sangria and bacon wrapped dates, wishing we had room for the tuna steaks, too. Since they are open until 2 am, it’s still a lively crowd when we say our goodbyes and call it a night.


Live Music:




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  • I just got a job at UVA starting Sept. 15, so I was so excited to see this post. I can’t wait to explore all of Elisa’s recommendations and come up with some of my own!

  • So glad you mentioned Scarpa! I met these wonderful ladies in DC at a pop-up and they were so nice, and you’re right – their shoes are killer! My hubby and I’ve have been thinking about a little daytrip and this will be really helpful. Thanks!

  • With over 80 restaurants on the Downtown Mall, and over 200+ restaurants in town, why pick a chain like Zinburger? Blue Moon for brunch, Bizou for lunch or dinner, Eppies for lunch, and Pasture for dinner or drinks are a MUST. Need dessert? Hit up Splendora’s for gelato or Cappellinos for cupcakes. http://thedinerofcville.com

  • Flora Artisanal Cheese inside Milli Joe’s coffee is the *best* for cheese (and Milli Joe has great coffee!) And definitely agree that there are better places to grab a burger than Zinburger — try Citizen Burger or Whiskey Jar.

  • Shark Mountain Coffee, a local roaster and cafe, has the best coffee in Charlottesville. No kidding. And they make their own chocolate bars! Incredible.

  • where would you stay if your were visiting Montepelier? I’m traveling with two well-behaved tweens and we want to stay somewhere historic for the most two nights. Thank you!