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You know, the land of TJ, UVA, etc. Unless you don't know.
By Brianna Duff
There is no doubt that Charlottesville, Virginia is beautiful. So if you haven't been there, you've got to go. This is not a suggestion, but rather an order for all of our Quail Bell(e)s, no matter where they live, in Virginia, elsewhere in the United States, or far, far, far away. Tucked amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains, this more modest younger sister of bustling Richmond is its own unique destination. From the sprawling brick campus of the University of Virginia to the number of vineyards scattered amongst its mountains to the Skyline drive that carries you across it all, Charlottesville is worth a visit simply to see the sights.
In addition to its natural beauty, Charlottesville is also rich in history. Named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of King George III, Charlottesville was chartered in 1762, and though it is not quite as ostentatious with its history as Richmond, this city offers a number of chances to see some of her state’s colonial past.
Monticello: This plantation home, located just outside the city, was the primary home of Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States and most famous writer of the Declaration of Independence. It is the only American house on the United Nation’s list of World Heritage sights and offers a look at the rooms Jefferson and his family once inhabited, the stunning botanical gardens, and the historical slave quarters.
Ash Lawn-Highland: This is the second of Charlottesville’s historic houses. It is the former home of James Monroe, fifth president of the United States, who owned the property from 1793 to 1826. Though less stately than Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland is also a working plantation and offers a wonderful look Monroe’s world.
Montpelier: Montpelier is the third and final of Charlottesville’s presidential houses. It was home to James and Dolley Madison. Its history includes slaves who worked and lived on the plantation, Civil War soldiers who encamped on the property, and a freedman’s family who lived and farmed there after the Emancipation. On a tour, you can see the mansion, the décor as Madison would have had it, and the Landmark Forrest that offers 200 acres for hiking.
Michie Tavern: After a day spent visiting these historic homes, why not try out Michie Tavern? Built in 1784, Michie Tavern once accommodated travelers with food, drink and lodging. Today, you can experience the Tavern’s 18th-century past. Servers in period attire offer colonial fare and after, you can tour a section of the tavern left as it was in the 18th century.
The Fralin Museum: Thought the museum itself is not historic, not are its collections inside specific to Charlottesville, this museum is located on the historic University of Virginia campus and offers an eclectic mix of history, from European and American painting, photography, African art, and American Indian art. It is worth a visit for an art history lover of any kind!