Charlottesville in the summer has a much different vibe than when school is in session. The Grounds are less bustling, libraries are virtually empty, parking is easier, and things are all around a lot quieter. However, having fewer students around doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. This summer the UVa Admissions Office interns are taking advantage of all the things there are to do in Charlottesville – revisiting favorite activities we’ve done with friends during the school year and doing some extra adventuring around town to places we haven’t checked out before.
This week the interns went to trivia night at Mellow Mushroom, a popular pizza joint located at the end of the Corner, a lively area full of shops and restaurants that’s always packed when students are around. Not only is Mellow known for its uniquely named and tasting pizzas, but also for its Wednesday night trivia, an incredibly popular event for UVa students – this activity has even landed on the UVa bookstore’s “Things to To Before You Graduate List”!
When we got to Mellow, it was already pretty crowded with customers chatting and eating and preparing their trivia teams. We ordered and then set out to create a team named based off of the theme of the night – non-princess Disney characters. Although we were far from winning the coveted $50 gift card at the end of the night, we had an absolute blast and are already planning our comeback next week.
However, trivia is far from the only thing to do in Charlottesville whether you’re here for the school year or for the summer as well. Here’s a list of some of our favorite (and FREE!!) Charlottesville activities:
The rural areas surrounding Charlottesville are absolutely gorgeous and you don’t have to drive far to find great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and, even better, great food. Chiles orchard is only a 20-minute drive from Grounds and has rows upon rows of fresh strawberries and peaches for visitors to pick. If handpicking the fruit yourself isn’t for you, the Chiles Orchard store sells fresh fruits already boxed for sale as well as their famous strawberry cinnamon donuts!
Ok, I promise Charlottesville has more to offer than just really good fruit, but Carter Mountain is a famous destination for students and families alike. With hay rides, numerous apple flavors, great views, and mouth-watering cider donuts, this orchard is one of a kind and a wonderful place to visit year round. During the summer and early fall, the orchard stays open til 9:00, allowing visitors to dine on the mountaintop and listen to music as part of Carter Mountain’s Sunset Series (the interns are already planning a trip next week!)
Hiking Humpback Mountain
Did I mention the mountains? There are so many great hiking trails located around Charlottesville, but the most popular for UVa students is Humpback Mountain. This short hike is about 20 minutes from Grounds and offers a spectacular view from the summit. Most students hike Humpback in the wee hours of the morning to catch the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains!
Fridays after 5
The downtown mall is always bustling with activity, but one of the most popular events for students and locals is Fridays after 5. Every Friday, starting around 5:30, the downtown mall offers free concerts at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, delicious meals from food truck vendors, and even a few discounts and specials at shops nearby. This is an awesome event to attend with friends or family and whether you choose to stop by for only a few minutes or stay and enjoy the music and vendors you’re sure to have a good time!
The Farmer’s Market
Haven’t had enough of downtown Charlottesville? Come back Saturday mornings for the farmer’s market, a neat event where local vendors fill the parking lots outside of the downtown mall and sell everything from flowers to omelets to jewelry to woodwork to baked goods. The market is always full of students and locals and is a great place to get brunch or find unique gifts. The mall is just a couple miles from grounds so it’s not uncommon to see students walking there or taking the free trolley!
IX Art Park
Located a stone’s throw from the downtown mall, the IX Art Park is a really neat area where creativity meets innovation. Local artists create interactive projects that are completely open to the public. The most recent attractions at the park include a two-person bike in which the riders sit side-by-side, musical pipes, a throne built out of books, a chalk wall, and an enormous mural. It’s easy to get lost in everything the park offers for an hour or two, and no matter which project you choose to engage with, be sure to take a picture!!
Like I said before, there are so many things to do in Charlottesville year round and these are only a few of the most popular and cheapest options. Check out the UVa Admissions Office intern Instagram, @uva_summer, to find more pictures of us exploring the town this summer!