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Storm Chasers: The ‘Canes fan travel guide to Charlottesville, VA

Miami heads to Charlottesville to face the Cavaliers of Virginia. Charlottesville is a sleepy college town in Virginia.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 William & Mary at Virginia Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is a summer series for Miami Hurricanes fans who plan on attending away games for the 2022 season. The ‘Canes have five away games in ‘22, taking trips to: College Station, TX; Blacksburg, VA; Charlottesville, VA; Atlanta, GA; and Clemson, SC.

Different contributors from around the country will offer their answers to set up Miami Hurricanes fans for the perfect trip to watch the ‘Canes beat the home team.

Miami @ Virginia, Oct. 29 (Charlottesville, VA)

Sandra Schmidt, Retired UVA professor.

Plug your social: None (but you can read a blog post about her class here)

How are you familiar with the city/town? Retired UVA professor that has lived in Charlottesville for over 40 years and former member of the Virginia Athletics Foundation.

Google My Maps

What’s the best strip/street/neighborhood to visit that’s away from campus?

Downtown Mall – Main Street has several bricked off blocks of local restaurants, breweries, and small specialty shops. It’s an easy stroll. Lots of outdoor eating space. Purveyors of the fun and funky. Don’t miss out the places on the peripheries, side streets (perpendicular) as well as the spots along Water and Market Streets too.

Belmont – an “up and coming” area that has gentrified with some of the more interesting, unique, and popular food destinations. There is a shop or two otherwise to stroll and see. Know that parking is at a premium and plan accordingly.

What’s the best strip/street/neighborhood to visit that’s close to campus?

The Corner – It’s famous. It runs along the edge of the oldest parts of campus and related neighborhoods. It’s where you’ll find the original Mincer’s, a long institution and the only place where UVA swag should be purchased.

West Main St – Walk a little farther down from The Corner and you’ll find the newest growing central commercial area. Good and fun local eats and drinks. Some independent storefronts for the vintage and distinctive.

Best pizza in the city/town?

Crozet Pizza- Crozet Pizza has two locations in Charlottesville and is a hand tossed pizza rated “Best in the world” by National Geographic. For decades, this reigned supreme on the local and critics’ scales alike. Technically, it’s not in the city, it’s in Crozet (15 minutes west) but it has a new outpost on The Corner, at the Buddhist Biker Bar on Elliewood Ave.

Christian’s Pizza- Christian’s in Charlottesville has four locations. Christian’s has a 4/5 rating on Yelp and is considered a campus favorite. There’s one on The Corner and one on the Downtown Mall. If it’s in both hot spots, it has to be good, right?!

Honorable mention: Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie – Again, not actually in the city, but destination-worthy for sure. Pizzas are amazing. Seasonal specials are always worth the get. And especially if you are hitting the 20 South trail of wineries, cidery, and the like, it’s a must stop. While it seems to be in the middle of nowhere, it gets jamming, so calling ahead for takeout is advised or expect a wait.

Best breakfast place for the next morning?

The Villa Diner- A little more recent of an opening compared to Crozet or Bodo’s, The Villa has been a staple since 2005. For decades, there were only two breakfast places any self-respecting Wahoo would frequent: The Tavern (“Sarge’s” to the locals) or The Villa. Each is gone from it’s original location due to constant redevelopment in town, but with different fates. T

The Tavern (“Where Tourists, Students & Townspeople Meet,”) is gone, while The Villa has relocated. The daily diners and staff of many-a-year can still be found there on the regular, just a mile north of where they were before. It’s unpretentious with consistent quality and always friendly service.

Bodo’s Bagels- Bodo’s is the king of the “best of” lists in Charlottesville. In ‘21, Bodo’s won best sandwich, specialty food, and cheap date. They have three locations including downtown and The Corner.

The Bagel joint that redefined a town. Yes, it’s all bagels. Well, there is also a wildly-popular Caesar salad that is to die for, as long as you a fan of garlic. Breakfast offerings abound – all on bagels. It’s good for a takeaway meal also, whether on the go or tailgating. If you are so inclined, don’t sleep on the pastrami which is straight out of Brooklyn – the old Brooklyn.

And, yes, the bagels are outstanding, all on their own. Several years ago, the founders turned ownership over to various long-time staff members, so quality remains the same. (More than one location makes it an easy get too.)

Best dessert (cookie, cupcake, donut, ice cream) place?

Albemarle Baking Company- Albermarle was founded in 1995 and the company makes fresh bread, wedding cakes, pastries, and other treats. It has a varied offering of all things morning pastry and bakery goodness. The baguettes are carried around town, and found at all the tailgate provision hotspots. The quality is always good. The butter is everywhere you want it to be. Want flaky? You got it. Want general sweetness? There are two cases to cover your every need. Bread? Don’t miss the Chocolate Cherry or Challah if they are on for that day. Counter service with limited outdoor seating.

Honorable mention: Bee Conscious at The Dairy Market. They are very small and sell out quickly. But they have excellent offerings. Call ahead for the day’s specials.

RIP Spudnuts. Can’t answer this without noting the recent retirement of the place that was the go-to for oh-so-long. It was an institution that did the town right.

Best local beer / cocktail type place?

Beer Run – Been Run on the periphery of the Belmont neighborhood. It has everything a beer aficionado would want. On tap. In cans or bottles. Stacked floor to ceiling. Local or Imported. Great small batch variety. Drink there or take away. (They have a great outdoor seating area with a consistently good menu.)

Otherwise, *every* local restaurant has its own unique and tasty offerings, as creative mixologists abound. Check out “the Charlottesville 29” (especially the “Five Finds on Friday”) for a good focus on where to get your fancy drink on.

Any hotel recommendations, or Air B&B neighborhoods?

The Graduate- The Graduate (above) is across the street from UVA and has a great reputation. It overlooks The Corner so your tailgating and bar experience is well, right there. A newer addition to the town. Having redone what was originally a Howard Johnson location, it’ll do you right with accommodations and food and drink, in the heart of it all. Truly – walking distance to all of the major neighborhoods as well as the sports complexes.

Boar’s Head- Boar’s Head is a resort in Charlottesville, with fitness area, spas, and nature trails. The quintessential Charlottesville institution. With a recent remodel, it has a great updated look and feel, while retaining its old world charm.

Oakhurst – stay like an alum! Easy access to campus, The Corner and Scott Stadium. All in historic surroundings. Getting to and from here will give you an excellent tour of Mr. Jefferson’s campus.

Best place to watch the other games?

Anywhere on The Corner - It’s campus central. It’s where the students meet. Greek row. Lots of televisions. Need I say more? Just be prepared to be a minority and ready to hold your own, if you are cheering for the out of town team. Citizen Burger Bar has a great rep.

Champion Grill – Stonefield. It’s out of the fray. It’s good great sportsfan vibes. Just call ahead for viewing schedule, as several out of town sports team groups claim screen priority when the focus of their fandom are televised.

Doesn’t fit under this category per se, but a must-visit place at UVA is The Spot- The Spot (formerly The White Spot) has been at UVA since 1953 and is owned by a team of UVA alumni.

Is there a prime tailgating location for game day?

John Paul Jones Arena and Stub Hub for single game parking pass. John Paul Jones Arena – Of course, the parking lot of Scott Stadium is the place to be. That’s where the pigskin will be thrown and caught and run down the field. But, those spots are at a premium from the season ticket holder and alumni crowd.

If you are fortunate enough to score a pass on, say, StubHub, Yay! Get your ham biscuit on there, for sure! But if you aren’t able to slide into that prime location, JPJ (the basketball arena) parking lot is where you want to be. There are two lots – scope which one is more friendly to your fan-leanings.

What is the first place you would take someone from out of town to see/eat/visit?

Monticello- A fairly easy answer is Monticello. Thomas Jefferson’s plantation is probably Charlottesville’s most famous historic attraction. Thomas Jefferson designed the town. He created the University. His history is amazing and is on full view at his home overlooking the rest of the town. See his home and develop a new appreciation for the nickel.

There are also around 40 wineries in the Charlottesville, VA area, all along the Monticello Wine Trail. The Trail comes with an app, and a map- perfect for visiting ‘Canes.

Fralin – Don’t let the small size of the town fool you. The Fralin gets some heavy-hitters in its exhibit line-ups. Check to see what’s hanging, as well as the hours, which can vary by season.

Downtown mall – music fan? All the venues are on the downtown mall. The Pavilion is an outdoor deal which gets the bigger names. The Southern is going to have someone playing every weekend. Other joints around the mall will also have live music on the regular. Check the schedules. Check CVILLE, the weekly newspaper , for upcoming events of the cultural nature.

The wrap

I have personally been to Charlottesville a few years ago and enjoyed my short stay there, even if sadly it was for a memorial. I personally recommend Champion Brewing Company and the historic downtown mall area. It’s a pedestrian area with restaurants, bars, and other shops and is a great way to spend an afternoon after the game before heading home.