Ever since my quick visit to the Clifton Inn last summer on my way to North Carolina, I’ve been trying to coordinate a trip for Michael, Orvis, and I to spend some time in Charlottesville, Virginia together. Things happened to come together and we were able to spend two nights in the area en route to North Carolina earlier this month. It didn’t take us long to fall pretty hard for this charming town – UVA’s gorgeous colonial campus rivals that of Carolina’s (which is pretty huge for two UNC alums to admit and something I think Michael is still having a hard time coming to terms with) and there’s so much to see and experience throughout downtown and in the surrounding area. We could have spent an entire week in Charlottesville and just barely scratched the surface of the shops, restaurants, and scenery. In our short visit, we not only had time to hike, eat, and explore, but we also had the chance to catch up with some friends who live in the area. We had an amazing evening, conversation, and home-cooked meal with Abby and Guion, and their beautiful puppy Pyrrha even graciously extended her yard to Orvis.
We felt right at home browsing the goods at this darling shop downtown. Everything was so perfectly arranged, and it was hard to let Michael convince me that we didn’t have enough room in the car for everything I wanted to bring home.
Coincidentally sharing the name on another of our favorite shops, this must-visit store is right on the mall downtown, complete with our very favorites in paper goods and the cutest office accessories. While we were here, we found a delightful little “Welcome” sign to greet guests above the door in our mudroom.
Dinner at Mas Tapas after the long trip down from Maine was such a treat! It was our first al fresco meal of the season (oh, spring in the south!) and we stuffed ourselves with delicious small plates, including tasty papas bravas, lamb shanks, quesos, and bacon-wrapped dates.
Anne at Clifton recommended eating lunch on the mall at Petit Pois, and since they allowed Orvis to accompany us (clearly our favorite way to dine), we jumped at the opportunity! We devoured our meal of mussels, risotto, and beef bourguinon while people watching, laughing at Orvis, and dreaming about future trips to Charlottesville.
On our way out of town, we grabbed a delicious bite to eat and a couple of bottles of local vineyard wine (we’ll have to save vineyard tours for our next visit to Charlottesville) from Feast! in the Main Street Market. Aside from Feast! the market was packed with adorable shops, other restaurants, and patrons. It was a surprising plus to end our trip.
Driving in and out of Clifton, we kept passing by a darling ivy-clad little market at an intersection in the country. It immediately piqued our interest, and it wasn’t long before we stopped into the well-branded Salt to see what this market was all about. They had literally just opened the doors for business and we had the chance to talk to the owner quite a bit about her plans for the market’s future. Salt is a perfect place to grab a sandwich or salad to go, or pick up a cheese plate for a picnic on one of the many hiking trails. We look forward to visiting Salt again on our next trip to see how it’s evolved within the Charlottesville community.
I’m sure that there are plenty of places to stay in the Charlottesville area, but given the comfort, beauty, and charm of Clifton, I can’t imagine Michael or I going anywhere else. They’re dog-friendly to boot, and Orvis loves romping around the grounds and swimming in the lake (although he’s still a little hesitant around the property’s resident cats).
Thomas Jefferson’s home is obviously a plus for any American history buffs out there, but if you can make it to Monticello in the springtime, the cherry blossoms, tulip-lined paths, and expansive garden will easily win you over.
This trail system was recommended to us by Anne at Clifton. Running along the Thomas Jefferson Parkway, there are a number of different trails from which to choose (even a bridged path along the parkway to Monticello). We took Orvis for a hike on the Mountain Trail and quickly realized just how much the “menu” part of Map & Menu has been taking its toll on us.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.