Travel Virginia

What to do in Charlottesville, VA with kids

School’s out for summer and our adventures are just beginning. A summer road trip on the east coast is kicking it off for us. First up is Virginia, and I’m sharing what to do in Charlottesville with kids. This was less than a 24 hour trip for us so I’d say you can do it all in a weekend or less. You know how I roll, so here are the know before you go’s:

Know before you go to Charlottesville, VA


The weather seems to be pretty mild throughout the year, and then pretty darn cold in the winter. Like highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s!!!

Cell phone laws

Get those Bluetooths working, and put those cell phones down because it’s illegal to hold cellphones and other communication devices.

Toll roads

There weren’t any that I could find, however, always do your due diligence to make sure though. From what we’ve experienced on our road trip, most toll roads don’t accept cash. You either need their pass, you can sign up for the pay by license plate, or you pay afterwards online or by mail. We tried checking online to see if our tolls have popped up but it hasn’t yet. It can take up to a week to process, and there isn’t supposed to be a price difference if you wait to get the toll in the mail.

History of Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville was founded in 1762 and is named after the British Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. It’s also home to Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. The only battle that took place during the American Civil War was the skirmish at Rio Hill. After the Civil War, emancipated slaves created their own communities, and suffered under the Jim Crow laws. Schools, restaurants, and all public places really, were racially segregated. The KKK had chapters in Charlottesville that dates back to at least the 20th century. A local NAACP was organized in Charlottesville in 1947, and in 1958, the segregated schools were closed under the new state laws called the Stanley Plan.

Where to stay in Charlottesville, VA

Graduate Charlottesville

When you’re looking for what to do with kids in Charlottesville, you kind of have to think about where to stay too. We had such a great experience at Graduate Nashville, that we decided to stay at Graduate Charlottesville. Well that, and we caught the $30 special they had a couple of weeks ago. I’m also a sucker for themes, and Graduate hotels are all themed around the Universities they’re by, the area, or notable people there.

With all that said, I was a little disappointed with the Charlottesville location. The floors were dirty throughout the hotel, like it hasn’t been vacuumed in a while, and the furniture felt a little dingy. I’m guessing this is because of staff shortage, but who knows. Other than that, it was a pretty cute hotel. There isn’t a pool, but it does have a gym, game room/bar, a coffee shop, and a rooftop restaurant with a limited menu. You can check out my full review by clicking here.

What to do with kids in Charlottesville, VA

I wouldn’t consider myself a history buff, however, I do love me some history. So when we travel, our kids are always learning some type of history of where we’re going or what we’re doing. We were short on time, so I did my research and and blessed my family with my knowledge instead of taking official tours. 

Historic Downtown Pedestrian Mall

This is one of the largest pedestrian malls in the US. It’s 8-blocks long and the kids can run around as you stroll and check out some shops. We stopped at Kilwin’s for ice cream before dinner, the kids drew on the huge chalk wall for a bit, then we just strolled around.

Explore the UVA campus

Travel and Leisure named UVA (University of Virginia) as one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. I’d have to second that for sure. You can even check it out for yourself. Take the kids for a stroll around the campus and throw around a frisbee… or two.

The Rotunda at UVA

I had no idea what we were looking at when we were here, but all I knew was that the building looked really pretty. Come to find out, it’s called the Rotunda, and it was designed by Thomas Jefferson, and is a replica of his home – Thomas Jefferson Monticello. It’s one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites, and this is a big deal because the US doesn’t have many. Only 24 to be exact. The Rotunda is free to enter and explore.


Monticello is the other UNESCO site in Virginia. It’s Thomas Jefferson’s home, and it’s only about 15 minutes from the hotel we stayed at. You do have to buy a ticket to enter. We didn’t have time to stop by to check it out, but we did pass it when we were checking out another site.

Carter Mountain Orchard

We weren’t planning on visiting Carter Mountain Orchard, but decided to last minute. The drive there is beautiful, and it has some beautiful views and glimpses of downtown. It’s known for apple picking, but they also have live music in the summer, and so much more. Oh, I can’t forget the famous apple cider donuts. It has a slight crispy outside and when you bite in, it’s just soft and cakey goodness!

Where to eat in Charlottesville, VA

There are quite a few options, but I was opting for restaurants with some history to it. We were only planning on dinner here, so my two options were Michie Tavern and The Virginian.

Michie Tavern

It’s pronounce Mickey, and located at 683 Thomas Jefferson Poway. The restaurant looks like a lot of fun, but you need to come on an empty stomach because it’s a lunch buffet. It’s good ‘ole 18th century food and fun, with the servers dressed in the period attire. Be sure to check the website for coupons and specials.

The Virginian

The Virginian is Charlottesville’s oldest restaurant, founded by UVA Alumni Billy Gooch and Ellis Brownwith, in 1923. It’s known as “one of the south’s most famous eateries” in Coy Barefoot’s The Corner, a book documenting the history of UVA’s commercial district. They were some good rule followers because they became a soda fountain instead of a speakeasy during the prohibition. They even waited until prohibition was abolished in 1933 before they started serving beer! And according to Cvillepedia, it was also in the background for the movie True Colors, and Michelle Obama dined there with her kiddos back in ’09.

We ended up eating dinner at the Virginian because it was right around the corner from our hotel, and across the street from UVA. The kids had a kid’s cheeseburger and chicken strips per usual. Tyler and I split the Pork BBQ Nachos and Southern Fried Chicken with a side of Mac n Cheese topped with a housemate cheddar potato cake. It was DEEEELICIOUS! Our hostess was really friendly, but our waitress on the other hand, didn’t seem to be having a great day…

And there you have it. That was our quick trip to Charlottesville, VA. Let me know what you think.

What to do in Charlottesville with kids

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