Fall Foliage in Charlottesville

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A walk on the corner.

Kiran Matthews, Entertainment Editor


Through every yearly season, the colors and flow of Charlottesville as a city change, from snowflake-covered downtown streets to the bright oranges and blues of the Corner at its peak summer heat. Autumn’s effect on Charlottesville takes on a whole new form, one filled with crisp morning hikes in the mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge, followed by pumpkin lattes quietly sipped in local coffee shops. To best experience all Charlottesville has to offer in this beautiful season, it is critical to get out and explore new areas or plan weekend trips with family and friends. This article will be a miniature guide to mapping out Charlottesville’s best fall locales, in the hope that both students and community members can fully take advantage of what the season has to offer!

      For those who don’t mind taking a little car trip, one may be accompanied by early Halloween music or light jazz; traveling just a short distance out to Shenandoah National Park or the Monticello area, can open up a whole new stretch of activities. From light hikes to stunning sunset locations, the roads and highways leading out from Charlottesville exhibit color-changing leaves, leaving a picturesque vision of Fall in the landscape. Below are a few sites or activities which might take up a gallon of gas or two but are worth the trip. 

  • Taking a drive along the Blue Ridge or Skyline Drive
    • While these areas can be traveled to during any point in the year, the fall season emphasizes the beauty of the overall landscape that these highways overlook. The scenic beauty of the all-American routes, matched with the addition of small overlook notches every couple of miles or so, provides perfect stomping grounds for a beautiful picnic opportunity. Whether simply seeing the area’s sights or packing a small bag of fall goodies, stomping at one of these overlooks can be a rewarding experience. 
  • Sugar Hollow 
    • Tucked deep within the mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge, the beautiful 47-acre reservoir provides the perfect location for a mini-hike or dog walking. One can throw on some light hiking boots and explore the scenic landscape with a loved one, possibly stopping to take some photos with the stunningly clear waters. 
  • Apple Pick at Carters Mountain
    • If driving more than 20 minutes out of town doesn’t float your boat, a closer option that will still open you up to an area out of common stomping grounds would be an evening or day trip to Carters Mountain Orchard; just a few minutes away from central downtown. Carter’s mountain will never disappoint, from a daytime trip filled with fresh cinnamon doughnuts or bites out of crisp apples or peaches to an evening filled with stunning overlooks of breathtaking views. 

      Suppose a car is unavailable, or you simply prefer to stay in the bounds of the Charlottesville area. In that case, there are many places where one can sit back and enjoy some of the autumn weather or scenery. 

  • Enjoy the Vibe of the Downtown Mall
    • Smack dab in the middle of the city, the downtown mall provides for community members in all seasons. The pedestrian mall on the main street stretches long, lined with cute boutiques, coffee shops, and family-owned restaurants. The massive oak trees, which stand throughout the mall itself, take on a whole new colorful shape, exhibiting the beautiful change to the season as the leaves start falling in an array of colors. To make the most of a downtown trip, you can get a warm bite to eat at Marco and Lucas or Christians’ pizza, or if sipping on something yummy is more your style, try various tea selections from the Tea Bazar, or a cup of hot chocolate from Splendora’s.
  • Wear Orange to the Corner
    • Much like the downtown mall, the Corner at UVA can be seen thriving year-round. The thriving district is jam-packed with excited college students in the Fall significantly, providing a new life to the area. Right around the Corner lies Carr’s Hill Field, which also provides a perfect place for a game of get-together soccer or football game, followed by a pleasant stroll to Insomnia cookies to reboot some energy. The Corner also provides (cute) shopping options for a late afternoon trip with friends to small boutiques such as Finches or Mincers for some UVA merch. What makes the Corner most memorable during the fall season is that it is surrounded by the beautiful gardens at UVA. The vibrant center of UVA’s leading campus lights up with the fall features, featuring the Lawn, Rotunda, and Clemson’s library. 
  • Parking Garages
    • More for the younger generation, this next option acts as a historic savior to late-night boredom. Charlottesville’s various parking garages, such as Culbreth, Emmet/Ivy, and Market street parking garages, offer a relaxed and isolated area for hangouts. Whether driving up to the very top to overlook the fall sunsets or bringing along a few hammocks and connecting them in a circle with friends, the parking garage offers many options for a relaxed time. While one might have to be creative in finding entertainment, the area is perfect for fall hangouts, as long as one is responsible. 
  • The Heritage Harvest Festival
    • Coming up at the end of the month, this year’s Heritage Harvest Festival is one for the books. Meant to celebrate Thomas Jeffersons’ legacy within his educational orientation at Monticello, the festival will offer various family activities and viewing opportunities, such as chef tastings, gardening workshops, and more. For more information, you can visit the Heritage Harvest Festival.
  • The Lawn
    • Much like a few other areas listed in this article, the Lawn is smack dab in the middle of Thomas Jefferson’s Academic Village, conveniently located behind the Rotunda. Since its location is within the u.V.A campus, the large grassy Lawn in the Fall becomes filled with students playing frisbee and those reading a quiet book on a blanket. In late October primarily, the Lawn provides the perfect trick or treating location for Charlottesville’s littles, who can run up and down the field with sugar-rushed delight. The Lawn during the Fall offers an ideal place to take in nature and experience community interaction in an outside setting regardless of age. 

      While all of these areas offer a year-round experience, visiting them as the leaves fall offer a new venture one can hold special to. The way Charlottesville changes and grows during the season is indeed something one can look forward to. If you find yourself looking for something to do on a crisp Sunday afternoon or simply want to get out into nature before it gets too cold, find yourself at one of these locations, and you won’t be disappointed.