In an effort to tell modern, accurate and inclusive Black stories in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau recently launched Discover Black Cville. This community-led initiative promoting inclusive and accurate history was originally started in 2020 and has now been rolled out on a national level. With the goal of helping visitors of all backgrounds feel more welcome, Charlottesville is putting the spotlight on its Black-owned tourism businesses and attractions.
Often overlooked by what most perceive as only a college town, the city is ready to bring diverse communities together through its culture and charm. With a convenient location and close proximity to other nearby cities, a weekend in Charlottesville is one well spent. Here are six ways to enjoy a perfect weekend Discovering Black Cville.
Stay at The Draftsman Hotel
The Draftsman, An Autograph Collection property is a Black-run hotel conveniently located in downtown Charlottesville. A short walk will take you to many attractions including the train station, Downtown Mall, and The Dairy Market– the first food hall concept in Central Virginia. The Draftsman’s modern and stylish decor depicts Virginia’s present while also celebrating the original voices of the past. The rooms are spacious and well-lit with elegant baths. Be sure to relax in the dapper seersucker robes provided.
Dine at Black-owned Restaurants
With its vibrant food scene, it should come as no surprise that Charlottesville was recently named one of “America’s Next Great Food Cities”. Amongst those restaurants and diners are unique places such as The Ridley (located inside The Draftsman) – one of Charlottesville’s newest Black-owned restaurants. This hip space pays homage to Dr. Walter Ridley, the first Black student to graduate from the University of Virginia. Be prepared for an upscale dining experience from brunch to dinner with a menu that highlights fresh seafood offerings. If you’re in the mood for traditional soul food, be sure to visit Angelic’s Seafood located in the Dairy Market. Take one bite into her fried fish and you’ll know why the signature seafood breading is now being sold separately. The hearty meals are also very affordable. You’ll leave with a full belly, but not an empty wallet.
Visit Ix Art Park
Along with the national launch of Discover Black Cville, a new mural was also unveiled at the Ix Art Park. Created by local artists Jae Johnson and Laura Lee Gulledge, “Dreamin’ Queen” can’t be missed. In the park, you can also escape into The Looking Glass– Virginia’s first and only immersive art space. This larger-than-life experience was created through the collaborative effort of more than a dozen local artists. The interactive enchanted forest and kaleidoscope cave is tucked away in approximately 6,000 square feet of fun.
Take a walking tour of downtown Charlottesville
Operated by the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, this tour is intriguing and inspiring. The center’s mission is to honor and preserve the rich heritage and legacy of the African-American community of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. After walking the history-filled streets, participants are sure to leave with a greater appreciation for, and understanding of the contributions of African Americans and peoples of the Diaspora locally, nationally, and globally.
Tour the historic Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
Monticello was home and eventually the burial site of Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. President. As the only house in the United States designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this National Historic Landmark is well worth visiting. Uncovering an uncomfortable past is often the only way to move toward a better future. With guides who retell the dark tales of both the enslaved and free Blacks who lived and also worked on this 5,000-acre plantation, emotions are sure to be evoked. Monticello gives a worthy lesson on the life of Jefferson and the lives of those who helped to build and maintain its grounds.
Enjoy the taste of wine at more than 40 wineries
With Virginia being one of the country’s top wine-producing states, Charlottesville is home to more than 40. Whether it’s for a casual celebration or a special occasion, you won’t be disappointed with the variety of wines offered throughout the region. Popular spots like Eastwood Farm and Winery as well as Blenheim Vineyards will satisfy everyone from beginner to the connoisseur. Charlottesville is also home to Matt Harmon, a Black local winemaker, and founder of Harmony Wine. Salud!
No matter the season, a trip to Charlottesville will be an enjoyable one. As the city continues to move beyond its’ somewhat troubled past, it’ll certainly continue to climb the list of the top destinations. Whatever you desire on a getaway, Charlottesville is sure to provide.