Charlottesville Virginia's All Things Cville and Central Virginia

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June 29, 2016

Cool Places in Charlottesville

Where to Cool off around Charlottesville:

Swimming Pools, Natural Water Sources, and Water Adventures

Pools in Charlottesville Virginia

Summertime has returned to Central Virginia. The sun starts slipping through windows before six o’clock in the
 morning, to the joy of many songbirds, and doesn’t set until almost nine o’clock at night. The well-known humidity in the area speaks to the lushness of this environment, and is often relieved by a breeze or an afternoon thunderstorm that arranges the clouds in dramatic shapes. But for those long summer afternoons when the sun shines consistently, the City of Charlottesville and the surrounding areas offer many ways for residents to cool off and beat the heat. The beauty of this locale is that there are both natural, rural sources of water where you can take a dip and the resources of the city and its populace are expansive enough to provide numerous public and private swimming pools. If you are looking for real estate in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, or the surrounding areas, you won’t be disappointed by the many opportunities to get your feet wet.

 

 

Charlottesville's Public Pools and Parks


Charlotesville's Meade ParkCharlottesville’s public recreational amenities include two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, and three outdoor spray parks. One of the outdoor pools is Onesty Family Aquatic Center at Meade Park 
 located in the historic Woolen Mills community, adjacent to downtown and Belmont. The community is named for the Charlottesville Woolen Mills, which was in operation for over 100 years until its closure in 1962. The Onesty Family Aquatic Center is shaded and equipped with a lounge area and chairs, lap lanes, underwater benches, hydrotherapy jets, a slide, diving board, and a current channel or “lazy river” in which you can relax and let the water carry you. If you have children, there is also a shallow area for kids age 2-5, and a bucket fountain that is timed to pour water every few minutes. There are also restrooms and concessions, and summer passes are available.

Just off Preston Avenue, near the Rose Hill neighborhood, there is Washington Park Pool. It sits on land originally known as Washington Park when it was deeded to the City in 1926, but the park was renamed the Booker T. Washington Park in 2001 to honor the close friend of Charlottesville educator Benjamin Tonsler. Similarly to the Aquatic Center, the Washington Park Pool offers lap lanes, water slides, a diving board, shallow play area, locker rooms, snack bar, and summer passes. The main difference between the two is that, instead of a bucket fountain, this one has a mushroom-shaped fountain. So the question is, do you want to be suddenly drenched or slip under a calmer curtain of water? Fun fact: the park is also known for the playground and picnic shelter given to the City by the Dave Matthews Band.

The site of the city’s indoor pools is Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center, which was recognized as a 2011 Facility of Merit by Athletic Business Magazine and offers one competitive pool, one leisure pool, two water slides, a lazy river, and water aerobics classes. You can purchase a daily pass, 1-month, 6-month, or annual pass.

Another fun way to cool off is to go to one of the spray parks, or “splash pads” as some people call them. These have a flat surface with drains that eliminate any standing water and have multiple fountains and spray devices that are refreshing, without requiring you to be fully submerged. Because of this they are considered safer than pools since they don’t require a lifeguard. The three spray parks Charlottesville has to offer  are located in Forest Hills Park, Greenleaf Park, and Belmont Park. In Albemarle County, the community of Esmont has a splash pad located in Simpson Park.  

 

If freshwater swimming is more to your liking, the natural environment of Albemarle County provides some alternatives that are open to swimming from Memorial Day through Labor Day (exceptWalnut Creek Park on days when Albemarle County Schools are in session). Chris Greene Lake  in Charlottesville boasts a 2-acre sand beach and 53 acres of water surrounded by trees on three sides, as well as $5/hour canoe rentals. Walnut Creek Park  in North Garden also offers 2 acres of sand beach and $5/hour canoe rentals on 45 acres of water. Lily pads nestled along one side of the perimeter make it as picturesque as a Monet painting. With 15 miles of hiking trails and an 18-hole disc golf course, there is ample opportunity to work up a sweat before jumping in the water. Black Dog Paddle, a regional paddleboarding company, offers standup paddleboarding classes both at Chris Greene Lake and Walnut Creek Park throughout the summer. If you prefer a smaller, more intimate setting, there is Mint Springs Valley Park  in Crozet with a 1-acre beach and 8 acres of water.

Charlottesville lakes and parks But if you’re thirsting for more adventure, try the rope swing over the popular swimming hole known as Blue Hole, located in Sugar Hollow just outside the Shenandoah National Park. Or explore a stretch of the 42-mile long Rivanna River, a tributary of the expansive James River. Through Rivanna River Company you can rent canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and tubes to make your passage down the river. On the James River, you can rent canoes, kayaks, tubes, and rafts through the James River Runners .   

 

 Member-Only Spaces

            Your other option is the many member-only swimming locations that Charlottesville and the surrounding area has to offer. Here are just a few of them.

            In the Fry’s Spring neighborhood along Jefferson Park Avenue (or JPA as it is known by locals) Frys Springs Beach Club in Charlottesvillethere is Fry’s Spring Beach Club . It is a private, nonprofit club with the mission of providing “recreational, social, athletic, literary, and education activities for the benefits of its members and their guests.” Established in 1921, it offers a 50-meter pool, water aerobics, yoga classes, and concerts. Available at the café are not only snacks but also beer, wine, and lunch and dinner menu items as well.

Blue Ridge Swim Club  in Ivy is open on Sundays from June to August and offers a beautiful 100-yard, narrow pool built in 1913, filled with water fed by a natural spring. Thus, it is free from chemicals and is never stagnant, as the spring water is piped in and out. The water is notably cool, and refreshing on a hot summer day. The club also offers yoga classes, croquet, and live music for its members and their guests.

            If overall fitness is your game, membership with ACAC  allows you access to the elegant rooftop pool at their downtown location, as well as heated indoor pools, and a therapy pool. Through an expanded “full facility” membership, you can explore the Adventure Central Waterpark in Charlottesville.

            Farmington Country Club  houses an aquatic center that consists of a 25-meter lap pool with eight lanes and a wading pool for small children.

A membership with the Boar’s Head Inn Sports Club  grants you access to a 25-meter outdoor pool with six lanes, a round pool with a slide, and a shallow pool for small children. To soothe your post-swim stomach growls, the Poolside Snack Window and The Café are open all summer.

 

The opportunities for cooling off in and around Charlottesville this summer abound! 

June 28, 2016

24 Hours in Charlottesville, Virginia

24 Hours in Charlottesville, Virginia

 

Even the most experienced travelers need to study up on their destination if they want to make the most out of a trip. And the same goes for relocating. To that end, we’ve created a basic itinerary catered to out-of-towners. It’s takes you through a virtual tour of an ideal Saturday in Charlottesville and out into some of the surrounding counties in central Virginia. It highlights some of our favorite things about this town, from mountains to music, fine dining to fine art. It would be pretty tough to hit all these spots in a given day, but it’s worth a shot! This is intended as an advisory guide with some of the city’s best moments. Whether you’re visiting or thinking about moving to Charlottesville, this itinerary will give you some ideas for things to do.

 

7-8 am: Farmers’ Market

Charlottesville Va Farmers MarketAh, breakfast. Perhaps waking up this early is ambitious if you’re just in town for the weekend, but if you get a good night’s sleep the day before, try and start your day at the Charlottesville City Market. We especially advise this if you have access to a kitchen. You can get fresh meat and produce from local central Virginia farms. Delicious bacon and eggs from 15 miles away! Or fresh-squeezed juices, local jellies and jams, and cheese from right around the bend! There is also a plethora of prepared food, made with high-quality ingredients. The farmers and cooks are friendly and inviting...they are just as eager to get to know people as they are to sell their wares, and they are looking to develop a genuine relationship with the community. This approach to food and people is sometimes referred to as the farm-to-table aesthetic, and it brings farmers and restaurateurs closer to the people they serve.

 

9-11:30 am: Walnut Creek Park

Walnut Creek Park CharlottesvilleIt wouldn’t be Charlottesville without the great outdoors. Assuming you’re here between early spring and late fall, the hikes, trails, and mountain views of Charlottesville are definitely worth checking out. Walnut Creek Park is less than half an hour from Cville, and it’s accessible to everyone, whether you just want to lounge out at a picnic table or go for a leisurely hike. Of the park’s 525 acres, 45 are on the water. You can rent canoes and drift languorously on the water or do some fishing (the lake is well-stocked). The tranquil waters will make you forget that you’re in civilization, if you drift far enough. If you’re into biking or hiking there are ample trails, and there’s also an 18-hole disc golf course in the park. One of our favorite things about Walnut Creek is that it’s resistant to road noise. What better way to break free from the trappings of modern society than by going to a place where you can literally forget that there are cars?

 

12-2:30 pm: Monticello Wine Trail

Charottesville VineyardsThe land outside Charlottesville has some of the best terroir in the state, making Virginia one of the top-producing wine regions in the U.S. (tied for fifth with Texas). Many people compare the rolling pastures and uplands to the Mediterranean climate of southern Italy. It’s well known that Thomas Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to plant the European Vitis vinifera on central Virginia land until the American Revolution and his political career took precedence. Centuries later Barboursville Vineyards accomplished this, heralding a new age of Virginia winemaking. With over 30 member vineyards, the Monticello Wine Trail is a firsthand look at Virginia’s viticultural potential. The Monticello AVA is on the rise. If you can make it out to Barboursville Vineyards, Prince Michel Vineyards and Winery, or Keswick Vineyards...do it. In the interest of staying close to the city of Charlottesville and keeping on with our tour, we recommend hitting Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards first (it’s in North Garden, very close to Walnut Creek) and then to First Colony Winery, up to Blenheim Vineyards, Gabriele Rausse Winery, and finally Jefferson Vineyards before heading back into the city. Be sure to grab something to eat, whether it’s a quick bite at the Trading Post (a gas station near Walnut Creek, home to some of the best fried chicken this side of the south) or an exquisite meal rife with locally sourced produce, meat, and cheese at Pippin Hill. If for some reason you or your group aren’t huge wine fans, never fear: the Brew Ridge Trail is a pretty similar (although admittedly more limited) version of the Monticello Wine Trail, highlighting a handful of central Virginia’s more notable breweries.

 

3-4pm: The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum

A truly unique and unprecedented assemblage, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Collection boasts the distinction of being “the only museum in the United States dedicated to the exhibition and study of Australian Aboriginal.” They aren’t in it for distinctions however; they do it for the love of beautiful, unique work and the willingness to listen for some of the most underrepresented voices in the continuum of modern and contemporary art. The history of Aboriginal art in Charlottesville starts with businessman and philanthropist John W. Kluge who began amassing his collection of Australian indigenous works in 1988. By 1997 he had one of the most extensive Aboriginal collections the world over. He donated his works and through the University of Virginia founded the museum. Currently, one of the main exhibitions features the work of Loongkoonan, a 105-year-old Aboriginal Australian elder and one of the last matriarchs of the Nyikina people. Though born in 1910, her career began” in earnest” around 95 years old when she started gaining more notoriety. Her glimmering renditions, rife with memory and detail provide a gateway to a world most of us will never inhabit. If you’re in Charlottesville, the museum is definitely worth a visit. Some say it rivals even the most prestigious collections in Australia.

 

 

4-5pm: Ix Art Park

Ix Art in Charlottesville VirginiaMight as well keep the sensory stimuli flowing here in Charlottesville. Pronounced “-icks,” not “nine,” the IX art park is quite unlike anything else the city has to offer. It’s located in the Belmont neighborhood of Charlottesville (considered the “Brooklyn of Cville” by many), and accessible to anyone from dawn to dusk. Nearly everything you encounter is an exhibit, from the sweeping, variegated murals, to the lifesize windchimes, to the stairs painted like black and white piano keys. At its best, IX is home to a community-minded aesthetic that positions the artist and the audience in the same space, even in the same person. There’s also a lot of really cool stuff to look at, and you’re free to wander around as much as you’d like. The actual park is outdoors, but it’s flanked by a handful of other shops: a taco joint, a bike shop, and Henley’s auction. The latter deserves its own mention, for having one of the most diverse, far-flung, and at times bizarre collection of antiques, doo-hickeys, knick-knacks, and doo-dads in town, and for having killer electronic/DJ shows on the weekends.

 

5-7pm: Dinner time

Belmont in Charlottesville VAAt this point in the tour we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of Charlottesville’s Belmont neighborhood, definitely one of the “hippest” locations in the city. All the food here is awesome...we’d like simply to point you in the right direction. Lampo is a quick drive or leisurely walk from Ix, and it’s some of the best pizza this side of the Alleghenies. These folks are combining local wares from central Virginia farms, breweries, and wineries with classic Italian training and a passion for simple, delicious meals. They’re gunning for certification from the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the council that decides who is making real, authentic Neapolitan pizza. With a three ton oven that cranks up to 1000 degrees, we’d say they have a shot. The atmosphere is also unbeatable, with soft, gentle lighting. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, give Brazzos Tacos a try. It’s a fast-casual taco joint with some truly unique and inventive spins on the classic Mexican street food. A taco with crispy pork belly? One with seared brisket? One with savory yams? We challenge you to look at this menu and tell us you can’t find anything you like here. If you want a truly unforgettable experience, go to Mas Tapas. The space itself is gorgeous, a chasmal, chambered location. For all the wine lovers in the house, you can order both local or exotic, and you can even get a traditional porrón, the Spanish vessel with which you literally pour wine into your mouth (glasses available upon request). For those unfamiliar with the true concept of tapas: they are small plates of food, the concept Spanish in origin. The fluid menu usually has 40 different dishes at a time, ranging from $4-15. You order what you like and they bring it out in random sequence, adding to the suspense and experience. Our faves? Chuletas, a baby lamb chop, grilled rare and served with flatbread and sauce and the duck confit, glazed with fig, sherry, and garlic. Mmmmmm

 

8pm-11pm  Showtime

Charlottesville VirginiaGet back and rest up for an hour and then see a show downtown! It’s the perfect way to ease into a night of hanging out in Charlottesville, and there are dozens of options on the pedestrian walking mall alone. The Downtown Mall is one of Charlottesville’s gems, a treasure trove of experiences for everyone. The Violet Crown Theatre is new to Charlottesville after getting its start in Austin and Santa Fe. It combines plush, airplane recliner-style seats with a fully stocked bar and a thoughtful mix of indie/art-house films and popular, commercially-viable blockbusters. You never know what the Paramount Theater will have going, whether it’s a reprisal of classic movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Jaws, or live theater. Live Arts, the downtown mall’s other theater venue just finished putting on a stunning rendition of Dreamgirls, and they put on local trumpeter John D’earth’s jazz opera Sacred Profanity . Depending on the night you can catch all manner of rock, folk, R&B or bluegrass shows at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion, the Jefferson Theater, or the Southern, all owned by resident mogul and talent scout Coran Capshaw (known as the man who discovered Dave Matthews). If you want to test some genre boundaries, look up the show of the night at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, one of the most eclectic spaces in the city. You may get a singer-songwriter duo, a blistering punk power trio, or a quartet of DJs using analog modular synths to create some logic-defying sounds. No matter what you do...enjoy!

 

11pm-1am: Partytime

After your chosen show lets out, it’s time to get a drink at one of Cville’s many bars (if that’s your thing). Mono Loco is a Mexican-themed bar and restaurant with great salsa and sometimes a killin’ brass band. It’s one of the hottest dance spots in the city and has something called a “natural margarita” wherein fresh lime juice is served with tequila. Or hit up Escafe, probably the closest thing to a “dance club” that the downtown mall area has. The Whiskey Jar has (you guessed it) hundreds of different types of whiskey, probably over 50 varieties of bourbon alone. If it’s Saturday night, chances are there’s a house jazz quartet or bluegrass band shedding amidst the chatter of young socialites and whiskey-soaked oldtimers. We honestly can’t guide you too much here...you’ll be downtown in the thick of it, and the world is your oyster.

 

1am: ???

You’re still with us? Impressive. If you’re hanging out at this hour, you may as well check out Miller’s...it’s one of Charlottesville’s only true, authentic dive bars. Despite their efforts.

 

1:30am-infinity

 

Time to get a cab or an Uber. Yes, Charlottesville has Uber. We’ve also got Ting fiber optic Internet. Told you it had a big-city feel. We hope you enjoyed your day in Charlottesville!

June 3, 2016

Charlotttesville Real Estate Market Spring 2016

You hear that the real estate market is gaining momentum across the country. Is it really happening here in Charlottesville? You bet! The chart below says it all. The gap between active listings and listings under contract has been decreasing. Fewer homes on the market (supply) with more homes under contract (demand) creates pressure on the sales price.