Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Jefferson finished, now what?

Saturday June 8, 2013
Charlottesville, Virginia



Two days or one day for Jefferson, it’s all good days.

If you’ve followed my suggestions from the previous post you have just spent time at Monticello and had a late lunch at Michie Tavern.  That might just do it for day 1. (If you have not seen those suggestions and would like to click here). 

Or perhaps you went on to see to see the University of Virginia’s Academical Village in the afternoon and brought a dinner to eat in the gardens.

If you decide to save the University for day 2, consider Bodo’s (later in this post) for your lunch and when you have seen and done it all, head down University Avenue toward the “Historic Downtown mall”.  This is an open-air pedestrian mall, the town’s former Main Street, now brick-lined and closed to cars.  The Mall is a hub of activities.  It has proven to be a very successful effort to keep the downtown area from being swallowed by shopping centers and big boxes.   Hoo Ray for my town!!




History history history everywhere you look.


Historical society

First stop is not actually on the mall but up 2nd Street to 200 2nd NE.  The Historic Society building is behind the great former US Post Office building which faces Market Street and now houses the library. 

The Historic Society has a changing exhibit and provides guided one hour tours (Thursday 5:30pm and Saturday 10am) and self guided anytime walking tour maps of this city founded in 1762.   If you are here around Halloween they do a great “spirit walk”.



Downtown Mall is almost loved to death.  Try it on a Friday evening to see what I mean.



If you like outdoor music, and a happen’ time, you might want to make sure you are on the  Downtown Mall on Friday from 5 to 9 pm.   Every Friday from April to November a different band performs outdoors at the Pavilion, not to be confused with those on the lawn.  (Seems a really confusing name to me-but I wasn’t asked my opinion about the choice). 

The Downtown Mall Pavilion is the big white tent sort of thing at the opposite end of the mall from the Omni Hotel.   Libations are for sale for a fee.  Music, Dance floor and sitting on the lawn free.  Bring a blanket or short chairs.


free speech wall

As you near the pavilion, right in front of city hall you’ll find the Freedom of Speech Monument.  It is a two sided wall of local Buckingham County slate, 54’ long 7.5 feet high with 108’ of writing space.  Anyone may express their views on any subject they choose.  You’ll definitely find the profound and the profane. 

Permanently inscribed on one part of the wall is the text of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The slate is cleaned entirely twice a week on a regularly scheduled basis  and private citizens also clean any or all of the slate any time they choose.  What is written there is constantly changing.  The cleanings are not a violation of the 1st amendment because they are not government actions.   Try your hand.  What do you feel strongly about??   Or do you just want to write I Was Here??



Ready for some more food??


mall3   With all that  historic walking, reading, writing and  dancing, you must be hungry by now.

So you’ll want to have dinner at one of the never ending, always changing restaurants with patio tables on the mall and to stroll the also changing shops that line up between restaurants.  There are even more restaurants up the numbered side streets and on Water Street one block off of the mall.  You can find any kind of food you want at any price and you’ll have a great time looking at menus and venues.   This place is awash with restaurants.





And now for some specifically special seasonal attractions!  Aka other considerations for when to time your visit.


festival of the book

Charlottesville has several seasonal attractions and the one I love the most is the Virginia Festival of the Book, a 5 day book discussion going on all over town.  Authors of many different types of books descend on Charlottesville.  All day and into the night for 5 days they talk about their books at multiple locations all around town.  You can meet them, talk with them, ask questions, buy books, get books signed.  Among authors appearing may be the locals who reside here such as John Grisham, Rita Mae Brown, Jenny Gardiner, John Casey, Mark Helprin, Jan Karon, Ann Beattie and Andy Straka to name a few.   This spring event occurs in March (March 19-23, 2014)  just before the annual Dogwood Festival in April.



Here is one discussion going on in the balcony of my favorite independent bookstore the New Dominion Bookshop located on the Downtown Mall.  Some venues are small and intimate, some are large auditoriums.  All are great!  If you are an avid reader this is a must do.


new dominion



pink dogwood 

During the Dogwood Festival in April  is another great time to visit Charlottesville.  The town will be all decked out in its thousands of flowering dogwoods and azaleas.  It’s a real toss up as to whether it is more beautiful in spring or in the fall with the flaming colors.  Both are stunning.






The Dogwood Festival of course has a parade, a queen, her court, rides, games, a BBQ and fireworks.  It’s a real good old town festival held for the 64th year on April 24-26 in 2014.  Some years it is held closer to Jefferson’s birthday on April 13.  Trees go on sale on March 28th in 2014 so they can get in the ground and bloom right on time.  :-)   There are LOTS of dogwood trees in this town.







Because all the spring blooms are at their peak, The Dogwood Festival often coincides with The Garden Club of Virginia’s Annual Garden Week.  Next year will be their 81st.  Are you getting the sense that there is some serious TRADITION going on here?  So if you like to visit private and public homes and gardens, lots of them are open for view during garden week.  Fee charged for some to benefit the Garden Club.  The club does lots of beautification projects all over the state including the University of Virginia Pavilion Gardens.  Garden Week goes on all over Virginia.  Here you can find the tour schedules for specific areas including Charlottesville and its nearby counties where there are often lovely country homes open for visiting.


Film Festival


If you are a film buff then plan your trip for October when a little piece of Hollywood comes to town and you can probably see the Blue Ridge in full fall colors as well.

The 26th annual  Virginia Film Festival will be held in Charlottesville on November 7-10, 2013.  The schedule of films, which like the book festival take place all over town including in our absolutely gorgeous restored 1930’s Paramount Theater, will be released on October 8, 2013 if you’d like to see what’s up for this year. 

In addition to the films, there are discussions and panels about the specific films shown and about other aspects of film making.



And finally, some locally owned locally popular quick bite favorites.


Spudnut Shop2 

My #1 favorite is Spudnuts.  No one should come to Charlottesville without having breakfast donuts from Spudnuts.  






Mr. spudnut

Those of you who follow this blog regularly have seen me searching all over the country for my favorite hometown donut.  There aren’t many locations left and I’ve been on a number of wild goose chases.   I’ve been successful in only a few places most recently in Ocean Springs Mississippi although they call their place Tato Nuts. Not as cool in my opinion.  

There is nothing like the hot fresh potato flour donuts from my hometown Spudnuts at 309 Avon Street.   They come in glazed, COCONUT, chocolate glazed, sugared, chocolate cake blueberry cake and several other versions.  Don’t miss them hot out of the oven from 6am to 2pm week days, Saturday 6am to noon, closed Sundays.


One dozen coconut please!!


coconut donut




Bodos sign


Another local favorite for a quick inexpensive bite is Bodo’s Bagels.  There are 3 spots around town where you can find them.  One is on Preston Avenue at the bottom of Market Street, just off the beginning of the downtown Mall, an easy walk.







This location is just down from the Rotunda on University Avenue at the University.  Good place to pick up that lunch for your Pavilion Gardens picnic. 

Since 1988, all Bodo’s locations have had sandwiches, salads, and freshly baked authentic NY water bagels.  Like the Spudnuts, the bagels are made in house and fresh every day.  Ten kinds of bagels including the hard to find real whole wheat.  Get them with cream cheese or as sandwiches with pretty much any filling and toppings you can think of. Seriously a LOT of choices here.



bodo's lunch





They even have great doorknobs at their restaurants. They aren’t as cute as Mr. Spudnut but for a bagel place,  what more can you ask?

Bodos’ individual locations’ hours vary but in general they are open from 7am to 8pm Monday through Saturday and until 3 on Sunday.


bodos door handles

bodos handle


Please let me know if any of the links you tried in this post did not work.


There are other interesting experiences  outside of but close by Charlottesville that you would want to check out if you are in the area.  I’ll bring them and a some campground suggestions to you in the next post.   By then I should be able to get outside and take care of the things that need doing before movin’ on down the road.


  1. What FUN posts the last couple days!! Have only been on East coast twice & when in Washington DC noticed all of the outside places to eat, and they just open those BIG windows to the outdoors too.. for some reason we don't do that out here. It is fun eating outside... also when we went to the Outer Banks we went to Monticello, what a great place and history!!

  2. I am keeping track of those those suggestions for when we get there:)

  3. Thanks for a wonderful tour of this great town.

  4. I am woefully behind in blog reading, but it has been a real treat to catch up with your recent posts. I wish we had you as a tour guide when we were there. I am definitely saving this info for our next Virginia trip.

  5. I spent 5 days in Charlottesville when my job required me to take a course there. Because there was no one compatible I could hang around with I didn't get around to see much, although I did see Monticello. It looks like a really fun place.

  6. Have not spent any time in Charlottesville, but am putting it on my list!

  7. Wow, you could stay busy around there all year long, and eat good too. I especially like the idea of the Freedom of Speech Monument. And soaking up all the history. Great post.

  8. Great tour!! Need to get a personal tour...let us know when you will be there next time;o)) OK, where does Brewster's rank with Spudnuts and Bodos??? Boy wouldn't that be a great day. Spudnuts for breakfast, Bodos for lunch and Brewster's for dinner:o)))

  9. Thanks for the tips ... too bad Charlottesville is out of our way this time, but we will eventually get there and will make sure we check out Bodo's and Spudnuts.

  10. Sounds like a great place to visit or live. Gotta get some of those spudnuts.

  11. Great tour, Sherry! and Spudnuts! grew up with a Spudnut shop across from the highschool... have not heard of them since! wonderful donuts.... what a memory that conjures...

    Did I go to Charlottesville? surely I did.... I need to check ... east was where I heading to visit again when I decided to hang ol Homer's wheels up....

    oh oh oh... I just looked it up! yes! I loved George Washington National Forest and Harrisonburg and that whole area... jeeeez I gotta find those pictures and emails from then ... 2007! rats ... didn't do a blog.

    I was coming from the upper midwest to the coast and meandered all over that area... beautiful country. The Virginia's had great travel centers ~ one had a farmer's market beside it and my first taste of Wasabi! didn't like it but it was sure pretty... peas? naw... don't think I'd get a bag of peas... hmmm dunno

  12. With all those amazing things to do in your hometown, it must have been really hard to roll out on the road. Especially with Spudnuts being so rare.

    Do you keep a COCONUT Spudnut doughnut handy in case of an emergency? And how many dozens do you cram into Winnona when you hit the road. Winnona does have a maximum weight she can carry... ;c)

  13. Another great post capturing the feel of Charlottesville - great traditions and eats and events in a pretty setting in the heart of Virginia - you found some great pictures to show it all off. Nice going!

  14. Dang, I just had dinner but you made me hungry again. I've never had a Spudnut donut, I didn't realize I've been so deprived!


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