Charlottesville Area, Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont Regions
Rich in American history. Graced with pastoral beauty. Alive with activity. Central Virginia is a great place to call home.
Singles, couples, young families, empty-nesters, and retirees all find what they're looking for here: a welcoming community offering cultural and educational opportunities, excellent health care, a stable economy, and homes that suit their taste, budget, and stage in life.
Frommer's Cities Ranked and Rated chose Charlottesville as “the Number 1 City in America”. USA Today called it “the best place to live in the USA”. We just call it home.
The City of Charlottesville is nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Central Virginia. Home to a population of over 40,000 residents with a metropolitan population over 200,000. The City has earned a reputation as being one of the most livable places in the country. In 2004 the City was given the distinction by Cities Ranked and Rated as the Best Place to Live in America, and Charlottesville has consistently been listed among Money and Fortune Magazines’ Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire.
A city deep in historic value, the area has raised three Presidents and is the home of the University of Virginia founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1825. With a growing enrollment of nearly 20,000, the University is consistently listed as one of the top five public universities in the country. In 2007, the area's emphasis on historic preservation alongside modern development has earned the recognition by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a Dozen Distinctive Destination.
The Cultural and Entertainment Capital of Central Virginia
The City offers an impressive variety of cultural, social, and recreational opportunities. There are 26 neighborhood and jointly funded parks and an extensive series of walking trails that run through parkland, residential areas, and along the beautiful Rivanna River. For more information, please refer to the Parks and Recreation site.
There is also a thriving art, music and theater community that keeps the creative spirit alive in Charlottesville. A recently opened 4,000 seat Charlottesville Pavilion amphitheater draws big named acts into the downtown area and hosts a weekly Friday After Five concert in the spring through the fall, a local favorite to kick off the weekend. The downtown pedestrian mall is one of the most successful of its kind in the country and boasts over 150 shops and award-winning restaurants. A magnet for art, music, dining, shopping and entertainment, the mall is now home to a newly renovated Paramount Theater, one of few community-supported restorations of historic theaters in the country. The 1,200 seat theater has hosted nationally-known entertainers. The 16,000 seat John Paul Jones Arena (JPJA) opened in 2006 and has already hosted national caliber events such as The Dave Matthews Band, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel and Cirque du Soleil. JPJ was recently voted as the Best New Entertainment Venue in the Country.
Other popular activities in the area include world-class tennis, golf, hiking, ballooning, horseback riding and racing, tubing, fishing, biking, camping, and the occasional hunting for antiques. The area also boasts a thriving wine touring and tasting business. The nearly 30 local vineyards make up the state’s largest collection with several wineries winning national recognition.
Tourism plays an important role in the City’s economy, much of it based on its rich historical legacy. Two million travelers visit the area each year to see the area’s historic sites and the spectacular scenery of Central Virginia. Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, sits on a nearby mountain overlooking the city and offers tours and special events and ceremonies. Ash Lawn-Highland, home of James Monroe, features beautiful gardens and furnishings reflecting the Federal style is just a mile down the road from Monticello. Montpelier, the home of James and Dolly Madison, recently reopened to the public for tours, tastings, and horseracing.
The Shenandoah Valley
With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the East and the Allegheny Mountains to the West, the scenic Shenandoah Valley attracts residents with its rolling hills, spectacular views, and many attractive and affordable housing options in both town and country. A rural area with easy Interstate access to cities such as Harrisonburg and Richmond, the Valley is about 30 minutes from Charlottesville. Many residents enjoy a scenic daily commute.
The Shenandoah Valley stretches 200 miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. It's been nicknamed "The Big Valley" and immortalized in song, dance, film and television.
The History & Heritage of the region includes many sites devoted to the pioneers who traveled westward, settled and farmed the fertile valley:
- Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton
- Cyrus McCormick's Farm — inventor of the first reaper!
- Shenandoah Folk Art & Heritage Center
During the Civil War, this region was nicknamed "The Breadbasket of the Confederacy." Special sites devoted to this period in our nation's history include:
- The Stonewall Jackson Museum at Hupp's Hill
- Virginia Military Institute and Museum
- Washington & Lee University — where Gen. Robert E. Lee served as president after the war and where the Lee Chapel & Museum is located.
- Battlefields — New Market Battlefield State Park and Fisher's Hill Battlefield.
The Shenandoah Valley features picture-postcard farms and inns along country roads and the popular Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway, probably the most beautiful parkway in the nation. One of the natural wonders of this world is the 100-million-year-old Natural Bridge! Be sure to visit the region's many caverns, which include Luray, with the only stalacpipe organ, and Shenandoah, with an elevator to take you underground!
You'll be singing "Oh, Shenandoah!" when you arrive and experience this magnificent "Big Valley" for yourself
Area Schools–Public & Private
Central Virginia has so much to offer a growing family: Recreational opportunities, cultural enrichment, and a community dedicated to education. There's a reason Reader's Digest named Charlottesville “one of the top 10 places in the country to raise children.” Virginia schools have produced three presidents so far. Your child could be next! To learn more about area schools, visit each school system's website:
- Albemarle County Schools
- Charlottesville City Schools
- Fluvanna County
- Greene County
- Louisa County
- Madison County
- Nelson County
- Staunton City
- Waynesboro City
- Harrisonburg City
- Buckingham County
- Culpeper County
- Orange County
- Rappahannock County
- Rockingham County
For information on the following Charlottesville area private schools, please visit avenue.org:
- Blue Ridge School
- The Covenant School
- Charlottesville Catholic School
- Fork Union Military Academy
- Free Union Country School
- Living Education Center for Ecology & the Arts
- The Peabody School
- The Renaissance School
- St. Anne's-Belfield School
- Tandem Friends School
- Village School
Colleges & Universities
There is a long tradition of families moving to Virginia so their toddlers can grow up to attend state schools–and take advantage of lower in–state tuition, the state's college savings program, and living close to so many fine institutions of higher learning.
Of course, Charlottesville is perhaps best known as the home of the University of Virginia, which ranks consistently among the finest public universities in the nation (designed by Jefferson, it's also an historic landmark).
No wonder E-Podunk.com selected Charlottesville as the “Number 1 Best Small College Town.”
Within about an hour's drive are more than half a dozen colleges and universities, many with nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs–not to mention sports teams worth rooting for and cultural programs on a par with those in major metropolitan areas. Our regional institutions include:
- The University of Virginia
- Piedmont Virginia Community College
- Virginia Tech
- James Madison University
- Mary Baldwin College
- Sweet Briar College
- Washington & Lee University
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Blue Ridge Community College
- Bridgewater College
- Washington & Lee University
- Medical College of Virginia
- Shenandoah University and College of Health Science
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