Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Albemarle County, VA

  • Published 2022/11/16

Albemarle County is a county in the Piedmont region of Virginia.

Established in 1744, Albemarle County used to belong to Goochland County.

The city of Charlottesville is the county seat, an independent enclave entirely encircled by the county.

Charlottesville has earned the No. 22 spot on Livability’s list of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in the US in 2022.

It is home to several historical sites and features stunning natural scenery.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Albemarle County, Virginia.

Relive the Past at Monticello

Exterior of the Monticello

N8Allen /

Monticello, located at Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, Virginia, is the presidential residence and slave plantation of Thomas Jefferson.

It is open to tourists and features a museum, a cafe, and more.

The plantation originally spanned 5,000 acres in the Piedmont region of Virginia, not far from Charlottesville.

Entrance doors of the Monticello house

Daniel M. Silva /

The building has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark due to its historical and architectural value.

In addition, Monticello was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The current United States nickel displays a portrait of Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, on the reverse side.

The grounds of the Monticello

Andriy Blokhin /

The main house was designed by Jefferson using the Neoclassical style, and he continued to refine the architecture during his presidency.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation has painstakingly restored the mansion, gardens, and working plantation.

As a result, visitors will get a rare glimpse into the life and personality of the third president of the United States and the author of the Declaration of Independence.

A garden at the Monticello

Kim Kelley-Wagner /

Enjoy the Scenery at McIntire Park

As one of the city’s most frequented green spaces, McIntire Park features a playground, well-kept walking trails, and excellent outdoor sports facilities.

It is easily accessible from the U.S. Route 250 Bypass.

It has beautiful scenery, including mountains, woodlands, terrain, and flowing streams.

During the warmer months, the community frequently gathers at their three lighted baseball/softball fields.

The park is crisscrossed by a network of trails, both paved and unpaved, and the trail system is still growing.

There is ample picnic space, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, YMCA, and botanical garden are conveniently located nearby.

Take time to stroll through its open green spaces, enjoy a picnic with family, or watch a baseball game when you visit McIntire Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Play a Round of Golf at the Glenmore Club

The Glenmore Club first opened its doors in 1992.

They are in a quiet neighborhood of Charlottesville, Virginia, conveniently close to the city’s thriving art, dining and music districts.

Any resident of Glenmore or visitor to the area is welcome to become a member and use the freshly updated facilities.

The course is one of the most picturesque and challenging in the area.

Among the best in Virginia, Glenmore’s 18-hole course and ample practice facilities are among the best in the state.

Although the Club is in the middle of a private residential neighborhood, membership is open to anyone.

In addition to the world-class golf practice facilities, pool, tennis courts, and fitness center, members can enjoy special events and a relaxing atmosphere.

The clubhouse is quite lovely and provides delicious meals.

Stop by the Glenmore Club at Piper Way, Keswick, Virginia.

Visit the Carter Mountain Orchard

Signage of Carter Mountain Orchard and Country Store

Kristi Blokhin /

Carter Mountain Orchard is a year-round destination for those searching for fresh, locally grown fruit and delicious cider donuts.

From there, you can see the valley and its green forests below.

It is located on Carters Mountain Trail, Charlottesville, Virginia, close to the city center and Monticello.

The Prince Michel Wine Shop and the Bold Rock Hard Cider Cellar offer tastings, shopping, and lovely indoor and outdoor drinking areas ideal for unwinding and relaxing.

The Mountain Grill is open for lunch and concessions for evening events, providing heartier meals.

The Country Store and Bakery carries one-of-a-kind souvenirs and delectable treats, such as their world-famous apple cider doughnuts, pies, cider, and apple butter.

They have activities scheduled all year round.

The spring season begins with family fun and lives music activities.

The Carter Mountain Orchard is packed with delicious peaches throughout the summer.

As the weather cools, apple picking and pumpkin picking draw people.

When their season arrives, you can pick apples, peaches, nectarines, and veggies by hand.

Shoot Hoops at Washington Park

Although it’s relatively small at 9.25 acres, Washington Park is still a popular destination thanks to its wide range of amenities.

It’s in a great spot beside the Downtown Mall and easily accessible from Preston Ave. in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Paul Goodloe McIntire donated the site to the city for use as a park and playground in 1926.

It’s a great spot to swim, play softball or baseball, or shoot hoops.

It has a playground, restrooms, a leisure center with three-lit basketball courts, an outdoor pool, a wading area, and a bathhouse.

During the summer, Washington Park hosts the annual African-American Cultural Arts Festival.

The new playground and picnic shelter are now available thanks to the generosity of donors like the Dave Matthews Band.

In addition, a substantial contribution from the Perry Foundation paid for drainage, seeding, and grading during the third phase of Washington Park’s restoration.

It’s a great spot to spend time with loved ones or friends.

Stroll around Riverview Park

Rivanna river at Riverview Park

Gerry Bishop /

Riverview Park is a riverfront preserve spanning 27 acres and features a playground, picnic spots, and trails that may be used for walking and biking.

Riverview Park is a beautiful place to stroll or enjoy the fresh air and natural surroundings.

In addition, this charming park provides convenient access to the nearby Rivanna Trail.

The park features a two-mile paved section of the Rivanna Trail, which encircles Charlottesville.

This park is perfect for family picnics thanks to its spacious paved parking lot, kiosk, playground, seats, and open field.

In the spring and summer, the vast open areas are full of beautiful wildflowers that draw various butterflies.

It is also home to indigo buntings, whose high metallic chip sounds like that of the northern cardinal.

Look out into the water for any wood ducklings or muskrats swimming far from shore.

The Riverview Park on Chesapeake Street in Charlottesville, Virginia, is great for breathing fresh air and relaxing in a beautiful natural setting.

Play Disc Golf at Walnut Creek Park

Walnut Creek Park spans 525 acres and is home to several trails and recreational activities.

A massive artificial lake called Walnut Creek serves as its focal point, and the surrounding deciduous forest is quite varied in terms of species.

Located in North Garden, Virginia, this park was named “Best of the Best” by the Cville Weekly.

There are playgrounds, disk golf, charcoal girls, and picnic areas for everyone to enjoy.

The Walnut Creek Disc Golf Course winds around Walnut Creek Lake and offers breathtaking scenery as players pitch through fields, woodlands, and even across water.

See butterflies and other beautiful insects during the summer months.

Keep an eye on the park’s native Canadian geese and migrating waterfowl.

Explore the forest’s trails to see some local flora and creatures.

Gaze in awe at the nocturnal owl species that frequent the woods.

Walnut Creek Park is a nature lover paradise, and you can visit them at Walnut Creek Road, North Garden, Virginia.

Visit the Fralin Museum of Art

Exterior of The Fralin Museum of Art

SharpCrumbs, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia might be small, but it houses works from various cultures and periods.

This includes several items from the Thomas Jefferson collection.

Through the study, preservation, care, and celebration of art, the Fralin Museum of Art fosters a curious mind and supports a range of perspectives.

You can explore the entire museum in under half an hour, and there is no charge for admission.

The museum is exceptionally well-managed and neat.

Detailed and informative plaques accompany each piece of art.

Explore their art collections and exhibits or join programs available to visitors, students, and locals alike.

They are located at Rugby Rd, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Go Fishing at Mint Springs Valley Park

The 520-acre Mint Springs Valley Park in Crozet, Virginia, is a popular recreational area.

You can take advantage of the numerous miles of trails, the lakes for swimming and fishing, the playground equipment, and the picnic areas.

In addition, kids can take advantage of various play areas and equipment.

More than five miles of trails are available throughout the park, ranging from flat terrain near the lake to steeper inclines higher in the mountains.

However, before setting out on a trail, it’s a good idea to check the park map.

Mint Springs lakes once supplied the city of Crozet with potable water.

It is home to numerous fish, such as native bluegill, rainbow trout, and others.

Take in the sight of Buck Elbow Mountain, which towers over Mint Springs Valley by more than 2,000 feet.

Take a stroll through the park and see the majestic oak, poplar, and maple trees that line the trails.

This nature’s paradise is at Mint Springs Park Road, Crozet, Virginia.

Tour James Monroe’s Highland

Main house at James Monroe's Highland

Joseph Sohm /

Located just outside Charlottesville, James Monroe’s Highland is a historic structure, once the home of Founding Father and U.S. President James Monroe.

After purchasing the Highland property in 1793, Monroe and his family made it their permanent residence in 1799.

Cabins at James Monroe's Highland

Rob Pauley /

Monroe’s alma mater, the College of William & Mary, now owns, manages, and maintains the property.

The site chronicles historical figures and events that occurred throughout the formative years of American history.

Visiting the property includes a tour of the original home, the guesthouse, fields, former slave quarters, and livestock.

Curved road trail at James Monroe's Highland

Kristi Blokhin /

In addition, adult and youth groups can choose from several exciting group events at Highland, such as “Slavery at Highland,” “Founding Friendships,” “Rediscovering Highland,” and more.

Visit James Monroe’s Highland at James Monroe Pkwy, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Statue of James Monroe at James Monroe's Highland

Joseph Sohm /

Ride Your Bike at Preddy Creek Trail Park

After a short drive northeast of Charlottesville, Preddy Creek Trail Park features 571 acres of unspoiled forest.

When the park officially opened to the public in 2011, it featured 8.6 miles of trails used by hikers, riders, and cyclists.

The Preddy Creek Loop in this park is often regarded as the best mountain riding loop in the neighborhood.

The majority of the Preddy Creek Loop consists of vast, pleasant singletrack.

A few spots are rooted and rocky, but they’re short and manageable even on foot.

Even though there aren’t any significant elevation changes, this trail will keep you active.

If you’re looking for a relaxing ride, you’ll still have a great time on the trail.

Whether you spend the day on the saddle or foot, there’s something for everyone to do here.

The Preddy Creek Trail Park is at Burnley Station Rd, Charlottesville.

Swim at Crozet Park Aquatics & Fitness Center

The Crozet Park Aquatics & Fitness Center provides the entire community with various indoor and outdoor fitness opportunities.

They have a lap lane pool, lounging spots, a kiddie pool with a spray garden, and a poolside cafe.

Crozet’s local swim teams, including the Crozet Gators, use this facility for regular training.

Members can also take advantage of group workout classes, childcare, summer camps, events, swimming lessons, and other services within the facility.

You can join the aquatic exercise, Zumba, kettlebell training, and other mind-body programs.

Stop by the Crozet Park Aquatics & Fitness Center on Park Rd in Crozet, Virginia, and join their many additional offerings.

Stroll around Darden Towe Park

Maple trees at Darden Towe Park

Gerry Bishop /

Northern Charlottesville is home to Darden Towe Park, a 113-acre green space located on the east bank of the Rivanna River.

Some of the park’s recreational amenities include baseball fields, tennis courts, multi-purpose rectangular fields, and running trails.

In addition to a playground and restrooms, the park also features picnic tables, a dog park, and wheelchair access.

However, the sporting fields are the most well-liked and frequently visited amenities.

After exploring its many sports fields, stroll along the river and look above to spot woodpeckers and other migratory birds.

Keep an eye out for Canadian geese and other waterfowl along the river.

Summer is a great time to see the butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies flitting among the blossoms at Darden Towe Park.

Visit them at Darden Towe Park Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Revisit the Past at the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center

Tours and interactive exhibits on exploration are available at the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center in Darden Towe Park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Their interactive exhibits and programs are designed to pique visitors’ interest and encourage them to learn more.

These activities include map making, writing, painting, observing nature, carpentry, photography, and journaling.

The Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center opens by appointment, so reserve your slot beforehand.

The center was constructed on property that belonged to William Clark’s family.

The museum features both temporary and permanent displays that explore the local and national impact of Lewis & Clark’s expedition.

Private guides will show you around the exhibition hall and the full-size replicas of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s boats.

It also includes a historical walking tour of the trails by the Rivanna River.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Marvel at the Barboursville Ruins

Daytime view of the Barboursville Ruins

Acroterion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Barboursville Ruins is a historic brick home built by Thomas Jefferson that has been converted into a winery and vineyard.

The Barboursville Ruins are in Barboursville, Orange County, Virginia, 39 minutes from Albemarle County.

It’s the only known Thomas Jefferson-designed structure in the county.

They were designed and built for Jefferson’s friend and Virginia governor (1812–1814), James Barbour.

In the decades after Barbour’s death, Barboursville remained one of the most prestigious estates in Virginia.

Columns at the Barboursville Ruins

dmvphotos /

Italian winemaker Gianni Zonin bought the Barboursville estate in 1976 and repurposed it as the first commercial vineyard in the area.

Zonin’s efforts transformed the Barboursville ruins from a forgotten architectural masterpiece into a symbol of Virginia’s wine industry.

Over the past four decades, numerous guests have sipped award-winning wines while appreciating Jefferson’s surviving architectural relics.

They are located at Winery Road, Barboursville, Virginia.

Brick details of the Barboursville Ruins

dmvphotos /

Final Thoughts

The beautiful landscapes and rich history of Albemarle County make it the perfect place to unwind and expand your knowledge.

You will always find an exciting new adventure in this Virginia county.

Get ready for the best things to do in Albemarle County, Virginia!

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