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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville

Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches 
 
At ActiveTravels, we often assist clients who seek to add "fun" to the slog of college visits with offspring. We recommend activities to do and great restaurants to try, and, of course, we arrange good hotels to rest your weary feet. Several years ago, when my daughter Sophie and I were trekking across NY State on a spring break college tour, we spent time at the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, and ate at the award-winning Revelry in Rochester. Today, I have a chance to tell you about Charlottesville, Virginia, for those of you who may tour the University of Virginia. 
 
In late June, my sister and I drove our 90-year-old mother from New York City to Charlottesville to visit her 89-year-old sister (who relocated there recently). We had a narrow window for the trip before my mother traveled to Vermont with a friend for a long-scheduled series of classical music concerts, and before my aunt left for yet another scuba diving expedition in the Cayman Islands. Nothing slows these women down! 
 
Once in Charlottesville, we enjoyed two main adventures. First, we spent a lovely several hours at Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards, just outside of town. I read about it ahead of time: "The picturesque vineyards and Winery Tasting Room are pure magic. But the real highlight is top-notch lunch cuisine on the veranda - with a bountiful cheese plate and big deck chairs, the setup is straight out of a magazine." Sounded right up our alley! We indulged while overlooking the green, very lush hills and fields, tasted several wines (our favorite was their Viognier), and ate delicious salads and smoked fish. "Farm-to-table" is a familiar expression these days; now, there's "vineyard-to-table," too. There are many wineries within ½ hour of Charlottesville, including one owned by Dave Matthews
 
The next day, we set out to explore Shenandoah National Park, established in 1935. The scenic Skyline Drive is a prominent feature of the Park, and we drove it to the highest point, where we stopped for lunch at Skyland Resort (originally called Stony Man Camp, built in 1895). The origins of this beautiful Park are not completely benign, however. Hundreds of "mountain people" were moved off their land by the government after it was deemed by so-called "experts" that they were "steeped in ignorance, wrapped in self-satisfaction and complacency, possessed of little or no ambition." Segregation also reared its ugly head when the park debuted. We viewed a very interesting exhibit on segregated picnic areas within Shenandoah National Park. All sites in the Park, except one, were "whites only," and this lasted through the 1940s. 
 
Sadly, we missed the vibrant theater scene in Charlottesville (my cousin Dan is almost always in a show: this summer, he's in "Harvey," with the professional Heritage Theatre Festival). If you are passing through Charlottesville, that's another big plus. Monticello (Jefferson) and Montpelier (Madison), historic Presidential homes, are nearby. Let ActiveTravels know if you are headed to Charlottesville, or, really, to any college town, and we can help design a Dream Day Itinerary!
 
Caption: Vineyard View at Pippin Hill Farm

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 07/12/18 at 05:59 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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