College Towns: Charlottesville, Virginia

Learn more about Charlottesville, Virginia - Home of the University of Virginia.

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The Town: Charlottesville, Virginia

Situated along the Rivanna River at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville was rated the No. 1 place to live in the United States by Frommer’s travel guide. Located near the middle of the Atlantic coast, Charlottesville enjoys four distinct seasons, though winters stay relatively mild with minimal snowfall. The city has 43,475 residents.

The School: University of Virginia (UVA)

The University of Virginia is an elite academic institution, with a student population of 20,000 (13,000 undergraduate, 7,000 graduate) that’s modest for a state-funded institution. Among the student body, 90 percent of students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, the school’s early board members included three former presidents: Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Jefferson and Monroe lived in the town.

Many of the school’s buildings, designed by Jefferson himself, feature octagonal forms and Corinthian columns, two of the defining characteristics of “Jeffersonian” architecture.

Many of the school’s buildings, designed by Jefferson himself, feature octagonal forms and Corinthian columns, two of the defining characteristics of “Jeffersonian” architecture. The heart of the campus lies in the lawn, a grassy terrace surrounded by various residential and academic buildings, headlined by the Rotunda, a building that resembles the Pantheon.

UVA athletics teams, nicknamed the Cavaliers, have won multiple national championships in men’s and women’s lacrosse as well as men’s soccer.

What to Do

Two primary streets mark the center of student activity on UVA’s campus. University Avenue features the Corner, where you do some daytime shopping or nighttime barhopping. Rugby Road is home to all of the fraternity and sorority houses.

Venture off-campus to the Downtown Mall, an urban park with more than 150 shops, bars and restaurants. In the area is the Paramount Theater, featuring the best local performers in productions year-round.

One of the unique traditions of UVA is its many secret societies, which includes the Seven society, Eli Banana, the Purple Shadows and the Z Society.

Where to Eat

If you’re in the Downtown Mall, make sure you grab a slice (or an entire pie) at Christian’s, consistently rated as the best pizza in town. It’s the perfect place to grab a quick bite while you’re shopping.

For those who are looking to get a little more adventurous, Shebeen serves traditional African cuisine, focusing on the traditional foods of South Africa.

Did You Know?

The Dave Matthews Band was founded and resides in Charlottesville.

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