Nestled amid the foothills of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains and about a hundred miles South of Washington, D.C., the greater Charlottesville region offers visitors a thriving community and vanguard of arts and culture that's both boldly innovative and grounded in rich tradition.
Just beyond city lines, quiet rolling hills and family farms complement city life within Albemarle County's more than 700 square miles of vibrant natural beauty, including Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive and abundant history and heritage.
This juxtaposition of urban and rural creates a rich diversity that is the lifeblood of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. You see it in the restaurants, where talented chef-owners can go plate-to-plate with any major American city, blending traditional fare and regional favorites with flavors and influences from around the globe.
You hear it in the variety of music echoing from the Charlottesville Pavilion or Batesville Country Store, where free concerts fill the air with salsa, bluegrass and every genre in between.
But that richness doesn't end with music and food - it's a reflection of the entrepreneurial spirit that shapes life here, dating back to the area's most famous son, Thomas Jefferson.
In 1776, Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence. Today, residents and visitors write their own declarations on the Downtown Mall's Freedom of Expression Wall, a stretch of dark granite covered daily with the messages, art and manifestos of passersby.
In Jefferson's day, Charlottesville and Albemarle County were dominated by agriculture, and that legacy continues today in small farms raising organic crops and free-range livestock. Orchards dot the region, and a 200-year tradition of winemaking now produces some of the most honored and acclaimed wines on the East Coast.
At the same time, Charlottesville is an enclave of academia as home to the University of Virginia, consistently ranked one of the nation's top public universities, with world-leading programs in business, law and English and a leading medical center. More than 20,000 UVA students infuse the area with youthful energy, new ideas and culture.