Fun Local Options for Summer Outings and Adventures

Summer means vacation for many, as well as days off of school for those with families. Travel is an option, but it can be exhausting and expensive, and many choose to stay regional for the summer. There is so much to enjoy and explore right around Charlottesville! A staycation is budget friendly and far less stressful than planning a big trip, especially if you have limited days off from work. Our community is lucky to have incredible nature and vibrant cultural offerings at its fingertips. From art and music galore to exceptional cuisine and family-friendly swimming holes, we have plenty of local options for summer outings. If you want a day or weekend trip you can easily go east to Richmond, Williamsburg, or Virginia Beach; North to DC; west to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, or any direction for some amazing hiking or swimming in several of our lovely state’s parks.

These fun local options for days off are a great way to connect with your community, and many are also fun ways to get exercise in. Pack up some healthy to go snacks, electrolyte chews/coconut water, all natural sunscreens, insect repellents, and get out there! 

Read on for some fun local options for days off, evenings, weekends, and general summer outings. These are great activities for families, young adults, and even to try solo. Some are also fun with your canine bestie! 

Carter’s Mountain Thursday Evening Sunset Series

This local tradition is a favorite. Come for dinner, apples, apple donuts, peach ice cream, wine, live music, and sometimes hayrides, and stay for the sunset. Best of all, it’s free admission with lots of free parking! More information can be found here. Pack a picnic or buy dinner/dessert there, bring your lawn chairs/blankets and bring your family (including well-behaved dogs) and friends. Even if you have to work the next day, you’ll feel like you got away from the hustle and bustle of life for a night.

First Fridays Art Exhibitions

Downtown’s art scene takes a festive turn on the First Friday of every month. These nights, reserved for art openings, are also something of a party. Galleries open their doors for extended hours to celebrate new exhibitions. We’re lucky to have galleries that exhibit talented artists from near and far. Even if you’re not an “art person,” per se, you may enjoy the revelry, or find something unexpected. For additional arts programming, check out McGuffey Arts Center

Fridays After 5 at the Downtown Mall Pavilion

One of the highlights of the Downtown Mall’s cultural programming, Fridays After 5 is a summertime concert series tradition. Charlottesville has boasted a buzzing music scene for decades, come hear it for yourself! Click here to find this season’s programming.  There are food, beer, and wine trucks and the eclectic dining options of the Downtown Mall are a short walk away.  Or bring your own food and seating. You can also enjoy the free seating in the shade of the Pavillion. Dancing optional, people-watching essential.

Swimming and Outdoor Summer Outings

Take a dip at one of our local city pools, lakes, or rivers. Pack up a cooler and opt for a lazy and indulgent tubing trip down the Rivanna or James River. Walnut Creek Park or Mint Springs in Crozet are other options that give you a lazy day playing in a lake! Sugar Hollow provides fun hikes and river dipping.  Onesty Pool is a fun, close option with kids. For a guide to some of Virginia’s best lakes for boating and water sports, click here

Summer Hikes

Our region is a day hiker’s heaven! There are wide-ranging options in terms of intensity and distance. Some local favorites include Sugar Hollow, Ivy Creek, Monticello Trail, Old Rag Mountain, Humpback Rocks, and more. Many of these hikes are also friendly for the whole family and dogs. Don’t forget your bug repellant for any ventures into the woods. An added perk of a hike is the gorgeous scenery you’ll see on your road trip there. Put on some good tunes and enjoy cruising our stunning region!  Don’t forget your water, electrolytes, sunscreen, and a sunhat!

Local winery and brewery events

Did you know that our area in Virginia is actually the birthplace of American wine?  Thomas Jefferson introduced wine to the U.S. and was passionate about grape growing and winemaking. The Monticello Trail includes 35+ wineries and you can tour on your own or take one of the local tours that drives you to a selection of vineyards in the area. We’ve no shortage of local breweries and cider makers in the surrounding area either and you can explore on your own or find a tour! Most wineries, breweries, and cideries have tastings and tours. In the summer, many of them offer fun evening and weekend events.  Some welcome your kids and dogs as well so check before you go. 

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of what’s on tap locally, but it should be enough to inspire some adventures! Keep your ears and eyes on the local radio stations and weeklies, as there are so many special events throughout the summer. Come to Rebecca’s first to stock up on your snacks, eco-friendly dishware, and utensils, sunscreen, insect repellents, Flipside Sunhats and drinks for a fun picnic wherever you go!