Charlottesville is the perfect place for arts and culture, but also nature. There are a plethora of trails, rivers, mountains, and hollows to explore. If you’re the type of person who needs to recharge your batteries in the outdoors, Charlottesville will seem like an endless playground to you. However, because there are so many unique trails in the area suitable for all ages and experiences, we’re going to explore some of the more unique options available. Whether you live in C’ville or are just visiting, the following activities are some true gems that are worth experiencing again and again.

Ever considered hot air ballooning? There are several popular hot air balloon tours in Albemarle County, and every one of them has received glowing reviews for performance and safety. The most popular is Monticello Country Ballooning. Its pilots are beyond experienced, and not only provide you with a memory to last a lifetime, but pictures too! The views are stunning up there. See mountains divide clouds; see farm fields and rectangular pastures stretch into the horizon; and gaze upon church steeples and stone cottages as they miniaturize to toy-size proportions. It’s a different experience all seasons of the year, and can be enjoyed every time you make the journey!  

For golfers, there’s the Birdwood Golf Course at Boar’s Head Inn. Considered by many to be the best in the state, Birdwood is challenging yet rewarding. With hidden creeks, numerous elevation changes and necessary precision shots, not to mention one of a kind, 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this course will make you grit your teeth and sigh at the same time. It’s little wonder it’s a worldwide destination in the fall, where its autumnal shades of fire make even the most die-hard summer enthusiasts thankful for the harvest moon. Why and how it is so affordable is a question for the ages. Just don’t ruin it for the rest of us and ask management.

Last is Carter Mountain Orchard. Drive up the long and winding path to the peak of Carter Mountain, and the first things you’ll notice are the wonderful views of the Virginia Piedmont and the Shenandoah Valley. Once your heart’s settled, get an empty bag from the country store and take a stroll through the peach and apple orchards. Let yourself relax and wander. Once you’ve picked your fill, you may decide to stay a little while. Good choice! Back at the country store, you can get a glass of local wine or hard cider (made from Carter Mountain’s fruit), a case of freshly made apple-cider doughnuts, or, if you’re stomach’s growling, a hefty BBQ sandwich or wrap. Also, from May until late September, every Thursday evening is live music night. It’s great for a date or the whole family!

There are so many outdoor activities to do in Charlottesville. If you’re paying for cable, stop. It’s time to go outside and explore. Adventure awaits.