Charlottesville can be an intimidating visit for Georgia Tech fans. Despite the history between Georgia Tech and Virginia being relatively even with Tech having 21 wins, Virginia having 20, and 1 tie; Georgia Tech has struggled going on the road to Charlottesville. Going back to the 90’s, when Tech began regularly scheduling Home-Away Matchups against Virginia, through modern day GT has won 3 of the 15 games they’ve played in Charlottesville. For all those struggles on the road Tech has traditionally done better at home, but that doesn’t make facing the Cavs on their home turf any less intimidating.
That said Charlottesville is a beautiful area with a storied history. Some may not know this but Monticello and the University of Virginia is a UNESCO World Heritage site which is well renowned for its importance to American history. Regardless of your expectations game I highly recommend going just to see and learn about American history.
Before I continue I would like to thank Jay Pierce at Streaking the Lawn for some of the insight he provided me in assisting to write this article. Please check out some of his work. Now on with the blog.
Travel How To: Getting from Atlanta to Charlottesville
While Charlottesville does have an airport, it is not a major one. This means flights are going to be difficult to find and expensive when you do come by them. The next closest flight is to Richmond, which is about an hour drive away. With that said, let’s go back to the tried and true method of driving.
The drive to Charlottesville from Atlanta will take between 8 to 9 hours depending on the route you take. Going up I-85 and then transferring to US-29 near Danville is the shortest route, clocking in at about 8 hours of straight driving. This route will take you by Lynchburg (no, not that Lynchburg) and give you a view of some of the national parks as you drive through. This is the way I recommend going but there are two other routes.
Another route is to take I-85 to Charlotte, NC, and then transfer to I-81. This route will take you through the more mountainous areas of North Carolina and Virginia. The drive takes about 30 minutes longer, but you will get to drive past Blacksburg and Roanoke (no, not that Roanoke).
The last route is to take I-85 all the way up. This is the longest route, and I have never taken it before. It’ll take you through Farmville (no, not that Farmville) and seems to be the smoothest ride for your vehicle.
Places to Stay
We’re not at Duke anymore, which means we’re back to having hotels book up full on Gamedays. When I checked, all the major hotels were booked up in Charlottesville for this weekend, and the ones that weren’t booked up were $400 + a night. Gameday housing is limited for both hotels and Airbnb, so be ready to spend some money. This might not be too bad for a graduate, but definitely out of the price range for current students.
If you’re a student driving up, one choice would be to make a weekend of things. Drive to Richmond and stay there for a lower price the day before and drive up to UVA the next day. It does make exploring more complicated but this will hopefully limit the strain on your wallet. If you do want to pick a hotel, let’s look at some of the better options:
The Graduate is a modern hotel with a great location near UVA campus. The Graduate has a rooftop bar with a fantastic view of the town and the Virginia foothills. overall the aesthetic gives The Graduate more of a homey vibe than a vacation getaway. It’s more expensive (relative to the other costs) but a great stay.
The Quirk Hotel is farther away from UVA and closer to Charlottesville’s downtown mall and food scene. The Quirk has a hip stylization where it tries to impart how unique the hotel location is. Some rooms offer balconies, and most include multiple room sections with kitchens. This is a fancier location if you’re more interested in looking around downtown.
The Omni Hotel is a name people in Atlanta might be familiar with. The Omni is a high-class hotel which is also closer to all the downtown hotspots instead of the campus. A comfortable stay if you’re looking to explore the area.
Things to See: Monticello, Downtown, and the Campus
As I stated earlier, there is all kind of history in Charlottesville. The biggest piece of history is Monticello. Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s main estate. If you want to know what it looks like, see if you can find a nickel, as the main house at Monticello is depicted on the back (then again, Google may be more accessible than a nickel in this day and age). The main house still contains its original furnishings, and you can find Jefferson’s grave in the graveyard. For those interested in U.S. history the site is a must-visit.
UVA itself is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Rotunda and Lawn are Jefferson’s original grounds for the university, so be sure to check them out.
The same dorm rooms along the lawn that students have inhabited since 1819 still exist and fourth-year students can apply to live there. In the words of Jay Pierce, “The phrase ‘sense of place’ gets used a lot to describe the Lawn and UVA – I can’t think of a better way to put it.”
The Downtown area of Charlottesville has plenty of restaurants and breweries worth checking out. Some of the big names for the list are Bodo’s Bagels, who serve breakfast all day and are well known for their bagels. Mas is a Tapas restaurant downtown which specializes in Spanish food and amazing wine selections. Maya Restaurant has a great selection of modern Southern food. Citizen Burger Bar is more of a casual spot if you want to go somewhere with burgers that also has a good beer selection and plenty of TVs to watch football on.
Some of the well known breweries are Champion Brewing Company, Three Notch’d Brewing, and South Street Brewery. There are also tons of wineries within the foothills worth checking out when you explore the spots around the city.
The Fanbase: Gameday Traditions
I’m not a UVA fan, meaning I have less experience with their traditions, so once again I am going to quote Jay Pierce directly since he puts it into words better than I can:
Tailgating on the Lawn is UVA’s most picturesque gameday tradition. While you’ll find plenty of activity in the parking lots of Scott Stadium pregame, the students and UVA community will pack the Lawn for a more sophisticated and historically significant place to drink out of solo cups. You might even see some silver Jefferson Cups in use.
If you’re new to UVA football (or to the team actually scoring points), you might not have heard us sing The Good Old Song before. While every football team has its post-score celebrations and fight songs—in classic UVA fashion of doing things differently—we celebrate with a slow, swaying, tune usually reserved for stumbled renditions on New Year’s Eve. It’s perfect.
UVA can be a tough visit, because you walk in knowing there is maybe a 20% chance GT walks in based on the history from the past few decades. That said, it is a trip worth making. Charlottesville is a city filled with fun people, history, and plenty of activities to enjoy outside of the game. It’s a trip all GT fans should make once in their life. I hope you enjoy your time up there, and who knows maybe the Jackets will win more than once this decade. Go Jackets!!!