6 Of Charlottesville's Best Hidden Gems

6 Of Charlottesville's Best Hidden Gems

Think you know Charlottesville? Check out these unique places.

Charlottesville is an incredible place. It has been named the best place to live by multiple publications, and it has also been named the happiest city in the country once. I am lucky enough to call it my home.

This little bright spot in central Virginia has many features that pull people from all over the world. The obvious things that attract people to Charlottesville are, of course, its historical landmarks. Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, remains a source of historical importance for historians and tourists alike. Jefferson's pride and joy, his University of Virginia at the Academical Village, is also a major draw for potential students, scholars, and researchers. The music scene has also been acclaimed as impressive for a small-scale town, attracting artists such as U2 and Paul McCartney in the last ten years. However, there are some parts of Charlottesville, lesser known to the general public, that truly make it a special place.

The Restaurants

Charlottesville has thousands of restaurants, most of which are very delicious, but there are a few hidden gems that are a MUST if you find yourself in 'The 'Ville.' Stroll the Downtown Mall and the Corner for some classic eateries. One of those can't-miss places is The Local, a rustic eatery in Belmont with a wide wine and beer list, as well as a menu constructed daily based on what is fresh. Another recommendation: Feast! on West Main Street. Feast! takes local sourcing to a new level, acquiring all their cheeses, meats, breads, and produce from exclusively local vendors. Plus, the paninis are a perfect construction of flavors that give you a healthy boost in the middle of your day.

Feast!'s artisan indoor offers fresh deli meats, cheeses, olive oils, and breads.

The Outdoors

People travel to Virginia with images of the Blue Ridge and Skyline Drive in their minds. Although most visitors only try out Humpback Rock, a hike that leads to a classic Skyline view, those with more time in Charlottesville should try out Crabtree Falls. It is a slightly more difficult hike with a more unique view: a cascading waterfall with foliage surrounding its structure. Be careful with this hike, though; at least one person every year dies from a mistake on this trail.

The Quirky Boutique Shops

There is an abundance of consumerism and quirky shops in Charlottesville, selling a wide range of things from pens to pants. For all your paper needs, highly suggest Rock Paper Scissors, a small paper supply store with unique stationary, cool local crafts, and other desk decorative objects. This store could suck you in for hours to look at different color tape. Another fun, quirky shop is Roxie Daisy, a home and kitchen store with fun little additions such as handmade cards and body lotion. The workers in here are also some of the nicest I have encountered. Finally, make it to Finch, a clothing boutique on the Corner with stylish jewelry and uniquely Virginia t-shirts and posters. Plus, it is right next to the heart of the University, at the Rotunda.

The interior of Rock Paper Scissors on the Downtown Mall.

The Culture

Charlottesville has this culture, central to its heritage, that makes it a very special place. The town loves the Virginia basketball team, and rallies behind all UVA sports. From the deeply alternative music scene, to Fridays After Five swing concerts, Charlottesville offers a variety of things to do on a warm night. Foxfield, the annual horse race in April and September, can be a fun family event or a crazy day of betting with friends. The opportunities are endless, and Mr. Jefferson's hidden gem awaits!

Cover Image Credit: http://static1.squarespace.com/

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.

Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.


Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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