By Adrienne West
A short two-hour trip from NoVA, Charlottesville is brimming with both history and innovation and is the home to three founding fathers, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the University of Virginia. Local vineyards and farms are now the backdrop to tech companies, and the Tom Tom Founders Festival has capitalized on that. A “Mardi Gras for innovators,” the festival is a celebration of great minds, food pioneers and inspired artists and musicians.
The fifth annual Tom Tom Founders Festival takes over the pedestrian-only Downtown Mall this week with events throughout the mall’s eight tree-lined blocks. More than 50 events are planned, ranging from workshops and summits to demos, concerts and block parties. Whether your interests lie in the foodie world, the quick-paced entrepreneurial and tech worlds or the creative music and art scenes, you won’t want to miss one thing on display. This “celebration of creative founding” will inspire and feed you, both in mind and body. // Downtown Mall, Water and Main Streets
When you’ve taken in all you can at the festival, hop on Charlottesville’s free trolley service that loops through the major areas of town.
While you’re there, make sure to:
Tour the grounds of the University of Virginia for an hour and learn about its historical transformation into one of the best academic institutions in the country. Then walk to the campus’s Fralin Museum. // 160 McCormick Road
View a head-spinning amount of beautiful works at U.Va.’s Fralin Museum of Art, currently showing very diverse exhibits: the cultural significance of feathery and finned creatures, graphic prints by a contemporary artist, intricately woven Navajo textiles and more. // 155 Rugby Road
Listen to almost any type of music and eat some amazing fare at a number of venues downtown. Hear traditional Irish music performed by locals every Tuesday evening at the Tin Whistle Irish Pub (609 E. Market St.). Indie and alternative music flows out of The Southern Café and Music Hall most evenings, with traditional Southern food and smoked meats for lunch and dinner (103 S. First St.). At The Whiskey Jar, feast on the farm-to-table dishes while you relax to folk, bluegrass or Americana musicians (227 W. Main St.).
Taste a slew of beers on a Cville Hop on Tour four-hour bus tour of the city’s finest craft breweries, including 20 different tastings at three hot spots. // 946 Grady Ave
Play around with the kids at the 67th annual Charlottesville Dogwood Festival where carnival rides, food and events offer lots of fun choices for the whole family. // 1400 Melbourne Road
Swing away at the beautiful Meadowcreek Golf Course, recently named one of the best courses by Golf Digest magazine. // 1400 Pen Park Road
Sleep in Southern comfort in the Omni Charlottesville Hotel, found at the end of the Downtown Mall, and be right in the action the next day. // 212 Ridge McIntire Road