Though the Nov. 8 Country Music Awards are now behind us, certain songs from this year’s winners continue to ring in our ears. Feeling particularly inspired by “Dirt on My Boots” by Jon Pardi (Best New Artist), “Better Man” by Little Big Town (Vocal Group of the Year) and “It Ain’t My Fault,” the Music Video of the Year, by Brothers Osborne (Best Vocal Duo), we developed a CMA-inspired road trip to Charlottesville, whose sites seem to bring these lyrics to life.
Jon Pardi’s “been up since the crack of dawn” and isn’t afraid to admit, “[I] might have a little dirt on my boots.” Home to numerous hiking and walking trails, you can follow in Pardi’s footsteps by catching the Charlottesville sunrise (Pardi’s latest album is called California Sunrise, but this option is a little a closer to home) at either Humpback Rocks or the Saunders-Monticello Trail.
For the latter, park at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s historic home located at 931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, and head to the two mile (one-way) walking trail that runs up Carter Mountain. The paved and wood-planked sidewalks make for a less-strenuous adventure.
You’ll find a short but strenuous climb at Afton’s Humpback Rocks, but the work is well worth the 3,000-foot view of the Shenandoah Valley.
After burning off some early-morning calories, you may find yourself “hoping it might turn sweet again, like it was in the beginning.” Little Big Town may have been singing about a relationship, but if you’re feeling wiped from your earlier workout, you might relate. Across the street, you can check out the Historic Downtown Mall for some food, shopping and sweet eats. Gearharts Fine Chocolate (243 Ridge McIntire Road, Charlottesville) offers truffles, candies, pastries and hot chocolate, plus views of the chocolate masters at work through large windows.
When you’re ready to kick back, relax and take a load off, you can do a little day drinking at a handful of breweries and distilleries.
Stop in for a whiskey tour and a tasting at the Virginia Distillery Company (299 Eades Lane, Lovingston) or, if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own bar crawl (though be sure to drive responsibly). Start at Blue Mountain Brewery (9519 Critzers Shop Road, Afton), then head over to Wild Wolf Brewing Company (2461 Rockfish Valley Highway, Nellysford) and end the day at Devils Backbone Brewing Company (200 Mosbys Run, Roseland). Each of these breweries offer samplers, seasonal beers and food.
In the words of Brothers Osborne, “blame the whiskey on the beer; blame the beer on the whiskey,” and find a place to stay the night. Some options include Arcady Vineyard Bed and Breakfast, The Inn at 400 West High and the Leathers-Snyder House.