Spent a weekend in Charlottesville, VA. Yes. The Deep South. Confederate flags and all!
We stayed at the Econo Lodge. It was $70 a night and felt like it. The package came with squeaky beds and audible upstairs neighbors having a lovely evening which immediately bumped up my rating of the place. I don’t mute Keeping Up with the Kardishians for just anything. Live entertainment is always better then TV.
Charlottesville doesn’t seem like much of a food destination. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing memorable either. We ate at Bodo’s Bagels, Firefly, Mellow Mushroom, and Mellow Mushroom again. Granted, that’s not much of a sample size.
We also visited a brewery bar – Three Notch’d Brewery.
Good beers. I learned that I’m not a fan of very very hoppy beers. Of the ones we tasted, Jazz Fest (sugar cane and pecan ale) was our favorite. You can definitely taste the pecans. Hydraulion Red was number 2. It was just a very balanced beer that was a little bit caramelly sweet. And number 3 was Jack’s Java Espresso Stout. It definitely tasted of coffee. Probably our least fave was Ghost of the 43rd American Pale Ale. It tasted of hops, hops, and more hops.
Our two main attractions while visiting Charlottesville were the McCormick Observatory and the Paramount Theater’s children’s musical, Alice in Wonderland.
The Observatory was a long line where each person got to take a peek through the giant telescope to see Jupiter and 3 of its moons – Io, Callisto, and Europa.
It was mostly for historical purposes, just to get an idea of how people in the late 19th century studied the stars. Nowadays there are more advanced telescopes (Kepler/Hubble) that sit in outer space. The experience included a good bit of waiting in line while a staff member gave each person a few quick seconds of a look. I love looking at outer space things. They’re kind of magical and beautiful.
The Paramount Theater is in “downtown” Charlottesville. The performance of Alice in Wonderland was given by the Missoula Children’s Theatre by local children in the area. The company brings the props, a director and other staff and they audition local children and rehearse for about a week and put on the low budget show. It was pretty cute to watch kids (I’m guessing they were K-12) running and dancing around the stage in costumes. It was as cute as one can imagine. Little kids dressed as lobsters and singing flowers. They waved to their moms, forgot their lines, tripped and stumbled, mumbled their lines and missed some cues. Pretty adorable stuff! Still, even though it was all rather sweet it felt more like something the family or friend of a performer would enjoy more.
And what is a trip without some shopping? I started out at the conventional shops. Ann Taylor. Banana Republic. I didn’t find anything I liked that much. Then while we were at the Paramount Theater, I overheard a mom raving about their local Goodwill stores. She said the best time to shop is when all the university students leave for the summer. I mentally smacked my head, duh! Of course the Goodwill store. So after the play and lunch we went to a Goodwill store.
I got these 4 items for $16! One still had the tag attached and one was a pink cashmere sweater that appeared unworn.
Foodwise – I’m not sure I need to bother talking about Bodo’s Bagels or Firefly. They were both decent but nothing stand-out. The best place we ate was Mellow Mushroom which is why we went there twice. The first time was better than the second though. My first impression was, hey, this is comparable to Lost Dog Pizza here. I got a mushroom hoagie.
It was mostly bread, but with a good dollop of marinara sauce, it was decent. Some red onions would have made it even better. On the plus side, it came out very hot and the bread was nicely toasted.
The second time we went, I wanted to try their pizza. So I got a veggie pizza with no cheese.
Here’s what I got. Looked and smelled good but tasted bland and dry. This is a vegan pizza made by non-vegans. They don’t consider that without cheese, it needs something more to add flavor or moisture. This thing needed oil or a lot more marinara sauce to help improve the lack of cheese situation. This just isn’t a pizza. I realize this isn’t fair to Mellow Mushroom. They sell traditional pizza and I turned it into this monstrosity by choice. So when I opine that it’s sub-par to Lost Dog, I took those particular dings out of the equation. What makes Lost Dog better is the crust, which is thinner and lighter (less dense doughy-ness), the marinara sauce, and more even distribution and generous portions of toppings. To boot, LD on a busy day churns out their food a lot faster than MM on a quiet day. Mellow Mushroom can hack it in Charlottesville but I’m not rushing to go to any of the locations here.
The one place that showed a lot of promise that we didn’t get to was Bluegrass Bar & Grill. The waiting time for lunch was an hour!! After no breakfast, and an hour of hot yoga, we decided to head back to Mellow Mushroom instead of waiting.
The surprising highlight of our weekend turned out to be attending 2 yoga classes. I planned them as time fillers. These were heated vinyasa flow classes and I came out of there totally soaked through with sweat and feeling calm and energized.
And what is a trip to C-ville without a visit to TJ’s UVA?
Yes, this is The Rotunda. It’s under repair.