Best Places to Live

Charlottesville, VA

Population: 45,084
Photo Courtesy of University of Virginia

Why It's a Great Place to Go to College: If you’re a history buff, you’ll remember (or be super stoked to learn) that Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819. The university is consistently ranked one of the best public universities in the country for its top-notch degree programs, groundbreaking research and affordability. UVA’s 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students are spread out across 11 schools, and the campus also has a prestigious academic medical center. When they’re not busy with coursework, student groups and other activities, students like to cheer on the university’s 27 Division I athletic teams, which are part of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Why It's a Great Place to Live (Even If You're Not a Student): Even if you aren’t sporting orange and blue all the time (UVA’s team colors), Charlottesville is a top place to live. Why? There are endless outdoor recreation options, including cycling, hiking, kayaking, running and more. And for those who prefer a more relaxed pace, there’s the Monticello Wine Trail with more than 35 vineyards. Plus, Charlottesville has tons of craft breweries and orchards growing everything from apples to cherries.

What Sets It Apart From Other College Towns: What other college town can boast that it was home to our nation’s third president and one of its founding fathers? Charlottesville and the surrounding areas practically ooze history, and yet, the community is also modern and fun.

Iconic Pizza Place: Benny Delucas

Brunch Spot: The Pigeon Hole

Tailgating Must-Have: Clothes to match the “guys in ties, girls in pearls” dress code (though the longstanding tradition of dressing up for UVA games has largely given way to orange t-shirts and jerseys at Scott Stadium).

Shopping Street: The Downtown Mall on Main Street

Best Local Hangover Cure: The "Smokey Joe" breakfast sandwich at Bluegrass Grill & Bakery. 

Best Place to Grab a Cheap Beer: Boylan Heights

Local Dream Job: Director of gardens and grounds for Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s primary plantation. It’s now a museum, research center, presidential library and World Heritage Site.