Summer Travel: A Philadelphian’s Guide to Vacationing in Charlottesville
If you missed luxury, head south for lush vineyards, fine dining, and just the right amount of excess in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Less than five hours southwest of Center City, there’s a swank sanctuary in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally built in 1912, Keswick Hall (rates from $600) reopened last fall after a multimillion-dollar renovation by locals Molly and Robert Hardie. Out went dated Laura Ashley prints in favor of elegant guest rooms reimagined in an airy color palette, some with terraces from which to take in the sweeping mountain views.
Luxury is in the abundant common spaces — the adults-only infinity pool with cabanas; a snug library and billiards room that channels a fancy friend’s country home. (There’s a family pool, too, for those with kids in tow.) But it’s also in the tiniest details, like the Red Flower bath amenities custom-made to incorporate local blossoms from the Hardies’ nearby farm and the made-in-house chocolates that appear via nightly turndown service.
While you’re here, make time for dinner at on-site Marigold by Jean-Georges, for classics from the famed French chef (black truffle pizza) alongside dishes featuring the local bounty. Play a match at the red clay tennis courts, or visit the spa, set to open this summer.
It’s tough to leave, for sure, but venture off-property to Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, to taste sustainably made wine and take an estate tour — and stay for a cooking class. Led by chef Ian Rynecki and certified horticulturist Diane Burns, you can visit the honeybee colonies, harvest ingredients, and learn a few of Rynecki’s tricks while whipping up dinner — paired with wine, of course.
Make time for a scenic cruise along Skyline Drive, which runs for more than 100 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spend an afternoon strolling the boutique-lined Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall. Admire the collection of paintings and photographs at the Fralin Museum of Art, stopping on the way at MarieBette for financiers and other French baked treats.
If you’re in town on the first or third Friday of the month, reserve a free ticket for public nights at the Leander McCormick Observatory, where you can listen to an astronomer’s presentation and peer through a historic 26-inch refractor telescope to see the stars.
Published as “If You Missed Luxury…” in the June 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.