We’ve stayed in a lot of campgrounds across and up and down the US (see where on this map!), and Misty Mountain Camp Resort in the village of Crozet, just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, is the nicest campground we’ve found–which is lucky for us, as we needed to stay there for more than six months while we didn’t have a “real” house. The spacious and scenic park offers every amenity and activity you can think of, and is split into two sections: the sunny, open lower park is bustling even on most low-season weekends, and up the hill it’s leafy and quieter. The long-term sites, where we parked, are up top, along with several small rental cabins and a larger cabin with a huge yard for tent campers and dog walkers.
We loved our peaceful retreat away from it all, but appreciated being able to walk down the hill for some action, and there’s a lot of action to choose from–check their site for details. It’s the best campground from which to visit Charlottesville, but it’s still a 20-minute drive to downtown. There’s another campground possibly a few minutes closer to town, but it’s more isolated than Misty Mountain, and it’s only open mid-March through mid-November. We haven’t camped there, but we drove through it to check it out; it’s quiet and leafy and looks like a nice place to stay if Misty Mountain is fully booked.
I can talk all day about things to see, eat, and drink in Charlottesville (maybe I will in a future post), but here I will focus on our west-of-town favorites we frequented while Misty Mountain residents.
Our go-to restaurant in Crozet was Fardowners. They have locally-sourced comfort food (it’s one of the few places I’ll eat a burger, since I know the small farm down the road where the cow lived), and a good local beer selection. Sitting at the cozy bar with a burger, tater tots, and Basic City beer from the next town over became our favorite way to spend a night out.
We liked Smoked Kitchen and Tap for the rare mix of top-notch meaty dishes and salads to please the non-meat eaters. Their cocktails are good, and they have a rooftop bar in addition to the airy restaurant space on the ground floor. Their burger won 2017 Dish of the Year from local food site The Charlottesville 29.
If we needed to do some work at a coffee shop, Grit Coffee in Old Trail was our choice for big tables, good coffee, and avocado toast.
Greenwood Grocery is literally next door to the campground, and it is everything you’d hope for in an upscale country store. Get a sandwich to take hiking, groceries for later, or sweets or gifts for yourself or some other lucky recipient.
For a fancier date night, head to Duner’s about ten minutes towards Charlottesville. They focus on local ingredients; I especially recommend their seafood dishes, and they have the BEST bread.
This part of Virginia is a drinker’s paradise for wine, beer, cider, and hard liquor enthusiasts. Check out the Monticello Wine Trail, the Brew Ridge Trail, and the Nelson 151 Trail for an overview of the many places to discover (and those lists don’t cover all the local options), and if you need help narrowing your options, here are our favorites in the Misty Mountain vicinity:
Basic City Beer Co. is just over the mountain in Waynesboro, a short drive from Misty Mountain. The taproom is huge with a bright seating area and space for live music, but more importantly, the beer is fantastic. The 6th Lord is one of J’s most favorite beers.
Blue Mountain Brewery is a rare brewery/restaurant combo that we actually love. On pretty days the outdoor area is packed full, for good reason, but since we lived nearby in the winter we would sit at the bar to enjoy the delicious beer and good food. Their pizza is SO good! Blue Mountain is super close to Misty Mountain.
We think the patio at Afton Mountain Vineyard has one of the loveliest setting of the vineyards in the area (and they’re basically all gorgeous), we love the wine, and we appreciate the smaller, cozy feel of the place compared to some of their big neighbors. It’s one of the two wineries we most often take visitors to show off our local vineyards.
King Family Vineyard is the other one we like to show off. If the weather permits, take a picnic and your dog and watch the horses grazing or exercising–or go for a Sunday polo game. King Family is just a few minutes’ drive from Misty Mountain.
We haven’t yet been to the recently-opened Septenary Winery, but its proximity to Misty Mountain cannot be beat: it’s pretty much right across the street. The gorgeous property is also home to a sustainable free-range duck and grass-fed cattle operation.
Western Albemarle County has some fantastic options for soft-surface running. When we lived at Misty Mountain, we loved running in these places:
Dick Woods Road is a low-traffic gravel road running for several miles starting close behind the campground and makes for a peaceful and adjustable out-and-back route.
Ridge Road is another quiet, rolling, gravel country road passing gorgeous horse farms along its approximately four mile length. It’s about a 15-minute drive from the campground.
Mint Springs Park is a trail running destination about a ten minute drive from the campground. It’s never crowded, the trails are well-maintained, but be careful because some of the trails go straight up the mountainside!
Sugar Hollow offers hikes from a local reservoir; you can choose to go up the South Fork Trail past the Blue Hole swimming hole to the AT and back for about 8 miles total, or visit a couple waterfalls on the 4.5-mile North Fork Trail. These trails are dog-friendly and very popular on warm days; we loved running here on less-populated winter weekdays.
The Heritage Trail at Boar’s Head Resort is about a four-mile out-and-back through the woods behind the sports club, skirting the golf course, and connecting with trails in a neighboring park (where running is only allowed on certain trails).
Misty Mountain sits at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just outside the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, with hiking opportunities abounding. There are a million places to explore, but we think these are some of the best trails close to the campground.
Humpback Rocks is the closest and most bang-for-the-buck hike: either a 2-mile out (rather, straight up) and back, or make it a 4.2 mile loop, or add a couple miles on the AT and pick up a couple extra vistas (they’re not as impressive as Humpback, but have way fewer people). We also loved this as a trail run on those winter weekdays when nobody was around. Be warned, Humpback can be packed on a sunny weekend day.
St Mary’s Falls is a little farther away, but a less-traveled wilderness trail along and across a river, to beautiful falls. Be prepared to get your feet wet. This is a fantastic hike for a water-loving dog! It’s a flat four miles round trip.
The Priest is a tough 8.5-mile out-and-back hike through pretty woods with big views. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Misty Mountain, and on the way home you can reward your hard work with a beer and snack at one of the fabulous breweries on Rt 151.
The Charlottesville area should definitely be on your to-visit list, and Misty Mountain is where you should park your home while you’re there. Let us know if you have questions about visiting; we love to talk about our favorite place!