A Weekend Getaway with The Graduate Charlottesville
This past weekend, my husband Andrew and I took a little spontaneous getaway. Back in October, The Graduate hotel reached out and offered us a stay at either their Richmond or Charlottesville locations. Things were pretty hectic at the time, but post Thanksgiving and prior to Christmas, we both had this past weekend free and knew it was the perfect time for a quick weekend away from the city and out into nature.
Since the whole point of our weekend was to relax, we made it out of Richmond around 11:30 AM, grabbed a quick lunch at a nearby outdoor mall and then headed to The Graduate for an early check in around 2 PM (standard check is is 3 PM, but we were told early check is usually fine if you call ahead).
We promptly headed up to our room, broke into the snacks they left us, changed into comfy clothes, and kicked back in the king size bed. We watched TV, read, drank good beer, took a nap, and generally just kicked back for a few hours until it was time to dress for dinner.
Pro tip: pack your best loungewear and get comfy! I purchased this Natori robe and love how soft it is.
For dinner, the staff made us reservations at Heirloom. So we dressed and went! It seemed a little odd to get dressed up for a hotel dinner, but the atmosphere and crowd was just like any restaurant crowd and we fit right in. Alcoholic beverages weren't included in our complementary stay, so we brought up a bottle of super legit beer (we both love sours and fermented ales) and had them uncork it for us. We ordered the brussels as an app and they were by far the best we've ever had - and we've had a lot of brussels. Dijon mustard and Whitley's peanuts from Virginia were the secret sauce and I totally plan on replicating this. We BOTH ordered the steak and fries because, I mean... who passes up on steak?? They were out of the chocolate ganache, but back in the room I finished out the dark chocolate that came in our snack basket (also available down at the Sheep Dog cafe!).
Pro tip: BYOB and have the staff uncork your very own wine or beer.
We are not late nighters, so after dinner we settled in for more relax time and were asleep by 9:30 - after all, we had an early call time to head out and hike a trail in the Shenandoah National Park. I woke up at 5:30 (work week habits die hard), so I read for a bit and then headed down for coffee at the Sheepdog Cafe (opens at 6:30) which had an array of pastries, sandwiches, fruit, and coffee. Around 7 we packed up the room and both grabbed breakfast AND lunch from the cafe - breakfast sandwiches with Lumi juices and an extra sandwich because we knew we would be hungry after our hike!
Pro tip: order your breakfast and then lunch to go so that you have a hearty sandwich to chow down on after your outdoor excursion!
From The Graduate, it was a relatively short drive (about 30-40 mins) to the Riprap Trail we planned to hike. We weren't prepped for the full 9 mile version, but the 3.4 mile hike to the Chimney Rock overlook was perfect. There was still snow on the ground from the weekend before, but trail was pretty clear, the air was crisp and the views were amazing. Despite a few steep inclines, the trail was easy and clearly marked. We encountered only two other small groups and it was the perfect, low-key way to end the weekend. At the top, we took a bunch of pictures and I just enjoyed the quiet. I made a resolution to hike a lot more. We WILL make that 9 mile loop by spring!
Pro tip: There's a $25 admin fee for a one day trip within the park, so if you don't already have your annual National Park Service pass, pick up the annual one for just $50 total. BONUS tip: be sure to check out the NPS page for any road closures - the Blue Ridge Parkway side of the road was closed due to the snow, but Skyline Drive (our route) was open and ready to go!
Thanks to being so close to our starting point, we finished the hike, ate our sandwiches and were back home in Richmond by 1 PM with plenty of time to clean the house, do laundry, and even relax a bit before the weekend was over.
Charlottesville and the Shenandoah National Park area are a quick day trip away from Richmond, but being able to take the weekend made it all the more relaxing! Thank you The Graduate for having us!
Our stay at The Graduate was complementary and I wasn't paid to write this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you The Graduate for inspiring us to enjoy a weekend away!