Keys to the city: The 23 coolest places in Charlottesville right now

Photo: Courtesy Early Mountain Vineyard
Photo: Courtesy Early Mountain Vineyard

WINE TIME
Keep ’em coming. That seems to be the motto at Early Mountain Vineyards, where an 18,000-square-foot tasting room, 38′-long serpentine bar, and marketplace bistro encourage you to grab a bottle, pop a squat, and stay all afternoon. Our recommendation? Grab a seat on the super swank patio—it overlooks the vineyard and is shaded by the pergola’s angled sails. Then again, the fire pits down the hill are pretty enticing, too. Guess you’ll just have to come back.
6109 Wolftown Hood Rd., Madison
(540) 948-7613, earlymountain.com

Photo: Courtesy Paramount Theater
Photo: Courtesy Paramount Theater

SOCIALITE FOR A DAY
The Paramount Theater, built in the golden age of cinema, fell into disrepair for a time and was beautifully restored and reopened in 2004. One modern addition to the historical treasure is the Founder’s Lounge. An elegantly appointed room set on the theater’s balcony level, it’s tastefully accented by custom sconces and designer furnishings, and dominated by a formal bar as its centerpiece. The lounge provides an exclusive experience for showgoers and special events, and although it’s used primarily as an invite-only space for grip-and-grins, it can be rented for your own fancy party. Live large, dahling.
215 E. Main St., 979-1922
theparamount.net

Photo: Elli Williams
Photo: Elli Williams

REV YOUR ENGINES
If you’re a fan of antique malls—with their collectible plates, crocheted toilet paper covers, and the faint smell of Marlboro Reds wafting through the air—Gasoline Alley might not be for you. But, if you like a well-curated collection of treasures—everything from costume jewelry and antique books to vintage art and furniture—you’ll be right at home. In keeping with its name, the one-room shop behind Moxie on Preston Avenue stocks a bunch of auto-themed items, too: Think retro gas station signs, license plates, and oil cans.
608 Preston Ave., 987-0991
gasolinealleycville.com

Photo: Jack Looney
Photo: Jack Looney

SHOP EAST, LOOK WEST
There are two kinds of grocery shoppers—those who love it and those who hate it. For the latter, it’s a loathsome chore that requires inspiration. This may entail food samples, lattes, and those nifty short stack carriages, but at the Giant Food supermarket on Pantops mountain, it’s all about perspective. Navigate up the hill and park facing the Blue Ridge for one of the area’s most spectacular sunset views. Grab your list and go forth uplifted. (Just ignore the teens in the next parking space making out over take-out.)
1900 Abbey Rd., 244-4300

Photo: Elli Williams
Photo: Elli Williams

A NEWBIE BUT A GOODIE
Ever notice that little shop with hookahs in the window, tucked between Random Row Books and West Main? Grand Market International Foods, the bright blue grocery store owned and operated by Abdul Rahim and his family, has provided imported goods from around the world for six years. Now tucked behind the aisles offering freshly baked baklava, olives from the Mediterranean, and household items like Turkish coffee pots, is a new food counter featuring everything from homemade breads to falafel and lamb kabobs. And while you’re waiting for your authentic Middle Eastern platter, have a seat at the counter facing the window, and be sure to ask for a cup of the freshly brewed green tea with cardamom.
323 W. Main St., 245-4012

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