Named after Sophia Charlotte, the wife of King George III, Charlottesville is located in Albemarle County, in the heart of central Virginia. In 2004, Bert Sperling and Peter Sander, in their book Cities Ranked and Rated, chose Charlottesville as the best place to live in the United States. Its 40,000 residents (120,000 in the county) live at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in one of the most historic counties in America.
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe all lived in Albemarle County, and their homes, especially Jefferson’s Monticello, still attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The Corner district, located just a few hundred yards from the Rotunda, has restaurants, student book stores, and many other businesses. The Downtown Mall, just a few minutes down Main Street from the University, has indoor and outdoor restaurants, stores of every kind, an indoor ice-skating rink, three movie theaters, and several concert venues, including the Paramount Theater and the Charlottesville Pavilion.
Charlottesville has become a magnet for music. The Dave Matthews Band, most of whose members still live in Charlottesville, has helped fuel the growth. In the past few years, UVa’s John Paul Jones Arena (home of UVa Basketball) has hosted, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Van Halen, The Dave Matthews Band, The Police, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, The Blue Man Group, and Kid Rock.
Charlottesville is located about 70 miles from Richmond and 120 miles from Washington, D.C. Also nearby are the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport. In addition, Charlottesville annually hosts the Virginia Film Festival, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and the Foxfield Races.