With Spring rapidly approaching and the Rotunda looking more beautiful than ever, families will soon begin to make the drive, whether it’s seven hours or 30 minutes, to what Niche calls the fifth best big college in the country.
While the University of Virginia is not offering any tours at the moment, here are several places on Grounds all prospective students should visit independently before making the decision to apply.
1. The Rotunda
The Rotunda is an obvious choice, but it is obvious for a reason. This building that is constantly associated with the University and its designer Thomas Jefferson, is widely recognized as a hub for student life. Regardless of their year, students are drawn to this renowned building, one that is filled with historic architecture and study spaces that offer anyone who enters them a sense of solidarity with the students surrounding them.
2. The Lawn
Even more impressive than the Rotunda is the lawn that peacefully sits directly in front of it. Referred to by every student quite literally, ‘the Lawn’, this wide open, green space is a perfect way to observe and gain a holistic view of the student body. The Lawn is an eclectic meeting place where students gather year round to eat, play a sport, do work, listen to music, hold club meetings and everything in between.
3. Madison Bowl
Another popular meeting place and another crucial stop on this personalized tour is called Madison Bowl. Along Rugby Road, “Mad Bowl” is a symbol of Greek Life, one of the prominent social gathering places for these groups on campus. Greek Life has been a part of The University of Virginia since 1852. There are currently 32 fraternities on grounds and 15 sororities. If these organizations are not for you, take a trip to The Corner instead. The Corner in Charlottesville is filled with different restaurants, bars, shops, and other places for students to meet.
After visiting these cannot-miss sites, there are some lesser-known spaces that first-years have come to love:
4. Einstein Bros. Bagels
Einstein Bros. Bagels is a bagel chain and while it’s not Bodo’s, this bagel shop, located in both the Newcomb Bookstore and Rice Hall, is a location that many first-year students frequent. With the patio outside, students can get work done or finish their everything bagel before class.
5. Beta Bridge
Beta Bridge is a longstanding tradition at the University. It is an outlet for students to express themselves by painting a message on the bridge.
6. The Fralin Museum of Art
The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA, while closed now, is another unique and creative place on Grounds. It is a museum filled with contemporary art.
7. Food Trucks
There are also other popular places to eat on campus. The Food Trucks by The Amphitheater are where many first-years go to get food when they lack the motivation to eat dining hall food. Many also work beside it in the amphitheater when it is warmer outside.
8. Newcomb Starbucks
The Starbucks near Newcomb Dining Hall, which accepts Flex Dollars, is another place where students study, take classes, or sit on the patio while eating. Newcomb Dining Hall itself is also a great place to visit. It’s one of the main dining halls on campus along with O’Hill and Runk.
9. The Aquatic & Fitness Center
The Aquatic Fitness Center or the AFC is a great place to see students working out and staying active. For UVA students it’s very important that they stay active, which is also reflected in the intramural sports clubs on campus.
10. Memorial To Enslaved Laborers
The University’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers is a new addition to Grounds and as stated by the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, is meant to “capture the tenure of those community conversations, honor the lives, labor, and resistance of the 4 to 5000 enslaved people who lived and worked at UVA at some point between 1817 and 1865.”
11. The Library
When it is cold and people need a place to work, many students spend hours at the libraries on Grounds. While Alderman is currently under construction, both the Clemons Library (affectionately known to students as “Clem”) and the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library (also known as the “Brown Library”) are both great spaces to study.
12. Scott Stadium
If you are not tired from visiting each of these amazing places on Grounds, take a drive past Scott Stadium. This massive arena makes you feel as though you are a part of something larger than yourself, which is exactly what The University of Virginia is all about.
With the COVID-19 pandemic making these locations emptier than usual, it’s a great time to mask up and explore these places safely. Here’s our Guide to Grounds series if you prefer to tour the University in the comfort of your home!