Napping is a necessity in college. In the winter, snuggling up with blankets and blocking out the cold is the best way to spend an afternoon in Charlottesville. Naps in between classes or after you’re done with classes for the day are equally beneficial as ways to catch up on the sleep you lose cramming for your exams or to charge your social battery for holiday interactions. Nothing feels better than napping without any assignments or deadlines looming. Trust me, you will nap better in the winter in Charlottesville than in any other season.
2. Coffee shops
Even if you don’t like caffeine, coffee shops start offering holiday drinks as soon as the first week of November— the three Starbucks stores around Grounds introduced their holiday drinks just five days after Halloween. Peppermint, sugar cookie, cinnamon, chestnut praline and eggnog are all among the flavors available at local coffee shops. You can order hot chocolate rather than coffee or espresso drinks if you don’t like caffeine and still want to get the most out of the holiday flavors offered over the next few months.
3. Recreational activities
Winter intramurals and exercising outdoors is so much more enjoyable in the winter. The cold weather prevents excessive sweating, and the crisp air will make being outside a nice break from any stuffy bedroom. In addition to University activities or working out with friends, Wintergreen and Massanutten Ski Resorts are approximately an hour away and Snowshoe Mountain is a little under three hours away. There are also ice skating rinks located in the Harrisonburg and Richmond areas, approximately an hour away. Winter outdoor activities are very accessible for students with cars, and many people carpool frequently on weekends. Outdoors At UVA and the Virginia Alpine Ski and Snowboarding Team are also contracted independent organizations at the University that offer opportunities for students to participate in these winter activities.
4. The Lawn at Night
The Lawn is always beautiful. In the winter, however, it becomes a bright, warm spot in the cold winter nights in Charlottesville. As the temperature drops and it starts getting darker earlier in the day, the warm yellow lights from the Lawn rooms and walkways around the Rotunda become even more inviting and beautiful. The week between Thanksgiving and winter break features Lighting of the Lawn, a fantastic event put on by students and one of the most looked forward to nights of the winter season. After last year’s virtual display, the in-person version is expected to wow students of all years. This will be the first and second years’ first in-person LOTL and third and fourth years’ first in two years, meaning this year’s LOTL will be a must-see.
Dinner goes from being a necessity to something to look forward to when the temperature drops. A warm meal can make an entire cold day worth it, and a low-priced soup or pasta can turn a cold day around. Remember being welcomed by your mother’s cooking after getting off the bus from a freezing cold day at school? Cooking or eating dinner in Charlottesville with your friends or roommates will give you the same feeling. Eating enchiladas or a casserole can take us all back to a time when we were comforted by the warm aromas coming out of the kitchen. No matter what or where we call home, wintertime can turn dinner into the most comforting part of the day.
6. Being on Grounds
It is much harder to walk home during the day when it is 30 degrees outside, so staying on Grounds becomes a necessity. Libraries, classrooms and study spaces are heated and make staying on Grounds during your awkward hours between classes cozy and comfortable. The light emanating from the windows and fellow students relaxing in the warmth are enough of an incentive to make you want to stay in the libraries and school buildings to study.
7. Movie nights
Movie nights are a great bonding activity for roommates and friends. During the winter season, blankets and popcorn — along with a fire, if you have a fireplace — are the perfect ingredients for a winter movie night. Extra comfort points if you have fuzzy socks to keep your feet warm and cozy. Holiday movies will also be on heavy rotation, and there’s nothing better than a cheesy Hallmark holiday movie. Even watching Hallmark’s holiday movies ironically is enough of a good time to make me sign up for a movie night any winter day. Unlike the summer, you won’t feel like you’re wasting daylight or nice weather by staying in — movie nights are the perfect, guilt-free way to spend a cold night in.
8. Walking to class
Nothing is worse than showing up to class with pit stains. No person has ever shown up to class from August to September without sweating — especially if you leave your apartment or dorm with less than 20 minutes to arrive. It is so much better to have the brisk air cool you down as you hustle to class. When you get to class you may have to shed a jacket, but at least you won’t be sweating.
The smell of smoke wafting in the air and the sound of fire crackling are some of the most comforting things about winter. There are communal fire pits located around both Alderman and McCormick dorms for students living on Grounds to enjoy. Many apartment buildings also have amenities that include fire pits. S’mores are also one of the most comforting desserts during this time of year, and they give people the perfect reason to gather together. If it is too chilly outdoors or there are no fire pits near you, s’mores can also be made in the microwave or safely around a stove. Bonfires give people an option to gather to warm up after a chilly day and give individuals an option to unwind and enjoy the winter air. They are the perfect opportunity to relax outdoors while still staying warm in Charlottesville.
Charlottesville is in close vicinity to many hiking hotspots in Virginia. The fall leaves are changing and create an extraordinarily colorful landscape across the western part of Virginia. You’ll be left in awe as you trek through the brilliant trails. You can even gather a group of friends and head to the mountaintops to witness the incredible sunrises Charlottesville has to offer. Hiking is superior during the transition from warmer to colder months thanks to the changing of the leaves — not to mention the lack of excessive sweating while you hike up the mountain.