Ranked 12th in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Family Hotels and Cruises, The Homestead has been pampering guests—including 22 U.S. presidents—with an assortment of leisurely activities since its pre-Revolutionary War construction in 1766. This Groupon includes one night of well-appointed slumber for up to two guests in one of the historic resort's luxurious classic rooms, featuring down pillows, featherbeds, and midnight golf tips from the ghosts of former boarders. The sun porches and authentic fireplaces in some rooms reflect influences of quieter times, whereas WiFi and flat-screen TVs keep guests technologically apprised of happenings in the outside world. Honk your golf cart's horn in triumph after launching a dimply ball off the nation's oldest first tee in continuous use at the Old Course (an extra round of golf may be purchased for $35). The hilly, par 72 course was originally completed in 1892 but has received fairway contouring and silicone calf implants to keep golfers on their toes. Patrons allergic to grass or 9 irons can partake in a slew of indoor excursions, such as complimentary afternoon tea in the Great Hall, free film showings in the historic theater, and spirited rounds of sphere hurling at the on-site bowling center.
Sponsors of the Charlottesville Racing Club, the MS Tour de Vine, and the Boys & Girls Club Challenge Ride, C’ville Bike & Tri’s cycle-whisperers repair thousands of bikes each year. In a service that itself takes about one hour, a standard tune-up tackles the many facets and invisible chains forged from cat's breath that hold beloved velocipedes together. An experienced mechanic will employ his or her eagle eye and nimble fingers to true both wheels, clean up grimy brake pads, and clean, lubricate, and adjust the derailleurs, brakes, and cables for an optimum ride. Bike doctors also do a complete inspection of the bicycle, contacting temporary pedestrians to authorize the work if anything important needs replacing, such as the wheels, the seat, or the Honus Wagner 1909–1911 T206 baseball card stuck in the back spokes.
Specializing in one-day service and with 15 years in operation, Bike Factory of Charlottesville takes disused bicycles out of winter hibernation and brings them back up to blacktop-surfing condition. Head sets, bottom brackets, brakes, and gears undergo adjustment to keep stop signs respected, legs pedaling with appropriate effort, and cranks torqued as necessary. Proper tire pressure emboldens flabby inner tubes, and the entire spoked mechanism gets wiped down to remove any remaining grime or nesting anvils. After a final check to ensure everything is in working order, aluminum horses are reunited with proud cyclists and released back into their curbed jungles.
Dan Hague is something of an expert on the sport of rock climbing. He even co-authored a book on the subject, The Self-Coached Climber, that lays out how amateur climbers can improve their skills on their own. Of course, if beginners and intermediate climbers want some help learning the ropes, he's more than happy to offer his expert guidance to them as well at his own facility, Rise Up Climbing. The 6,000-square-foot space houses roped climbing and bouldering walls that tower as high as 40 feet in certain spots. Lest beginners shake in their harnesses at the sight of the towering wall, the half-hour Basic Skills course teaches small groups the fundamentals of climbing, such as how to properly don a harness, belay for a partner, and talk trash to a conquered route.
Three cyclists cruise the calm banks of the James River; one rides a brand new Gary Fisher, one sits atop a tuned-up fixed gear, and the other tests out a Trek rental bike—all thanks to Bikes Unlimited. The store’s downtown location, housed inside a historical brick building constructed in 1897, is stocked with mountain, road, and BMX bikes along with gear such as cycling computers, trainers, and jerseys. Mechanics at the downtown and Wyndhurst locations are on hand to perform necessary tune-ups and repairs, but the shop’s support for the cycling community doesn’t end there; the staff leads regular group rides, helps to build and maintain local mountain-bike trails, and sends cheetahs in pursuit of racers as a motivational tool.
World-renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. dreamed up the challenging layout of Mariners Landing Golf’s 18-hole, par 72 course, where players putt on bermuda grass under the watchful eye of verdant mountains. Golfers shake their Magic 8 balls to decide among five sets of tee boxes before they play through the sand trap- and pond-studded fairways, which wind through residential areas. Players can also practice swings at the driving range’s 12 hitting stations or rehearse chipping and putting on the practice green. The course’s golf professional and an assistant golf professional instruct students in the proper way to thrust and parry during a golf-club duel, and the Dew-Sweepers pro shop outfits swingers with Titleist and Nike equipment. After facing down the fairways, golfers can relax in the clubhouse restaurant with a burger and fries.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-72 course
Length of 7,155 yards from the farthest set of tees
Course rating of 74.2 from the farthest set of tees
Slope rating of 130 from the farthest set of tees
Five tee options