Why: Roadside BBQ, an 1890s-era general store and pigskin in flight.
How Far: About 90 miles, or 1.5 hours from Centreville.
"Wahoowa!" It's the sporting cry that's been heard at the University of Virginia since the 1880s, and after a nine-month hiatus, present-day football fans will have reason to chant it again: This Saturday, the Virginia Cavaliers play their home opener against North Carolina's Tar Heels at Scott Stadium -- and Charlottsville will brace itself for utter mayhem.
Three hours before kickoff (this year it's at 3:30 p.m.), local parking lots fill almost to capacity and the streets start shutting down as the pep rally begins. Tip: Spend $20 to park on the grass at one of the local frat houses or grad shacks. With plenty of time to tailgate, you can pick up a creatively named sandwich at Dirty Nelly's (we like the Hot Sicilian). Then, head over to TJ's Locker (named for Thomas Jefferson, UVA's founder) for essential team-spirit tchotchkes (you know you want an orange foam finger). Just don't linger too long, because you'll want to witness the Cavalier himself ride on horseback down Whitehead Road before his ceremonial gallop around the field.
Unless you don blinders, it's almost impossible to make it to Charlottesville without pulling over and pulling out your wallet. In New Baltimore, you'll find Jammin' Joe's BBQ -- a favorite of wandering dignitaries -- where two steel smokers cook one ton of to-die-for pulled pork, ribs and chicken each week. Next, it's on to Opal, where you can check out the roadside display run by the "tie-dye lady" or browse her new shop, Milkywave, which stocks Cavalier-hued clothing (orange and blue) as well as -- dare we say it? -- Virginia Tech colors (red and orange). It's also worth the quarter-mile drive off the main drag and up a hill to the one-room Brightwood General Store, where you can sit on a porch rocker with a local farmer or challenge him to a picnic-table checkers match inside.
Cari Shane Parven
The Virginia Cavaliers' home season runs through Nov. 13 (regular season ends with an away game Nov. 27). Single tickets are $25 to $40, season tickets for six home games $205. 800-542-8821 or 434-924-8821. www.virginiasports.com.
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