Virginia’s state capital was founded in 1737 making it one of the country’s oldest cities, and it’s this juxtaposition of historic beauty and vibrant modernity that makes it such a draw to visitors. Only a two and a half hour drive from Raleigh, you can even make it a day trip though you’ll be tempted to book a hotel room once you discover the city’s allure.
The James River bisects the city that is comprised of many different smaller districts each with their own identity. The cobblestone streets of Shockoe Slip bustle with trendy lounges, clubs and eclectic restaurants that capture its diverse history. The up-and-coming Scott’s Addition district is exploding with new distilleries, breweries and eateries. In Carytown, you’ll find many of the city’s notable museums as well as prominent examples of architecture from Victorian to Art Deco. The revitalized Canal Walk stretches just over a mile with access points to city attractions. However, the best part of Richmond is that you can experience the lively food scene and cultural charm of much larger Southern cities without traffic or politics.
This new boutique hotel is located in the trendy Broad Street Arts District. It’s a popular spot because of the open-air Rooftop Bar (closed during winter) and the Maple and Pine restaurant.
The ornate opulence of this hotel goes unrivalled in the city. Even when it opened in 1895, The Jefferson’s guests had electric lights and cold running water. Today’s luxuries include marbled bathrooms, refined furnishings, evening turndown service and complimentary transportation.
This 70-room historic inn comprised of seven row houses built in the 1800’s captures the romance of a bygone era. It’s rumored that Edgar Allan Poe played in the garden, now the hotel’s courtyard, and the rooms and suites are furnished in period antiques.
One of the city’s newest restaurants from Chef Walter Bundy (formally of Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel) showcases the diverse produce, fish and farms of Virginia. Fun fact: It’s named after the Shagbark Hickory tree that was used to make a communal dining table for the space.
This reasonably priced modern Jewish restaurant is a great spot for breakfast or brunch. You’ll find cinnamon babka French toast, cheese blini, corned beef hash and more, living up to the tagline: Yiddish for delicious!
The neighborhood eatery inspired by the American fern bars of the 70s, offers an intimate dining experience in Richmond’s Southside. The family-friendly, seasonal menu is both approachable and inventive—try the gnocchi man n’ cheese or the Korean style hot wings.
Billed as Virginia’s first urban cidery located in the historic Summit Stables of the Scott’s Addition neighborhood, Blue Bee makes seven artisanal ciders. The tasting room is open Sunday through Friday (1 p.m. – 8 p.m.) and on Saturdays (1 p.m. – 9 p.m.). Also, check the website for special events.
Imagined years ago by two friends while tailgating at a Virginia Tech football game, this award-winning distillery produces unique whiskeys and bourbon. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Friday (4 p.m. – 7 p.m.) and on Saturday (3 p.m. – 6 p.m.); if the hours don’t work for you, try knocking.
This popular bar and restaurant located in Jackson Ward, specializes in creative cocktails. One unique offering is its “Dealer’s Choice” cocktail: Patrons choose two words from a list of adjectives on the menu and the bartender will create a custom drink to your liking!
Pit Stop Worthy
The Richmond Beer Trail guides visitors to more than 20 craft breweries in the area, a fast growing industry. Last year, five new breweries opened including a satellite of California’s Stone Brewing Company and another three breweries will debut in 2017. Can’t miss breweries include Hardywood Park Craft Brewery named after a sheep station in Australia where the childhood friends travelled. Check out Strangeways Brewing, a family- and dog-friendly brewery with more than 36 unique beers on tap or Legend Brewing Company, one of the city’s oldest craft breweries.
One of the oldest cities in the United States, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Richmond has a bounty of museums to visit. The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia recently reopened in a new location at the Leigh Street Armory and commemorates the lives and accomplishments of African-Americans in Virginia. The Edgar Allen Poe Museum celebrates the American writer’s life through artifacts, memorabilia and special programs. And don’t leave Richmond without taking advantage of the free admission to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, one of the top 10 world-class art museums in the U.S.
Richmond’s scenic beauty and architecture can be admired from the 52-mile trail that connects Jamestown and Richmond, and traverses 400 years of history. Park at Great Shiplock Park, which commemorates the canal lock built in the 1850s, and marks the end or beginning of the trail depending on which way you’re travelling. The paved trail crosses Shockoe Bottom, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, then snakes around the James River. It’s great for a leisurely walk or an adventurous ride, and if you’re feeling robust you can trek about 12 miles past the plantation belonging to English settler John Rolfe, more popularly known as Pocahontas’ husband.
A historic landmark, the Hollywood Cemetery not only stands as a noteworth example of gothic beauty it also offers stunning views of the city. It ranks as the second most visited cemetery bested only by Arlington National Cemetery and houses the remains of two American presidents (James Monroe and John Tyler), six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, one Pulitzer Prize winner and thousands of Confederate soldiers, whose lives are commemorated through a pyramid monument. Unlike traditional grid cemeteries, Hollywood winds through the 135 acres of valleys, hills and stately trees. And where did the name now synonymous with the film industry come from? The grove of holly trees that dotted the landscape.