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If Virginia is for lovers, then Richmond is for, well, everyone.
Once regarded as a small Southern capital, Richmond has grown into a thriving city with nationally recognized craft breweries, award-winning restaurants and cultural attractions that draw in all walks of life.
One of the oldest cities in the Unites States, Richmond’s history is preserved in its many museums, Colonial-style brick row houses, boutique hotels and cultural sites. In 1607, Captain John Smith and 120 men from Jamestown settled at the city’s James River, and in 1780, Richmond was established as the capital of Virginia. It also served as the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
Now, instead of transporting colonists, the James River, which snakes its way through the city, is a mecca for outdoorsy types hankering to swim, kayak, raft or fish. With centrally located restaurants, bars and attractions, it’s easy to get in a day’s worth of activities. Just a two and a half hour drive from Raleigh, there’s so much to see and do, you’ll want to extend your vacation for longer than a weekend.
The James River is a playground for outdoor lovers looking to dip their toes. Rent a canoe or kayak to take on Class 3 and 4 rapids. Stop for lunch at a riverside restaurant or swim in the calmer pools. The river’s Pony Pasture Park is popular for floating or lounging on the rocks, while Texas Beach offers a sandy area ideal for posting up camp on a sunny day. Or, check out Belle Isle, a hangout for nature lovers of all stripes. jamesriverpark.org
The 100-acre Victorian estate and public park consists of an Italian and Japanese garden, arboretum, trails and habitats teeming with flora and fauna. Maymont’s Robins Nature Center features an aquarium showcasing inhabitants of the nearby James River and Chesapeake Bay including frogs, otters, crabs and alligators. Book your visit in advance and pack a picnic lunch. maymont.org
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Richmond’s fine arts museum features distinguished exhibits including the McGlothlin Collection of American Art, a South Asian gallery highlighting texts, sculptures and art of the Indian religion of Jainism, and an exhibit exploring the history of the campus’s Robinson House. VMFA’s featured exhibits for September include underwater treasures of ancient Egypt and a collection of Japanese landscape prints by artist Kawase Hasui. vmfa.museum
Traditional Indian dishes come with a contemporary flair, including Gobhi Manchurian (cauliflower florets in a zesty soy-tomato-chili glaze), Tandoori Paneer Tikka and Seafood Kerala Curry. Order a side of naan to sop up the flavorful sauces and choose from four seating options: a 1970s, Southern California-inspired dining room, a temperate wine cellar, the bar and lounge or the cheery outdoor patio. lehja.com
Bon Appétit lauded Sub Rosa as one of the best bakeries in America in 2019. Pick up freshly baked morning buns, croissants, cookies, tarts and quiches or supplement breakfast with tea, espresso or coffee from local suppliers. Sub Rosa’s bread is made with local grains, stone-milled in house and baked in a wood burning oven. subrosabakery.square.site
Known for its unique blend of Southern and European cuisines, Spoonbread’s popular dishes include pork and collard green egg rolls, Chilean sea bass and the lobster pop-tart, lobster and béchamel sauce inside buttery phyllo dough. Chef Micheal Hall pairs his Southern comfort food background with a unique, elevated approach. Visit the original location in Richmond’s historic Fan neighborhood or the secondary eatery in popular Short Pump area. spoonbreadbistro.com
Ardent Craft Ales
Come for the craft beer, stay for the lively beer garden. Located in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood, Ardent Craft Ales is ideal for sitting outside with a cold drink on a warm evening. Craft beers include IPAs, pilsners, stouts and altbiers, a traditional German pub ale, along with wines and ciders. ardentcraftales.com
Heritage’s cocktails aren’t your run-of-the-mill boozy beverages; here, drinks are crafted with unique, carefully selected ingredients, such as the Vanishing Point, a zesty mixture of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, lychee, Zucca, Batavia Arrack and lemon, or the Caribe Negroni with Don Q añejo rum, pineapple and coconut oolong-infused Campari and Antica Torino. heritagerva.com
You’ll find two types of brews at Brewer’s Café—exceptional coffee in the morning and beer from Virginia breweries at night. The owner, aptly named AJ Brewer, aims to make the spot welcoming and emblematic of what Richmond is all about. The coffee, made with beans from Red Rooster Coffee Roaster out of Floyd, Virginia, is sophisticated yet agreeable and always ethically and sustainably sourced. brewerscaferva.com
A pink theme sets the stage for Quirk Hotel, located in the Arts & Design District; it features a cozy lobby with high-arched ceilings and a mix of modern and classic furniture, a popular restaurant and a boutique offering locally made art. But the main draw is the hotel’s tiered rooftop bar with a delightful view of the city. destinationhotels.com/quirk-hotel
Linden Row Inn
The property that now houses the historic Linden Row Inn has a rich history. Poet Edgar Allan Poe played in the garden in the early 1800s, and from 1895 to 1906, Miss Virginia Randolph Ellett’s highly respected school was located there. Since 1988, the restored home has served as a boutique hotel furnished with antique pieces from the Victorian and Empire periods. Flat screen TVs and spa-style granite bathrooms lend a modern feel to the original architecture. lindenrowinn.com
The Jefferson Hotel
This grand hotel’s double-tiered lobby and giant gold columns will awe, but wait until you see the bedrooms…and the Lemaire restaurant, pool and outdoor lounge. Indulge in afternoon tea in the dining room or the hotel’s signature champagne brunch on Sundays. jeffersonhotel.com
Photographs courtesy of visitrichmondva.com
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