For those of you who don’t know, I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University which is in the heart of Richmond city. This holiday season I returned to this beloved city and since it’s been on the rise recently, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into some of the things that Richmond has to offer.
A little over 200,000 people live in Richmond, which gives the city the warmth of feeling like you are living in a tight knit community. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things to do and keep you busy. The city has a very large artist community and has been called the “Portland of the East.” There’s no fear of having tattoos, piercings, expressing yourself through music, fashion or art. This is why I fell in love with this place. The passion and talent of people that created the city to become something special.
Without further ado, here’s my compiled of things to do when traveling to Richmond.
Belle Isle is situated on the James River and has beautiful views of the city while being surrounded by water. In the summer, the park is full of people and dogs enjoying the sunshine and water.
The Northbank trail is perfect for those wanting to experience some nature while visiting the city. The trail is part of a system of trails that range from 8-13 miles and are great for hiking or mountain biking. You can stumble onto Texas Beach as well, which has more sand, rocks and places to hang out to refresh yourself from the humid weather.
I used to work at this museum so I may be a little bit biased, but it’s great! It has a variety of galleries ranging from classical art to modern art. The best part is it’s completely FREE (except for any touring special exhibits.) The museum also has a great patio that extends out from the lower cafe. You can get wine and lunch there or some snacks if you aren’t feeling that hungry.
Personally I love going to gardens. If I have the time whilst traveling I will make an afternoon out of visiting the local botanical garden. Richmond’s is one for the books. The garden has 50 acres of garden areas as well as, dining. They also have some traveling exhibition features, so definitely check those out while you are there. The conservatory is my favorite part- not only is the entire structure impressive, but the florals on the inside are as well.
If you are interested in fashion, you have probably heard of Need Supply through blogs and magazines. The shop is actually based out of Richmond and still has their brick and mortar located in the heart of Carytown. This was one of my favorite shops to go to while I was living there. While a bit pricey, the store has a great curation of up-and-coming designers and lovely minimalist pieces. They have women’s and men’s clothes along with a nice stock of shoes and accessories. Their storefront is beautifully designed, so it’s a great place to stop in to even if you aren’t going to make a purchase.
This hotel has popped up within the past couple of years and took off right from the get-go. Eat your hearts out Wes Anderson fans, because this hotel has boutique charm comparable to the Grand Budapest. Along with the option to admire their beautiful interior decor, there is a restaurant, art gallery and shop inside. The shop features adorable and unique gifts such as jewelry, candles, and cards. The best part about it is that it is nowhere near one of those corny hotel shops. The items sold at the Quirk are well-curated and so cute, I had to walk away before I spent a ton of money.
This is a turn of the century restaurant that specializes in celebrating Southern food. Their wine and beer list features loads of Virginia favorites and their cocktails are delicious. The place is located in Church Hill, a neighborhood that showcases Richmond’s age and history. At a price point of mid to high, this place is perfect for a fancier night out.
This spot couldn’t be any cozier. Tiny as it may be, the food packs a punch. The Southern cuisine mixed with South American gives this restaurant a New World twist that will have you drooling over every last bite. The beer list here is awesome and with an atmosphere to beat, it’s a place that won’t mind spending a couple hours of your time in.
A neighborhood favorite, Joe’s Inn is a family place that has undeniably low prices. It’s the ideal spot for a group of friends looking to catch up alongside a large tap list and larger plates of spaghetti. The place has one of the city’s best happy hours, so it’s no wonder they are always packed. If you wanna feel like you are a part of Richmond’s local community, come here.
Ipanema is one of those places that achieves that dark, cool, cozy atmosphere. Located down a small flight of stairs, this place is perfect for a date night. The bar is small, but bartenders are friendly. The booths are cozy, with dark wood and brick walls. The food highlights lots of vegetarian options and their dessert menu is super yummy. If you don’t feel like staying inside, they have a sweet patio that will let you enjoy the cool summer nights.
The National is Richmond’s biggest music venue and houses acts big and small. The theatre is mostly standing room, but you won’t see a bad show there.
This place is a great dive bar with cheap PBR’s, arcade games and live shows that feature mostly punk bands. They have food during the day, specializing in vegan and vegetarian options. If you are looking for a good, no fuss place this is your gem.
Hope this list gives you some insight on what places to visit. Keep in mind these are just a handful of things to do…. There’s plenty more to explore if you have the time. I would love to hear about your favorite hidden gem of a city, comment below and let me know. I am always ready to pack my bags and explore new places.
Until next time,