Richmond, Virginia may not be on the radar for many travelers, but after a recent visit, I’m convinced it’s about to blow up as a hot new travel destination for domestic and international travelers alike.
A thriving dining and art scene has been emerging in recent years, and combined with a rich history and ideal setting close to nature along the mighty James River, there are plenty of great reasons to visit Richmond, Virginia.
Virginia Museum of Fine Art. The extensive and diverse collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, with over 33,000 works of art from ancient Egypt to Renaissance Italy to American art deco, rivals that of many higher-profile museums around the world. The beautifully designed and uncrowded museum allows visitors room to breath and the unique opportunity to truly take in over 5,000 years of art. The breathtaking sculpture garden, complete with lush, green lawns, cascading fountains, and reflecting pool, is a painting come to life that’s perfect for an afternoon picnic. Incredibly, entrance to the museum is free year-round (special exhibits excepted).
The innovative dining scene. While the list of worthwhile dining options in Richmond is long and continually growing, honorable mentions goes to the following: Heritage for their exceptional new American dining and artisanal cocktail menus, Rappahannock for their preparation of fresh, delicious local seafood, and L’Opossum for the gorgeously plated dishes from their creative French-inspired menu. For Southern classics with a modern twist, head to Pasture. The popular and supercool Fan District is home to The Daily, which dishes out healthy, mouth-watering international fare in huge portions ideal for sharing. Authentic Greek cuisine can be found at Stella’s, a lively taverna-style neighborhood outpost that’s sure to charm.
Eye-popping street art. Urban art comes to life in Richmond thanks to the efforts of Ed Trask, a local street artist, and Councilman Jon Baliles. International street artists have participated in the near annual RVA Street Art Festival that began in 2012 to help transform the streets of Richmond. The wonderful effort has since helped to revitalize its communities, leaving behind colorful street murals and graffiti art all over the city.
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The splendor of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, located just a short drive outside of Richmond, is a true delight and experience. The perfectly manicured gardens, peaceful lake, and breathtaking conservatory is home to thousands of plant life, insects, and a delightful collection of butterflies. It’s a beautiful way to spend an afternoon in Richmond.
Urban adventures abound. Conveniently located along the historic James River, the city of Richmond offers a multitude of outdoor adventures within minutes from the downtown district. Bicycling, kayaking, rock climbing, and stand-up paddle boarding — Richmond offers it all for thrill seekers of any age and skill level. For equipment rental and/or lessons, Riverside Outfitters is an excellent choice with fun, knowledgeable guides.
The historic Jefferson Hotel. No visit to Richmond is complete without experiencing the lavish and decadent Sunday champagne brunch in the gorgeous Rotunda Lobby of the Jefferson Hotel. Surrounded by ornate marble columns, a Tiffany glass ceiling, a grand buffet, detailed ice sculptures, and endless glasses of champagne, you’ll wonder how you ever brunched any other way.
Festivals galore. Richmond knows how to throw a good party and there are a number of brewing and craft beer festivals, cultural celebrations, and music festivals held throughout the year. Specialized festivals include the aforementioned RVA Street Art Festival, as well as the Dominion Riverrock Outdoor Sports and Music Festival, an annual weekend bonanza celebrating the great outdoors. Fire, Flour, and Fork is a culinary fete filled with exciting dining events, celebrity chefs, special tastings, and fun food and drink-themed tours. The Richmond Jazz Festival celebrates the best in jazz, blues, and funk.
Step back in time through the doors of Agecroft Hall. A rather curious anomaly, the majestic English Tudor mansion of Agecroft Hall can be found in the affluent neighborhood of Richmond named Windsor Farms. Moved piece by piece in 1929 from its original location in Lancashire, England, Agecroft Hall now serves as a museum with the strange magical ability to transplant visitors to the charming, lush English countryside.
With all these great offerings for every type of traveler, there are more than enough reasons to visit Richmond, Virginia. I’m already looking forward to my next trip back — who wants to join me?