• Joey

Our Guide to Richmond, VA

Richmond, Virginia will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the place where I met Jaime, where I moved when I left Louisiana, and where we made our life together. It is an energetic city that is both steeped in and learning from history. Diversity and inclusivity is at the heart of the city, with so many different cultures making this their home.


Richmond earned a perfect 100 on the HRC's Municipal Equality Index, and it is incredibly evident why. It one of the first places I felt completely comfortable being myself, without any fear of judgement or persecution in the destination. It is not uncommon to see same sex couples holding hands, out on dates, and just enjoying life in this inclusive city. OutRVA is a wonderful program put on by the city, in which many local businesses express their support for the LGBTQ community with a pride sticker on their window. Seeing these flags throughout the city truly does create a sense of safety and welcome.


With so much to see and do, it would be impossible to cover everything, so let us know your Richmond spots in the comments below.


What to see in Richmond?


The Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol is the house of the country’s oldest legislative body, the Virginia General Assembly, and was designed by Thomas Jefferson. The building was based on an ancient Roman temple but looks so much like the White House that it has served as the building in television shows. Jaime and I often spent evenings walking the beautifully manicured Capitol grounds, with statues of the founding fathers, and it was great to bring my family to see the interior, with the stunning artwork depicting the early years of America.



The view from Kabana

The highest rooftop bar in Richmond, Kabana offers remarkable views of downtown as well as tasty cocktails.



Carytown and The Byrd Theater

Besides being a vibrant and lively neighborhood known for its inclusivity to the LGBTQ community, this was also the site of Jaime and my first date. We went to The Byrd Theater, an over 90 year old movie theater that has been brilliantly preserved. The auditorium features 18-foot ceilings with Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers. The foyer is wrapped in marble, decorative plaster, and murals. For a special treat, visit when The Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ is playing.



Dominion Tower

When Dominion Energy announced they were going to demolish their two downtown office buildings to develop a new, more modern space, there was certainly some trepidation from the locals as to what this was going to mean. We were lucky enough to live close to the towers and got to experience the implosion! The new Dominion Tower is an absolutely beautiful feat of architecture, made even better as it’s lit up at night.



Jackson Ward

This historic African-American neighborhood captures the spirit of Richmond with an eclectic blend of performance venues, historic sites, art, and restaurants. Often known as “Black Wall Street,” Jackson Ward was hugely important to post-Civil War black culture with figures such as John Mitchell Jr., editor of the African-American newspaper The Richmond Planet and Maggie Walker, the first black woman to charter and president and American bank, calling the area home. Because of venues such as the Hippodrome Theatre, Jackson Ward also earned the nickname “Harlem of the South,” with performers such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Nat King Cole making appearances.


Main Street Station

One of my absolute favorite places to stop and stare is Main Street Station. This architectural beauty was built in 1901 in the Second Renaissance Revival style. Everywhere you look is a new detail, with elaborate plaster work, decorative moldings, and spectacular windows.



What to do in Richmond?


Walk the James River

Explore the many trails around the James River was a favorite pastime of Jaime and I. Take a walk from downtown to Brown’s Island, a great green space, to the Potterfield Bridge. This pedestrian bridge will put you right over the rapids of the James and offers stunning views of the city. Walk a bit further to enter Belle Isle, an oasis in the midst of a major metropolitan area. This heavily wooded park includes rock climbing, biking trails, kayaking, and beautiful walking paths.



See murals and street art

Located at 1201 Haxall Point, the Canal Walk Murals is a must see! Here, an old building has been converted into an outdoor art gallery featuring remarkable works of street art, including spray paint, folk style, and sculpture.



Visit the VMFA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Art houses an incredible collection of masterpieces that will have you lost in inspiration. Rotating exhibits bring in the finest works from around the world, including ancient Japanese landscapes, Egyptian artifacts, and American classics such as Edward Hopper. The bronze statue “Rumors of War” is a must see, depicting a young African-American man riding a horse in a very similar fashion to the confederate monuments that once lined the nearby streets. Chilling work!



Watch a show at the Altria Theater

Originally built in 1927 and known as the Mosque Theater, Altria Theater has such unique architectural style. It is nestled into Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus and now plays host to a variety of Broadway shows, concerts, and comedians.



See several president’s graves at Hollywood Cemetery

Being from the New Orleans area, visiting a historic cemetery was not unusual to me, and Hollywood Cemetery’s 135 sprawling acres are certainly a beautiful site. Known as a garden cemetery, this 1847 site contains valleys, hills, and stately trees wrapping in a grid layout. President’s Circle in Hollywood Cemetery serves as the final resting place of President James Monroe and President John Tyler.



Have a mimosa at Drag Brunch

What could possibly be more fun than great cocktails and incredibly talented performers at brunch?! Godfrey’s drag brunch is a Richmond classic, bringing in both the absolute best of local performers as well as nationally known talent. I took Jaime to his first drag show here, and we had the Best time!



What to eat in Richmond?


Hot Chick

Just about every fast food restaurant in the country may be engaged in the fried chicken sandwich, but that battle has already been won at Hot Chick! Inspired chicken sandwiches covering everything from Nashville Hot to smokey Carolina barbeque, you’ll taste the love on a bun. Feeling hungry? Try The Bad Motha Clucka, two Nashville hot chicken breasts, slab bacon, spicy ranch slaw, pickles, and muenster cheese.


Shindigz

Ever wanted a slice of cake as big as your head? Shindigz offers a menu sure to satisfy every sweet tooth, with cookies, cobblers, and cakes. Every week, a new menu of special cakes are put out, but our absolute favorite is the fresh fruit cake, a simple vanilla sponge with slightly sweetened fruit and buttercream.


The Fancy Biscuit

A Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives feature, The Fancy Biscuit is a create casual brunch spot. They specialize in southern staples such as biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes. There is a great outdoor space with lots of seating to enjoy a good day and a good meal.


Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen

Personally, I thought I liked Chinese food and then I had Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and realized Chinese food could be taken to a whole new level. Chef Fei Zhao has created a remarkable menu focused on sustainably sourced ingredients and classical Cantonese cuisine. The green bean stir fry makes my mouth water just thinking about it and I would drive for hours for their Fei-Lone beef.


Wong Gonzalez

This place is definitely not like anywhere you’ve been before. The restaurant describes itself as, “a concept born in the hawker stalls of Malaysia’s bustling town centers where all the wonderful and dynamic flavors of South East Asia are found and then raised in the kitchens of the small Mexican towns full of rustic culture and mouthwatering aromas.” Fusing Asian and Latin cuisine, at Wong Gonzalez, you can try tempura fried fish tacos with pineapple salsa, strawberry yuzu sauce, and toasted coconut or a beef bulgogi burrito.


As I stated earlier, it would not be possible to cover all of our favorite places in one blog post, so please do let us know your favorites below and share this post with someone you would like to visit Richmond with.


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