The capital city of Virginia, Richmond was originally founded by settlers travelling up the James River in 1737. Also the seat of the Confederacy during the Civil War, Richmond has had a lurid and fascinating history since its inception. Not only is it replete with historical sites, Richmond has grown with the ages to be a thriving cultural center and exciting vacation destination. When your group is looking for a place to visit, check out where you can stay, play, and eat in Richmond.
As the state’s capital, Richmond has all of the standard hotels that you may expect from the Super 8 to Hilton at the Capitol Building. However, if you are looking for something that you can’t find anywhere else, something that screams “RICHMOND” and southern comfort, you should look into the historic hotels and inns.
First off, The Jefferson Hotel, though it is quite pricey, doesn’t just scream Richmond’s name, it proclaims it with opulent architecture, rich furnishings, and five star service and dining. If you are blessed enough to afford this hotel, you should stay here. Period. There’s nowhere else like it in the city.
For the rest of us without a limitless pocketbook, there are still historic, clean, and unique places to stay with great service. While the historic hotels may up the price tag, the bed and breakfast inns in the area offer all of the amenities and comforts at a fraction of the price. Grace Manor Inn, a historic home built in 1910, is a popular choice for its beautiful furnishings, saltwater pool, delicious food, and extremely friendly owners.
Also, Inn at Patrick Henry’s was originally open as an inn in 1850 in the historic Church Hill neighborhood only one block away from where Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech. Newly renovated with modern amenities, the Inn at Patrick Henry’s is a comfortable and rare chance to sample history firsthand.
Being the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, Richmond is rife with historic landmarks, museums, and memorials. If you’re in Richmond, you should definitely see the White House of the Confederacy, the home of President Jefferson Davis. This attraction is maintained as part of the American Civil War Museum which operates at two other locations: Historic Tredegar and the Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox. All three should be visited for history buffs as you can’t find them anyplace else in the United States. Missing this would be like going to Washington, D.C. and not seeing the White House. It shouldn’t be done.
Also in Richmond are two historic houses that stand out among the rest. Maymont, a 19th century Gilded Age mansion, and Agecroft Hall, a stunning 15th century Tudor home that was moved from England in the 1920s.
Maymont is the legacy left by its original owners who wanted the site preserved for curious visitors. On the estate, you can tour the grand mansion, stroll through the gardens, visit the wildlife exhibits and see bears and bobcats, the Nature & Visitor Center for alligators, or children’s farm where you can pet the farm animals.
Agecroft Hall, a wonder in its own right, continues to operate as a historic landmark and museum with regular demonstrations and performances. Over 4,000 artifacts from documents to centuries old furnishings are collected in the exhibits. Magnificent gardens elevate the aestheticism to a new level, pulling together the Tudor home and Virginian landscapes with gardens designed after famous English counterparts. Take a garden tour of the sunken garden or the Elizabethan knot garden during the spring and summer months for the ultimate exposure to the magic of flowers.
For more modern attractions, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Holocaust Museum, and Aviation Museum are all excellent and comprehensive historic and cultural museums. See Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, and Picasso at this premier art museum or feel with horrifying clarity the struggle of Holocaust victims at the memorial museum.
If you prefer something a little lighter, take a shopping detour at the Short Pump Town Center where you can find everything from Brookstone to Nordstrom, Michael Kors, Fossil, H&M, and Kate Spade. Window shoppers and luxury addicts will thoroughly enjoy this upscale outdoor mall.
You have to eat, so eat well and you’ll have a better time on vacation. It’s simple, but some people tend to skimp on food to save money for shopping or tours and such. Don’t do that; there’s no room for McDonald’s when you’re on vacation. Treat yourself.
For breakfast, jump straight to Millie’s Diner where you can find the General Lee, poached eggs smothered in sausage gravy on a homemade biscuit, or Castro’s Mess, scrambled eggs with Cuban spiced pork, onions, and an assortment of southern inspired ingredients.
At lunch, take a break from touring to enjoy The Naked Onion, an affordable sandwich shop that serves up a famous Banh Mi sandwich, grilled pork belly, pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic aioli on baguette. Another option may be Comfort, a southern style kitchen where you can find classics like blackened or fried catfish, gourmet BLT sandwiches, pulled pork BBQ, and meatloaf.
Dinner ends the perfect day of touring with an equally perfect meal. Try Pomegranate, a modern European and American cuisine restaurant that simply sings easy and fresh elegance. A little more expensive than the previous restaurants, but it’s worth it to try the braised beef cheeks au jus with a side of spaetzle or the white bean cassoulet. Heritage is another excellent choice with American seaside classics sparked up to a new level of modern deliciousness. Tilefish, roasted Amish half chicken, and Hudson Valley duck are regulars on the menu so you know it must be awesome.
As always, when in doubt about what to order, ask the waiter. They like giving their opinion and they are often right about what the chefs make extra yummy.