If you have a chance to steal away to Richmond, VA….do it! Some call it the “Brooklyn of the South” and I can totally see why! Richmond boasts a vibrant arts and architecture scene, is a food and craft cocktail destination and not to mention it’s rich with history!
We spent a long weekend escaping the masses in Washington, D.C over a certain weekend…here are a few of the highlights!
All the arts:
It’s so refreshing to see how outward and forward Richmond is about embracing the arts. Murals dot the old industrial building walls throughout the city, each one as unique as the many neighborhoods that make up the city. Much like NYC the neighborhoods all have their own vibe and story.
One of my favorite places we visited was the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA), starting with the beautiful blend of traditional and modern architecture. It’s a vast building spanning a few blocks long and is anything but an eye soar. We only visited one special gallery exhibit, Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life but we spent an hour slowly meandering the exhibit. We only saw a small fraction of the museum, so I can only imagine what other wonders there were to explore. The main reason we didn’t see it all was because the VMFA hosts a very trendy happy hour! Their restaurant, Amuse, is perched on the top level that looks out over the grounds surround the museum and also over the vast floors of the museum below. We drank swanky cocktails in orange modern lounge chairs and watch the seemingly impromptu ballroom dancing reception happening below us.
Let’s talk food:
I feel as though our whole trip was planned around where we were going to eat and when, which is par for the course for us.What really sums up the food scene in Richmond is that the menus are inventive and extremely fresh (totes farm to table), the portions are large, the service is almost always refreshingly friendly and very knowledgeable, and the prices won’t break your bank. It’s hard to pick in Richmond with so many trendy and fabulous places to eat, these are a just a few of the highlights. I’m not going to bore you with my amateur restaurant reviews, but you should certainly check them out!
Richmond was the Capital of the Confederacy, and it is very much a historic place that is proud of their history but in a culturally sensitive and introspective way. Richmond has plenty of southern charm to offer, specifically at the historic Jefferson Hotel. The hotel transports you back to another time, the decor is ornate and exudes the class and wealth of another era. They still have a traditional tea hour and when you walk into the hotel you will find it packed with ladies in their best fascinators and gentlemen in their tailored jackets. Fun fact, at one point the hotel had live alligators in their basins, so you will find brass alligators throughout the hotel, pretty cool!
When talking about wealth and old money, Maymont has to be included in the conversation. Maymont is a sprawling estate of the 19th century era owned by the railroad tycoon James Dooley. What was once a private home is now a public nature center and garden for the entire city to enjoy, for free. The wildlife center keeps only native Virginia birds and animals and you can wonder around the hilly grounds at your leisure. The wildlife center leads you into the gardens that were Sallie Dooley’s pride and joy. First, there is the Japanese Gardens that transport you to another world, even in the grey misty winter weather when we visited. Bamboo, bonsai trees, rock gardens, pagodas and koi fish, the garden has it all, including a steep climb up the stairs to the Italian Gardens and fountain. The Italian Gardens are what wedding dreams are made of, my pictures just do it justice because everything is pretty much dead, so let your imagination do the work, or google it.
We made a donation to have tour of the mansion and it was worth it! Any person that fancies their self as a home styler or even an entertainer you can’t not love looking at the past and appreciating the style and traditions. I was entranced by the details of each room, how different each one was and the function it was for. There were masculine rooms that featured rich mahogany and many leather bound books (but really) and feminine rooms that were in the French Rococo style and had silk damask wall coverings. Then of course there is the crowd favorite, Sallie’s room or better know as the Swan Room. YES!
Okay sorry that was super long, and that was only a quick weekend spent in Richmond.
Congratulations if you made all the way to the bottom, if you didn’t, I won’t be offended.
Overall, I just hope you visit Richmond and enjoy it as much as I did!