Dear PoPville – Is Richmond worth a visit?

Photo of Richmond’s famous movie palace, the Byrd, by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

Dear PoPville,

Is there anything in the city particularly worth exploring? VA tourist boards of course say everything is, but for a DC resident with all the riches here, well. . . I’m driving back from NC next Sunday and thought about staying over one night (and skipping the returning beach traffic on 95.) VMFA does look good – what else? Any extraordinary/unique restaurants? Any weird off the grid roadside attractions?

51 Comment

  • Yes, Richmond is amazing.

  • Maymont is really awesome. Beautiful gardens and a little zoo. Could definitely spend a whole day there.

  • VMFA is nice. There’s also a museum of the confederacy that seems off the grid to me, but I didn’t grow up in the South.

    Also, the Shockoe Slip/Shockoe Bottom neighborhood is unlike any you’ll find in DC. It’s an actual historic urban area.

  • Drive around “the Fan” area and look at all of the incredible Victorian houses that are, in my opinion, even better than those in DC.

  • I went to school at VCU and have lived in DC for 6 years and I definitely recommend a trip to Richmond!

    Check out the restaurants and shopping in Carytown (Nacho Mama’s is a favorite)
    Take a walk around Belle Isle or Maymont/Hollywood Cemetery
    Treat yourself to a glass of wine at the Jefferson Hotel or at James River Winery
    Or if beer is your thing, check out Legend Brewery and enjoy the skyline view


  • Belle Isle!

  • “It sure is worth a visit!”

    -Union Army soldier circa 1865

  • Definitely for shopping in Carytown! Stop by Need Supply for hipster clothes, there’s a great restaurant supply store on the same street that sells vanilla beans individually – buy for all your baker friends. Cute restaurants and bars, and almost everything is affordable!

  • jim_ed

    If you like overweight dudes with neck beards and girls with bad art tattoos covering up insecurities, then Richmond is for you!

    Richmond’s fine. It’s got pretty neighborhoods out in the Fan, and driving down Monument is cool. It’s also shockingly cheap to go out and eat/drink at good restaurants, and really hammers home how laughably overpriced the DC dining scene is. Carytown has some funky shopping choices, and Shockhoe Slip/Bottom have the kind of bars you’d find in Arlington/DC(with prices roughly halved).

    Keep in mind when booking a room, a lot of the big hotels in Richmond are downtown or on Broad St. Unlike DC, Richmond’s downtown is kind of blighty, with large stretches of abandoned storefronts, especially on Grace, Broad, or near the convention center.

    • Agreed – lots of bad tattoos in Richmond. But it’s still a pretty fun place to go out and get drunk.

      I highly recommend drinking at Wonderland bar on Main. Punk rock-zombie-death metal bar decorated with severed heads – YES!

  • What city is NOT worth visiting, especially if you’re already passing through? There’s cool stuff everywhere.

  • richmond is the town that saved PBR form bankruptcy.

  • I have family that live there, so we don’t really go sightsee, but I can recommend a few good places to eat:
    Mekong–Vietnamese food and an AWESOME beer selection
    Can Can –French
    Coppola’s –Sandwiches
    Buzz & Ned’s–BBQ
    Edo’s Squid or Mamma Zu’s–Italian

  • justinbc

    Richmond is definitely worth stopping in for a day, especially if you’re already on the way. As most people have mentioned the stuff along Cary St is quite cute, and there are some great coffee shops like Lamplighter and GlobeHopper to pop into for a buzz. Also be sure to drive through the Windsor Farms neighborhood to check out some beautiful estates including the Virginia House and Agecroft Hall, both of which were actually transported over from England.

    An absolute must if you like good food and drink is the Rappahannock restaurant on Grace. It’s affiliated with the oyster bar here in Union Market, except with a full scale menu that’s affordable and full of great options. As an extra bonus, Katie who used to run the bar at Columbia Room is now the beverage director there and has done some fantastic thinks with their drink menus, especially the cocktails.

    • justinbc

      Another food recommendation would be Black Sheep, where the sandwiches come as big as your imagine can get, and the desserts are equally as good.

    • Yes to Rappahannock! And don’t be discouraged on the off chance that you have a vegetarian in your party…when I went to a dinner there, the chef specially whipped something up off-menu, and it was one of the BEST vegetarian restaurat meals I’ve had in a long time.

  • Poe Museum, Belle Isle for the river views, Carytown for shopping, the Fan bars (go to the intersection of Main and Robinson and take your pick), drive through downtown (1 mi away from the Fan), Sunday Farmers Market, VMFA, Maymont. Check out for events. Grab a drink at the Tobacco Company; eat elsewhere. Seriously.

    I went to college and lived in Richmond for 7 years; grew up in DC and have been back here living for 5. DC has lots of riches, sure, but Richmond is completely different. It’s a wonderful city and they don’t have traffic. Just go.

    • I’ll second the Poe Museum, as well. (I can’t believe I’d forgotten about it!)

      And, it sounds like you won’t be spending the night, but if you decide to and you need somewhere to stay, I’ve stayed at the Linden Row Inn a couple of times and it’s always been great.

      • Duh, I can’t read, I see now that it says you will be staying one night! I just saw that you were stopping on your way back and that’s all I paid attention to.

      • Yes, we’ve run down to Richmond just to get a sense of “not-DC”, and it’s been fun each time. Linden Row Inn is our spot, so it’s nice to see it noted here.

  • I just saw a concert at The National Theater last weekend and it was a pretty awesome venue. Maybe take a look to see if anyone interesting is playing.

  • I am a (tattoo-less) Richmond native. I second the advice of going to Maymont, Carytown, the Fan District,Shockoe Bottom, and Belle Isle/Brown’s Island. I happen to be a huge fan of Bottom’s Up Pizza which is right on the James River downtown. There’s a lot you can see, and would definitely be worth the stop.

  • It seems like people have already made tons of great suggestions. (I agree with the Carytown recommendations.)

    I’ll add that, if you want to do something historic, St. John’s Church is great-they do reenactments of debates among the Founding Fathers.

  • Yes you should stop in Richmond. No one has mentioned yet that if you go to Belle Island you can actually swim in the James River unlike the Potomac River here. That’s pretty fun, but bring some shoes to wade through the smaller rapids and the rocks. Lots of folks in summer even bomb down the rapids in tubes (a little risky though). Lots of fun hanging out there on the rocks.

    Also I second Bottom’s Up Pizza. That place pretty much kills any pizza place in DC. It is much thicker slice of pizza ; sort of like deep dish style. The flavor is good.

    These places are also awesome and affordable:
    Mama Zu’s ( over in Oregon Hill; crushes most Italian Food options in DC – bring cash though)
    Edo’s Squid (The Fan, above the sub shop. Also good Italian)
    Millie’s (Shockoe Bottom; I had the best Rockfish I’ve ever had in my life at this place. Seriously good, a little more loot though…)

    Also you should just go to “The Jefferson” hotel to go to the bar and have the bar tender make you a White Russian so you can marvel at the ridiculousness of that place.

    • Also….as mentioned by others, you should go to Coppola’s. They makes awesome sandwiches. That place was a weekly ritual for me for years.

  • Definitely do VMFA. their upstairs cafe overlooking the sculpture garden is amazing. i think i heard something about live music on saturday nights to enjoy with dinner. another great place: hardywood brewery. it’s in the middle of an industrial park but it’s an awesome way to spend an afternoon/early evening. richmond is broken up into 2 small downtown areas: the fan and the bottom. both are full of local bars and good restaurants. find what you want on yelp whether it be a rooftop, a dj, or a place with great people-watching. i suggest the fan; it has a lot of outdoor patio options and has a great neighborhood feel. and in the morning, go to dixie donut in carytown. you won’t regret it.

    • +1 Hardywood Park – Fantastic place, some of the best craft beer around. We were there on a Friday night, they had a band there, lots of people, good vibe all around and great beer.

  • People are really offended by the tattoos, i.e. personal choices of other people that do not have a direct impact on your life? Not everyone wants to be a typical boring looking DC office drone (which I also have no problem with). The world is big enough for all of us people.

    • It’s just an aesthetic preference (I assume)… not much different than remarking on a city where, say, everyone seems to have big hair.

  • Yes,VMFA is worth the stop and Richmond is a great place to visit! VMFA is the only art museum in the nation to be open 365 days a year. But we’re not just about frequency. The museum’s collections span 5000 years and represent cultures across the globe.

    You probably saw the Lichtenstein show at the National Gallery (it’s now in London). And MoMA has an Oldenburg retrospective. The OTHER major Pop Art retrospective is Pop Art and Beyond: Tom Wesselmann. Please ask for a package at the front desk when you arrive. Spoiler alert: Sunday’s Post will have a review by Pulitzer winner Philip Kennicott on Wesselmann. Promise us that you’ll visit the show before you read Philip’s review and let us know if you agree!

    Lots more to see @VMFA. Wesselmann is the only ticketed exhibition currently. All of these are free, as is general admission:

  • I honestly can’t believe no one has recommended Kuba Kuba yet. It is hands down the best brunch I’ve ever had. They have a California Huevos Rancheros to die for. I always stop by there on my way out of Richmond. Check out their menu:

    Also, Impanema has FANTASTIC vegetarian food. And $2 beers. You’ll probably have to look at a lot of bad tattoos while you’re their (sorry, but really, who cares?)

    • Here, here. Best Cuban food for miles around. And to boot, at one point it seemed like half of Bio Ritmo worked there.

  • alamo bbq!

  • Am I really that crazy to be the first to say, just go to King’s Dominion!
    The Dominator is the best 2.5min you’ll have of your life!

  • Richmond is Baltimore with white people.

  • everything pretty much closes on sunday down there, and I would recommend COMFORT (CLOSED ON SUNDAYS) for meals.

  • brookland_rez

    I haven’t been in a while, but I remember an area called the Fan District, centered around Cary St I think as having a lot of cool shops. I used to go to this skate shop there as well as several record stores.

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