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Like many Southern cities, Richmond is experiencing a comeback thanks to its bountiful breweries, celebrated restaurants, and growing arts and culture scene. The hype may have begun when in 2012 Outside Magazine voted it, ‘the nation’s most livable river town.’ It also doesn’t hurt that a plethora of their chef’s keep winning James Beard Awards or that the startup scene is going strong. We can’t forget Richmond is home to many amazing colleges and universities that are keeping the talent pool full in River City. Whatever the reason, here are our favorite things to do in Richmond, VA, both new and old, that keep us coming back to the city where Founding Father Patrick Henry famously proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Where to Shop in Richmond, Virginia
One of the menswear world's favorite shirting brands is based right here in Richmond. Schedule a made-to-measure appointment and check the bespoke workshop in back of the airy shop or just swing by and stock up on your favorite shirts, sweaters, and menswear accessories.
Originally known for their vintage clothing selection, the store has garnered more attention for their intoxicating fragrances, candles, and minimalist womenswear selection.
The Quirk gallery and hotel has a great gift shop where you can find locally made jewelry, as well as limited edition artwork, stationary, and cool things for kids.
This store has had a cult following since 1996 and is now a globally known brand. Richmond can give some credit to Need Supply for bringing a wider eye to the town thanks to its beautifully curated shop. They carry designer men’s, women’s, and lifestyle brands that could cause sensory overload.
Wake up on Saturday and stroll around one of America's favorite markets. From artist’s booths to farmer’s stalls and food trucks, you can tackle breakfast and souvenirs all in one place (think local honey and hand cut soap).
Things to Do in Richmond, Virginia
Designed by famed American architect, Steven Holl, this light and airy new building is the first dedicated to contemporary art in Richmond. There will be rotating exhibitions as well as films, lectures, and even coffee conversations in their Ellwood Thompson café.
While this lovely landscape is nothing new, it is certainly getting renewed attention thanks to its abundant programming. One of our favorite things to do in Richmond is explore 50 acres of lush gardens and the 11,000-square-foot glass-domed conservatory. Located in the Asian Valley, Robins tea house is a great spot for lunch.
Opened in 1898 as the first museum in Richmond, The Valentine houses an incredible selection of decorative arts, costumes, textiles, and architecture. Be sure to visit the Wickham-Valentine House as well. Built in 1812 as a private residence and later the home of the Valentine Museum, it is one of the finest examples of architecture from the Federal period.
Best Restaurants in Richmond, Virginia
One of the best places to eat in Richmond, Longoven is a stunning, modern fine dining spot (that used to be a much loved pop-up restaurant). They offer both à la carte and tasting menus based on what is fresh from the local farms. The food is as artistic as the interiors (care of Fultz & Singh architects), so expect lots of camera phones to be out at mealtime.
Far from the typical Southern cuisine vibe, this calm, minimal space embraces all things Alpine from saucisson and soppressata to heavenly fondue. No wonder their chef, Brittany Anderson was a James Beard Award semi-finalist.
Chef and owner Walter Bundy, formerly of French Laundry, pioneered farm to table in Richmond, but this restaurant takes it to a more haute cuisine level. Think thyme & butter-basted swordfish and BBQ-style Norfolk Sound shrimp & grits. Opened just two years ago, it is still getting a bounty of buzz.
This is the place when you want a more casual dinner with a great beer selection. Locally known as “PBR,” this hot spot just opened in June of 2018. They have an expansive patio, and the pizza has a cult following. One of our faves is the Fatty Smokes (Carolina BBQ sauce with smoked brisket, fresno peppers, pickled onions, colby jack, and cilantro). As for the cocktail list, The Belle Ringer Margarita made with Richmond’s own Belle Isle Honey Habanero moonshine is a favorite.
This hip little ice cream shop is best known for their marshmallow fluff and wide selection of homemade flavors. Almost all ingredients are made in-house, like their waffle cones and the cookies in their cookies & cream. Added bonus: Lots of options for vegans!
Where to Drink in Richmond
Richmond hopped on the craft beer train in 2011 and has become a mecca for aficionados with more than 30 breweries to explore. Hardywood, which is well known for their Gingerbread Stout, opened a new destination brewery where guests can tuck into their taproom and try a variety of beers. They don't have a restaurant but food trucks are often on-site.
The Jasper is the brainchild of two of Richmond’s most talented bartenders, Mattias Hägglund and Thomas “T” Leggett. The ‘20s vibe is felt from the logo to the interiors and cocktails. A favorite on the menu is the Quoit Club Punch, the official drink of Richmond’s most popular 19th-century social club.
Located in a 130-year-old historic firehouse, Ironclad is Richmond’s newest coffee house, serving specialty coffees that are thoughtfully sourced. This eclectic spot also offers delicious baked goods from Lark Baking Co and Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe. Side note: Have your shoes polished on an elegant old shoe shine station that formerly resided in the Jefferson Hotel.
Where to Stay in Richmond, Virginia
This beaux-arts beauty was built by famed New York architects, Carrere and Hastings in 1895 and underwent a four-year renovation completed in 2018. The Jefferson, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, boasts a dazzling history from hosting the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ray Charles to alligators in their palm court fountain. Today the remodeled rooms, complete with marble bathrooms, are the ideal place to rest one's head after a long day of exploring around town. Afternoon tea in the Palm Court is an old-school treat, so book early.
If you are looking for something less traditional, The Quirk is the spot. Located in the heart of downtown in the arts and design district and owned by a local art gallery of the same name, this is the buzzy place to be. Their restaurant, Maple + Pine is the place to be for weekend brunch and their rooftop bar is the perfect place to relax with a view.