An Insider’s Guide to Richmond

Things to do in Richmond, VA whether you're new to the town or just passing through.

Richmond, Virginia is one of those cities that everyone has heard of, but not necessarily visited. It's not a well-known southern foodie destination like Savannah or Charleston, nor does it have the trendy appeal of Chattanooga or the timeless pull of New Orleans, but Richmond is a destination to pay attention to. First, it's the state capital of Virginia, and let's not forget Richmond's broadly recognized claim to fame: Patrick Henry made his historic "Give me liberty or give me death" speech in 1775. But there is a lot more.

Here are some fun––and mostly free––activities to keep you busy in Richmond throughout the year.

  • The Virginia State Capitol - This elegant legislative building was designed in 1788 by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau. Its impressive architecture was heavily influenced by Maison Carrée, a French building of Roman design. Set in the middle of a beautifully landscaped 12-acres, it is flanked by statues of prominent figures from early U.S. history. During the Civil War it served as the Confederate capital. This national historic landmark is the perfect place for a lunch break, sunny afternoon picnic, or jaunt with your dog. Bonus points if you spot the statue of Edgar Allan Poe.

  • Maymont Park - Here you'll find 100 acres of both raw and cultivated natural beauty. Its original owners, James H. and Sallie Dooley, lived in a striking mansion (for which both guided and unguided tours are available) on the estate until their deaths, at which point Maymont was bequeathed to the public. Rolling hills, landscaped gardens, and nature exhibits populate this serene public park. Take a gander at rescued bald eagles and black bears that are no longer able to survive in the wild, or explore the Japanese garden where koi will witness your attempts to meditate (no judgement though).
  • The Virginia Capital Trail - The trail offers 52 miles of paved biking paradise from Richmond to Williamsburg. As you whiz down this winding trail, try to slow down enough to read the historic landmark signs dotted along the way. If you're based in Richmond, I recommend heading towards Williamsburg starting from Dorey Park. The trail is less crowded and strays farther away from the road at that point than it does if you begin your ride in downtown Richmond. You'll pass lush foliage and gently rolling farmland as you wind your way south, often without seeing another soul for miles. No bike? No problem. There's plenty of outfits willing to hook you up with a sweet 2-wheeler.

  • Ellwood Thompson - This local grocery store extraordinaire caters to the health- and environmentally-conscious. If you're looking for a casual bite to eat, a relaxed jazz performance, or even some spiritual enlightenment, you've come to the right place. Their Beet Cafe frequently features local bands or experts hosting classes on anything from aromatherapy to Chinese acupuncture. Plus, Ellwood Thompson's prepared food bar makes Whole Foods' offerings pale in comparison, with an ever changing array of skillfully prepared foods catering to vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike. Even those who scoff at the idea of seitan as an entree (um, hello, it's delicious) will surely be impressed by items like vegan chicken parmesan and braised pork ribs made from ethically raised porcine. Pro tip: if you're hungry hit the hot bar before shopping or else you'll end up buying half the store...as I have been known to do on occasion.
  • Monument Avenue - This nationally renowned boulevard is lined with jaw-droppingly gorgeous turn-of-the-century mansions and interspersed with majestic statues of noted historical figures. Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (the original icon for the hipster beard) are just a few of the famous denizens depicted in bronze along the route. Do yourself a favor and get someone else to drive down this distinguished avenue so you can properly appreciate the stunning architecture without risking your (or someone else's) life or limbs.
  • Historic St. John's Church - This historic site doubles as one of the nation's oldest churches that's still in use today and the site of Patrick Henry's famous speech. Erected in 1741, this meticulously-restored church offers guided tours where you'll learn just how critical Henry's speech was the to the birth of a young nation, as well as fascinating historical facts about the city of Richmond. If you happen to visit on a Sunday, reserve a spot to observe the reenactment of the oft quoted speech, performed by actors portraying George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the celebrated Henry himself.
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Here you'll experience a historic property boasting 50 acres of exquisitely designed gardens. If you happen to visit Lewis Ginter at night during the holiday season, much of the outdoor space will be cheerfully lit with festive lights and illuminated depictions of storybook characters. It's definitely worth braving the cold for - and it doesn't hurt that you can buy hot drinks and snacks along the way. You can plan your visit for any time, as they have exhibits year round that align with the seasons. Meander down the Woodland Walk, a shaded path hidden away from the rest of the open air gardens and bordered with lush foliage, or build up an appetite gawking at the Edible Display Garden. (Well, I worked up an appetite anyway. If you're expecting burgers in trees you'll probably be disappointed.) If it's too cold to tromp around outside, warm up in their 11,000 square foot conservatory. You'll get to admire painstakingly crafted displays of exotic and unusual florae, as well as the more traditional, perennially appealing plant life.

  • Carytown Shopping District - A picturesque stretch of local boutiques, eateries, and businesses. As soon as you set foot on the mile-long stretch of Cary Street you may experience a sensation not unlike lust. Your heartbeat will speed up with excitement at the grand expense of irresistible stores and you'll find yourself smiling for no reason. Well, actually, there is a good reason: it's freakin' adorable. Peruse trendy high-end garb and bags at Roan, or scoop up a vintage DVF dress at Clementine. Even if you aren't really someone who goes gaga over luxury scented candles and bar tools that could pass as art, definitely stop by Mongrel. A purveyor of everything from cheeky tea towels to mustache wax to Richmond memorabilia, this is a place where you could easily spend an hour just browsing.
  • Richmond Wine Station - A wine retailer and bar with a unique imbibing experience. The Richmond Wine Station is like a tapas restaurant for wine: it boasts 64 wines dispensed automatically from machines stationed throughout the space in three different size pours. Simply swipe your refillable card at the machine, choose your wine and pour size, and pour your own wine. Eats are available to accompany the wine (as are some craft beer selections for those who have yet to embrace oenophilia). Grab a glass and get tasting!
  • Lucy's Restaurant - An under-the-radar dining establishment with a cult following. Located in the historic Jackson Ward district, you'll love this cozy space owned by married restaurateurs Amanda and Jason Lucy. Choose from options like creamy sweet potato hummus with fried kale or crispy fried overs served over bacon collard greens (taste the south!) for an appetizer, and agonize over the mouthwatering entrees. With items like Non-Spaghetti and Meatballs (spaghetti squash pasta topped with artichoke, spinach and avocado "meatballs") and Berkshire Pork Chop with Smoked Smashed Potatoes you may be tempted to come back for second helpings.

This is just a small sampling of what Richmond has to offer. You could spend days educating yourself at one of its many museums, or indulging your inner Bacchus at a local winery or two (or three).

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Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.

This perfect low-key vacation is not your average camping experience.

Locations

Atlanta, Austin & San Antonio, Boston, Charlotte & Raleigh, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, Portland, and Washington, DC.

Getaway's outposts are a maximum 2-hour drive from these major cities.

getaway cabin all seasons

Why Getaway?

It's an escape for the always on. Leave your work, technology and worries at home, and lean into an experience that allows you to reconnect and center yourself in nature.

Each cabin features 1 (or 2) queen-sized bed as well as a full indoor bathroom, both heat and a/c, and reliable electricity. The kitchen is stocked with food staples and cookware and there is a fire pit and outdoor seating. All cabins are family-friendly and dogs are permitted.

getaway essentials

Booking & Price

Book through the Getaway site. Cabins fit 1 - 4 guests and cost as low as $129 a night.

Safety

Cabins are already distanced (50-150' feet apart) from one another and go through a deep disinfection process between guest stays. Check-in is contactless, and each guest accesses their cabins through a personalized key code.

getaway activities

UPDATE: Plan Your Winter Escape Today With Getaway! Take $20 Off Your Stay With Code Winter20!

Given the nature of the pandemic, it can be tough to find the best ways to spend the usual festivities that New Year's Eve brings.

Luckily, if you're comfortable enough to step outside for the occasion, there are great places still open and worth visiting. Although you should always keep COVID-19 safety precautions in mind, here are three of the most stunning places to spend Near Year's Eve in the U.S.

New York City (New York)

No guide to stunning places to spend New Year's Eve in the U.S. would be complete without the presence of New York City, New York. The Times Square ball drop is a must-see annual event, though this year it will be a bit different due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the city will still be throwing an event for all to enjoy that will keep social distancing in mind and focus on bringing people together virtually.

While there might be live events for some to enjoy, none have been officially announced just yet. Even if you're enjoying the festivities virtually, there are few better places to spend this special occasion than at the tip of the NYC skyline.

New York City New Years Eve New York City New Years EveForbes

Lake Travis (Texas)

Lake Travis is a brilliant body of water in Texas that provides a versatile collection of ways to enjoy its beauty. If you'd prefer to keep your party secluded due to the pandemic, you can enjoy the evening on a boat in the waters of this lake, which is home to the famous "Devil's Cove" party destination.

If you're comfortable spending the evening in a venue that practices COVID-19 safety precautions, consider relaxing on one of the three decks on display at The Oasis. Even if you don't stick around to ring in the New Year, viewing the sunset from The Oasis is an incredible experience in itself.

Lake Travs Lake Travislaketravis.com

Cape Cod (Massachusetts)

If you're looking for a quainter way to ring in the new year, consider visiting Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Aside from the cool weather and stunning scenery, when spending New Year's Eve in Cape Cod you can visit places such as the Belfry Inn & Bistro. This lovely location has a focus on good dining, stylish and comfortable living, and COVID-19 safety, all of which they put on display via their website.

If you'd prefer not to spend too much time in a restaurant or bar, you can indulge in the incredible appearance of areas like Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Simply wandering around the area and taking in the scenery before enjoying an intimate evening inside makes for an unforgettable adventure.

Cape Cod New Years Eve Cape Cod New Years Evebluegreenvacations.com

Due to the ever-changing nature of certain venues during the pandemic, be sure to regularly check-up on any venues you wish to visit. That way, you can remain in the loop on their availability, activities, and safety precautions upon arrival.