Last year, I was fortunate enough to go to a conference in Richmond, VA. My initial thoughts were, “Why Richmond? What is so interesting about Richmond that a conference should be held there?”
After finding out the location of the conference, I began researching and creating an extensive list of “things to do” and “restaurants” to visit. I looked at the Visit Richmond tourist website, searched Food Network‘s page to see if any interesting restaurants were listed, searched the New York Times travel guides, and cross referenced these results with Trip Advisor listings to cobble together a list of things to do and places to eat. This extensive research produced the following guides for the Richmond, VA area. Surprisingly, I discovered that there was quite a few “things to do” and “places to eat” in Richmond.
After all this research and visiting the city, here’s why I think Richmond, VA should be a city that you add to your travel list.
My favorite thing to do during my free time was to walk the river walk. The River Walk stretches one-and-one-quarter-miles along the James River and the Kanawha and Haxall canals. There are access points at nearly every block between 5th and 17th streets. Part of the river walk features covered walkways, elevated bridges and train tracks, water features and interesting graffiti art.
During the sunrise and sunset, the beauty of this walk awakens, blossoms and slumbers. It was a peaceful place to prepare for and decompress from the events of the conference.
The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
At the end of the River Walk the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar begins. This site and museum interprets the Civil War from Union, Confederate and African-American perspectives. The Center is located on eight acres on the historic James River in downtown Richmond and the Tredegar site contains five surviving buildings/structures illustrating the iron works era.
If you are into history or architecture, this is the place to visit in Richmond. This area is absolutely gorgeous and steeped in history. I spent hours exploring this area alone.
Virginia State Capitol
The grounds surrounding the Virginia State Capitol includes the Capitol building, a George Washington Monument, a Bell Tower, the Virginia Secretary of Commonwealth house, and the Virginia Civil Rights monument. This park was my favorite place to visit during sunrise.
I visited the area surrounding the Capitol multiple times. The detail on the Washington Monument and the Civil Rights Monument had me enamored with the Capitol grounds. A person could hour upon hour viewing theses monuments without ever capturing every detail.
The food was the most surprising part of my trip. When I think of great cities that have great restaurants, Richmond is not a city that would ever cross my mind. This is what made eating in Richmond a very pleasant surprise.
Exploring this “hidden gem,” gave me a new appreciation of the city of Richmond and an understanding of the beauty that is waiting to be discovered in this small yet beautiful city.
Have you ever been to a city that pleasantly surprised you? If so, please post a note in the comments.