|Skyline of Richmond, VA - Photo courtesy of Adam Marable|
"While you weren't looking, Richmond got cool."
- Frommer's Top Destinations for 2014
Yes, that's right. Richmond has blossomed into an up-and-coming destination for travelers and culture enthusiasts alike, having been named in Frommer's Top Destinations for 2014 - one of only two U.S. cities to make the list and rubbing shoulders with more well-known travel destinations such as Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Scotland and the Dominican Republic.
So what makes the River City so special?
Invariably, when you ask Richmonders this question, their responses can be summed up in five words: History. Culture. Food. Nature. Location.
(c) Rick Hopper BlueRidgeMountainHome.blogspot.com
Richmond has a lot to offer in the history department, having been a center of revolutionary thought in the 1770s when Patrick Henry delivered his motivating "Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death" speech at St John's Church and later a hotbed of secession resulting in the capitol of the Confederacy being moved to Richmond in 1861 during the American Civil War. Many Civil War battlefields are scattered within an hour's drive of Richmond, and 2014 marks the 150 year anniversary for many of the biggest battles in the area, including Battle of the Wilderness and the first siege of Petersburg. Or if battlefields aren't your cup of tea, you could tour one of the James River Plantations scattered along Route 5 between Richmond and Williamsburg. These lovely 18th century plantations were birthplaces and homes to U.S. Presidents, Virginia governors, and signers of the Declaration of Independence. Or you could venture back into Richmond itself to tour the Virginia House or Agecroft Hall, 11th and 14th century transplants from Warwick and Lancashire, England, respectively, which were brought to Richmond in the 1920s after being put up for sale at auction in their original locations.
|J.E.B. Stuart Statue on Monument Ave|
|Friday night racing at RIR|
The Richmond music scene is just as multifaceted as its residents - with venues for everything from classical music, country, heavy metal, and all genres in between. The metal scene is especially vibrant in Richmond with local bands such as Seraph aspiring to reach the same level of recognition as GWAR and Lamb of God, who both found their beginnings in Richmond. Or you could check out country group River City Gang playing their song "This Old Town" in a restaurant somewhere in the city. Other venues such as The National, Innsbrook After Hours, Pocahontas Live or one of Richmond's many festivals draw big-name stars from all over the country if that's more to your liking.
|Shamrock the Block 2014|
Eating is an experience in and of itself in Richmond. You can enjoy almost any type of cuisine and have multiple options of each in various price ranges. In the mood for Thai? Mexican? French? Seafood? Italian? Cuban? Farm-fresh? Vegetarian? Good ol' fashioned burgers? If you want it, Richmond probably has it. Within the past few years, foodies have started to take notice of Richmond, ranking it #4 on The Daily Meal's Best Small Towns for Food in 2013 and naming it one of the "next big trend[s] in dining" in Wine Mag's "Eating and Drinking in the South."
|Martini's at Bar Louie|
Photo courtesy of Meghan M.
Nature near Richmond
Photo Courtesy of Joanna Landrum
|Shenandoah River near Luray; 2 hrs from Richmond|
Photo courtesy of Brittany James
So, yes! Richmond has a lot to offer, not only to its residents but to travelers from all corners of the globe. And this Richmonder is particularly happy to see that the world is finally taking notice!
~ Just a Thrifty Gypsy
Have you visited Richmond? What are some of your favorite places there?
P.S. If my piece hasn't sold you on a visit yet, be sure to drop me a line with your particular interests, and I'd be glad to tailor-fit a few sites for you!
*Updated 04/03/14 13:21 to mention Lewis-Ginter Botanical Garden's ranking as #2 Best Public Garden in North America by USA Today Travel's 10Best Readers' Choice awards.