Two years ago Patrick and I stopped in Richmond for the night while heading down to Hilton Head. We only had a quick dinner and then left the next morning but even that quick glimpse made us want to come back and explore more. So when we were headed to Coastal Carolina this summer we decided to carve out more time and actually got a full 24 hour experience. We are already planning a trip back because this city is really something. Charming and historic, but also growing and changing at a rapid pace, it’s a great quick get away from DC. I did a fair amount of research before we left and solicited lots of advice but we barely scratched the surface of what Richmond has to offer. Here is a rundown of our 24 hour Richmond adventure – a little something for everyone. If you have Richmond recommendations please add them in the comments!
10:00am – James River Walk – Patrick and I arrive at the Hilton Downtown Richmond (really great location and super reasonable prices). We drop our bags and head right out the door. A quick walk from downtown and you are at the James River. Richmond has done a great job creating walking and bike paths along the river with lots of signs with historical information as well. We knew we were in for a high calorie day so decided to get moving a bit first to feel less guilty. We decided to check out Belle Isle, one of the biggest islands in the river, and it certainly delivered.
Once you are on the island it’s hard to believe you are in a city, it’s so peaceful. Nature people we are not, so it was a little disorienting though we finally made it to the other side of the island. If I were going to do it again I wouldn’t walk all the way across the river and island to the other side of the city (in August no less) but it made the breweries on the other side that much more refreshing!
11:00am – Legend Brewery – Sweaty and THIRSTY we arrive at Legend Brewery Company, the first of the breweries on our trip and also one of the first in Richmond. They have a great outdoor patio overlooking the city and lots of fun barrel aged beers you can only get at the brewpub. Not the most creative beers I have ever had but friendly staff and a much needed break from the heat.
11:45am – Blue Beer Cider – Right around the corner from Legend is Blue Beer Cider. They are moving to a new and bigger location back on the other side of the river soon, which will make this place much more accessible. I am not a big cider person but this place just blew me away. Do make sure to stop by and do a tasting of their ciders.
From Hopsap Shandy, their hopped cider, to Mill Race Bramble, their berry flavored cider, every one is dry, crisp and totally unexpected. This place really changed how I think about cider and I cannot wait to go back and check out their new location (the current location leaves something to be desired as it is just a room in an industrial building – however the helpful staff and amazing cider more than make up for it).
1:00pm – Can Can Brasserie and the Carytown District – After all that walking (and tastings!) we needed sustenance so we headed to Carytown. This is such a cute little stretch of the city that mostly runs along West Cary Street. If you want to do some shopping, this is definitely the spot with cute independent boutiques and an outpost of one of my favorite stores, Creme de la Creme. The last time we were in Richmond we had a terrific dinner at Can Can Brasserie and while normally I don’t like repeating myself in another city, the sound of a bistro lunch was too enticing.
I am so glad we went back, as this place is really a stand out. If you like Le Diplomate in DC, well this is the Richmond version. It is like stepping into a Paris bistro but with a touch of Southern charm. Even better we decided to sit at the bar and during the week they have a discounted bar menu with many of the most popular dishes. Fortified by mussels and frites we set off for more exploring.
3:00pm – Scott’s Addition Neighborhood – This semi industrial neighborhood has been totally transformed over the last several years. Like many up and coming cities these large vacant buildings have been turned into hip loft apartments and new commercial spaces. Scott’s Addition has a pretty ridiculous concentration of breweries in it, so if you are interested in packing in as many as possible I would send you here. Honestly for breweries I do think it’s about personal taste – we heard from almost everyone in the food industry that we had to try The Veil Brewing Co. but we were not impressed. You have to REALLY be in to beer here – the all black walls, beers poured in wine glasses and the pretension really turned me off.
Ardent Craft Ales, was much more my speed with a large beer garden outside and a light filled, laid back tasting room. There is also Hardywood, Isley Brewing Company, James River Distillery and many others all packed into about one square mile. We did not hit all of these (and I wouldn’t recommend it!) but needless to say if you want to spend an afternoon sampling Richmond craft beer, Scott’s Addition is the place to be.
6:00pm – Tarrant’s Cafe – After some more exploring, a cat nap and a quick change of clothes we are ready to go out on the town. Near our hotel we stumbled across this adorable little supper club like restaurant called Tarrant’s Cafe. Housed in an old pharmacy building this place is quintessential Richmond. I love how the city has retained many of its older buildings and have lovingly updated them. With original pressed tin ceilings, vintage chandeliers and lovely stained glass this place does a mean cocktail. Ask for any of the classics (I went with a Vesper martini of course) and you won’t be disappointed.
8:00pm – The Roosevelt – Another neighborhood worth checking out is Church Hill. Unfortunately the famous Sub Rosa Bakery was closed by the time we got there for our dinner reservation but it’s just another excuse to go back! The Roosevelt was recommended by almost everyone I spoke to. This James Beard award winning restaurant is tucked into a small row house so charming it makes you feel like you are at a dinner party rather than a restaurant.
They serve updated southern classics made out of local ingredients – make sure to end the night with the chocolate pudding! We were totally beat after our long day so didn’t get to check out the nightlife in Church Hill but there are several bars within walking distance if you want a nightcap.
Next day – 9:00am – Perly’s -This is a classic Jewish deli with a hipster twist. Again another restored business that has all of the old lovely details with modern twists on the menu (think rosemary flavored cream cheese and homemade sodas). I had one of the best latkes I have ever had while sitting at the old school diner style counter. We left stuffed and happy, eager to return to Richmond to discover more gems.