Richmond City Guide

Monday, June 15, 2015

Richmond is a fun city to visit any time of year, but it especially comes alive during the summer months. The restaurants open their patios, the shops throw open their doors, and the food trucks roll out again. Carytown sidewalks are filled with bearded hipsters, troubadours, and the brunch crowd. The river is packed with bikini-clad sun-tanners and brave kayakers. (Interesting fact: did you know that Richmond is the only urban setting with Class II and IV rapids running right through town?)  It really is a great city to visit and, even though it was recently named one of America's most overlooked small cities, I have a feeling that is about to change.

Since we're only going to be in Richmond for a few more weeks, now seemed like the perfect time to put together a list of some of my favorite spots around the city. This is by no means a comprehensive list and I'm sure there are a lot of fun places that I have missed, but these are just a few favorites that really stick out from our time here.

Favorite Restaurants
The Pearl
2229 West Main Street
Sit in the back of the restaurant by the large garage doors and order the fish tacos! (Here's my review)

The Continental Westhampton
5704 Grove Avenue
Try the Ultimate BLT or the Maple Sausage Corn Dogs. Both will leave you stuffed and happy!

Water Coastal Kitchen
3411 West Cary Street
This one is a little on the pricey end, but good for a treat. Look for the bright red patio umbrellas and request a table on the patio.

Carytown Mellow Mushroom
3012 West Cary Street
Repeat after me: Red Skin Potato Pie. Mmmmmmm......

The Franklin Inn
800 North Cleveland Street
You have to sit on the patio and you have to order the crab cake sandwich. Those are the rules. Not really, but it's what we do. (Here's my review)

En Su Boca
1001 North Boulevard
This taqueria is located in an old adult video store which I find a little ironic. Order fish tacos, grilled street corn, and the nachos totopos. Delicious!

Sugar Shack
1501 North Parham Road or 1001 North Lombardy Street
If you come to Richmond and don't eat a dozen Sugar Shack donuts, then you're doing it wrong. They have incredible flavors but our favorites are the classics: 6 glazed and 6 cinnamon sugar. I will go to my grave defending Sugar Shack as the best donuts around. Some other people agree with me.

Garnett's Cafe
2001 Park Avenue
This sweet corner cafe was right across the street from my college apartment. Seating is very limited, but the sandwiches are delicious and there is always a homemade pie on the counter.

Bottoms Up
1700 Dock Street
Explore the cobblestone streets of Shockoe Bottom, then come here and order the Chesapeake Crab pizza. You will never regret it. (I wrote a little bit about them here)

Sticky Rice
2232 West Main Street
If you like a bucket of tater tots with your sushi, go here. As a general rule, it's not a great place to go if you want to chat a lot with your table-mates (it is very loud). There is usually always a wait, but the fried sushi is worth it.

King of Pops
3001 West Clay Street
Normally you would have to keep an eye out for the King of Pops bicycle which roams all over Richmond during the summer months, but this summer they have opened a Pop Patio where you can walk right up to the sidewalk window and get your popsicle fix. Genius, right? You can't go wrong with any of their flavors, but my favorite is the chocolate sea salt.

Favorite Shops
3010 West Cary Street
This consignment shop in Carytown carries a lot of inexpensive brands (Target, H&M, Old Navy, etc.) that are then marked down to your typical consignment prices. They also carry an awesome selection of accessories and shoes!

3118 West Cary Street
If you're looking for Anthropologie dresses for less than half the cost, this is the place to go! Clementine is the sister store to Ashby's and is just a few blocks down Cary Street. It carries more upscale clothes (think Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, J.Crew, Lily Pulitzer, etc.). I have found some great deals on skirts and dresses here. The best part is you can sell them your own used clothing for store credit and then use it at either Ashby's or Clementine.

2924 West Cary Street
Mongrel's is the place to go for any gift — birthday, wedding, graduation, baby shower, house warming, you name it. They weren't named Best Gift Store for nothing! They also have a great collection of Richmond-inspired products so if you're looking for a cool souvenir from your trip to Richmond, I would recommend going here!

3007 West Cary Street
This is another great shop to visit for #RVA related items. Most, if not all, of the items are made by local Richmonders. Their website reguarly features artist spotlights so you can get to know the person behind the product, which is really cool! I found some of my favorite RVA prints here.

World of Mirth
3005 West Cary Street
Another Carytown shop! This one is for the kiddo's, but it's also fun for adults to walk through too. I have found so many cute birthday gifts here, but the coolest thing is their wrapping paper selection. It never disappoints!

Class and Trash
11088 Washington Highway (Route 1)
This store is technically outside of Richmond city limits, so if you're staying downtown you may have to drive a little ways. It is worth it, though, if you're looking for some awesome antique furniture.

Diversity Thrift
1407 Sherwood Avenue
If you're not up for a drive out to Class and Trash, this thrift store is right in the city. They have clothes and accessories, but the real draw here is the furniture. A lot of times it can be hit or miss, but sometimes you will luck out and find the coolest couch or end tables. My sister once found me a $70 piano in perfect condition from here!

The Shops at 5807
5807 Patterson Avenue
The Shops at 5807 is one big store that houses a bunch of individually-owned boutiques. Each little "booth" features items from different stores and artists. It's a great place to find gifts and/or home decor!

Favorite Places to Visit
Meadow Park
400 North Meadow Street
This is definitely not the biggest or prettiest park in the city. In fact, it's just a small grassy area between two streets in the Fan. But it is the park that my college apartment overlooked, so I'm partial to it! :) Garnett's Cafe is right across the street, so you can always grab a sandwich and enjoy it on a shaded park bench.

Pony Pastures
7200 Riverside Drive
There are a lot of neat places along the James River, but Pony Pastures is by far my favorite. There is no beach to sit on here, just enormous granite rocks that rise out of the water. Depending on the water level, you can step from rock to rock fairly easy but it's safe to say you'll get your feet wet! We loved picking up a dozen doughnuts from Sugar Shack and watching the sun set here. (A post from last summer)

Hollywood Cemetery
412 South Cherry Street
I've written about this cemetery quite a few times (here, here and here), but it really is a must-see if you come to Richmond. There are two U.S. presidents and the president of the Confederacy buried here, plus a Titanic survivor, Pulitzer Prize winners, and lots of famous Richmonders. It is a really huge cemetery, so I would recommend driving your vehicle and hopping out to walk around the areas you want to see most.

Monument Avenue
1200 block of West Franklin Street to the intersection of Monument and Roseneath Road
If you're in the mood to stretch your legs, take a walk down Monument Avenue. It is the only street in the United States that is considered a National Historic Landmark. Every couple blocks there is a statue of a historic figure — most of them Civil War generals.

Favorite Theater
The Byrd
2908 West Cary Street
You just can't be $2 movies in a historic theater...even if the seats have been around for at least 100 years.

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  1. I have heard that Richmond is a really fun city to visit, with great food! Now that I'm living in DC it's close enough to make it a day trip sometime. This could come in handy. :]


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