The Hipster Guide to Richmond, VA is coming soon! Below is just a rough sample – look for the official release on March 15!
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Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is a small capital city with lots of street art, fine restaurants and plenty of entertainment options. It’s a college town as well, so you’ll find a lot of great activities for young people. During my recent visit to Richmond, I explored the vegan life, the coffee culture, the queer bars, drag shows and the peaceful (and colorful!) street life. From the empty streets and the dark corners that probably inspired some of the tales of Edgar Allan Poe to the colorful, hipster areas with alternative bookstores, vintage shops and museums, Richmond is a bit both young and old. Even when the architecture is a reminder of the historical past of slavery and war, Richmond today celebrates its diversity and mixed population with pride, including LGBT families, migrants and hundreds of students from the United States and abroad.
Know Where to Go
- Church Hill – Home to the famous church where Patrick Henry stated “Give me liberty…” – it’s also a big foodie neighborhood with places like Do & Pig Show, Proper Pie, Metzger and The Roosevelt . Get a cream soda at Roaring Pines.
- Carytown – Mongrel shop, Need Supply (high-end fashion) – Babes of Carytown – Southern pub food drag shows an outdoor volleyvall court and karaoke – “Mile of Style”
- Museum District – VMFA / Jasper Johns & Edvard Munch exhibit
- Scott’s Addition – rapidly growing and changing area, Richmond’s unofficial “beverage district.” Historically, very industrial, but the past few years have seen multiple breweries open up – Ardent, Hardywood, Isley… and Resevoir Distillery. Studio Two Three is a non-profit art studio wit a small gift shop. Blue Bee Cider is located in a renovated stable with a cute outdoor area, great cider and a shop. Home to LGBT highlights like Richmind Triangle Players and Diversity Thrift.
- The Fan (Monument Avenue) – Street Art – Hanover Avenue
Food & Cafés
- Real Richmond Food Tours – RealRichmondVA.com
- The Daily Kitchen & Bar
- Rappahannock Oyster Company
- Lamplighter Roasting Co
- Crossroads Coffee
- Perly’s Jewish Restaurant
- Heritage Restaurant
- Village Café – near university
- Insomnia Cookies
Cool Bars & Nightlife
Richmond has more than 20 different craft breweries, making it a surprisingly great beer destination—even if the local brew of choice is more often than not a cheap PBR (you’ve got the college students to thank for that). Check out ricmondbeertrail.com for more brewery and pub information. But thankfully it’s not all about beer in Richmond; the city is also home to craft distilleries such as Reservoir Distillery which produces bourbon, wheat and rye whiskies.
- The Byrd Theater
- Babe’s of Carytown
- Ardent Craft Ales
- The Veil Brewing Co
- Strange Matter – eatery with arcade games, live music, vegan options – good beer- college students
LGBTQ – Gay Richmond Tips
As part of the campaign Virginia for Lovers, Richmond is a place that doesn’t hide its gay and queer influences. You can have a great brunch surrounded by lip-singing drag queens at Godfreys, enjoy a queer theater show—dramas and comedies—at the Richmond Triangle Players or enjoy a beer in one of Richmond’s LGBT bars, including Barcode or Babes (of Carytown).
Virginia Pride takes place in Richmond in September with live music acts and local vendors. Since 2014, Richmond Region Tourism has actively promoted LGBT tourism to the city through the OutRVA program. On the Richmond is Out website, you’ll find a comprehensive travel guide for LGBT tourisms with everything from the quirkiest hotels to the best nightlife. Keep an eye out for the OutRVA stickers which you’ll find in many of Richmond’s gay and LGBT bars.
The Valentine museum also includes in its permanent collection the LGBT pride flag which once flew on the Virginia Capitol. Look for queer-themed exhibitions at Richmond’s museums as well.
- Godfrey’s Sunday Drag Brunch
- Richmond Triangle Players — Richmond Triangle Players delivers adventurous and entertaining theater as the leading voice in the community’s explorations of equality, identity, affection and family, across sexual orientation and gender spectrums.
- Virginia Pridefest
- Barcode – gay bar
- Diversity Thrift
- Babes of Carytown
- The Valentine
Art & Museums
- The Valentine – Richmond has a diverse and unique history. The Valentine specializes in about 400 years of Richmond history, told with the artifacts of its residents, historical documents and photographs, and many installations. The photograph collection, for example, includes topics like the Civil War, portraits of famous Virginians and the fascinating world of Richmond’s buildings and places. During 2017, the temporary exhibition One Love, located in the basement is focusing on LGBT families, showing the diversity of Richmond’s inhabitants and challenging closed-minded definitions of what a family really is. Moreover, for those who are unable to visit the place – I mean physically – the Valentine offers online exhibitions, a series of past exhibitions hosted with Google Cultural Institute.
- Edgar Allan Poe Museum – Do you love black cats and good storytelling? The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is a must. You can work around this little venue and wonder the rooms with furniture and pictures belonging to Poe or to his family, telling the story of his favorite spots with the city and the tragic events that inspired many of his writings. With an internal garden that host a sculpture of Poe and an open casket for your creepy selfies, you will probably feel that you are being watched (by the two black cats that own this place). The museum offers also drawings and temporary exhibitions showing artworks inspired by Poe, some of these created by local artists and for sale. The little shop inside the museum also holds a lot of Poe’s writings, dark objects for mysterious presents and scary-yet-trendy fashion items.
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts — Located in the Museum District of Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a great place to enjoy the masters of the classical and contemporary art world and to explore the new emerging talents as well. During my visit, an exhibition dedicated to Edvard Munch and highlighting its influence in American artists Jasper Johns, “Love, Loss, and the Cycle of Life” was a travel in itself. But beyond excellent temporary exhbitions (with a fee), the permanent collection displays East Asian, African, American, European and Ancient American art, all with a free admission policy. The Fabergé collection, the largest outside Russia, is one of the main attractions. Walk around the old and new buildings of the VMFA and explore one of the largest museum in North America.
- VCU Institute for Contemporary Arts – coming soon!
Shopping & Souvenirs
- Mongrel — For over 25 years, Mongrel has been Richmond’s uncommon card and gift store. Customers find a shop filled with life choices – for home, body, mind and soul. Whether you have hours to spend, or are on the run, Mongrel is a Carytown destination voted ‘the best’ in shopping year after year.
- Chop Suey Books
- Need Supply Co – men’s fashion/lifestyle shop
Where to Stay in Richmond
- Linden Row Inn
- Quirk Hotel
- The Jefferson Hotel
- Richmond Mural Project: With artists coming from graffiti meccas to those from Perú or The Netherlands, various locations around Richmond have become a living canvas. The Richmond Mural Project is a yearly event with the fantastic goal of creating over 100 murals by artists from all over the globe. The artworks are located in public streets in neighborhoods like Monroe Ward, Churchill Hill or the Museum District. You can explore the collection on foot or with a bike.
Events & Festivals
- RVA Street Art Festival
- National Beer Expo (craft beer)
- Virginia Pridefest – vapride.org – live music and over 80 vendors
- RVA Makerfest
- State Fair of Virginia – statefairva.org shows, exhibits, animals