In the past, I have not been particularly impressed with Richmond. Just did not find the restaurants and culture there very attractive. But, over the past couple of years my views have changed thanks to a more expansive dining scene and visits to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), which was first to alter my impression of the city.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The VMFA is open year round and I cannot begin to tell you about all the exhibits and collections. However, I can tell you that it has the largest collection of Faberge’ outside of Russia. This is from the website:
As I said before, Richmond had never been a destination for creative food in the past, seemingly because of steaks, seafood, touristy, etc. etc. But that has changed. In the past few years, Brenda and I have enjoyed a couple of interesting restaurants and we look forward to trying more. Brenda has been to Julep’s twice and myself once. Each time the food and service have been outstanding. The creative southern fare is worth experiencing.
We have also enjoyed Kuba, Kuba (Cuban cuisine), Can-Can (casual French bistro in Carytown), Bistro Bobette (French comfort food), Kitchen on Cary, and Sine’ (Irish pub with Guinness on tap). Of course if you want to do the tourist thing, go to the Tobacco Company – everyone does. My goal for our next trip is to get a reservation at L’Opossum where David Shannon was named Best Chef Mid-Atlantic Semifinalist in 2016.(http://www.lopossum.com/).
Of course a visit to Richmond would not be complete without exploring the history of the area being that it was highly important during the Colonial period of the United States and, obviously, during the Civil War. First, the State Capitol. The Virginia State Capitol is home of “the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, the Virginia General Assembly, first established as the House of Burgesses in 1619. The Capitol was conceived of by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau in France.” (Wikipedia). But here are some other highlights if you would like to visit and learn more (Note: most of this comes from Wikipedia):
- 1607: The Christopher Newport Cross monument on the canal, commemorating the cross he erected at the current site of Richmond in 1607. Powhatan Tribe has its Capitol on the hill overlooking the James River.
- 1775: Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech in St. John’s Church.
- 1785: the James River Company was formed with George Washington as its honorary president. Development of the James River and the Kanawha Canal, designed by Washington, ensued. Originally envisioned to connect the Chesapeake Bay (and thus the Atlantic Ocean) with the Gulf of Mexico, it was to connect to the Ohio River and on to the Mississippi. Alas, it was only constructed to Buchanan near Roanoke, but still a distance of 197 miles. The Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bought the right of way eventually. It is now CSX Railroad.
- The cornerstone of the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, was also laid that year. These events led to further development of the economy of the city.
- The first bridge across the James River, named Mayo’s Bridge after the founder of the city, was built in 1787.
- 1861: Civil War commences, Richmond becomes the Capitol of the Confederacy
- 1865: 13th Amendment abolishes slavery, Richmond’s Theological School for Freedmen, later becoming Virginia Union University, was established that year. My Aunt Dean is a proud graduate of Virginia Union.
- Around 1880: Richmond had the first successful electrically powered trolley system in the United States.
- Richmond today:
Gardens to explore
Richmond is blessed with numerous gardens to explore if you are in the mood for smelling flowers or participating in seasonal events. These would include the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Agecroft Hall, and the most famous, Maymont. All very much worth exploring.