Today’s a cool day – it’s marks our 5th anniversary of living in Richmond.
On this date in 2006, Sherry and I woke up on an air mattress in my Upper West Side apartment (she had already moved all of her stuff out of her Soho studio and turned in the keys) to greet my dad, who had driven up in the mini-van that would move us and all of our worldly belongings (hence the air mattress – we had sold our mattresses) to the River City. Seven hours and one stop at Ikea later we arrived at our new apartment in Richmond – unemployed, unwed, and uncontrollably excited about the life ahead of us.
But enough about our back story (you can read more about that here), let’s talk about Richmond. We often get asked for recommendations for what to see, where to shop, and what to eat when in Richmond. So we’re taking this 5th anniversary occasion to share five “Top 5” lists about some of our favorite things in RVA. Are you sensing a “five” theme here? Here’s what we’ve covered:
- 5 Favorite Places to Chow Down
- 5 Favorite Tourist-y Things To Do
- 5 Favorite Ways to Enjoy a Gorgeous Day
- 5 Favorite Places to Score Home Deals
- 5 Favorite Swanky & Inspiring Home Stores
***5 FAVORITE PLACES TO CHOW DOWN***
Sherry and I aren’t “foodies” by any means, but we definitely love finding an excuse to eat out for those special occasions. Here are a handful of quintessential Richmond restaurants where we love to dine:
- Kuba Kuba: A cozy, casual, and colorful spot in The Fan for Cuban food. Sound “in the know” by pronouncing it “Coo-ba Coo-ba” and not “Kyoo-bah Kyoo-bah.” Here’s the Kuba Kuba website.
- Bottom’s Up: We took the Bowers to this pizza spot in Shockoe Bottom during their visit last year. Be sure to check out the 6 foot high water marks from when it flooded during Hurricane Gaston in 2004. Here’s the Bottom’s Up website.
- The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing: We celebrated the news of Sherry’s pregnancy at this new-ish riverfront restaurant. The food’s great, but the views of the James River and the expansive city skyline are our favorite part (see the picture below). In fact we took Sherry’s mom and stepdad here last night. Here’s the Boathouse website.
- Crab Louie’s Tavern: Technically in Midlothian, this seafood restaurant sits in a historic house older than the USA. Among other reasons, we love all of the fresh bread options that you get before the meal arrives. Carbs. Yum. Here’s Crab Louie’s website.
- Sticky Rice: We loves us some sushi (read about our sushi tradition here), so this somewhat American hipster twist on it is always fun. Plus, where else can you order “Sticky Balls” and not get a weird look? Here’s the Sticky Rice website.
***5 FAVORITE TOURIST-Y THINGS TO DO***
We don’t have a Statue of Liberty or an Eiffel Tower, but these Richmond “landmarks” should be on your list when you’re in town:
- Browse the VMFA: Recently renovated, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts building and the art within it is pure eye candy. And with the exception of special exhibits (currently it’s Mr. Picasso), it’s all totally free to see. Here’s the VMFA website.
- See a movie at The Byrd Theatre: This gorgeous movie palace built in 1928 still shows second-run movies for just $2. It’s fun to grab some popcorn, squeeze your legs into the old school seats, and enjoy the cinema in style. Here’s the Byrd Theatre website.
- Stroll around Hollywood Cemetery: It sounds weird, but this cemetery makes for a gorgeous afternoon walk. Beautiful views and famous headstones (including two US presidents) totally negate the creepy factor – especially in the fall (pictured below). Here’s the Hollywood Cemetery website.
- Shop Carytown: Loads of local shops and restaurants line Cary Street to create Richmond’s iconic and colorful shopping district. You’ll even hit up a few other items on these lists in the process of visiting. Here’s the Carytown website.
- Walk (or run!) to and around “The Fan”: these downtown streets are lined with stunning historic row homes that boast lots of inspiration. It’s great for walking or running on a nice day, especially if you have time to stop in a neighborhood restaurant or park. Here’s The Fan district association website.
***5 FAVORITE WAYS TO ENJOY A GORGEOUS DAY***
We think Richmond truly shines when it’s nice out, so here are some of our favorite places to soak up a beautiful day:
- Pony Pasture: This horse-y name actually belongs to an area of the James River Park System with great nature trails for walking, gentle currents for swimming, and exposed rocks for sunning in the hot months. We always describe Richmond as a beach town, but instead of having an actual beach, locals hang out at the river. (Check out Burger enjoying a hot rock and a long stick in the picture below). Here are directions to Pony Pasture.
- Maymont: This park is one of our favorite spots to take visitors. Why? Tons of paved paths, beautiful gardens, a petting farm, historic buildings, a nature center, and even a zoo (sorta – there are bears, foxes, buffaloes, and bald eagles to name a few). And most of it’s free – even the zoo and the petting farm. Here’s the Maymont website.
- Belle Isle: Kinda like Pony Pasture, but more island-y and closer to downtown, you can come here to enjoy nature and the city skyline in one vista. Plus it has great trails for walking, running, or mountain biking. This is where Sherry and I went from liking to loving Richmond when we first moved here five years back. Here’s Belle Isle on Wikipedia.
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: Call it nature in a more controlled setting, but the admission price is definitely worth the scenery (and the landscaping ideas you can bring back home). We took Sherry’s mom and stepdad here when they first visited – it was a great way to spend the day outside strolling through scenic settings. Here’s the Lewis Ginter website.
- Stony Point Fashion Park or Short Pump Town Center: These are spots for a more traditional “mall” experience, but in an airy outdoor setting. So you can hit up Anthropologie or Crate & Barrel, but still get some sun and stroll along cobblestone paths. Stony Point’s even dog-friendly (Burger has visited every shop from Sur La Table to Banana Republic). Here’s Stony Point’s website & Short Pump’s website.
***5 FAVORITE PLACE TO SCORE HOME DEALS***
We couldn’t survive in this town if we couldn’t find awesome deals for our house, so here are some local haunts that we love (besides the national chain stores like Tar-jay):
- Diversity Thrift: We’ve found lots of great stuff here over the five years (including the base for our pedestal table in the sunroom and our glass coffee table in the old living room). You can read more about why we love it in this post.
- Love of Jesus Thrift: This is another go-to thrifting spot, especially if we’re on the hunt for furniture. My sister scored the amazing console below a couple of years ago there. Read more about that in this old post.
- Lakeside Avenue Thrift Stores: A more recent discovery of ours, the thrift and consignment stores along Lakeside Avenue (like Consignment Connection and Pass It On) are where we recently scored our beloved wooden goose.
- The Decorating Outlet: This store is where items from local sponsor Shades of Light go to be discounted, and where we’ve been going to buy items like the rug and the capiz light fixture in Clara’s room on the cheap. Here’s the Decorating Outlet website.
- U-fab: This discount fabric store is always on our list when we’re hunting for textiles or patterns to bring home. Their selection is more stylish than the big chains tend to be, but they’re cheaper than the fancy designer places. Here’s the U-fab website.
***5 FAVORITE SWANKY & INSPIRING HOME STORES***
On the opposite end of thrifting and discounts are some of Richmond’s most gorgeous and inspirational home stores. Be sure to bring a tissue to wipe the drool from your chin when you visit (even if you don’t have the money in your wallet to buy something):
- Williams & Sherrill: Half housewares, half fabric store, this place has more inspiration than we can handle on most occasions (see our photo below). Someday we’ll be fancy enough to actually buy something. Sigh. More on them here. And here’s the Williams & Sherrill website.
- Ruth & Ollie: This shop in Carytown is smaller yet a bit more contemporary than Williams & Sherrill. We especially love the furniture and art that abounds. Check out a few ideas that we got from them in this post. Here’s the Ruth & Ollie website.
- LaDifférence: Located in Shockoe Bottom, LaDiff is a huge store filled with modern furniture, accessories, lighting – basically, the works. You may remember them from this oft-referenced wallflowers giveaway post. Here’s the LaDiff website.
- Shades of Light: Yes, they’re a sponsor of our site, but we couldn’t not include them on this list of go-to home stores in Richmond that we love, especially when it comes to gorgeous lighting (we’ve been obsessed with them since way before their sponsorship started). Here’s the Shades of Light website.
- Caravati’s: Unlike the others on this list, you won’t find anything new or pristine at Caravati’s. It’s an architectural salvage warehouse that is loaded with once-loved items for any remodel, restoration, or craft project with a historic and authentic twist. See some more in this old post.
So there you have it, five “Top 5” lists to celebrate our 5th anniversary of moving to Richmond. Obviously in five years we can’t claim to be Richmond experts, so we invite everyone else who lives here in RIC (or have visited) to chime in with their favorites in these categories (or others). And while we’re at it, those of you in other cities are welcome to comment with a “Top 5” list for your hometown too. Who knows if we might end up visiting someday!
Boathouse photo by Beth Furgurson found via Richmond Magazine.com, rest of images snapped by us.
Psst- We announced this weeks giveaway winners. Click here to see if one of them is you.
brandt @ New House on the Blog says
Burger chewing a stick….a dog and his bliss…it’s a wonderful thing!
And that Richmond skyline looks like a dream! Like something from a big metro area like NYC!!!
(did I make it? First?)
Rebecca @ the lil house that could says
Congrats on the anniversary! It really amazes me how much you guys have accomplished in those 5 short years. It’s like realizing that Justin Beiber is like 16 and has done more in his short life than I ever will. ::sigh::
I have never been to Richmond, but you make me want to go! Especially reading about restaurants while hungry. Mmmm…
Congrats on the big 5 year Richmond anniversary! It looks like a lovely city, I might have to add it to my list for girl’s weekend places!
Congratulations! Well, I hope that in six years I’ll have lived with my significant other for five years in another city, so I really like the beginning of this post :)
Burger is always just too cool for school.
Congrats on your fifth anniversary! I had an internship in Norfolk and really fell in love with all of Virginia during my weekend jaunts.
Nice list! By the way, have you guys ever done the Pipeline Rapids/Walk? It starts around the corner from the flood wall at 14th/Dock, and it’s absolutely fabulous. It’s literally a catwalk (with plenty of rails!) directly below the train trestle and right below the river. I work right around the corner on Virginia St. and absolutely love taking my lunches there in the summer.
Yes- that’s a great one too!
Thanks so much for this post! I grew up in Richmond, and this makes me miss it so much. Such a wonderful city – thanks for highlighting some of its best features!
Chic Done Cheap says
Yay for Richmond!
-Chic Done Cheap
Dianne @ The Inspired Housewife says
What a GREAT post idea! If I ever make it to Richmond, I will definitely be visiting those thrift store ideas. I’d love for there to be posts like this from all over – might have to do one for Venice, FL on my blog soon!
i have always wanted to check out this area– thanks for the insight!!
Congrats on 5 exciting years in Richmond!
liz @ bontempsbeignet says
Just passed this link on to my friend who moved to Midlothian a few months ago. Thanks Youngsters!
Oh be still my heart. I visited Richmond for the first time in January and absolutely fell in love with it. Now, my husband and I are hoping to move there sometime next year. This post just made me long for it that much more!
I’m completely uneducated about the city and therefore unqualified to add recommendations to these lists, but 2 things that I especially enjoyed were 1) some mighty fine BBQ pork from Buzz and Ned’s, and 2) the Civil War Historical tours (the sites I saw were in Petersburg).
Ally S. says
Yay! Happy anniversary! We’re actually planning a Richmond trip in the spring, so this’ll come in handy!
Happy to see some Richmond love!
My husband and I love it here! (I moved here 9 years ago) It’s a great place for those of us in the arts community to be able to be both fulfilled creatively and be able to have a family… and feel like it’s only getting better!
I’ve heard people say it’s boring but there is actually so much to do.
Thanks for the blog (we’re buying our first house in Bon Air and I stumbled across this while looking for a little decorating inspiration. Looking forward to sharing the before and afters with you guys!)
When the hubs was in grad school in Louisville, KY we would go to Cave Hill Cemetery and feed the ducks, or just watch families with young children feed the ducks. It made for an inexpensive date on a grad student budget.
Cave Hill is also an arboretum. The monuments to the famous and not so famous were an education in and of themselves. Colonel Sanders monument is rather small and modest compared to many there. Cemeteries are great places for history buffs. So, no, I don’t think it’s weird that you listed a cemetery as a great place to go.
How fun!! Never been to Richmond, but you sure made a good case for a visit:). Too bad I’m on the opposite coast and poor;). Oh, well–at least I have your awesome blog to read!!! :D
Wow! I didn’t realize Richmond had so much to offer. It sounds like a great city and I now must visit some day. Reading this makes me miss all the great shopping I had available to me when I lived in Orlando. Now I live in Knoxville and while it’s a nice place, it’s lacking when it comes to shopping.
Danielle Probst says
Been to many films at the Byrd. Do they still have the organist there? A great list, and you guys have inspired me to make one for my current hometown!
The last few times we went there wasn’t an organist there, but maybe on special occasions?
Chelsea in Richmond says
the organist only plays on Saturdays :-)
That makes sense!
This one is for sherry (since I think Richmond is in John’s family’s area?) – Had you visited Richmond before? I guess I mean, did you know you were going to love it before you moved there or did you just have John’s word for it? Haha.
How did you feel about moving so far from the fam?
John and I had only been to Richmond a few times (his sister moved here but he rarely came out since the rest of his family lives up by DC, and he brought me to visit his sister a few times after we started dating) but we decided to just go out on a limb and see how we liked it. The warmer weather, advertising presence, and affordable lifestyle (home prices and living expenses pale in comparison to NYC numbers) were all attractive to us, and after living here no more than three months or so we already declared ourselves “lifers.” We just can’t imagine living anywhere else!
Sorry for being so nosy!
That’s not nosy at all! We’re chronic over-sharers anyway. Haha.
Julia M says
My top places to live have always been: Pittsburgh, Pa (where I grew up), Seattle, WA, San Diego, CA or Richmond, VA. And here I am in Utah. Hahaha. My husband and I have big plans to one day move east and we have even looked at property in Richmond for fun. It’s so……DESIRABLE to me.
Yea, Seattle! I live in Seattle. It’s a nice city, not too big, but the home prices are too high now!
Congratulations on 5 years in Richmond!! What an amazing journey you’ve had in that time!! Great post and such a beautful city…officially added to my “places to visit” bucket list!
Ok – you guys just made me officially homesick for my college years – I graduated from the University of Richmond in 2002. Bottoms Up and Sticky Rice were some of our favorite spots, along with Baja Bean Company, Strawberry Street Cafe, and of course Mexicos (for authentic Mexican food). If you haven’t had the chance to stroll the campus of UR, I highly recommend it – it is beautiful…. my husband and I hope to someday relocate back to Richmond from here in Northern VA – here’s hoping!
Wow! I was just contemplating this morning sending you an email asking about your favorite local Richmond places. My husband and I just moved to the state (about 45 minutes away from Richmond), and besides the VMFA haven’t done a lot of exploring yet. Thanks for the insider info!
Thanks for sharing! I’m from Richmond originally (and my parents still live there)! I was working in during Hurricane Gaston and got trapped in my building until midnight – that brought back memories! Anyways, you have couple of new places on here I can’t wait to check out when I go home and visit the ‘rents!
Great post! We almost moved to Richmond when we graduated, but that was right around the time the economy tanked and we were too scared to do it. But it’s such a beautiful city!
If you’re ever in Birmingham, AL again, you need to see a movie at the Alabama Theatre. It’s enormous and gorgeous, with the most amazing Moroccan interior. And if I were only going to reccommend one restaraunt (instead of 10), I’d say go to Flip Burger. It’s owned by a former Top Chef competitor and they make funky, gourmet burgers with organic ingredients. Yummy milk-shakes too!
Is it true that the Decorating Outlet/Shades of Light is not open on Sunday like their website says? That stinks b/c I am going to be driving by the Richmond area on Sunday and was actually planning on stopping to check it out.
Hmm, maybe try calling them to confirm? We usually just trust the hours on their site, but perhaps you can chat with someone in person for confirmation. Hope it helps!
You are correct they are closed on Sunday’s.
Thanks for the info Travis!
Sarah Traugott says
Whoo-to-the-hoo! I am so glad you are enjoying life in Richmond and that I get to experience it vicariously through your blog! I grew up in Richmond’s west end and miss it all the time. I am now living in Austin–which is a great city too–but there is nothing like home! Thanks for all of your enthusiasm and insight into what a great town RVA is!! :) Cheers!
Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing says
I’m going to be in Richmond this weekend for the Virginia Wine Expo! Can’t wait to explore a little.
Becca C. says
I am loving this post! I’m a Richmond-native and still come back frequently (I’m away at grad school right now… hoping to move back permanently) and this post makes me super happy because I love so many of the places you’ve mentioned. But I especially like the inclusion of all the thrift stores – didn’t know about them and will definitely have to hit them up when I’m home! Thanks!
I live in Church Hill and my 2 favorite locations for food are Alamo BBQ (voted best bbq in Richmond by Facebook last week) & The Hill Cafe (their blue plate specials are sooooo good). I also love running the stairs on Libby Hill and taking walks around Chimborazo Park…awesome views.
Chelsea in Richmond says
another Churchillian reader of YHL here!!! LOVE Alamo and Hill Cafe.
Church Hill here, too! Can’t wait for our rumored restaurant (from the owner of Garnett’s/Ipanema) to open on 25th!
This post makes me miss home! I think that is one reason I follow ya’lls blog so closely- because it’s a little piece of home! I can’t thank you enough for that!
Sara VT says
As a Richmond-er who just celebrated 5 years ago in August I will also celebrate with you too! The food is my favorite thing here by far! (That and the river) I just added to your list:
5 Additional Favorite Places to Chow Down
1. Boathouse Sunday Park
2. Moshi Moshi in Carrytown (Best Sushi Ever – got to try the New York Roll!!! There are no tots there though:)
3. Mama Siam (have to eat outside on a beautiful day)
4. Mamma zu (Don’t mind the service – you can’t get better food for the $)
5. Budz and Neds on the Boulevard
6, Comfort (AHHHHH thought I would add one more!)
5 Favorite Tourist-y Things To Do
1. raft down the James (river city outfitters will provide the tubes – seriously the best 4th of July ever!)
2. any festival (i.e., Armenian, Greek, Italian, Watermelon)
3. movies at the byrd when the mighty wurlitzer is playing
4. Byrd Park/Dogwood Dell for the small dog park
5. Segway tour of Church Hill
5 Favorite Ways to Enjoy a Gorgeous Day
1. Pony Pastures
2. Walk in the Fan
3. Texas Beach
4. Walk in carrytown
5. picnic at Libbie Hill Park
2 Additional Favorite Swanky & Inspiring Home Stores
1. These Four Walls (Shokoe Bottom)
2. Renew 4 you
This makes me miss lovely Richmond so very much! I lived there for about seven years before moving to NOVA for grad school. I’ll add Strawberry Street Cafe to the list of fun places to eat. Also Comfort – for yummy comfort food. And lots of good bbq to be had in Richmond. Maymont was always one of my favorite spots to hang out. All things Carytown get a thumbs up from me too!
Kristin Zamora says
I will use this post the next time I’m in town. Don’t know when that will be.
These are great lists.
Wow!! you brought back a bunch of memories for me with this post. I went to the University of Richmond (many many moons ago) and it’s nice to see so many of the places I enjoyed are still around!!
Heather @ REOlisticRenovation says
Congratulations! What an exciting anniversary to celebrate.
Does anyone have suggestions of great places to stay in Richmond, besides the usual big hotels?
There are a couple of great bed and breakfasts in The Fan. It’s a super walkable neighborhood, you could easily get to most of the places listed above by foot if you stay in that area. This one is across the street from the VMFA: http://www.museumdistrictbb.com/
Agreed on the B&Bs. Great place is Historic Mankin Mansion- http://www.historicmankinmansion.com. Close to the airport and about 10 min from Downtown. :)
I use to live in Richmond and this post is making me miss it so much. If you could just mail me a Kuba Kuba sandwich that would be great, thanks!
Congrats on the 5 year anniversay! I grew up just north of Richmond and didn’t particularly enjoy the city back then. BUT, after reading your lists, I’m thinking I need to do some more exploring when I go back to visit my parents!
BUT…to add to your list of Richmond eaterys, this one is for the extremely casuaul…brunch at Millie’s Diner in Church Hill! The Virginia omelet or the Scrambled Eggs and Lobster! Worth a trip to Richmond just for that!
My friend lives a block from Millies and it was delish! Great add!
Marissa Waddell (Roost) says
Oh my goodness, I love this post! I moved to Charlottesville last year, and my only stops to Richmond thusfar have been the airport and Short Pump. I was just telling my husband yesterday that I would really like to actually SEE Richmond next time we go, but I had no idea where to start. I am really excited to try out your suggestions!
I LOVE this post! I’m a life long Richmonder (aside from college at VT) and love seeing that a lot of your favorites are mine too!
Amber V. says
There are so many of my favorite places on this list.
I just found Ufab about 2 months ago. It was one of those “Where have you been all my life” moments.
I love this list! I’ve never been to Richmond, but hopefully one day I will make my way up there.
oh my gosh this is so perfect!! I’ve been banning myself from emailing and asking you all for these type of rec’s because I thought that might be a little much. Richmond is on our list of places to visit for a weekend trip this year!! So excited! Thanks!! :-)
You convinced me. Taking the next 3 day weekend, skipping the beaches and heading to Richmond!
Sherry & John..
what a great post! I had not read your back story
before and I wondered if you ever miss NYC? What made you want to leave NY & move to Virginia?
My husband and I had a “fast” story too (:
he said he knew we would be married the first
time he saw me, 6 months later engaged, then married in a year! It’s fun to hear other couples stories
that went quickly too.
We love Manhattan so we think it would be hard to
give up… that’s why I wondered about you moving from the city…
We always say that we loved living in NYC and wouldn’t trade it for the world, and occasionally we miss certain things for sure! But the moment we moved here something shifted and NY became “a great place to visit” instead of a great place to live, since we had kind of been there and done that already. It’s definitely one of those personal preference things, but as much as we loved it we definitely adore having a house and a pup and a baby and a yard and all the other things that the “suburbs” can bring. And we can always go visit favorite restaurants and shops when we miss them (my mom still lives in NY so we go up there pretty regularly). That probably helps a lot with any homesickness that we might have felt.
Lauren P. says
The coolest part about The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing is that it’s actually a boathouse! Underneath the restaurant there are boats stored for a few rowing teams, including VCU and Virginia Boat Club (masters rowers).
Congrats on the anniversary!
The Edgar Allen Poe museum is fun, and the steamboat river tour on the James is fun too.