Two weekends ago, I drove down to Richmond (VA) to see some of my extended family, of whom I don’t even get enough glimpses of. My mother hails from Richmond originally and most of her side of the family still resides there. My grandfather, two aunts, and cousin all live within 20 minutes of one another, so catching up with family down there is rather seamless. Ironically, my father (originally born in PA) now lives in the south (Durham, NC), whereas my mother (originally born in VA) now lives in the north (Chester, New Jersey).
The city of Richmond itself has undergone quite a transformation in the last 20-30 years. If you know your history, you will recall that Richmond once served as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Richmond is ripe with history and simply taking a driving tour of the city with my family sparked my recollection of this fact. We drove down Monument Avenue, which boasts statuesque tributes in the form of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate participants including: Jefferson Davis and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. In recent years, Arthur Ashe has also been cemented on Monument Ave.
In addition to its rich history, Richmond has a vibrant culture ranging from colleges and universities to restaurants, bars, art museums, and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which is one of the best botanical gardens in the U.S. I had an opportunity to peruse one of the local farmer’s markets – South of the James Market. I, along with my aunts and cousin Matthew, arose at the crack of dawn just to beat the crowds and get the first picking of fresh produce and fresh-baked goods. My aunt Susan introduced me to one of the best bagels I have ever had in my life. Bagels really aren’t even one of my breakfast staples, but this one was the bees knees. The contents of this “works” bagel: everything bagel, garlic cream cheese, red onion, microgreens, tomato, and a smattering of capers. Up your breakfast game tenfold and make it. The ultimate bagel game changer.
Later Saturday evening, Susan, Matthew and I drove to the outskirts of Richmond for Matthew’s friend’s graduation party along the James River. Just another one of Richmond’s many offerings: picturesque landscapes coupled with natural beauty. Spending time along the river was the perfect way to cap a beautiful weekend getaway, all while tapping into my southern roots. I firmly believe Richmond as a city and travel destination, is vastly underrated. I hope I have convinced you otherwise to pay this great city a visit.
Final thought: my family and I also consumed slices of cake from a place in the Fan area called Shyndigz. You can get cake by the slice and imbibe beers of your choosing. Does it get any better than beer and cake? Not for me. My aunt Carroll declares that they have the best key lime pie she’s ever had in her life and I tend to agree. I’ll be going back over Thanksgiving.