Just over two hours from the Washington-metro area, the capital of Virginia awaits you. This charming city is filled with stimulating history, great architecture, incredible restaurants and a lively soul. Pack a picnic lunch and head down south to experience a city that will tantalize.

En route to Richmond, stop by James River Cellars Winery located in Glen Allen, Virginia. Open seven days a week except for major holidays, you can sample their fine wines via a tasting or a flight. Their selections traverse sweet to dry; there’s sure to be something to please.

Take your samplings outside to the veranda or, if weather permits, spread a blanket under the shade trees on the front lawn. Serving the Richmond area since 2001, James River Cellars is Richmond’s oldest winery and grew out of the desire for the perfect Virginia Gewürztraminer. A visit to James River Cellars will not disappoint. Well behaved pets are welcome.

Richmond offers some fine lodging choices. A favorite for 125 years is the iconic Jefferson. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1969, The Jefferson shines with splendor, top service and excellent cuisine. Their restaurant, Lemaire, is a romantic and splendid dining experience. You’ll learn about the alligators that occupied the Palm Court pools until 1948. Near the valet stand, there is a life-size bronze of Old Pompey, the last live alligator to reside at the Jefferson.

The Berkeley, in the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond, is well located for walking to Capitol Square, the Governor’s Mansion and the White House of the Confederacy. There are many good restaurants in the area such as the Tobacco Company across Carey Street from The Berkeley. The décor is splendid and a table on the third floor by the rail provides a view of the glass ceiling and dining floors below. The Urban Farmhouse, just a minutes’ walk from the hotel, serves delicious breakfast and lunch fare.

A premiere French dining experience may be enjoyed at L’Opossum. The bland exterior contrasts with the eclectic and quirky interior that dazzles as you toss back the curtained doorway to enter. Be sure to spy the opossums that lurk. This James Beard Award-winning establishment draws clientele from far and wide. The imaginative cuisine and ambience of L’Opossum is memorable. 

There’s much to do in this capital city. A guided tour of St. John’s Church is fascinating. You can almost hear Patrick Henry’s cry of, “ … but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Located on the highest hill in Richmond, there are over 400 graves in the churchyard, including the place where Edgar Allan Poe’s mother, Eliza, was laid to rest at age 24.

Stroll the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol to see the power and strength of the Capitol building designed by Thomas Jefferson. View the Governor’s Mansion through the iron gates. You may opt for interior tours of both buildings.

Walking Capitol Square, you’ll see statues of many historical figures such as Gen. George Washington, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire and Edgar Allan Poe. Mr. Poe grew up in Richmond and spent much of his life in Baltimore, Maryland where he died. You may want to visit the Poe Museum while in town.

A short walk from Capitol Square is the White House of the Confederacy. This house has an intriguing history. Be sure to take an hour tour and learn how this beautiful building escaped demolition and is now restored to its former glory.

At the opposite end of Capitol Square is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. This magnificent example of Greek Revival architecture has a rich history. Historic figures such as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and many Virginia governors attended this church.

Spend time in Jackson Ward, an historical landmark since 1958. Prior to the Civil War this area was home to free and enslaved people as well as Jews and settlers from Europe. Visit the Maggie Walker House. Ms. Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. She was the first Black woman in the U.S. to start a bank and serve as its president.

More history awaits at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center and the Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church organized by Rev. John Jasper in 1867. This Late Gothic Revival style church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Both are located in Jackson Ward.

A short drive from Capitol Square is the Tredegar Iron Works and the American Civil War Museum. What remains of the Tredegar Iron Works now incorporates the American Civil War Museum which used to be located near the White House of the Confederacy. The two have been merged masterfully. The museum houses Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s hat complete with ostrich feather, and his riding boots. The flask from which Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson took his last sip of whiskey recalls that the general was killed by friendly fire. A saddle and bit belonging to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s famed horse, Traveler, are on display.

At the American Civil War Museum you will find history and stories of African Americans, women and American Indians who lived during the War Between the States. Be sure to see the moving statue by John Rogers, The Wounded Scout, a Friend in the Swamp. Described as “excellent” by Abraham Lincoln, this artwork is stirring. 

Proceed to Hollywood Cemetery for a driving tour of historic grave sites such as those of presidents James Monroe and John Tyler. Be sure to find the iron dog that stands over the grave of a young girl who died in 1862.

If you have time, take in a film at the historic Byrd Theatre. New and classic films are projected here daily. This beautiful 1,200 seat venue opened in 1928 at the start of “talkies.”

There is so much more to see and do in Richmond. Do some research and find what interests you the most in this historic city. Then, make a rendezvous down south to find out why Virginia Is For Lovers. 

Barbara enjoys traveling as often as possible. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Barbara enjoys history and is particularly interested in the history of Maryland.