Whether you are moving to Richmond, VA or have lived in the area for quite some time, you may want to experience what the best of Richmond has to offer. From sugary snacks to shopping and events, our river city really has it all. No wonder Richmond was recently voted the happiest city in the country
by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research!
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Keep reading for what we think is the best of Richmond has to offer. Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Best Beach, The Outer Banks (OBX)
While Virginia Beach ranks high on most Virginian’s list due to its close proximity, it’s the oceans of North Carolina that appeal most to those in the Richmond area. A 3 hour drive for most in the area, the slightly extended car ride is worth it for the appeal that is the Outer Banks (or as we call it, the OBX). Close beaches in the Outer Banks area include Kill Devil Hills, Ocracoke, and Duck. Great weather, bars, dining, and activities for the entire family make this area of North Carolina a “must visit”. Be sure to check out the Wright Brother’s Memorial and Jockey’s Ridge – even in the Fall and Spring. These beaches are ideal for a vacation hot spot year-round.
Best Donut Shop, Sugar Shack
Opened in June of 2013, Richmond’s Sugar Shack Donuts
is located downtown and has become one of the most popular local dessert shops in the area. While there may be lines out the door now for their delicious specialty donuts like “Baby Ruth Style” and the popular “Maple Bacon” (trust us, it works – and is amazing), the local business is expanding to additional locations to meet the demand. They are also well-liked for their coffee - brewed fresh on-site. For regular updates visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SugarShackDonuts
Best Winery, James River Cellars
The lush landscape and solid air of Virginia make vineyards across the state plentiful. The Charlottesville, Virginia area alone features numerous wineries – including a winery owned by famous native Dave Matthews. Cooper Vineyards is the closest winery in Charlottesville to the Richmond area, and has an annual “Blessing of the Animals” which is beautiful and serene to take part of with your pets. The close proximity of Charlottesville wineries make it possible to see multiple vineyards in a day through wine tours.
Closer to the Richmond area is James River Cellars Winery, located in Ashland, Virginia. Family-owned and operated, James River City Cellars is pet friendly, and open 7 days a week for wine tastings. Learn more at www.jamesrivercellars.com
Best Weekend Getaway, Washington DC
One of the many benefits of being a Richmonder is your ability to make a day, or weekend, trip to our nation’s capitol – Washington DC. Only a 90-120 minute drive north, you can experience most of the “musts” in DC in a single weekend stay. A bonus for making DC great for a quick getaway is that most exhibits and monuments are free admission – so it won’t cost you anything to see the National Gallery of Art, walk through the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, or see the expansive zoo and collections of the Smithsonian.
Best Brewery, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
In recent years, Virginia law allowed establishments to sell beer for on-site and off-site sales. SB-604 led to an explosion of startup breweries making some of the most innovative beer blends in the country – and the world. While Legends brewery is the oldest, celebrating their 20th year in 2014, we recommend Hardywood as a must-visit. Famous for their renowned Gingerbread Stout
-- available each November and December, Hardywood’s location in Scott’s Addition in Richmond is worth the weekend visit to hear live music, enjoy innovative local food trucks, or just have one of their beers. Other close breweries in the area include Strangeways, Center of The Universe, Legends, and Isley just to name a few. Like our wineries, it’s easy to see multiple breweries in a day through an organized tour. If a visit or tour isn’t something you’re into, most grocery stores in the area stock locally brewed ales.
Best Golf Course
Hitting the putting greens in Richmond? You have a wide range of links in and around the area to choose from. According to Golf Digest Magazine, Virginia is home to one of the top 100 golf courses – Kinloch GC in Manakin-Sabot. If you’re interested in staying closer to city limits, The Country Club of Virginia in Richmond features a beautiful view of the James River and also ranks high on several golf afficianado lists.
Best Summer Event, The Watermelon Festival
Weekends in Richmond during the Summer always have something fun to do. The Vegetarian Festival, Wine Festival, and the local’s favorite – The Watermelon Festival. Hosted in Carytown, the event draws 115,000 people who reportedly consume 3000(!) watermelons during the 8 hour fruit celebration. The festival also features local exhibitors and live music throughout the day.
Germany has Oktoberfest and Richmond OKTOBERFEST. Started in 2005, St. Benedict’s Parish located in the heart of the “museum district” downtown is host to one of the greatest Oktoberfest celebrations in the state of Virginia. German music, games, drinks and food make this family-friendly event the must October event celebration to attend. Other area Oktoberfest celebrations are held in Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond, and at area Capital Ale House locations.
Another Fall festival worth mentioning on any best of Richmond list is the Richmond Folk Festival. Drawing folk music fans from around the country, this annual weekend celebration features multiple areas of music, food, and experiences with folk music and art.
Best Spring Event, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
As the Winter weather leaves Richmond, the outdoors shine in full bloom. Whether you see our dogwoods start to bloom, or visit one of our multiple area well-maintained state parks, there is definitely no shortage of Spring activity. Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
is one of the most-visited attractions in Richmond. Featuring multiple “themed” gardens, beginning each Spring you can really see the garden come alive. One of the biggest events in the Spring at Lewis Ginter is “Butterflies Live!”, showcasing beautiful species of butterflies exhibited in and around the garden area.
Best Shopping, Short Pump Town Center
Located on Broad Street, which stretches from Richmond through Louisa, one of Richmond’s newest mall is an outdoor mall with some of the best shopping in the area. Short Pump has an Apple Store, Saks 5th Avenue, Nordstrom, Kate Spade, Brookstone, and MANY more. For a complete store list visit: http://www.shortpumpmall.com/directory
If you’re looking for more of an independent and locally owned shopping experience, Carytown is where to go. Although there are familiar national shops like Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt (which corporate is based out of Richmond), you’ll find many locally owned favorites – some which have been around for decades. Carytown Cupcakes, For The Love of Chocolate, along with consignment stores and antique clothing shops make up this one-way introduction of downtown Richmond. If you’re looking to grab a bite while you’re out, visit Can Can for French food with a view or go to the new wave 50s diner experience at Galaxy Diner.