An Old Soul'sGuide To Travel: Things To Do In Richmond Virginia

things to do in richmond va

Things to do in Richmond Virginia 

Richmond, Virginia is bustling with wonderful jewels and gems, new and old, but my heart has a true love affair with the old – whether that be the old classic spots of Richmond, or the new spots alive with old soul.

If you are planing a trip to Richmond, or are a new transplant looking for a little of that old charm & feeling, then come wander along with us! We would love to take you on a tour of some of the places, out of many, keeping the old soul of Richmond alive, as well as having us fall a in love with Richmond, a little more each time. 

–Your Wandering Old Soul Guide: Victoria & her love Brad


Places to Wander

Libby Hill Park

A trip to Richmond is not complete without a visit to Libby Hill Park. Libby Hill is more than just a park, it's history! Not only is it the site of the scenic view that named Richmond, but it is also the perfect place to make a little of your own history. It will sure be the spot where many of you fall in love with this city. So grab a blanket, a picnic basket, and a friend to enjoy this magical place we like to call: Hobbit Town, you'll see why when you get there. 

Tip: Head out for sunset, you won't regret it. 

Manchester Climbing Wall 

There are 2 ways to reach the Manchester Climbing wall: through the Floodwall Park and the T Pot Bridge. Both are a must see, but I suggest maybe for your first time, taking the T Pot Bridge over the James River, so you don't miss this wonderful new addition to Richmond. 

The Manchester Climbing wall is spectacular. Talk about feeling like you have been transported and whisked off to some far away place! I get the feeling of Scotland, especially when I visit during fall & winter. For a moment, it is almost impossible for me to believe I am still in the city. 

Last time I went there were goats, which made it even more magical, but don't expect them there always. These are working goats clearing the brush and poison ivy.

Tip: wear shoes for an adventure, but dress whimsical for pictures. Haha!  

If you are an experienced rock climber, don't forget your gear. 

Don't miss the view of the city at the top of the wall, don't worry if you aren't prepared to rock climb, there are steps to reach it. 

Maymont

Maymont is literally the truest jewel of Richmond. It is a 100-acre park of Italian and Japanese Gardens, a Gilded Age Mansion, Nature Center, Farm, & Wild Life Exhibits.

Maymont was originally owned by the Dooley's from 1893 to 1925, and left to the city of Richmond after their death, as a gift to us all, so we could come and enjoy their estate. Who does that?! A true treasure! 

The day we found Maymont, was the day we fell in love with Richmond. It was winter and we were practically the only people there. Visiting from South Florida, I had never experienced winter, or anything like Maymont. From the second I saw the Dooley Mansion, I felt at home. Oddly enough, I identify as an old Victorian soul, so you can probably imagine why finding a Gilded Age Mansion unexpectedly, dressed up in its finest for Christmas, would make such an impact on me. I remember even saying to probably the only other couple there that day: "Welcome to my mansion!". We all laughed, but part of me was not kidding. I truly felt a piece of myself was finally home. 

3 months after that, Brad and I moved to Richmond, we hadn't even settled in yet and I said to him during the drive in: "Babe, please take me to my mansion." Maymont will always be special to me, and I hope you will enjoy it just as much as we do. 

Tips: Plan to take a carriage ride and look into their events before you come. 

 

St. John's Church  

Where Patrick Henry Gave his speech: "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!"

Where Edgar Allan Poe's Mother, Eliza Poe is buried.

Long before I could even remember the name of Church Hill, I would reference St. John's Church when reminding Brad this was where I wanted to live and where we needed to find a home. It's a long story, but when we arrived in Richmond, the only thing we knew was that we wanted to live here, other than that, we lived in a hotel, and drove around each neighborhood until we found and fell in love with Church Hill. We loved the diversity, the community, the history, historic architecture and charm. 

I would imagine myself on fall days walking around the neighborhood heading to St. John's. To be so close to history, with the ability to take advantage of it, made my heart skip beats and then some. So now it is our tradition to visit St. John's for the first day of fall. 

Tip: Visit the gift shop and purchase a tin of solid lotion by The Parsonage Soap Company. My favorite is Scottish Wedding, every fond memory of Richmond comes flooding back to me with each breath I take while wearing it. 

They offer daily guided tours. During the summer, they offer free Liberty or Death reenactments every Sunday. 

If you are hungry & thirsty: stop by Captain Buzzy's for coffee & Proper Pie for a tasty pastry meat pie, then head on over to St. John's and enjoy dining on a nearby bench. 

Hollywood Cemetery 

Nothing excites my old soul more than a cemetery, and Richmond has one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen. Hollywood cemetery is 135 acres of lush natural landscape and beautiful design. Offering a unique view of the James River and many winding paths, it is not uncommon to see locals and visitors walking and riding their bikes. I can't speak for why everyone visits this cemetery, but it is the second most-visited in the nation. It is also still a working cemetery, and although as a free spirit, I do not wish to be buried, I wouldn't mind being laid to rest here.

Did I mention I am a bit morbid?

I love walking this cemetery throughout the seasons, nothing reminds me of how beautiful, fragile, and short life is, more than walking a cemetery, while wondering about all the lives that have lived and passed before me. 

Tip: Stop by Rest in Pieces after your visit and do not skip the Palmer Chapel Mausoleum. More to see in the cemetery here

Places to Dine

Patrick Henry's Pub & Grille

I just adore Patrick Henry's. It was the first dining spot I fell in love with and I always take friends & family when they visit. To me, it is a great representation of the Richmond & Church Hill charm I adore. I will never forget the first time I saw it, I thought I was walking up to someone's row home for lunch. Once we stepped inside, I felt as if I were welcomed into someone's historic and lovely home. I always opt for sitting outside when the weather is nice. During the fall there is a large Ginko Tree outback that glitters gold. It truly is the perfect spot for a nice beer on tap and a burger – salads with steak are always a favorite too, especially during the summer. Definitely a place haunted by beauty and charm. 

Garnett's Cafe

Talk about an old soul gem of Richmond. Garnett's is one my favorite places to eat in Richmond. Owned by Kendra Feather, who has a few amazing restaurants in Richmond, Garnett's remains my favorite. Named after Kendra's Grandma Garnett:

Garnett's is named for Kendra's grandmother, Garnett Beckman. Born in Newport News, Virginia, in 1907, Garnett grew up on a farm in Dunnsville, Virginia. She took a teaching position in Honolulu in the late 1930s, where she met her future husband. They left Hawaii after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and moved to boom-town early 1940s Phoenix, where she took up hiking. Garnett lived 103 years, and hiked the Grand Canyon into her 90s.

Garnett's offers everything a girl like me desires: Soul, a story, connection to people, past and present, good food and company. It's a place I know comes from Kendra's heart and I am so happy she reached in deep, and made a way to share it with the world. 

If you love homestyle soup, sandwiches, cake, kind and thoughtful service, as well as atmosphere – you will really enjoy this place. 

Tips:

Happy Hour is $3.00 glasses of wine or pints of beer from 4-6pm. 

Date night is any 2 menu items and a bottle of wine for $30 any night after 6pm. 

Reserve a picnic basket by phone or in person, which you may borrow until 9pm. Perfect for an adventure around Richmond!

Ask if my beautiful friend Amber is working. She is a fellow old soul and without her, I wouldn't have found this wonderful place. Thank you Amber! 

Stoplight Gelato Cafe 

Stoplight, what can I say about this place, that can really capture its unique beauty? It's not just a gelato shop, It is a heartbeat of Richmond, a Mother's love, and a love song to Jackson Ward, all in one. I haven't been all over the world (yet), but I can't imagine many places like this existing. This is truly a rare gem and a must visit. Not only is it a testament to love, but the best gelato I have ever had! With seasonal favorites like: Lavender & Blue Cheese, it's unlike any gelato I have ever had, and I am Italian! If you are looking for authentic soul in Richmond, you will surly find it at Stoplight. Whenever I visit, I feel like I am visiting home. 

Stoplight is owned by the 80 years young & one of the loveliest human beings around: Barbara Given. Stoplight was a passion project between her and her son Bryce Given, but sadly, he passed before he could see his dreams flourish and come to fruition. Although, as I am sure nothing ever does, that didn't stop Barb. She completed the project to honor Bryce and the Jackson Ward community: 

"Every scoop of gelato, every sip of coffee, every pastry and sundae is made with love. The love a mother will always have for her son."

Tip: Stoplight is the perfect date night! We like to get personal pizzas and share a few scoops. 

Bonus: Barb is always there working hard, greeting every guest with a smile, treating each customer as family. If you look closely in my pic you will see her. I don't think she ever stops working! Now that is literally the most truest and beautiful labor of love. 

Thank you Barb for all you do! I hope you all enjoy Stoplight as much as we do. I am sure you will. <3 

Places to Shop

Tiny Space 

Oh Tiny Space, my sweet Tiny Space. I could fill a book with my love for Tiny Space, as well as for owners Anna & Sam. Tiny Space is truly a treasure and a gleaming example of the Richmond I fell in love with. The community, the nostalgia, the unique pieces that keep Richmond from transforming into one of those, you know... "every city everywhere" type places, like where I grew up. 

Not only does Anna & Sam have an eye for amazing, unique, and awesomely priced vintage furniture, clothing, books, decor, and other treasures, they have amazing hearts as well! I can honestly say, I have never met anyone like them. Their shop is a true reflection of their soul, and when you visit, you will take-away an experience like no other. 

There have been days that I entered Tiny Space just for some retail therapy, and left with not only a unique find, but a full heart over genuine conversation. These folks are special. Tiny Space is special. With each piece I have purchased, like my favorite red cape, I have wonderful memories attached. I have gained priceless gifts for myself and others, as well as a friendship you don't ever expect gaining from your local retail store. 

This is a must stop shop folks. 

Tips:

A great place to pick up a souvenir from your Richmond trip, or a memento of your day wandering Richmond. 

On nice weather days they have their garage door open. Come ready for adorable pups, as sometimes Anna & Sam bring their 2 sweet Boston Terriers to work. 

Follow them on Instagram to be in the know of their latest events. Often they have small concerts, and special events supporting local makers, artists and sellers. That's just the way they are. True community builders. The type of people that support everyone and make it a priority to help them live their dreams as well. 

Bonus: I am so thankful to call them my neighbor, so I may even see you around during your visit!

Gather Garden

Stop into Gather Garden after you have visited Tiny Space, they are right next-door to one another, and compliment each other perfectly. This is a great place to recharge, especially if you are feeling a bit pooped from your big Richmond adventure. The energy is always positive and refreshing. 

Gather is full of unique house plants, and one-of-a kind handmade treasures, and a place where you will always be greeted kindly and have great conversation (if you are a yapper like me, if not, don't get stressed that Richmond will talk your ear off, although, I might, so stay clear. haha!). And the smells, oh the smells are heavenly. Mostly coming from the most beautiful dried bouquets (you can read more about my love for dried florals here) and Pan Natural Goods, which owner Suzy Brockamnn creates in-house. To witness Suzy create her natural soaps and oil blends, is such a wonderful experience. There is nothing I appreciate more than getting to connect with the people making my products, if this is important to you as well, this is a place to visit and grab a handmade soap, or two, or three. Don't forget your house plant on the way out! 

Tip: Great place for a housewarming gift. 

We hope you enjoyed our mini tour of Richmond! We will be working on more Old Soul Guides like this, so if you have any recommendations of places you would like us to visit, or you feel left out in any way, please let us know in the comments below, and we will keep them in mind for our next guide.

If you fell in love with any of the places we suggested, we would love to hear about it. You can leave a comment or messages us through our contact page

Until our next adventure, all the best! 

Vic, Brad, & Friends!

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