I got to spend a night in Richmond, Virginia before a work meeting this week. It’s a place I had only previously known as the point on Interstate 95 where we always pass the big cigarette (also know as the headquarters of Philip Morris USA).
But west of 95 and downtown, there is a several-mile area called “The Fan,” which gets its name from the way the streets “fan out” from downtown. Normally, my thing is to visit new towns and rent a bike. There is no better way to see the sights. You get better views because you’re going slower than a car and you can stop anytime you like. You also get to see a lot more sights than if you’re walking. And you get a little exercise along with your entertainment!
However, the Fan, despite my love of bicycling, is almost perfect for walking. I started my leisurely two-plus-hours walk in Carytown (bottom left in the pictured map, courtesy of the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau), made my way north along Boulevard, turned east on Monument Avenue headed towards downtown, then finished up by going south past Virginia Commonwealth University and back west along Main Street.
There were great sights all along the way. In hipster paradise Carytown, I ate oysters on the half-shell and corn ginger soup at Can Can Brasserie and then enjoyed strolling past the famed and beautiful Byrd Theater, known as the first theater in Virginia with a sound system and also supposedly haunted by its original manager.
Walking north past the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts connects me to Monument Avenue and thoughts enter my head about how crucial Richmond’s role was in the shaping of the country during the Civil War. It was the capital of the Confederate States of America through much of the war, and the avenue features a who’s-who of Confederate heroes memorialized with impressive statues: Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee (monument pictured), and J.E.B. Stuart. Incidentally, hometown tennis hero Arthur Ashe Jr. also has a monument nearby.
I could have continued along after the mouth-dropping mansions of Monument further east to downtown, but it was getting dark, so I veered south at VCU and headed back along Main Street toward my bed-and-breakfast near Carytown (Museum District Bed and Breakfast … highly recommended). The college students were out in full force along Main Street, as there are dozens of bars and restaurants, not to mention a lot of great graffiti art.
I turned in for the night looking forward to the next time I can get down to Richmond to explore more of the city. Downtown, the Virginia Capitol Building, the Hollywood Cemetery, the Jefferson Hotel, and the whitewater rapids along the James River are high on my list.
Any other suggestions for places to walk, bike, and easily get to in and around Richmond? Please leave a comment below.