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Richmond, the state capital of Virginia, was once the center of the universe…for the Confederacy. Once the Civil War ended, the city continued to evoke aspects of the Old South for more than 100 years. But at the turn of this century, something changed, and Richmond started to become avant-garde, stylish and hip. Need proof? It’s said the city has more tattoo parlors per capita than anywhere else in the country. Here are 3 perfect days in Richmond:

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Day One

Richmond Rides Foodie Tour

Richmond Rides Foodie Tour | Photo courtesy of Kate Magee

As with many up-and-coming cities, the home-grown business boom starts in the food and beverage category. Begin day one in the city by spending three hours on Richmond Ride’s Foodie Tour. You’ll ride a comfy cruiser bike through trendy Church Hill, eat fresh-baked bread at Sub Rosa Bakery and sample Southern comfort eats or Korean fare at The Dog & Pig Show.

In the afternoon, walk off calories at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. VMFA is best-known for its Fabergé collection, highlighted by five of the Russian jeweler’s Imperial Easter Eggs.

It’s back to Church Hill for dinner at Metzger Bar & Butchery. The rustic German fare prepared by classically-trained chefs is wunderbar. Sleep off the day at Linden Row Inn, made up of seven historic rowhouses filled with period furniture.

Day Two

Start the second day by getting your caffeine fix at one of homegrown Lamplighter Roasting Co.’s three locations. Then, head over to Carytown to explore the neighborhood’s shops and galleries. Lunch at the Daily Kitchen, with a menu filled with organic fare and a wide range of choices for vegans, vegetarians and the gluten-free diner.

RVA Street art festival

RVA Street art festival | Flickr CC: Eli Christman

Continue walking around Carytown and the adjacent Fan District and just look around. You’ll discover street art everywhere. More than 60 murals and outdoor installations are fixed on building walls throughout the city. If you want to see creativity in action, come during the annual RVA Street Art Festival in April.

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Scott’s Addition has a mural or two, as well. But the revitalizing neighborhood is best known as a beverage connoisseur’s delight. Ardent Craft Ales and Isley Brewing Company are among the local microbreweries to set up shop here. The craft scene is rounded out by cideries, a distillery and a meadery.

Lobby at the Quirk Hotel

Lobby at the Quirk Hotel | Photo courtesy of the Quirk

Ready for more drinks? Check into Quirk, a design hotel re-imagined from a 100-year-old department store building. The lobby bar is where Richmond’s beautiful people come for Happy Hour, so dress the part. Have dinner at Maple & Pine, a seasonally-focused fine dining venture. Then, rest up in your comfy bed, custom-made from the salvaged floor joists of the original building.

Day Three

James River Park

James River Park | Flickr CC: Taber Andrew Bain

Spend the last day in Richmond outdoors. The James River Park is a playground for canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, and even offers Class III and IV whitewater rafting. Rent a bike. The area has more than 70 miles of mountain biking trails. A flatter option is the Virginia Capital Trail, which connects Virginia’s present-day capital with Williamsburg, the capital in the ye olde days.

Go back to Church Hill for dinnerat Dutch & Company, which serves local rustic fare prepared using modern methods. Then think about catching a show at the historic Hippodrome Theater in downtown’s Jackson Ward before settling in for sweet dreams of Richmond at the Jefferson, the city’s grande dame hotel.

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Tagged: Virginia

Laura Powell

Laura Powell

Laura is a 20-year veteran travel journalist. She was CNN's first travel reporter, and has written for publications ranging from Alaska Airlines Magazine to The Washington Post. Find her at the www.dailysuitcase.com or on Twitter: @dailysuitcase

2 thoughts on “3 perfect days in Richmond, Virginia”

  1. Thank you for the coverage. Please change the photo for the James River Park – the one you are showing is from the James River STATE Park, which is more than 90 miles west of Richmond.

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