Despite growing up in Virginia, I’d never managed to visit Richmond until now! My brother lives there and I finally planned a trip to see him and his girlfriend. The weather called for rain the whole two days, but luckily we missed the most of it. Check out my summer packing list for carry-ons here.
We caught an early flight from LGA, which was only an hour, not only saving us 6 hours of travel time, but also $14 compared to a train ticket. There was a bit of turbulence on the flight with some cloudiness. When we arrived we immediately went to Rise for biscuits and doughnuts. The biscuits were amazing. I got the veggie sausage with cheddar biscuits. So so good! We also grabbed a creme brûlée doughnut, which was equally sweet and delicious!
Our first official stop of the day was The Poe Museum. The entrance fee was $8 per person. Poe grew up in Richmond and the museum has a lot of artifacts dedicated to him. There are a handful of black cats on the property(!) and a few buildings to browse, which include a recreation of his childhood bedroom, his collected works, a reading room and library (closed to visitors), and a room dedicated to his MORTAL ENEMIES (a husband and wife team named Griswald) and Poe’s death! The portraits of his enemies really tickled me to be featured in the museum. The Griswalds perpetuated the myth that Poe was a mad man who wrote horror based on his life in their biography of Poe, which people still believe to this day. Turns out Mr. Griswald was trying to get revenge because Poe was more successful than him in life. Anyway, I had a great time nerd-ing out on these random facts!
The day was still young so our next stop was the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is like a little MET museum with a bit of Whitney Art thrown in. It’s free to go!! Loved the vibe and it was very relaxed, probably because we went on an early Friday. The museum is huge! There are so many exhibits! I loved the pop art, modern art, Kongo dikenga exhibit, mosaic jewelry exhibit (featuring magnifying glasses), and the giant face sculpture in the garden (optical illusion!) Here’s a selection of my favorite pieces of art.
After the museum we went to a vegetarian cafe and bar called Ipanema. It’s kind of a hidden gem in my opinion because there are not a lot of places that have casual vegetarian food. I ordered a veg BLT. The menu had a lot of great options including Beyond Burger and a French onion soup. The menu was mainly American food. They also had a delicious looking dessert menu, but we had other plans…
Charm School Ice Cream is the cutest and best conceptualized ice cream parlor there ever could be! First of all, the side of the building has the gorgeous “Welcome to Richmond” mural that is very insta-worthy, but the scent of the fresh waffle cones welcomes you in! I loved the branding that everything is part of the “charm school” and there is a lot of book-ish imagery that I especially appreciated. ALSO THE ICE CREAM IS PERFECT. Pictured is the peanut butter ice cream, but I regret not getting the toasted marshmallow on top of mine! (Dare I say the vegan marshmallow is better than the regular??)
After an afternoon stuffing our faces, we grabbed some pizza to go from Benny Ventano’s. But not just any pizza, a GIANT SLICE. The pizza takes over the whole plate! I have to say, we ate our pizzas at home and I think it tasted better re-heated in the oven than it would have at the restaurant, but the novelty of a giant pizza doesn’t fade. 🙂
An unusual start to day two, we went to a discount grocery store called Fresh to Frozen that carries damaged food items as well as discounted fresh produce and frozen food (like a whole frozen chicken!). This day was an especially busy because of tax free weekend in Virginia and an anniversary sale at the store. There was a line to get in! Josh and I bought $17 worth of snacks and food to bring on the plane, which normally would have cost at least double or triple that in NYC. (More on getting all of it home at the end.) The rest of the day is full of more touristy things.
You might ask, Heather, do you ever stop eating while on vacation? And the answer is no! For breakfast we went for very fancy crepes at Les Crepes. We made a reservation that morning while on the way back from Fresh to Frozen just in case there was a chance it would be crowded, but 11am is the sweet spot for brunch since it is less crowded. I prefer sweet crepes and went with the classic combination of nutella, strawberry, and banana. Look at this lovely presentation! They also offered savory crepes, but that is just not my taste. We shared the sweet crepes around the table with other options including chocolate mousse and dulce de leche and peach!
After finishing brunch and our Bellinis, we slathered on some sunscreen and headed out to a local sunflower farm for their sunflower festival! Located outside of Richmond proper, in Mankin, Alvis Farms held the festival over two weekends at the end of July and early August where the sunflowers would be in peak bloom. It’s only a $5 entrance! This weekend was the second weekend and I wonder if the sunflowers were a bit more awake the previous weekend? These ones were kind of droopy, but still lovely! SO MANY SUNFLOWERS! It was extremely hot this day so thankfully we were protected from the sun.
This was a really cute event. There was a small maze in the field and the farm had vendors on the property playing live music, selling drinks (WATER!!!), crafts, and other knick-knacks. You could buy a pre-cut sunflower on your way out, but were not allowed to disturb the flowers as they were. We walked along the outer perimeter of the field that was indicated to get to the flowers that were less droopy. Not a lot of people were going into the field, but no one was stopping us either so we went among the bees and other bugs to get the ‘gram. It’s definitely worth checking out if you see this next year!
After heading back to home base for a minute to cool down, we went out again a couple of hours later for dinner. We had Zorch Pizza from a food truck. It was even better than the pizza from yesterday! I think it was because I added hot honey on top. OMG my favorite flavor of all time is sweet and spicy and this hit all of the notes. This day Zorch was parked outside of Väsen Brewing Company, which apparently is just in an area in Richmond that also has other brewing companies? I’ve never seen so many so close together! We were able to eat our slices and have a drink at the location.
Soon our trip had to end. We had such a fun time and I’m glad I got to spend it with my family. They took us to places I would never have known to go. Also, I really appreciated the food options in the area, definitely underrated foodie places here!
Side note: we packed all of the snacks from fresh to frozen into our carry-on bags and we thought it wouldn’t be a problem to transport them, but turns out the security screening at the airport does require you to take out all snacks from the bags, and to make matters more awkward, we bought a bag of fancy hot chocolate powder, which was flagged in the security line. It passed the test and we were allowed to keep all our items, but lesson learned!
Where should we go for our next visit to RVA? ♥