Yes, Virginia, there is a fun (historical, indie, artsy) weekend to be had in Richmond. Flights arrive in 90 minutes from NYC; Amtrak chugs there in seven hours. You’ll need a car to get around.
You can’t go wrong at old-school (by 116 years) The Jefferson Hotel — back in the day, alligators lived in the lobby pools — but we are charmed by the genteel Maury Place and the Victorian-appointed (and reasonably priced) Grace Manor Inn.
Check what’s happening at refurbished vaudeville theater The National and CenterStage, a new performing arts complex featuring ballet, opera, and Shakespeare performances. Catch a flick at Byrd Theatre, a Twenties-era palace cinema with a Mighty Wurlitzer organ performance before all Saturday evening shows. Second-run features are just $1.99.
Take a morning drive through the Fan District, 85 blocks of stately Victorian homes. Modern Richmond Tours, a free monthly tour group, arranges walk-throughs of modernist homes and offices, complete with refreshments, and Q&As with architects. Gothic stone houses your style? Head to The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe (the poet lived in Virginia as a child).
For proper comfort food, like red velvet waffles, slink into one of Lulu’s industrial bamboo booths. Hungry much? The Black Sheep serves sandwiches so big they’re not subs, they’re battleships. (We like the USS Brooklyn, jerk chicken with roasted banana ketchup.) It’s a sausage fest (the house-cured kind) at Belmont Butchery, and an NY transplant tells us Mamma Zu’s, a legit Italian spot in Oregon Hill, is “like Frankie’s, before there was Frankie’s.” (Be prepared for NYC wait times and prices.) There’s even a VA version of Balthazar: Can Can Brasserie, opened by a Jean-Georges alum.
On Robinson Street, pluck an opera coat from vintage clothing store Halcyon Vintage; the proprietor’s boyfriend owns nearby tip-top vinyl shop Deep Groove Records. A few blocks more will bring you to Black Swan Books, an inviting, rare and out-of-print bookstore.
On the fringes of Carytown, peek into Bohland & Graham, a new home furnishings and fine art shop, and Need Supply Co., the brick-and-mortar outpost of one of our favorite online fashion destinations.