Richmond, the capital of Virginia, was founded in 1737 and played a substantial role in American history. Thomas Jefferson served as the second governor of Virginia before becoming our third president. He also was responsible for the Statue of Religious Freedom passing in Richmond. Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at the Virginia Convention in 1775, and Richmond served as the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Located in the South Eastern portion of Virginia. Getting there is an easy drive from Washington, DC.
I love a good road trip. It doesn’t seem to matter to me if it is a day road trip or multiple days on the road. They are all fun, especially in the Spring. At the beginning of April, we decided to head to Virginia’s capital city. I am not sure why we waited so long to visit. I absolutely loved Richmond.
If you get a chance to go, GO. The city is clean, current and charming. The houses in and around the downtown area are so full of character and beauty. We only spent the day in Richmond, and the weather was perfect, so we made sure to plan mostly outdoor activities.
Our first stop, Maymont
A 100-acre estate left to the city by millionaires, James and Sally Dooley. The site is akin to a beautiful park that just happens to have a couple of beautiful buildings, fantastic gardens, a petting zoo, some wild birds, and a few other wild animal exhibits. I am not a big fan of wild animals in captivity, so other than that I enjoyed Maymont.
Bring a picnic, a blanket, and a Frisbee. There are lots of different areas to sit and relax on the grounds. Take a slide or a roll down the steep hill near the birds exhibit or stop and admire the landscaping of the Japanese gardens. Take the time to walk as much of the grounds as possible. There are so many nooks and crannies to discover.
The best reason to go to Maymont is to tour the mansion. The house is in amazing shape, and a lot of the original furnishings are still present. The house is incredible. The intricate details in each room from floor to ceiling are jaw dropping. For most, Sally Dooley’s swan bedroom is what causes everyone to enter the realm of the unbelievable. Between the swan carved bed and accessories to match, the personalized Louis Vuitton trunk, the narwhal tusked vanity, and the silver plated grooming tools it all sends people gasping into the “Oh My Goodness” and “Geesh” categories.
Sign up for house tours in the mansion basement. Sign up early because tours fill up fast. Entrance to Maymont and everything on the grounds is FREE, but a $5 donation is recommended. The tour and the grounds are well worth a donation. Check their website for current hours and details.
[Matthew’s View: I enjoyed Maymont just walking the grounds with Heather made for a great time. The Mansion tour was surprising because the outside of the house makes it look much smaller than it is on the inside. My favorite room was the study and the very intriguing chair carved into a lion.]
From Maymont, we headed over to Hollywood Cemetery.
The cemetery holds two presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler, and several Confederate soldiers. I know touring cemeteries are an acquired taste, but this cemetery is particularly beautiful. It is located on the top of a hill next to the James River. The views from Presidential Circle are gorgeous. The cemetery offers walking tours of the grounds, but you are also free to visit at your leisure by car or foot. There are a couple of hills but nothing major and lots of trees for plenty of shade. Check their website for current hours and details.
After walking all morning, we built up an appetite. Matt is a sandwich fiend, so we are always on the lookout for a great sandwich spot. Richmond is so darn lucky because they have one of the best little restaurants we have been to in a long while, Lucy’s.
Lucy’s was DEELISH!
I had the Dip, their version of a French dip, and Matt had the Two Street Club, which was turkey, bacon and pork all on one sandwich. The food there tasted so fresh and delicious. We felt so healthy as we grubbed on our fantastic lunch. Word has it they buy all their meats and veggies from a local family owned farm. I believe it because I can’t rave enough about how fresh and good their food was.
If you are in Richmond, you HAVE to go to Lucy’s. They are located in the Jackson Ward area at 404 N 2nd St. There are street parking and two parking lots, one next door and one across the street. Not only is their food yummy, but who can resist anything with the name Lucy? Check out their website for current specials.
[Matthew’s View: I know Heather has already gone on and on about our lunch, but I would just like to reiterate just how tasty it was. I absolutely loved my sandwich in every way. Lucy’s has made it onto my list of all-time best sandwiches.]
After lunch on a whim, we decided to visit the Jefferson Hotel. The hotel is gorgeous. The staff was friendly; multiple employees greeted us and welcomed us as we walked around. A few of the meeting/rental rooms were open, and we snuck a few peeks. Talk about extravagant. Wow!
My two favorite tidbits about the Jefferson hotel:
- It was said that Bojangles was discovered as he danced across the Dining Room.
- The Grand Staircase is said to be the famous staircase in Gone with the Wind.
[Matthew’s View: The Jefferson Hotel certainly showed off that old southern charm and elegance, just to walk through the grand lobbies and see the tea room was pretty impressive.]
We couldn’t be in the capital city without stopping to see the capitol building. The building, of course, is grand and white. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clerisseau in 1785. We didn’t go inside, but I have no doubt it is pretty nice inside.We have plans to return to tour the inside.
By this time, it was time to head home. On our way out we drove down the famous Monument Drive. It’s not just the monuments on this road that are impressive; the houses are fabulous. Take the time to drive or walk down this famous street and take in all the views.
Day tripping from DC is pretty straightforward. Take the I-95 and head south roughly 100 miles. Traffic on this stretch of road is pretty constant, so it’s best to plan for minimum two and a half hours for drive time to/from Richmond. If you want to retain your sanity, leave DC early to ensure you miss all the day traffic on I-95.
Recommendable: Yes! We only saw a smidgen of all the things Richmond has to offer. We are looking forward to another road trip to visit again.