Happy Friday, friends!
I hope everyone has something fun on deck for the weekend! I am heading out to San Francisco, California bright and early tomorrow morning and will be on the West Coast through Tuesday. As such, blog posts might be a bit sporadic next week, but I’m excited to share my experiences with you when I return! I’m heading back to the Bay Area again in two weeks for vacation, so I’ll likely do one mega recap post for you then. Stay tuned!
If you want to get out of town yourself and are in need of the perfect fall getaway spot, I can’t recommend Richmond, Virginia highly enough. After work last Friday, Monica and I took the recently—and beautifully, I might add—The Jefferson Hotel up on their invitation and headed down to Richmond for a weekend stay. Prior to our stay at The Jefferson, I’d really only been to Richmond once—four years ago to visit my sorority little while she was working there at a summer internship. While I really enjoyed my trip, it was so hot that we mostly stayed inside catching up, drinking white wine, and watching Bravo. I didn’t get to see much of RVA—but what I did see, I loved!—so I was excited to go back and explore such a unique and bustling city.
HOW TO GET THERE /
Getting to Richmond is easy! Monica and I opted to drive down after work on Friday, and took I-395 to I-95. There is seemingly always traffic on 95—especially during the summer months since this is the main road to all beaches south of the DC area—but we left on the later side (6:30pm) to avoid heavy rush hour traffic. When all was said and done, it took us about two and a half hours to get to The Jefferson, which I consider to be great time! (If you’re lucky and find yourself on I-95 when there’s no traffic, the drive from the DC area would take you about two hours.
In addition, Richmond does have an international airport (RIC) or you could easily hop on an Amtrak train to their Main Street Station—the latter of which would be a great option if you’re also traveling from DC and don’t have a car or want to avoid dealing with traffic. However, I will say that Richmond is very much a car city, so driving may be the most economical option—even if you have to rent a car, since parking most places is free. We did use Uber several times while we were in town, and found it to be very cheap—all of our rides were under $10 total.
WHERE TO STAY /
In my mind, there is only one place to stay if you want to do it right—The Jefferson Hotel. Monica and I were invited for the weekend to check out the recently renovated property—the process started in April 2013 and wrapped up this spring—and from the second we walked into the Palm Court lobby—hello, sounds like my kind of place!—we were impressed. The hotel was originally built in 1895, and thus has a lot of historical and architectural significance. Instead of diminishing its storied past, the renovations ensured its beautiful common spaces are preserved so they can be enjoyed for years to come. My favorite part that was restored was the century-old Rotunda ceiling that had beautiful stained-glass—a true UVA grad, I love a good Rotunda—and could not stop staring at it during our time at The Jefferson’s famed Champagne Brunch on Sunday. (More on that below!)
The updates also included spacious new floor plans for its 181 luxurious rooms. And y’all, I do mean spacious—our grand premier room was 550 square feet! Monica and I joked we could live there happily together full-time because there was more than enough closet space for two gals and we each had our own sink. There are 15 suites on-site, but with the size and accommodations—hello television screen in the vanity mirror!—of the regular rooms, every room at the hotel truly feels like a suite.
One thing we especially loved about The Jefferson is that there are no resort fees. Let me repeat: there are no resort fees! Included in the cost of your stay is complimentary high-speed wifi, water bottles, coffee, daily newspapers—WSJ included!, and shuttle that will take you to all downtown destinations. To top it all off, the staff is incredible—everyone we met was so friendly and willing to go above and beyond to make sure our stay was relaxing and all our needs were met.
My favorite factoid about The Jefferson is that there used to be alligators in a fountain in the middle of the Palm Court lobby! No seriously—citizens of Richmond and hotel guests used to bring their pet alligators to donate them to The Jefferson so they could add to this unique lobby display. The last alligator died in 1948—to be honest, I’m glad the reptile residents are a thing of the past, but it certainly is a fun piece of history that the hotel pays homage to with hidden alligators throughout the hotel—like the pull nobs on our nightstand!
The one thing Monica and I didn’t get to do that I definitely want to the next time I’m back is go to their indoor swimming pool! We forgot our swimsuits at home, so a poolside cocktail date wasn’t in the cards for us—but dang, how nice does it look?!
WHERE TO DRINK /
Ok, let’s start with the fun stuff—where to drink! Richmond has a thriving craft beer scene! There are more than 20 craft breweries on the Richmond Beer Trail, and more are coming. Monica and I opted to support local cidery Buskey. I drank their RVA Cider, which is a classic apple cider—though they offer several different ciders, including a cherry cider and an IPA-style cider—and was really impressed! It was very smooth and not too sugary, which was much appreciated—I can’t drink sugary drinks like I used to! We enjoyed our cider in their tasting room, where they have all sorts of fun board games. Since we needed an easy game for two people, we played a few rounds of Chutes and Ladders—talk about a blast from the past! If champagne-style cider is more your thing, check out Blue Bee Cider. I went last time I was in town, right after its grand opening, and was really impressed!
While in town, I also recommend grabbing a pre-dinner drink at Maple & Pine, which is pictured directly below this section. This cute restaurant and bar was right up my alley—hello, pink bar stools! We popped in on Saturday evening around 5pm and grabbed seats at the bar without issue. Our bartender was super knowledgeable, and they had a range of craft cocktails and great wines to select from. (Sidenote—if you go, definitely use the restrooms even if you don’t need to—cutest decor ever!) If you’re looking for panoramic views of Richmond, the Q Rooftop Bar, upstairs from Maple & Pine, fits the bill perfectly. We went here for a post-dinner drink, and while it was crowded, we eventually snagged the perfect table for some girl talk.
And, of course, I saved the best for last! I can’t recommend enough a patio cocktail under their gorgeous yellow umbrella’s or a night cap at The Jefferson Hotel’s restaurant Lemaire. We popped into their bar area for a drink Saturday night and the atmosphere was unbeatable—lively and fun, but still quiet enough where we could talk without yelling at each other.
WHERE TO EAT /
Richmond has an amazing, amazing food scene—and if you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed here! The number one meal we had while in town was our Sunday morning Champagne Brunch at The Jefferson Hotel. The hotel transforms its beautiful Rotunda Lobby into a white tablecloth restaurant—complete with live band! They serve fresh squeezed orange juice and keep your glass of champagne full. All the stops are pulled out at their buffet, which lines the perimeter of the lobby and offers breakfast, lunch, and more dessert than I’ve ever seen in my life. It was magical and I’d recommend it to anyone—but snag a reservation before you go!
On Saturday morning, Monica and I went to Max’s on Broad for brunch, which is a cute Belgian eatery right near The Jefferson. We sat outside on their patio which had red umbrellas and bistro chairs and both opted for the burger. I’d highly recommend this spot for a casual lunch or dinner.
Speaking of casual food option—if you like barbecue, my friend A took me to Alamo BBQ when I was passing through on the way home from Virginia Beach a few weeks ago and I was very impressed! It’s definitely a low-key spot with seating outside under a covered patio, but the food really hits the spot.
For dinner in Richmond, I can’t recommend Stella’s enough. (If you collect matchbooks like me, be sure to grab some off the hostess stand!) Serving up modern Greek food, it offers a range of small plates and entrees. We quickly learned the tapas were not the size we’re accustomed to—the portions at Stella’s are more like regular appetizers. Needless to say, we definitely over ordered. My favorite thing was the kreatopita, which is a spin on spanakopita that includes ground beef. We also loved the No. 5 Pasta—so cheesy and delicious! Be sure to grab a reservation before you go, this place was on the smaller side and was bustling.
WHAT TO DO /
There is so much to do in Richmond! Because we were only in town for a short time, we could only cover a fraction of the city’s offerings.
I’m not really a Farmers Market gal, so if Monica hadn’t suggested we go to the South of the James Farmers Market Saturday morning, I would have missed out big time. When we arrived, we easily found street parking and pretty much hightailed it past all the organic produce and grass-fed meats for the Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen donut truck. These sourdough glazed donuts live up to the hype and were served to us fresh out of the oven. From our understanding, this donut truck is the can’t-miss event at the market, so they regularly sell out. We went around 9am and only had to wait in line about 10 minutes. In hindsight, we should have bought a dozen to take home—they were just that good. On our way out, we picked up candles from Miss Lizzie’s Soy Candles—I snagged the Apple Cinnamon and definitely am going to order another one from their Etsy shop!
I’d also recommend walking around Carytown—it’s a cute neighborhood in Richmond with lots of shops and restaurants. We popped into The Pit & The Peel for an afternoon juice and looked at all the beautiful stationery at Merrymaker Fine Paper. Charlottesville favorite Citizen Burger Bar is in Carytown, and I’ve heard great things about Can Can Brasserie.
One thing we did briefly was drive down Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue. I loved all the beautiful houses that line it’s wide, tree-line streets—I definitely left with some real estate envy.
Next time I am in town I want to hit up the Potterfield Memorial Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that supposedly offers amazing views of the city skyline. I also want to visit Maymont Estate, which is a gorgeous Gilded-Era mansion—I’ve heard its gardens are beautiful. And, I’ve been told from a solid source that Friday Art & Wine at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a can’t-miss Richmond experience.
I cannot thank The Jefferson Hotel enough for inviting me and treating me to a weekend stay at their beautiful hotel—complete with a chilled champagne and cheese plate welcome and champagne brunch send-off! And many thanks to Visit Richmond for their hospitality. As always, opinions are my own.