For the Fourth of July this month, Amy, Unzila and I decided to take a three day trip to Richmond, VA to get out of town for the long weekend. We had to go through random storms to get there but once we arrived, you could tell from the reaction between Unz and Amy that they were back in their former stomping grounds.
The city of Richmond is the fourth-most populous city in the state of Virginia while the surrounding metropolitan area has a population of around 1.2 million people, making it the third-most populous metro area in the state.
The city’s economy is mostly driven by various firm and companies from law, finance and banking to government agencies. What I didn’t know was that my current electric company in Ashburn, VA is actually headquartered here in Richmond (Dominion Energy). The city is also the home to six Fortune 500 companies, including the two largest private employers: Capital One and Philip Morris USA.
Interesting History Lesson: VCU
The city is also the home of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) that was originally established in 1968, due to a merger between the Medical College of Virginia and the Richmond Professional Institute during the downtown boom era in the 1960s, but the roots of the school actually goes further back.
You could say that the school’s original history began in 1838 when the Medical Department of Hapden-Sydney College opened in the city, where it moved to its home that is known today as the Egyptian Building in 1845. The college then changed its name to Medical College of Virginia (MCV) after receiving an independent charter from the Virginia General Assembly. In 1860 the MCV sold all its property to the state and became a state institution for a price tag of $30,000 (approx. $926K in today’s money). Decades later, the MCV later merged with University College of Medicine (UCM) to become even larger.
The origins of the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) dates back to 1917 when it was originally began as the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health. What I didn’t know was that the RPI was actually a division of the more exclusive College of William and Mary from 1939 to 1962, when it separated to become an independent state institution which eventually formed the VCU that we know today. Due to these connections to history, VCU claims 1838 as its founding date, coming full circle.
The Food Scene
Richmond is quickly climbing the ranks for its food scene, as several standout restaurants in the Fan, Church Hill, Jackson Ward and others generate attention from foodies all over social media.
In 2014, the Departures magazine named the city, “The Next Great American Food City”, while it also made Metzger Bar & Butchery’s “Best New Restaurants: 12 to Watch” list.
The city is also the home of twelve micro-breweries in River City, with the oldest being Legend Brewery which was founded in 1994.
East Coast Provisions
After getting settled in at our hotel with Katie in tow, we set out for dinner that we had pre-planned during the drive down. The restaurant where we had dinner was a highly recommend restaurant called East Coast Provisions located on Cary Street. If you’re ever in town, I recommend this place and try their truffle fries as they were exquisite.
The next morning, the “Ladies of Richmond” plus one (I’ll just dub us LoR +1…sounds like Lord of the Rings), went into the heart of Richmond’s historic Fan District that opened in January 2019. Theres not much to say other than the fact that the food was excellent and Unzila had strong feelings for their vanilla latte with coconut milk.
We booked our short stay in Richmond at one of the most stylish hotels in the city called Quirk Hotel, named one of South’s Best Hotels on the 2018 Southern Living magazine’s list. The hotel is definitely one of the best places I have stayed and it’s located in the heart of downtown Richmond. It’s fancy, but not fancy if you know what I mean. Instead the hotel charms you with its calm pastel colors and modern aesthetics that should please any visitor with an eye for design. The clever room designs that is a mix of classic and modern design with tall ceilings, make you feel airy and spacious for a relatively small room.
The Circuit – Arcade Bar
Now this place is one of the coolest places I’ve ever gone to with a few key highlights:
3. Tae is Happy
The Circuit is the city’s arcade bar that offer both modern and retro games (up to 80+ games) that satisfies your deepest coin depositing nostalgia, while offering over 50 rotating selection of local and national craft beers, ciders and wines. This place has a self-serve beer tap system that pours by the ounce so that you can taste sample without paying for the whole pint if you don’t like what you had. This place is a great place for date night and a place that I would bring Amy if this was our first date.
Note: I’m sorry that I didn’t have many photos at this location as I had my hands full with the M10 and beer, but here is a photo of Katie and Nate.
The trip was a memorable one for all of us as a bunch of friends get together to getaway from the daily grinds of life and to let loose a little. One of the biggest takeaways for me was how much Richmond had changed over the years and how the city morphed from a troubling city to a true capital of a state. I highly recommend taking a trip there if any of you are in the state.