Richmond Essentials

Learn about what Richmond has to offer in dining, entertainment and nightlife.
By: Jennifer Willis
Related To:

Food and Drink: The Best Places To ...


Multiple locations
First opened in 1937, Ukrops stores are based on the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you. A Richmond institution, Ukrops has stores across the city and throughout Central Virginia offering fresh produce, choice cuts of meat and convenient prepared foods. Ukrops employees are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable in the business. Carryout to your car is complimentary: Tips are neither expected nor accepted.

Libbie Market
400 Libbie Avenue
Formerly Joe’s Market, Libbie Market is has a full grogery offering, includling beer, over 500 varieties of wine (many of which are served in the Cafe), a catering service with delivery, bulk coffee and candies, and much more!

Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market
4 N. Thompson Street
Offering the city’s best local, organic and sustainable products, Ellwood Thompson (ET) opened its doors in 1993 and is named for the streets that intersect at the store’s location. ET is one of the more expensive food stores in Richmond—some locals say you need a home equity loan to shop there—but if you’re looking for foods that are minimally processed and free of hydrogenated oils; high fructose corn syrup; or artificial preservatives, colors and sweeteners, ET is the place to shop.


Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream
26 N. Morris Street
3600 Forest Hill Avenue
Crossroads, a popular hangout at both its Fan/VCU and Forest Hill locations, is a warm, relaxed neighborhood gathering spot. From coffees and blended drinks to paninis, vegetarian dishes and ice cream, sundaes and shakes, there’s something yummy for everyone. Their vegan cookies—chocolate chunk and berry flavors are favorites—easily serve two people. Dogs are welcome at outside tables; photo albums inside are filled with pictures of local pets.


Legend Brewery
321 West 7th Street
Legends has been brewing premium beers since 1994, and its brews are available in the Legends pub and at other restaurants and retailers across Virginia. Spring, summer and fall, the Legends deck is the place to relax with a microbrew, have some pub grub and enjoy the view of the city skyline over the James River. There’s live music through the week, with local artists appearing on Tuesdays.

Capital Ale House
623 E Main Street
When the weather turns colder, head downtown to Capital Ale House, offering over 200 beers including microbrews and imports at its 50-foot long oak bar. Free live blues music every Friday.


3rd Street Diner
218 E Main Street
3rd Street Diner is a Richmond mainstay. Locals either love it or hate it. Either way, it’s one of the few diners open into the wee hours of the morning, and you’re just as likely to spot power-suits as student-artists in this 24-hour joint with a funky, urban character you won’t soon forget. Breakfast is served all day—the French toast is a popular favorite—and the Diner Deluxe sandwiches will satisfy any appetite. Get a table on the balcony for some of the best people watching in Richmond.


17th Street Farmers Market
100 North 17th Street / Corner of 17th & Main Streets
The 17th Street Farmers Market in Shockoe Bottom is one of the country’s oldest public markets, having been in continuous operation since the 1780s. A wide variety of vendors sell produce, eggs, meat, flowers, cheeses, pies —everything homegrown, homemade and handcrafted, and all from local, regional and backyard producers.

Thursday’s Fresh Market at 17th Street features produce straight from the farm alongside homemade and handcrafted items. The Bohemian Market on Saturdays adds a funky, free-spirit flair to the market; and Sunday’s Vintage Market is full-on retro with antiques, jewelry, locally produced arts and crafts and other collectibles.

A wide variety of vendors sell homegrown, homemade and handcrafted products at the 17th Street Farmers Market. Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau 

Entertainment: The Best Places To ...


With a rich art collection spanning 6,000 years, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 N. Boulevard, 804-340-1400) can’t be beat. The permanent collection includes more than 20,000 pieces from artists and eras across the globe. Admission is free except for special temporary exhibitions.

The city is home to many public parks, including Maymont. Once a 100-acre private estate, Maymont (with entrances at 2201 Shields Lake Drive, 1700 Hampton Street and the corner of Spottswood Road and Shirley Lane) boasts a nature center, Italian and Japanese gardens, wildlife and domestic zoos, historic Maymont mansion and acres of scenic walking paths. Admission is free, though donations are requested for select indoor exhibits.


First Fridays Artwalks
The First Fridays Artwalks are where to see and be seen. Held the first Friday evening of each month—rain or shine—these art walks highlight the city’s vibrant arts community. Join this walking tour of the Historic Broad Street Corridor between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to visit art galleries, museums and other cultural venues—all the while meeting and chatting with like-minded Richmonders. Destinations vary each month. Check the online calendar for details and starting locations.


Novice and experienced river rats go boating, tubing or kayaking on the James River — “the Rih-vah,” as the locals call it—or picnic and sunbathe on the rocks off of Belle Isle. The Pony Pasture —accessible from Riverside Drive on the South side of the river, two miles downstream from the Huguenot Bridge—is a popular put-in for tubing and canoeists, and is an excellent spot for birdwatching and fishing.

If climbing is more your speed, head downtown to the Manchester Wall. This six-foot granite wall was once part of the 19th-century Richmond-Petersburg Railroad Bridge and now offers 43 routes for top roping, trad climbing and sport climbing, ranging in difficulty from 5.4 to 5.11a.


Barker Field in Byrd Park
At one time or another, Richmond pooches find their way to Barker Field. Open sunrise to sunset in all weather, this off-leash, contained dog park is supported by the volunteer Friends of Barker Field in association with the Richmond Recreation & Parks Foundation. Named around the time that nearby Parker Field—an aging minor league baseball stadium—was torn down, Barker Field has one area for smaller dogs and another for dogs of all sizes to romp. Located in Byrd Park, just south of the Carillon at the end of the Boulevard, Barker Field is busiest on weekends, so try going during the week to introduce a new dog to the park.


Children’s Museum of Richmond
2626 W Broad Street
Younger kids love the Children’s Museum. The Natural World space lets little ones explore the region’s outdoor riches inside—with a limestone cave, miniature James River, climbing tree and riverbed trek to the aquarium. Kids can venture into the real outdoors in the Backyard, with its big sandbox, small stream, water squirts and performing-arts activities. The museum’s new Town Square play space entertains children with a schoolhouse, bank, TV station, hospital, grocery store and cafe.

Science Museum of Virginia
2500 West Broad Street
Right next door to the Children’s Museum is the Science Museum of Virginia, a favorite of kids of all ages. The museum has hands-on exhibits—like a five-story DNA strand and the Newton in Space exploration area—and offers regular astronomy events, lectures, summer camps and other programs for everyone from toddlers to adults. The adjoining IMAX theater features planetarium shows as well as first-run movies and educational programs.


World of Mirth
3005 W Cary St
Richmond, VA 23220
Looking for a horned devil ducky bath toy? How about a punching nun hand puppet? This funky vintage and novelty shop has it. Specializing in gifts, toys and games for kids of all ages since 1993, World of Mirth is the place to go in Richmond for tiki mugs, Betty Boop salt-and-pepper shakers and yodeling pickles. Whether you’re buying or browsing, World of Mirth—described as “where Dr. Seuss meets Pee-Wee's Playhouse”—is always friendly and good for a laugh.


Church Hill
E. Grace Street at N. 22nd Street
It’s hard to find a bad view of the city, and Richmond’s many hilltop neighborhoods—Oregon Hill, Richmond Hill, Libby Hill, Chimborazo Hill and more—offer enticing vantage points. The best view is found atop Church Hill, at the end of E. Grace Street, looking west over downtown. Head up to the old WRVA building—now housing Child Savers—at 200 N. 22nd Street, and meander southwest to East Grace Street. Turn right toward Taylors Hill Park where Grace dead-ends, and prepare to have your breath taken away.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission and houses more than 20,000 pieces. Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau 

Richmond After Dark: The Best Places To ...


Recently restored, The National Theater (708 E. Broad Street, 804-612-1900 ) presents groups from touring tribute bands to the Richmond Symphony and GWAR (not appearing together!). For live jazz, there’s no place like Bogart’s Back Room (1903 West Cary Street, 804-353-9280), featuring local and national acts—and with a full menu available until 1 a.m.


Byrd Theater
2908 W. Cary Street
At $1.99 per ticket it may sound like a cheap date, but the Byrd is no ordinary movie theater. Built in 1928 as one of the country’s original movie palaces, the Byrd has operated almost continuously since and today is a state and national historic landmark. The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ—played during silent movies when the theater was new—makes an appearance before Saturday evening shows. Enjoying second-run movies beneath the two-and-a-half ton Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier makes the Byrd one of the best date spots in town.


Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Mars Bars (115 N. 18th Street, 804-644-6277) spins the best '80s dance hits in town. Cocktails are generous and strong, but the dance floor can get pretty cozy, so arrive early to save your spot. Feeling more international? Give Bollywood dance night at Cous Cous (901 W. Franklin Street, 804-358-0868) a try. The second Saturday of every month, DJ Carlito serves up a mix of modern and classic Indian dance music that gets everyone up out of their seats.

If folk dancing is your thing, check out the contra dancing with live music at the Lewis Ginter Recreation Center (3421 Hawthorne Avenue) on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Regulars are friendly—and in incredible shape—and there’s a free lesson for beginners.

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