A day trip to Richmond, Virginia from Washington, D.C. is a 108-mile jaunt south on I-95. You’ve hit Richmond when I-95 makes several S-curves on an overpass that cuts narrowly through the city of 200,000+ and old factory buildings. Off the highway, there are beards, tattoos, brass pieces in soul bands, craft beer, vintage clothing shops. Leave.the.highway.
Get Our Drink On
Start at Isley Brewing Co. (1715 Summit Ave Richmond, VA). Located in a resurgent old factory section of Richmond with new apartments, cycle shops, coffee companies. The best part of Isley is the tasting option – choose 6 of their awesome beers to try for $8.
They arrive on a home-made tasting board; the beer ranges in color from pale ale to chocolate stout. Beers come in names such as Tall Dark and Hopsome Double Black IPA and Plain Jane Belgian White Ale. Each beer is as tasty as it is originally named. The grandmother of them all was the Choosy Mother Peanut Butter Oatmeal Porter. A smooth chocolate porter with perfect undertones of peanut butter. We were hooked.
Shopping and History in the Downtown Core
Made in Virginia shopping at Ledbury (men’s bespoke fashion) and La Difference (furniture and home decor). The two stores occupy old warehouse space along the James River Canal under various overpasses.
Up the hill is the Virginia State Capitol. The grounds are stunning. Surrounded by the Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Virginia, and the Governor’s Residence, the Capitol building is stark white atop a grassy hill. Just steps away, though, is a reminder of the darkest days in our country’s history when the Union dissolved and Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederacy. Surrounded by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, the Confederate White House is hidden away from the street (you have to search it out) and is relatively tiny in comparison to the buildings that grew up around it.
For a quick bite, City Dogs on E. Cary St is highly recommended. The menu features ridiculous hot dog combinations and the prices are amazing. The dogs are boiled perfectly and have the proper snap when you bite into them. Cover the dog with pulled pork and cole slaw (Carolina dog) or with sweet chili (Cincinnati dog), add some fries just out of the fryer, and your $10 lunch will carry you through the next brewery.
Next up was Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (2408-2410 Ownby Lane, Richmond, VA). The drive there from downtown takes you through VCU’s campus, which looks like it can be very entertaining from the dive bars to the tattoo shops to the stately row houses just off Broad Street.
Situated near the Science Museum of Virginia and in what can generously be described as an office park, the Hardywood Brewery was hopping on a gorgeous spring Saturday afternoon. Corn hole bags flying, a food truck selling tacos, dogs rambling around, and that was all before the band started. The tasting room is large. There are racks upon racks of bourbon barrels lining the walls, a view of the stainless steel vats, and an established bar with myriad taps anchors the center of the room. The beer list is great. Recommended beers are the Bourbon Barrel Sidamo Coffee Stout, which at 10% ABV, was the strongest beer available, and the Cream Ale, which is like a light lager but with a creamy finish. All beers are available to go with some in cans and others in growlers.
Shopping in Carytown
The Carytown section of Richmond takes its name from Cary Street, which forms the backbone of the strip of restaurants, bars, and shops that teem with families and couples for an early Saturday evening stroll. Some notables for shopping are Traveling Chic Boutique and Bygones Vintage Clothing with reasonable prices and a neat selection. For a date night drink Secco Wine Bar looks like the spot and The Daily Kitchen and Bar was packed with a wait list.
Why We’ll Go Back
Because there are gardens that we didn’t see (Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and The Maymont Foundation); there are more breweries we have to try (Strangeways Brewing, Legend Brewing, Triple Crossing Brewing); and more food to eat (Edo’s Squid). #RVA is a thing.