I arrived on Thursday afternoon to spend a long weekend in Richmond & the surrounding areas. For dinner my husband & I went to Havana '59 http://www.havana59.net/. This is a charming, fun restaurant right across from the 17th Street Market. There was no market when we got there, but the college crowd was just starting their night out. The restaurant has an open air front with several tables & also an outside area upstairs. We sat in the back though, near the bar. The decor is wonderful & is intended to evoke the tropical feeling of downtown Havana. There are vintage dance hall, beer & tobbacco signs all over, as well as a great looking bar. The food was great, very spicy! This is certainly a place for the adventurous palate since most dishes are Cuban inspired & quite flavorful & spicy.
On Friday we went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg www.buschgardens.com & defied the 5! The newest coaster is the Griffon with its height of 205 ft & a 90 degree drop! What a rush! There is a section of the park that is called Jack Hanna's Wildlife reserve. They do wolf shows & they also have several bald eagles to see. My favorite part was the Bird Aviary. You can walk in & the birds are very friendly & will come to talk with you. I had one brown kind of bird sit on my shoulder for 10 minutes or so just chatting away to me. (I noticed if you try to 'talk' to them in their own 'language' they are very responsive!) One got on my husband's shoulder & proceeded to lick the back of his neck, check the back of his head for any unwanted but savory bugs, then took a nice bite out of his ear. Word to the Wise, watch those little love birds, sometimes thier love hurts! For dinner we went to the Tobacco Company downtown http://www.thetobaccocompany.com/. This place is awesome! They have vintage tobacco signs all over, excellent exposed brick & wood everywhere. There was live music starting at 9:30 which was right around the time that we wrapped up dinner, so we finished our bottle of wine & listened to the band. The food was good here, portions are a little large, but good nonetheless. The atmosphere & ambiance of the Company is like no where else I've been, it's a great date place or fun for a large group. On the second floor where the offices used to be are smallish enclaves with tables, your party is separate, but still has a great view of the restaurant. The old elevator shaft is also an enclave for a small table, which was neat. The working elevator is an antique & it's still working, taking patrons between the 3 floors. The bar/lounge area was neat, the decor very chic yet traditional. This restaurant is a must do if you are in downtown Richmond, as all locals pass through one time or another. This is not really a place for a write home about gormet meal, but it's worth seeing anyway. You could always hang out at the bar or in the lounge for just as good an experience.
On Saturday, we slept in then went to the River City Diner http://www.rivercitydiner.com/, again across from the 17th Street Market, just on the other side. This is a wonderfully hip place! They have a bar and an extensive diner menu. The food was great. After breakfast, we checked out a portion of the Canal Walk. I would think this is nice for a runner or walker, but just to stroll along is a little boring. The canal is not that clean & the odor is not pleasant. There are some neat little historical facts around it that can make it a bit more interesting. All in all, it's not that great though. After that we went to Carytown to check out the shops & restaurants. They have really great vintage shops that we spent hours & hours wandering around. After that we took a drive down Monument Ave to see Stonewall & the rest. For dinner we went to The Jefferson Hotel's TJ's http://www.jeffersonhotel.com/dining_tjs.aspx. This is on the Rotunda level & the site of cocktail hour for their mulitple weddings. This is the best people watching in the city! We watched 2 weddings enjoy thier cocktail hour from the cozy confines of TJ's tables. The meal was a bit high priced, but for the atmosphere & ambiance it was well worth it. We had the grilled asparagus wrapped in proscuitto topped with fresh mozarella & balsamic vinegar, the 3 cheese wine board & the crab cake entree (we are plate sharers). All of these item were wonderful! They also carry a good wine selection.
On Sunday we started at the River City Diner again, then walked a couple of block up to the Poe Museum on 18th & Main St http://www.poemuseum.org/. We did the self guided tour which is very nice. There is a garden behind the house that is truly enchanting, apparently they do weddings there. We were shocked since it's small & quite creepy! This had great information & facts that most fans wouldn't know. There is a model of Poe's Richmond which was really cool & also some of his clothes & personal affects. There were 1st publications of some of his most famous works & little known works of his.
Don't plan on spending too much time in Richmond, you'll be bored before you know it. It seems like the things I mentioned above are the tried & true things in the city that you must see. Enjoy yourself!