Our good friend from college Mike Paradise moved to Richmond in 2015 and we decided it was time to pay him a visit in his new city and new pad. After bad weather had cancelled our original flight in April we rescheduled for July, when the weather was guaranteed to be better.
As American Express Platinum Delta Skymiles Credit Card holders we earn one “companion” certificate each year and opted to use it for this flight. As the companion certificate is awarded each year at the renewal of your credit card (aka when you pay the annual fee of $195), this was our first experience with it. It turned out to be a bit of a hassle, especially during the rebooking process, since our original flight was cancelled. Therefore we are a bit mixed on our overall review of the credit card at this point.
Friday July 8th
Being a summer Friday (for one of us!), we opted for an afternoon flight out of LaGuardia to get to Richmond by late afternoon. Of course our thoughts on better weather in July were wrong and “weather” delayed our flight nearly two hours. Our pilot ended up jumping the long taxi line by taking a lower altitude flight, cruising in more turbulent weather below 10,000 feet. Garret compared it to taking a dirt road versus a paved highway. But it got us there! After getting off the ground, it’s just a 45-minute flight down the East Coast before arriving in Richmond.
Pre-dinner drinks were called for and tequila was the desired main course so we ended up at the bar of En Su Boca for margaritas. Note: the “bestest margarita” is quite good but not for the faint at heart. Nor the lightweights.
To wrap up a longer than needed travel day we enjoyed a patio dinner at Stuzzi with some of Paradise’s friends. While the temp was was in the 90’s and the humidity had to be close to 100%, it was a great evening getting to know some fun peeps!
Monument Avenue full of…well…monuments.
Saturday July 9th
Always one for the history aspect on trips, Garret had mapped out a trip to nearby Charlottesville to check out Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Emily and Paradise were game as long as a visit at one of the many wineries in the area was guaranteed, so Saturday morning we hopped in the car and made the quick hour drive to Charlottesville. Once we arrived at Monticello it turned out there was a two hour wait for the next house tour, the highlight of a Monticello visit. You can buy tickets online and we would suggest this during high tourist times if you can plan your trip/timing out well enough.
We decided to opt for a later, mid afternoon tour and ended up at the nearby Trump Winery. Regardless of one’s political views, the wine turned out to be delicious and the views were unbelievable. A $12 tasting let’s you sample 5 of their wines and includes the tasting glass. Christmas gag gifts may be coming your way this winter!
Make Wine Great Again.
Hungry for lunch, we drove into Charlottesville for a quick bite at South Street Brewery. Home to the University of Virginia (founded by Thomas Jefferson), we decided to return through Charlottesville on our way back to Richmond to tour the beautiful campus.
Local brews in Charlottesville.
Our tour of Monticello was excellent. Since Monticello is at the top of what Virginians call a mountain (just sayin’), they have parking close to the shuttle that takes you up to the plantation house. The tour groups normally are 20-30 people, however we lucked out and ended up being in a group of only a half dozen. This made for a very detailed and interactive tour, led by an extremely knowledgable tour guide. One thing we all appreciated was how they do not shy away from any part of Jefferson’s history, speaking of the slavery there and also his relationship with Sally Hemings.
Unfortunately pictures inside are not allowed, so you will have to take our word(s) it is worth coming here! After the guided tour (history nerd recommendation: go for the more in-depth tour, worth the extra $$), we did a self-guided tour around the rest of the grounds. Think what you may of Jefferson, but there is no denying his extraordinary talents as an architect. His grounds and buildings are well designed, both in style and practicality. We strongly recommend stopping by this well-preserved part of American history if you are in the area!
The “Nickel” view of Monticello.
A fair amount of the storage space was for beer and wine.
Great reflecting shot thanks to the nearby fish pond.
History nerd moment of excitement.
On our way back from Monticello we went through UV’s campus in Charlottesville, and upon our return to Richmond in the late afternoon headed to Scott’s Addition to try some local breweries. First stop was Hardywood Park, where we sat outside in the shade to enjoy the beverages, followed by Isley Brewing Company. Such a neat up and coming industrial part of town we recommend checking out.
UV’s campus was designed by Thomas Jefferson.
“The Wimps” providing some tunes to go with the local brew.
Numerous breweries popping up in Richmond these days.
More live music to go with the breweries in Scott’s Addition.
Since we had a great impression of En Su Boca on Friday night, resulting in a huge taco craving, we headed back for dinner on Saturday. We stayed away from the “bestest” margarita but ordered a couple of delicious apps and 10 tacos to share, which was plenty. The night ended on Cary Street (similar to Mass Street for you KU people), with a night cap at New York Deli with friends.
Get your fill of great Mexican food…and margaritas…at En Su Boco.
Sunday July 10th
Sundays are for brunching, of course. A group of friends were gathering at Star-lite so we decided to head there for a delicious brunch. We were able to enjoy the cool-ish morning by sitting in the open air covered patio seating which was perfect for a large group.
Brunch at Star-lite, complete with street art.
The afternoon was spent exploring downtown Richmond, with a stop to check out the state capitol (one of the few without a dome!) and exploring Belle Isle. Belle Isle is a pedestrian-friendly island in the middle of the James River, which runs through downtown Richmond. The island essentially serves as a park for one to escape the city and enjoy wading in the river or relaxing on large boulders. The river is a huge part of the city’s activities – people also float down the river during the hot summer months. We chose to walk around and enjoy the very green island before getting overheated and heading back. The island has no businesses or any sort of food/drink peddlers, so bring a bottle of water and snacks if you head to the island for an afternoon.
You guessed it…state capital building also designed by Thomas Jefferson.
Richmond recently restored the series of canals throughout downtown.
You can reach Belle Isle on the pedestrian bridge, a fun walk over the river.
Lots of lounging on the river in the middle of Richmond!
A “mermaid” – definitely the strangest part of the weekend.
The pedestrian bridge was built under the Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge.
One last adult beverage needed to be enjoyed before calling it a weekend and Paradise had heard great things about the rooftop bar at Quick Hotel. We arrived at the adorable hotel to find the rooftop not yet open, and decided to instead cool ourselves off with a drink at the hotel lobby bar. Soon it was time to head to the airport and jet back to New York City, the weekend complete.
The Quick Hotel seemed like a great place to stay when visiting!
You never know what you will discover around a corner.
(De)Parting Words of Advice:
- Visit your friends! Checking out their “grown up” location is both fun and a great way to see more of the country.
- Uber is your friend. Our weekend was jam packed with boozing activities and it was easy, cheap and safe to use Uber as our primary transportation.
- Monticello is a very cool experience, even for those not initially interested.
- If you love street art, Richmond has an abundance of it; we could have spent the entire weekend touring it all.