Richmond is a great city to visit year-round, in big part due to its vibrant restaurant, cafe and bar scene. Whether you are looking for authentic Southern cuisine or international flavors, your taste buds won't be disappointed.
Most romantic Richmond restaurants on our list work with local farmers and producers to source the freshest seasonally available ingredients for their dishes. Savor farm fresh New American cuisine, European favorites, Indian and Asian flavors coupled with award-winning wines, beer and handcrafted cocktails. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Max's on Broad
© Max's on Broad
Max’s on Broad is a spacious two-floor Belgian eatery on Brook Road with lovely views over Broad Street. Owned by Ted Santarella, Max’s has an air of an old European brasserie with octagon tile floors and décor elements of iron, wood and brass, and boasts an appropriately Belgian and French menu.
Try French favorites such as onion soup, foie gras, and beef carpaccio, or one of the tasty sandwiches for lunch. Great dinner picks include grilled ahi tuna, jumbo crab and short rib ravioli. MAX’s on Broad offers a selection of over 100 wines by the glass, half-bottle or bottle, as well as craft beers and cocktails. If you are celebrating a unique occasion, Max’s on Broad is one of the best Richmond restaurants for couples. 305 Brook Rd., Richmond, 804-225-0400
© Millie's Diner
You can’t beat the weekend brunches and jukeboxes at every table, when you visit Richmond’s landmark eatery, Millie’s Diner, which serves some of the best American diner fare in the city. Sip a delicious mimosa while enjoying a Devil’s Mess omelet or treat yourself with the Huevos Rancheros. Stop by for dinner and try the grilled quail.
London-born musician Paul Keevil opened the restaurant in 1989 and later brought on partner Lisa Edwards in 1991. Relax in the restaurant’s friendly, cozy, eclectic atmosphere at Millie’s Diner in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom district. 2603 2603 E. Main St., Richmond, 804-643-5512
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Dine in elegance at the fabulous Lemaire which serves farm fresh, New American cuisine with Southern influences, made with locally-sourced ingredients. Stop in and try the delectable Blistered White Corn Bisque (with bacon and crab) or the Garlic-Crusted Outer Banks Mahi-Mahi – and wash it all down with a fabulous signature cocktail, like the Pom Queen.
Executive Chef Walter Bundy has been running the kitchen since 2001, bringing his creative imagination and Southern twists to the exquisite dishes. You’ll find Lemaire inside the iconic and historic Jefferson Hotel, centrally located in the heart of downtown Richmond. 101 West Franklin Street, Richmond, 804-649-4629
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4.Richmond Restaurants: Heritage
Housed in a stylish dining space, Heritage is a contemporary eatery that serves a menu of New American cuisine and sophisticated cocktails. Run by a trio of family members, namely Chef Joe Sparatta, who creates the delectable dishes on the menu, his wife, Emilia, who takes command of the front of the house, and her brother, award-winning bartender Mattias Hägglund, Heritage offers guests an unrivaled fine dining experience.
The menu features creative dishes such as Hanger Steak with purple potato gratin, and Hudson Valley Duck with vegetable fried rice and Korean chili paste. For dessert, don't miss the black forest cake with chocolate mousse or housemade ice cream. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday - Sunday. 1627 West Main Street, Richmond, 804-353-4060
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5.Richmond Restaurants: L’Opossum
Headed up by multi-award winning chef David Shannon, L’Opossum is one restaurant you absolutely have to visit on your next romantic night out in Richmond. Part adventure, part pure gastronomic bliss, this restaurant just keeps hauling in rave reviews. Your dining adventure starts with the eclectic décor, extravagant table settings and the carefully constructed menu designed to excite the taste buds and keep you guessing. The food is equally exciting and comes to the table presented as a work of art. Just a few of the signature dishes include their Escargot on a Ham Biscuit and the Vegan Orgy on a Texas Beach.
L’Opossum, 626 China Street, Richmond, VA 23220, 804 918 6028
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6.Richmond Restaurants: The Tobacco Company Restaurant
© The Tobacco Company Restaurant
Dramatically set in an historic tobacco warehouse which was built in 1866, the Tobacco Company Restaurant features open brickwork, exposed metal beams and a three storey atrium with an antique elevator. The entire building is filled with historic charm and boasts many specially selected antiques to round off the décor. You can start your romantic night out with a drink in the down-stairs cocktail bar before moving to the dining room rooms above. The menu is modern American bistro fare featuring a good selection of appetizers, steaks and signature house specials including their Cajun Catfish with house-made andouille sausage.
The Tobacco Company Restaurant, 1201 East Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23219,
804 782 9555
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7.Richmond Restaurants: Old Original Bookbinder's
© Old Original Bookbinder's
Richmond’s Old Original Bookbinder’s is an upscale steak and seafood restaurant, situated inside a beautifully refurbished former tobacco warehouse. You can’t go wrong with the bold flavors and amazing dishes, like the Titanic Appetizer Platter, the Cider-Glazed Double cut Pork Chop, or the Miso-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass.
Although Bookbinder’s has a rich history that started in the 1800s in Philadelphia, current owner John Taxin and his family opened a location in Richmond over 30 years ago. Enjoy your fabulous meal in a charming alcove or out on the patio at Bookbinder’s, located on in the Shockoe Bottom district. 2306 East Cary St, Richmond, 804-643-6900
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8.Julep's New Southern Cuisine
© Julep's New Southern Cuisine
Located in the heart of the historic river district in downtown Richmond, Julep's New Southern Cuisine, owned by Amy Ayers, is famous for its modern take on classic Southern cuisine. Elegant atmosphere, and charming, friendly staff combine with outstanding cuisine to create a must-try dining experience.
Dishes such as the braised rabbit with dumplings, shrimp-and-grits, and crispy fried green tomatoes reflect Southern flavors of Savannah, Charleston, Atlanta and New Orleans while Old World wines and genteel cocktails provide the perfect accompaniment. 420 E. Grace St., Richmond, 804-377-3968
9.Anthony's on the Hill
© Anthony's on the Hill
Anthony’s on the Hill is a family-owned neighborhood restaurant that serves traditional Italian cuisine with the freshest ingredients at the corner of 29th and Broad streets. Pizza bases are crispy and thin, and topped with homemade sauce and freshly picked herbs.
Pasta and other favorite Italian dishes such as the chicken parmesan are just as delicious, and a small, but quality lineup of canned and bottled beers, from Fat Tire to Virginia-brewed Full Nelson, meet the necessary pizza-and-beer-combo requirement. 2824 E Broad St, Richmond, 804-344-3374
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Lehja is an exceptional Indian restaurant that will satisfy even the toughest Indian cuisine critic. Conveniently located on West Broad Street, Lehja serves traditional and popular Indian dishes with a contemporary flair in a casual, cultured and easy-going setting.
Four unique dining areas offer a different dining experience with each visit, and dishes range from traditional street fare favorites of chaat to classic meals like chicken tikka masala served mild or hot with creamy tomato and fenugreek sauce.
An outstanding wine list is the perfect accompaniment to the menu while the elegant bar and lounge feature an array of signature cocktails and spirits. Short Pump Town Center, 11800 West Broad street Suite 910, Richmond, 804-364-1111
11.Restaurants Near Me: The Roosevelt
© The Roosevelt
Located in a turn-of-the-century building in Richmond’s oldest neighborhood, The Roosevelt is an award-winning restaurant run by Chef Lee Gregory, whose untraditional menu celebrates the food of the South.
The Roosevelt opened in 2011 to public and has been serving favorites like the Southern poutine and lamb sausage, the roasted catfish served with rice grits, and the peanut butter pie with whipped cream. The famous bar boasts an all-Virginia wine list, regional beers and an array of signature cocktails that will leave you wanting more. 623 North 25th Street, Richmond, 804-658-1935
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12.Restaurants Near Me: Tarrant's Cafe
© Tarrant's Cafe
Once a famous corner drug store, Tarrant's Café is an upscale eatery that offers all-American fare in a casual, cozy setting. Based in the historic building known as Tarrant’s that sold glasses and medicinal remedies, the celebrated neighborhood café-style restaurant features high ceilings, wooden booths and chandeliers to create an elegant ambiance. The extensive menu features an array of delicious options, ranging from brunch and lunch to dinner specials, pizza and mouthwatering desserts.
Paying homage to its past, the ‘prescription list’ features an array of sublime cocktails, as well as fine wines, craft beers, and spirits. If you are in a hurry to explore the city sights, order sandwiches to go and have a romantic picnic in the park. 1 West Broad Street, Richmond, 804-225-0035
© Amuse Restaurant
Located at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Amuse Restaurant offers fine dining with a view of the museum’s Sculpture Garden and the Atrium. A modern interior with glass walls reflects the Museum’s design style, while an elegant patio is ideal for soaking up the sun over lunch or cocktails (which change with the exhibitions at the museum) during happy hour.
The restaurant serves a seasonally changing menu prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Amuse is a must-try for art lovers planning to spend a morning at the museum. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 N. Boulevard, Richmond, 804-340-1580
14.Restaurants Near Me: Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue
© Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue
Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue has been one of Richmond’s longtime go-to places for real barbecue, brisket, pork, and ribs. Boasting an encyclopedic knowledge of barbecue, Buz and Ned’s is a Southern authority on smoked meat, drawing barbecue -lovers from all over to savor the mouthwatering menu served to the tunes of Chicago blues music. If one rack of ribs isn’t enough, try the baby back ribs and beef ribs, served with garlic toast and collards with bacon lardons. Wash it all down with a range of local and regional microbrews. 8205 W. Broad St., Richmond, 804-346-4227; 1119 North Boulevard, Richmond, 804-355-6055
15.Restaurants Near Me: Chez Foushee
© Chez Foushee
Located in the heart of the Richmond Art’s District, Chez Foushee has been a favorite local eatery since 1989. The interior of the restaurant is elegant and sophisticated – ideal for a special romantic night out. The all-women kitchen crew is dedicated to offering diners a true taste of France, using only the freshest locally-sourced produce to bring you honest French cuisine that will captivate your taste buds. The menu changes with the seasons but will typically offer a selection of appetizers and salads followed by authentic French-inspired entrees – classis Steak Frites is always on the menu. To make the evening especially romantic you can pre-order flowers for the table.
Chez Foushee, 2 E. Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219, 804 648 3225
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16.Restaurants Near Me: The Boat House at Rockket’s Landing
© The Boat House at Rockket’s Landing
You just can’t beat a great waterfront view to set the scene for a romantic night out. The Boat House has just what you need to impress your partner – great views, excellent ambiance and fabulous food. The restaurant menu is extensive and offers a wide choice of delicious seasonal dishes to suit all tastes. There are many delicious options for vegetarians and vegans and the crab cakes are rumored to be the best you will ever try. Signature house favorites include the Shrimp Scampi, Salmon Mushroom Risotto, classic Shrimp and Grits, New England Clam Chowder and their Broiled Seafood Combination.
The Boat House at Rockket’s Landing, 4708 E. Old Main Street, Richmond, VA 23231, 804 622 2628
17.Restaurants Near Me: La Grotta Ristorante
© La Grotta Ristorante
Bringing all the wonderful flavors and aromas of Northern Italy to the heart of Richmond, La Grotta Ristorante is eminently perfect for a special romantic dinner. The restaurant is located in the historic Shockoe Slip districts, where it is headed up by Chef Antonio Capese, who has been perfecting Italian cuisine since he was 15 years old. The warm and inviting interior of the restaurant is the perfect backdrop to your Italian fine-dining experience. The menu starts off with a choice of delicious antipasti including Italian charcuterie plates, fried calamari and several salads. The pasta is all home-made and is followed by a choice of delectable entrees to suit all tastes.
La Grotta Ristorante, 529 E. Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219, 804 644 2466
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18.Restaurants Near Me: Can Can Brasserie
© Can Can Brasserie
Can Can Brasserie is inspired by the avant garde establishments which popped up all along the Paris left bank in the 1900’s. It provides a unique backdrop to some great French-inspired food and drink in the heart of Cary. The restaurant is perfect for a celebratory dinner or a romantic night out, offering a warm ambiance and a good selection of French favorites on the menu. The dinner menu starts off with traditional hors d’oeuvres like escargot, beef tartare and baked brie, alongside some decadent oysters and other sea foods from the raw bar. These are followed by salads and soups, appetizers and hearty entrees, including the ever-popular Steak Frites.
Can Can Brasserie, 3120 W. Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23221, 804 358 7274
19.Where to Eat Near Me: Portico Restaurant
Portico Restaurant’s country-like setting on River Road is reminiscent of the Napa Valley, making it an ideal choice for a romantic date night dinner. There is a huge outdoor, candlelit terrace for alfresco dining, surrounded by beautifully tended flower, herb and vegetable gardens. Indoor seating with garden views is available if preferred. Portico serves delicious, classic Italian cuisine, using many of their own home-grown vegetables and herbs. The menu starts off with a selection of hot and cold appetizers, followed by soups, main-course salads, pastas, pizzas, sea foods and hearty entrees. You can choose the perfect wine to suit your meal from their carefully curated wine list.
Portico Restaurant, 12506 River Road, Richmond, VA 23238, 804 784 4800
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20.Where to Eat Near Me: Stella'a
Stella Dikos has been bringing the vibrant flavors and aromas of Greece to Richmond Virginia for more than 60 years. Today Stella’s is known for its romantic vibe and for the excellent food that will make its way to your table. Stella’s serves rustic and Modern Greek cuisine, leaning heavily on age-old flavors and traditional methods to ensure authenticity. The menu starts off with a large selection of appetizers (meze) to get your taste-buds clamoring for more – the Grilled Octopus and the Mushroom Saganaki get rave reviews. There is always a choice of soups and salads before you come to the hearty entrees and decadent desserts.
Stella’s, 10-12 Lafayette Street, Richmond, VA 23221, 804 358 2011
21.Where to Eat Near Me: Buckhead's
Regularly mentioned as one of Richmond’s best dining establishments, Buckhead's is an excellent choice for a romantic night out. The friendly staff, warm wood paneling and the long wooden bar contribute to the welcoming ambiance. This popular restaurant/chop house prides itself on serving only the best local Beef and the freshest fish and sea food in town, all cooked to perfection by the enthusiastic kitchen team. In addition, Buckhead's is famous for its wonderful selection of wines (more than 700 labels), single-malt Scotch and small-batch bourbons. Their list of house-trimmed and matured steaks is impressive, as is the fresh fish and sea food menu and the fabulous desserts.
8510 Patterson Ave, Richmond, VA 23229, 804 750 2000
22.Where to Eat Near Me: Rowland
Using the freshest seasonal ingredients and loads of creative flair, Bruce and Virginia Rowland bring extraordinary flavors to Richmond’s historic Fan District. Their food is always fresh, always tasty and often very inventive, making this eatery a good choice for an impressive romantic dinner. You can get your evening off to a great start by choosing one of their classic cocktails while you browse the menu. Innovative appetizers include a delicious vegetarian Butter Bean Cake and a Pork Carnitas Spring Roll. Entrees like Pecan Crusted Port Chop and Cider Brined Cornish Hen come with unusual and delicious vegetables, garnishes and house-made sauces. Be sure to leave some room for one of Virginia’s decadent desserts.
Rowland, 2132 W. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23220, 804 257 9885
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23.Richmond Restaurants: Shagbark
Fresh seasonal produce sourced from local farmers, fishermen and other artisans will always be at the heart of the food that comes to your table at Shagbark, which takes its name from the wood of the Hickory Tree which is widely used to cure meats and flavor various foods. The restaurant serves Modern American cuisine with a distinct southern twist and is a great romantic option for adventurous diners. Appetizers include Chicken Fried Oysters, Butter Poached Ricotta Ravioli and their signature Fried Green Tomatoes, served with Gulf Shrimp and Okra. Entrees include enticing dishes like their Thyme and Butter Roasted Swordfish, Slow-cook BBQ Pork Chop and the Seared Duck Breast.
4901 Libbie Mill, East Blvd, Richmond, VA 23230, 804 358 7424
24.Richmond Restaurants: The Grapevine
© The Grapevine
Bringing together the best flavors and traditions of the Mediterranean, the Grapevine is a unique Greek and Italian Restaurant which has been pleasing Richmond palates for close to 30 years. The Grapevine has some of the friendliest wait-staff in town and the ambiance is perfect for a memorable romantic dinner. Delicious appetizers include Greek Spanakopita (spinach and feta in pastry) alongside Italian Caprese Salad and Mozzarella Sticks. Soups and salads include their signature Big Fat Greek Salad before you get to the mouthwatering entrees which feature several Greek and Italian pasta dishes (gluten free options available), chicken, veal and sea food. There is also a choice of Pizza and Mamma Mary’s delectable desserts.
11055 Three Chopt Road, Richmond, VA 23233, 804 440 9100
25.Richmond Restaurants: The Halfway House Restaurant
You will find the perfect candle-lit ambiance for a night of romantic dining at the historic Halfway House Restaurant on the Petersburg Turnpike. The historic old building was formerly a stage-coach stop and dates back to 1760. It is filled with beautiful period pieces to provide a genuine atmosphere and guests are welcome to take a tour of the property. The cuisine is mainly Modern American, with a slight nod to southern influences. Favorite appetizers include Scallops au Gratin and Fried Green Tomatoes, while the entrée menu features hearty Slow-Roasted Prime Rib, Fresh Atlantic Salmon and Chesapeake Crab Cakes, to name just a few. You can round off your meal with a home-made dessert.
10301 Jefferson Davis Hwy, N. Chesterfield, VA 23237, 804 275 1760
25 Best Richmond Restaurants for Romance
- Max's on Broad, Photo: Max's on Broad
- Millie's Diner, Photo: Millie's Diner
- Lemaire, Photo: Lemaire
- Richmond Restaurants: Heritage, Photo: Heritage
- Richmond Restaurants: L’Opossum, Photo: L’Opossum
- Richmond Restaurants: The Tobacco Company Restaurant, Photo: The Tobacco Company Restaurant
- Richmond Restaurants: Old Original Bookbinder's, Photo: Old Original Bookbinder's
- Julep's New Southern Cuisine, Photo: Julep's New Southern Cuisine
- Anthony's on the Hill, Photo: Anthony's on the Hill
- Lehja, Photo: Lehja
- Restaurants Near Me: The Roosevelt , Photo: The Roosevelt
- Restaurants Near Me: Tarrant's Cafe, Photo: Tarrant's Cafe
- Amuse Restaurant, Photo: Amuse Restaurant
- Restaurants Near Me: Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue, Photo: Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue
- Restaurants Near Me: Chez Foushee, Photo: Chez Foushee
- Restaurants Near Me: The Boat House at Rockket’s Landing, Photo: The Boat House at Rockket’s Landing
- Restaurants Near Me: La Grotta Ristorante, Photo: La Grotta Ristorante
- Restaurants Near Me: Can Can Brasserie, Photo: Can Can Brasserie
- Where to Eat Near Me: Portico Restaurant, Photo: Olga/stock.adobe.com
- Where to Eat Near Me: Stella'a, Photo: Stella'a
- Where to Eat Near Me: Buckhead's, Photo: Buckhead's
- Where to Eat Near Me: Rowland, Photo: Rowland
- Richmond Restaurants: Shagbark, Photo: Shagbark
- Richmond Restaurants: The Grapevine, Photo: The Grapevine
- Richmond Restaurants: The Halfway House Restaurant, Photo: guruXOX/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Located in Richmond, Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a public art museum that is ranked as one of the top 10 most comprehensive art museums in America. Housing over 35,000 works, the museum is also home to a theater, a full-scale restaurant, and a 4-acre sculpture garden.
The museum's roots trace back to 1919, when Judge John Barton Payne, a wealthy Virginia citizen, donated 50 works from his personal collection to the state. Over the next decade and a half, additional donations from private collections, as well as financial donations, were made toward the opening of a public art museum. Federal funding was secured in 1932, and on January 16, 1936, the museum was opened. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the museum continued to receive donations, adding to its collections. From 1948 to 1968, museum director Leslie Cheek Jr. brought significant expansions to the museum and its impact on the state of Virginia. These changes included a sizeable expansion, including the addition of a new wing and a theater, a large increase to the number of permanent works, and an art trailer program bringing the museum's art to the surrounding communities.
In 1976, a third addition to the museum was completed, giving the museum its sculpture garden. Another expansion was completed in 1985, and in 1999 a new building, the Pauley Center, was added to the museum complex. In 2010, the museum's largest-ever expansion was completed, featuring the addition of a third wing with a large glass atrium connecting it to the original wings, as well as changes to the sculpture garden and the expansion of public parking. These 2010 expansions won the museum a 2011 RIBA International Award.
Although the museum accepts private donations for artwork and operation, it is owned and managed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of the first museums in the region to be state-operated. Along with the Virginia Historical Society, it serves as an anchor attraction for the city's Museum District.
The VMFA is divided into three wings, featuring an impressive collection of international art. Its permanent collections span thousands of years of human history, with ancient works dating back over four millennia.
The museum's African collection is regarded as one of the most inclusive African exhibits in the country, featuring works spanning from ancient Africa to the modern day. The continent's works and artifacts, including a preserved mummy, are also featured in the Ancient Art collection, which includes works from the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine empires.
Asian works are divided into two collections, an East Asian Collection focusing on the broad cultural emphasis of East Asian religions and customs with works spanning over 4,000 years, and a South Asian Collection, centered on a Mughal garden pavilion from Rajasthan, India, which includes one of the largest collections of Himalayan art in America. The European Collection houses works dating back to the medieval period and also includes pieces from legendary artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
The Ancient American Art collection focuses on the art and culture of the indigenous peoples of North and South America. A large collection of American art features works from Payne's original donation alongside newly acquired pieces that emphasize the voices of women and artists of color. A collection of mid-to-late 20th-century art is focused on American works from 1950 to 1980 and European art from the 1980s, highlighting works by Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Willem de Kooning. Contemporary exhibitions include a large collection of art nouveau and art deco pieces, featuring works by Emile Galle, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and a growing collection of 21st-century art.
In addition to its international galleries, the museum also houses three specialized permanent object collections. The English silver collection showcases 18th and 19th-century silver from the most accomplished silversmiths of the time period. The Pratt Fabergé collection, home to over 400 eggs, is the largest collection of its kind outside of Russia. A rare books collection features over 3,000 multidisciplinary art books and manuscripts.
Performances and Programming
Since 1955, the VMFA has been home to the 500-seat Leslie Cheek Theater. Until 2002, the theater hosted its own theater company, the Virginia Museum Theater, later known as Theater Virginia. Throughout its four-decade run, the company staged eight world-premiere works, including an internationally broadcasted premiere of Maxim Gorky's Our Father, along with a variety of popular musicals and dramatic works. The theater was closed for a decade before reopening in 2011 as a touring venue for local and international theater, dance, and film. It is the host for the annual VCU Southern Film Festival, a 3-day event exploring portrayals of the American South on screen.
The museum's educational programming seeks to inspire young artists and make collections and art appreciation accessible for the Richmond community. Since 1940, a Fine Arts Fellowship program has awarded more than $5 million in grants to local artists and art students. A range of educational programs are hosted in the museum's Art Education Center, Pauley Center, and Studio School, including painting, drawing, photography, and digital arts courses for students from 3 months to 17 years. Guided tours are also offered, including school tours designed to meet state educational standards. A digital outreach program, known as ARTshare, aims to expand the museum's audience online.
200 N Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220, Phone: 804-340-1400
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More Ideas: Byrd Theatre
The 1300-seat Byrd Theater in Richmond, Virginia was built in 1928 and is both a state and National Historic Landmark. The Byrd is unique in that it has operated continuously as a movie theater since being built, and its interior has survived mostly unchanged for close to 90 years. The rich architectural detail of the Byrd Theatre is its greatest asset.
The movie house was designed by Richmond architect Fred Bishop in the French Empire, or Renaissance Revival style, a design known for its opulence and imitation of the gilded Opera Houses of Europe. The $900,000 structure in 1928 currency would cost upwards of $12 million to build today. A unique feature of the architectural design is the cantilevered balcony. The lack of vertical supports underneath the balcony means that no seat has an obstructed view. The shape of the balcony also contributes to the effect of superior sound in the auditorium, reducing front to back echo. The theatre when built was outfitted with two sound systems. The Vitaphone was new in 1928 and the Byrd pioneered in its installation and use at a time when the success of “talkies” was yet to be determined. A Wurlitzer Theatre organ accompanied the silent films.
The organ was installed by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company itself when the theatre was built. The “one-man orchestra” for silent films occupies much of the theatre. Four floors over the stage house the organ pipes, as well as the alcoves, which house drum, horn, xylophone and harp effects, all of which are manned by the organ. A vacuum blower for the organ is located in the basement, and the console is at the center of the orchestra console pit. Paintings and murals at the theatre recall a Rococo style. Hand painted murals and cameos decorate the lobby, the alcoves, the auditorium’s sidewalls and the opera boxes. The largest paintings depict themes of Greek mythology. An 18-foot tall Czechoslovakian chandelier hangs over the auditorium. The crystal chandelier is decorated with 500 lights. Two smaller, 7-foot chandeliers hang in the alcoves, and one in the lobby at over 8 feet tall. Throughout the theatre, décor reflects an abundance of crystal, crimson velvet, gold leaf, and marble. The mezzanine is adorned with plaster decorations and some of the original mohair-covered patterned chairs still exist. An arc lamp dating from pre-1953 still exists continues to light the theatre logo against the closed curtain.
History: The theatre is named after William Byrd II, one of the founders of Richmond, Virginia. The original name, the State Theatre, was already taken by the time construction was complete in 1928. The first movie ever shown at the Byrd Theatre was on Christmas Eve. The silent film with added sound was called Waterfront. The manager on opening night, Robert Coulter, would continue to work at the theatre through 1971, and it is said that his ghost still haunts the site today. In 2007, the non-profit organization Byrd Theatre Foundation purchased the movie house with a promise to preserve and restore the theatre, and to integrate cultural and community programming and events. Remarkably preserved, the Byrd theater has never been remodeled save for a few updates to the screens, projectors and sound system, as well as the concession area. Ray Dolby, creator of Dolby sound systems visited the Byrd in 2004 and was so impressed with the theatre that he donated the upgraded Dolby Digital sound system, which was installed in 2006.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ is played by house organist, Bob Gulledge, who trained under the Byrd’s most famous organist Eddie Weaver. Weaver manned the organ at the Byrd from 1961 through 1981. Regular Saturday evening organ shows, Holiday sing-alongs and silent movie nights all make use of the organ. While the Byrd theatre mostly plays second run movies at a cost of just $4, other film programs at the theatre include the Virginia Commonwealth University French Film Festival, which has shown at the Byrd since 1996, the James River Film Festival and the 48 Hour Film Festival. The Byrd is Richmond’s most popular site for film premiers and HBO, Miramax and Disney have all released films there. Live events include musical performances, comedy and talks and presentations. The theatre is available for rental and also hosts events for fundraising and public service.
2908 West Cary Street Richmond, VA, 23221, Phone: 804-358-3056
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More Ideas: Real Richmond Food Tours
Real Richmond Food Tours is a company that offers tours around Richmond’s best food destinations all year round. Their walking tours happen around Saturday afternoons and are roughly 2.5 hours’ worth of going around local restaurants and gourmet locations. Waiting at each stop are samples and the chance to meet the restaurant owners and chefs. The tours are as educational as they are exciting; thanks to all the exposure the participants get to RVA’s vibrant history and architecture.
This establishment is the fruit of the works of two locals, Maureen Egan and Susan Winiecki. Egan is the author of Insider’s Guide to Richmond, among other publications, as well as the co-founder of the annual food gathering called the Fire, Flour and Fork. Winiecki, on the other hand, published the Richmond Magazine and its sister publications. Aside from co-founding Fire, Flour and Fork, she is also the chair for Broad Appetit since 2008.
All tours happen on Saturdays and are set to start at 2:30 PM. Most tours last for about 2.5 hours, including all the stops.
Booking a tour can be done online via fareharbor, featuring a neatly organized calendar where all the tours are plotted for guests to choose from.
Carytown/Museum District: Butchers, Bakers, and Beyond - this one features the various specialty food retailers along Carytown as well as the Museum District. Some notable spots include the Sugar and Twine, Belmont Butchery, Ellwood Thompson, 10 Italian Cafe, and more.
Both Sides of Broad - mainly focusing on Broad Street, this tour takes place at Monroe and Jackson, stopping at Rappahannock, Pasture, Mama J’s Saison, Comfort, J Kogi, Perly’s , Greenloafs Pool Room, and many other First Friday favorites.
Church Hill: From Spies to Pies - considered as one of the national press favorites, the Church Hill tour exposes guests to the location’s stories past and beautiful culinary scenes such as the WPA bakery, Union Market, Liberty Public House, Sub Rosa Bakery, Dutch & Company, Hill Cafe, Proper Pie, and more.
Scott’s Addition: Maker’s Mark - one of the company’s newer routes, this takes guests along the neighborhood that’s full of brewers, food manufacturers, coffee roasters, market vendors, farmers, restaurateurs, and many other artisans in the locality.
Shockoe Bottom/Church Hill: Shock & Awe - This is a 1.5 mile walking tour of Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods. Meanwhile, participants will be treated to various samples of distinct eateries and other points of architectural interest.
UR Here: Eating on the Avenues - this tour takes guests around Libbie and Grove avenues sampling food and browsing the shopping areas where there’s good wine and food that makes the 1 mile route worth the walk.
? The tours are roughly 1.5 miles of leisure walking, so try to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
? There’s no specific amount of food that participants are guaranteed, but guests never walk away from these tours hungry.
For a minimum of 8 people, groups can call up the company for a private tour, which can either cover one or more of the regular tours or a customized one upon request.
For requests, inquiries, and other information, call 804-840-5318 or visit the official website of Real Richmond Food and Tours.
Real Richmond Food Tours, 4690 Arrowhead Road Richmond, VA 23219, Phone: 804-840-5318 or 804-564-1055
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