Category Archives: entertainment

Modern Map Art print of Richmond, Virginia

I’m the sort of person who has to live in a space for a while before I start painting walls and hanging art. For instance, it took me two years of living in our “new” home to finally started hanging artwork on our walls.

Recently my husband and I made a pact to fill our home with more art, so I have made a concerted effort to make it out to more gallery exhibits and regularly peruse prints online.

I had been searching for a bright white graphic print to hang above our bar cart, and finally came across this Modern Map Art poster of Richmond. We already have quite a few Richmond-centric pieces of artwork throughout our home, ranging from a piece by Matt Lively to prints purchased at local galleries like 1708 and art centers like Studio Two Three. So, adding a graphic map of Richmond seemed like the perfect (and affordable!) addition to our RVA art collection.

Modern Map Art makes posters for an array of big cities and countries. They even make Ski hill maps, which I’m jazzed about. I’m totally going to purchase one for a Christmas gift this holiday season!

If you are feeling a void on one of your walls, go get yourself one of these maps here!

xo, marissa

 

Discover Richmond: A Dog Owner’s Guide

2016 Disco 4

Earlier this week, the fall edition of Discover Richmond hit newsstands, and my sweet little Harvey’s face is gracing the cover. (That’s also me pushing him in his bike basket.) I pitched a dog owner’s guide to the Richmond Times-Dispatch because Harvey comes with me when I’m out and about — to breweries, the river, restaurants, you name it. Richmond is such a dog-friendly city, and I wanted to highlight some of the places you can go and things you can do with your furry friends in tow. Since moving to Richmond nearly four years ago, I’ve been exploring the city with Harvey by my side. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots of our adventures in the city. Also, a behind-the-scenes look at Harvey conducting research for this story.

Go out and grab a copy off newsstands now, and be sure to include your canine companion in your next River City adventure. cheers, marissa

10 ways to enjoy Richmond for FREE this summer

richmond skylineGuest blog post by Kate Prunkl 

Summer is here, and if you’re anything like me, you gravitate towards the refreshing pool or air conditioning during the summer heat until boredom takes over and your brain begs you to do something else. This summer, forgo the tedious lounging by the pool and venture out into Richmond to explore the city by foot.

Ranked third on Travel & Leisure’s list of best places to travel to in 2016, Richmond is a well-known haven for history, architecture, biking, nature and art lovers. The city even topped National Geographic’s list for the top destinations to travel to for food in 2016. While the River City is certainly not lacking in things to do, it can be difficult to think of fun activities that work with a limited budget.

Most local, free activities are old classics for long-time Richmonders, but many of the city’s best free features often get overlooked. If you’re new to the city or just passing through, consider this as your an intro to just a few of the budget-friendly amenities Richmond has to offer.

1. CANAL WALK

Richmond’s Canal Walk stretches 1.25 peaceful miles along the Kanawha and Haxall canals and briefly, the James River. Along the way, walkers are presented with facts about the city’s rich history. If you decide you want to spend a few dollars, historic canal boat cruises are offered at the turning basin (intersection of 14th and Dock streets). The Canal Walk is accessible from almost every block between 5th and 17th streets. Handicapped-accessible entrances are available at 5th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th streets.

Map: Canal Walk

2. CARYTOWN

Carytown is the collective name for the approximately mile-long stretch of West Cary Street from Thompson Street to South Boulevard. Carytown’s brightly painted buildings, unique boutiques and specialty shops make it a prime location to stroll and window shop. Carytown also is packed with a wide variety of restaurants. While walking through Carytown is free, the delicious aromas wafting through the air may convince you to spend some money if the shop windows don’t tempt you first!

Map: Carytown

3. CITY HALL OBSERVATION DECK

Richmond’s current City Hall was built in 1972, and at 450 feet tall, the building was the tallest in Virginia at the time of completion. Take the elevator (or the stairs, if you’re feeling adventurous) up 18 stories and reward yourself with unparalleled 360-degree views of the city. The deck features slanted glass panes as protection from the weather, while allowing fresh air and unobstructed views. Bring a lunch or a snack to enjoy at one of the available picnic tables.

Address: 900 E. Broad Street Richmond, VA 23219
Open: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

4. HOLLYWOOD CEMETERY

While meandering through a cemetery may sound like an odd thing to do, this beautiful 169-year-old graveyard was designed to be walkable. According to the official website, Hollywood Cemetery is the second most visited cemetery in the nation (Arlington National Cemetery is first) and is the final resting place for two American presidents (John Tyler and James Monroe), six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, and 22 Confederate generals. Hollywood Cemetery also provides beautiful views of the river, downtown Richmond and Belle Isle.

Address: 412 South Cherry Street Richmond, VA 23220
Open: Daily 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

james river5. JAMES RIVER PARK SYSTEM 

Experience the natural beauty of the James River, marshland, forests and wildlife without leaving the city. Admittedly, this includes more than one place. The James River Park System identifies 14 distinct sections from the Huguenot Bridge on Richmond’s west end to the I-95 Bridge on the city’s east end.

Visitors are welcome to fish, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, swim, rock climb, tree climb, walk, run, and even whitewater raft or tube down the James. Guided recreation options are available (some fees may apply). If you’re in or on the river, life jackets are recommended. They are required by law when the river is more than 5 feet; no one is allowed in the James when it is is more than 9 feet. Look for posted signs.

Maps: Bike, Trail and Park Maps
Open: Daily Sunrise-Sundown (unless otherwise noted)

6. BELLE ISLE

While technically a part of the James River Park System, Belle Isle provides a noticeably different experience than other sections of the park. The former Confederate prison camp that is dotted with history markers is now a popular place for sunbathing on river rocks, swimming, hiking, running and biking (including a recently opened bike skills course). Enjoy one of the best views of the city skyline from the pedestrian bridge arcing from the edge of Tredegar Iron Works to Belle Isle.

Address: 300 Tredegar Street Richmond, VA 23219 (parking that leads to the pedestrian bridge)

7. MAYMONT 

Maymont, a 100-acre Victorian estate built by Major James Dooley and his wife Sallie May in 1893, was left to the city of Richmond in 1926. The property now serves as a museum, nature center, children’s farm and park. Wander the expansive grounds and admire the beauty of the Italian Garden, Japanese Garden, arboretum, rescued wildlife and stunning man-made waterfall. Guided tours of the mansion are available Tuesday through Sunday. While Maymont’s Mansion, grounds and Children’s Farm are free to the public, donations are suggested. Admission to the Nature and Visitor’s Center is $3.

Address: 1700 Hampton Street Richmond, VA 23220
Open:  Grounds and Gardens: Daily from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. during the summer
Mansion: Tuesday – Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.
Nature & Visitor Center: Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

8. MONUMENT AVENUE

This wide, tree-lined street is one of Richmond’s two National Historic Landmark districts. Monument Avenue is a beautiful promenade for a stroll, especially for lovers of history and architecture. Historic homes line the cobblestone street that ambles around the statues and monuments for which the street is named. According to the National Park System, Monument Avenue features a variety of Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Tudor Revival, French Renaissance and Italian Renaissance style homes.

Map: Stuart Circle (where Monument Avenue begins)

9. VIRGINIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

The Virginia Historical Society is located in Battle Abbey, a 104-year-old Neoclassical building on Boulevard. VHS’ The Story of Virginia is a year-round, free interactive exhibit that interprets 16,000 years of Virginia history and features a collection of 500 artifacts. The building boasts a multitude of restored original features, including memorial military murals painted in 1913. The gallery housing these murals is currently closed for restoration of the original leaded glass skylights. Restoration is scheduled to be completed by July.

Address: 428 North Boulevard Richmond, VA 23220
Open: Daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

10. VIRGINIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts sits on land used to house Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. In 1936, Virginia legislators completed the English Renaissance-style headquarters of the VMFA on Boulevard. Since then, the campus has expanded to accommodate the Commonwealth’s growing collection and display temporary travelling exhibits. VMFA’s 435,000-square-foot facility currently features 10 exhibits with free admission and beautiful public garden space dotted with sculptures to enjoy.

Address: 200 North Boulevard Richmond, VA 23220
Open: Daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays

BONUS! RICHMOND TOUR GUYS

When I heard about the Richmond Tour Guys, I knew I couldn’t leave them off this list.  Richmond Tour Guys are a group of history lovers that give historically themed walking tours of the city free of charge! They offer three tours: a downtown Civil War and Civil Rights tour, a Church Hill Revolutionary War tour, and a Shockoe Bottom tour.  Each tour is offered once a week, and they fill up fast! So, be sure to reserve your spot in advance.

Tour Times:
Downtown Civil War and Civil Rights: Saturday 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Church Hill Revolutionary War: Saturday 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Shockoe Bottom: Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Phone: 804-263-7914

The above listed free activities are just a small snapshot of the wealth of experiences Richmond has to offer. The City of Richmond is home to more than 25 museums and innumerable historical sites. Whatever your interests, the River City has something waiting for you.

kpKate Prunkl moved to Richmond in 2007 and has been exploring in and around the city ever since. Kate is an animal lover who enjoys symmetry, writing, collecting a wide variety of knowledge, RVA history, finding beauty in everyday things, exploring nature with camera in hand, and creating art. You can follow her on Twitter at @kapRVA.

My Very Own Best of Richmond List

Richmond Sunset View from FloodwallAfter spending a year gallivanting about in Richmond, I’ve arrived at opinions of various people, places and things throughout the city. My “research” was conducted through my very own personal experiences. For my “Best of” list I have chosen classic, funny and obscure categories. So here it is,  my personal Best of Richmond list. (Note: Some are “worst” but phrased as “best” for consistency and a positive spin.)

Best Brunch Overall: Black Sheep
The Cajun flavors, filling portions and excellent bloody marys make it worth the wait.

Best Place to Accidentally Get Drunk During Breakfast: Sidewalk Cafe
Two words: mimosa pitchers.

Best Happy Hour: VMFA’s Best Cafe
Friday evenings include great deals like $14 wine bottles, $4 glasses of wine and $2 beers.

Best Locally Made Produce: Pickled Silly
The ladies behind this venture preserve okra, dilly beans, and carrots, and make Bloody Mary mix to boot.

Best Idyllic Neighborhood: Bellevue
Craftsman-style bungalows, quiet streets, MacArthur Avenue’s mom-and-pop businesses. Perfect. Neighborhood.

Best Local Beer: Hardywood Singel
This Belgian-style blonde ale is good paired with anything, especially another Hardywood Singel.

Best Date-Night Dinner: Bacchus
From the cozy atmosphere to the pastas and wine, this place speaks “romance.”

Best Date-Night Venue: Westhampton Theater
The 75-year-old historic theater shows indie and art-house flicks that after will lead to late-night philosophical conversations.

Best Place to Wander Aimlessly If Bored: West End Antiques Mall
Stalls and stalls worth of goodies to rummage through from books and tchotchkes to furniture will keep you occupied for hours.

Best Random Stranger Who Brightens My Day: Flower Guy Outside Can Can
He is mostly posted outside Can Can, but he also can be found at big events like the finish line of the marathon. He is always friendly and has a smile on his face.

Best Neighborhood Grocery: Shield’s Market
Whether you are picking up a missing ingredient for dinner, a bottle of wine or a quick wrap for lunch, this market is great. (It gets bonus points in my book for offering locally made bread, canned soups, salamis, and other yummy delicacies.)

Best Grocery Store to Avoid: Kroger at Lombardy
I saw a woman get backed into by a taxi cab driver. I was followed by a man during a shopping trip and then asked out. I bought some bad sushi here. I’m not going back.

Best Sunset View: The Floodwall
From downtown, drive over the Mayo Bridge and park off Hull Street in the gravel parking lot on the right. A quick walk to the Flood Wall will give you picturesque views of the setting sun along the James River.

Best Place to Walk the Dog: Belle Isle
Although it sometimes can be muddy adventure, Belle Isle is perfect for sniffing, jogging and marking at my dog Harvey’s leisure.

Best Dog Park: Church Hill
Everyone knows that Byrd Park’s dog park is a hot mess. I’ve seen dog fights and unneutered dogs in the park, and even heard about a person brandishing a gun there. If you are looking for fewer dogs and owners who actually keep an eye on their dog, head to Church Hill.

Best Salad Bar: Strawberry Street
While I feel that most would say Ellwood Thompson’s, I prefer Strawberry Street for proximity to my home and work and because they let me do salad bar take-out. (Plus: The soup du jour is included.)

Best Restaurant to Take Your Visiting Parents: Heritage
We took my mom and dad here for Mother’s Day brunch, and even though we had to squeeze in up at the bar, it was a huge hit.

Best Wedding Venue: The Rice House
Since I have never been married I can’t back this up at all. This is just an assumption and perhaps my in-town dream venue. It’s designed by famous architect Richard Neutra, has groovy Mad Men vibes and a spectacular view of the James River.

Best Used Furniture Store: Susan’s Selections & Verve Home Furnishings
This is a tie because I have great pieces from both of these shops. The owners are friendly and know their stuff. And, the consistently new inventory is great. From Susan’s I purchased vintage lamps and antique side tables, and from Verve, fun retro chairs.

Best Boxed Lunch: Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay
I know, I know, Sally Bell’s Kitchen has the best boxed lunch, according to everyone in town. But to me Christopher’s is a winner because of its price. Less than $5 for a box exploding with food. And, its three food cart locations downtown make it convenient.

Best Place to Get Frustrated by Other Drivers: The Fan
It just so happens I’m blessed to live in the same neighborhood I hate driving in. I have witnessed people turning around completely in the middle of an intersection, pulling into oncoming traffic, and an awful accident where a car was totaled.

Best Apres Work Activity That Isn’t Happy Hour: Byrd House Farmers Market
Can’t make it to the South of the James Market? Not wanting to get a cocktail with friends after work? Head to the Byrd House Farmers Market in Oregon Hill on Tuesday evening for local produce, fresh-cut flowers, and other goodies.

Best “Hidden”  View of City: Rooftop Garden at VCU’s Pollak Building
I came upon this gem during a Modern Richmond Tour. It boasts lovely views of downtown, lush greenery and a nice place to catch some rays.

Best Place to Fall in the James River: The Pipeline
Last January I fell into the frigid water while taking my dog for a walk on the pipeline. Fortunately, it was shallow. Unfortunately, I got wet up to my shoulders.

Best Place to Have a Coffee Business Date: Can Can
I like to meet fellow writers and conduct interviews for the magazine here because of the energized atmosphere. Also, the chocolate croissants and coffee (with frequent refills) are nice.

Friends and fellow Richmonders, share with me your personal favorites and any funny or obscure category suggestions you have. cheers, marissa

The Rice House

Last month Team RHome visited the Rice House, a home built in 1965 by modernist architect Richard Neutra. Neutra was commissioned by Ambassador Walter and Inger Rice to build the home on Lock Island, a small island that sits in the James River. In 1996 the house was donated by Inger Rice to the Science Museum of Virginia and is now used as a wedding and event venue. (Sidenote: Click here to read the Summer/Fall 2013 issue of Richmond Bride magazine and get a glimpse of the first wedding on the property.)

While touring the home, we were introduced to Inger, who told us about her inspiration for building the home and what it was like living on the James. Inger decided on Neutra as the architect after much research. While her husband Walter was in D.C. for work, she’d explore the annals of architecture, trying to decide which modernist architect would best suit their style. She narrowed it down to a few noteworthy architects … Neutra and Edward Durell Stone (Richmond is home to one of his houses too). Neutra is mostly known for his homes in Southern California, so the fact that Richmond can lay claim to one of his homes is pretty neat.

The day we visited the Rice House the James was at 10 to 11 feet. We asked Inger if she had ever seen the river this swollen. She said 1988 was the highest it’s ever been, completely engulfing Williams Island (which she has named “Duck Island” because of all the ducks). Inger was charming and charismatic, and told us that in the ’60s she and her husband did extensive entertaining with three bars/bartenders set up in the home. (While she was telling us this, I was imagining a scene out of “Mad Men.”) It was great being able to finally see this home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And, it was even better that we got to meet Inger who was able to tell us about the personality and history of the home.

Next up … hopefully I’ll be invited to a wedding at The Rice House. xo, marissa

Exploring Richmond Indoors: Books + Art

We moved from Charlottesville to Richmond on Sunday, Jan. 6. — not an ideal time to move, season-wise. We’ve found ourselves bound indoors and at Mother Nature’s whim, while champing at the bit to get out and explore. Luckily though, when we moved to town, we went to the bookstore and stocked up on some books about the area’s history, so we could explore Richmond via the warmth of our apartment.

Here are some of the books that we bought to help us get acquainted with the area: Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, Virginia by Maureen Egan (a fabulous freelance writer in town); True Richmond Stories: Historic Tales From Virginia’s Capital and Richmond in Ragtime both by Harry Kollatz Jr. (a wonderful colleague of mine); Henrico County from Arcadia Publishing (mainly for Graham); First House by Mary Miley Theobald (whom I saw speak at the Library of Virginia with First Lady of Virginia Maureen McDonnell); Richmond’s Fan District by Drew St. J. Carneal (all about our neighborhood!); and Richmond: The Story of a City by Virginius Dabney (leant to me by my awesome editor).

For books, we scoped out Fountain Bookstore in Shockoe Slip, a great shop that hosts a few book signings each month. Also, I bought some books at Valentine Richmond History Center and while there, I came across this great poster “Richmond, The City on the James,” a sepia-toned print of Richmond’s notable buildings. I liked it and it was on sale (I’m cheap), so naturally I bought it. I put it up above one of our fireplaces to spotlight Richmond architecture; it’s juxtaposed by my cartoonish rendering of our Fan home. Other places I have found a decent amount of Richmond books: West End Antique Mall (new and used books), Virginia Historical Society and The Virginia Shop at the Library of Virginia (naturally, duh), as well as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts shop.

I’m gearing up to get out and explore more via foot as the weather warms up. Check back soon. cheers, marissa

p.s. I’ve heard great things about Chop Suey Books and Black Swan Books. Looking forward to scoping out those shops too. Any other great bookstore recommendations in Richmond?

Welcome to RVAnewbie

Hi, friends. It’s me, Marissa. Yes, I started another blog and I know what you are thinking — “She is doing enough already,” or “Does she ever sit still?” Or even, “Does she ever stop talking or typing?” No, I don’t, friends.

I’m taking on a new venture, RVAnewbie, to explore my new city, Richmond, and my new hobby, photography. I have an itch to get out and explore, and this blog is where I will chronicle those adventures in my new city.

When Graham and I moved to Richmond in early January, we promised one another that we would do one new thing every weekend. That has ranged from urban adventures — us taking Harvey on a muddy hike on Belle Isle to me falling off the Pipeline Rapids walkway into the James River on a hunt for the Great Blue Heron — to us doing more normal things, like gorging on Buz and Ned’s barbecue and scoping out local bookstores.

So far, I’m having a blast in Richmond. I have stumbled upon great neighborhoods, drank great local brews, ate at delicious restaurants, learned lots about the city’s history, and most importantly, met many wonderful and kind people. I’m excited for what is in store for me here in Richmond. To read more about this blog, click here. And, stay tuned for more. xo, marissa