View Photo Gallery: The Redskins are holding training camp in Virginia’s historic capital. Make the most of your trip with our guide to restaurants, bars and activities for all ages.
Don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of people talking about going to Richmond in the next few weeks.
The Washington Redskins will hold training camp in the city for the first time this summer, at a new facility that’s expected to draw 100,000 fans — 60 percent of whom will be tourists — from July 25 through Aug. 16. A chance to watch Robert Griffin III, Brian Orakpo and the rest of the defending NFC East champions practice (free of charge) is a great reason to make the drive down Interstate 95. (It’s less than two hours from Washington or Fairfax outside of rush hour, so it’s doable as a day trip, but it’s much more pleasant as an overnight excursion.)
But football isn’t the only reason to consider visiting the Virginia capital these days. The city has rebounded from the days when the murder rate was high and it was regularly featured on lists of “America’s Most Dangerous Cities.” Now you’ll find gastropubs preparing Southern comfort food made with local produce, a restored 1920s movie theater and bustling new breweries that host food truck happy hours.
The Civil War’s sesquicentennial is in full swing in the former capital of the Confederacy, with exhibits and talks at its numerous Civil War sites. The conflict still looms large in Richmond — literally. Monument Avenue, a broad, leafy boulevard lined with stately homes, connects statues of Confederate generals J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, president Jefferson Davis and naval expert Matthew Fontaine Maury. (In 1996, the city added a new statue: champion tennis player and native son Arthur Ashe.)
The Redskins are the main attraction over the next month, but the city offers plenty to draw you back.
●Redskins training camp in Richmond: What you need to know if you go
●Map of Richmond attractions
Where to eat and drink
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A sampler of beers brewed at Legend Brewing.
Comfort and Pasture
Jason Alley is one of Richmond’s star chefs, a partner in restaurants Comfort and Pasture. Comfort is the bigger brother, an award-winning destination for refined takes on soul food: crispy fried chicken, collard greens, thick-cut bacon and spinach over rice grit cakes. There’s a killer bourbon and rye collection, too, and some clever cocktails (one recent creation involved drippings from the bacon-braised collard greens). Alley’s newer venture, Pasture, has smaller plates for sharing, which regularly rotate based on seasonal ingredients, and a focus on Virginia wine and beers. Don’t miss the fried okra spears or the creamy pimento cheese, which comes with a paper bag of Ritz crackers.
Comfort: 200 W. Broad St. 804-780-0004. www.comfortrestaurant.com.
Pasture: 416 E. Grace St. 804-780-0416. www.pastureva.com.
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Saison (click to enlarge)
A cozy, modern corner bar with a serious drink program, Saison offers well-chosen drafts from Finch’s and Founders and bottles from Maine Beer Company and Glazen Toren. There are two dozen cocktails and shots, from whiskey punches to tiki-style drinks. (The three-rum old-fashioned should be a summertime classic.) There’s a hearty focus on the bitter Italian aperitifs known as amaros. And the friendly bartenders are as funny as the menus, which are presented in vintage hardcover books, such as “Mammals” or “Southern Gardens,” with drink selections taped over the pages.
23 W. Marshall St. 804-269-3689. www.saisonrva.com.
You’ll find Richmond’s finest cocktail menu at this Church Hill establishment. (And they’re only $9! Outside of happy hour!) There are gems everywhere: The sublime Quoit Club Punch, with rum, brandy and rainwater Madeira, was the official cocktail of a 19th-century Richmond social club. The bright, sweet Southern Gin Fizz is made with North Carolina gin, a pecan orgeat syrup and — can it be? — buttermilk. The Scuppernong Sour, mixing wheated bourbon, a jam made from Carolina grapes, brown sugar and lemon before being shaken with egg whites, was smooth, just fruity enough for the jam and the bourbon to play off each other. These are just three of the 22 cocktails on the menu, listed next to 35 Virginia wines. I can’t wait to go back.
623 N. 25th St. 804-658-1935. www.rooseveltrva.com.
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Fish tacos at Don't Look Back
Don’t Look Back
The year-old Don’t Look Back, in the cool Carytown neighborhood, is a classic tacos-and-margaritas joint with a hip edge. There are eight taco choices ($3 each), with carnitas and rajas (peppers and onions) as the standouts. Most of the tequilas cost less than $10 a glass; pick any spirit and they’ll make a margarita out of it.
2929 W. Cary St. 804-353-8226. www.dontlookbackrva.com.
Dutch & Company