Take a break from all that up-and-coming urbanity to experience Richmond’s historic side. Grab a coffee and a delicious vegan canele at WPA Bakery (pastries from $1), a new confectionary in a turn-of-the-century inn. Spend a leisurely morning among picnicking families and sun-seeking undergrads on the banks of the James River, where Abraham Lincoln walked shortly after the Union army captured the city in 1865. Wander over to the adjacent Liberty Trail, a 6.2-mile, self-guided path through fifteen national landmarks. See if you can spot which ones had starring roles in last year’s Oscar-winning Lincoln (hint: a lot). Too much history can make a person hungry, so hit Arcadia for sustenance (lunch from $16). The New American bistro got national attention when Daniel Day-Lewis became a regular during filming, but its Rappahannock oyster po’boy is the true star. For dessert, walk two blocks north to Richmond’s budding 17th Street Farmers Market. Go straight to the back, where Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, a food truck helmed by a family of Mennonites, serves sinfully good sourdough doughnuts dripping with hand-spun sugar syrup ($2 each, or $10 for a half-dozen). Burn it off with an afternoon trip to Riverside Outfitters, which rents canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards for self-guided trips along the James (equipment rentals start at $29 for two hours). Wear your best ascot to dinner at the Boathouse at Rocketts Landing, one of Richmond’s oldest addresses for white-tablecloth-style fine dining on the James (dinner from $50). Request one of the coveted outdoor tables so you can contemplate the Richmond city skyline while tucking into soft-shell crabs with Virginia peanut tempura ($14), and crispy quail over Swiss chard and sweet-potato waffles ($21). After dinner, walk north along the waterfront to Main Street. Pause at St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775. Peak inside the moonlit cemetery, final resting place of patriot George Wythe, and let freedom ring all the way back to your hotel.
5. Oddball Day
Published on Aug 8, 2013 as a web exclusive.