RVA, a love story

by: Patricia Bradby
After living in many places across the U.S. and around the globe, I have somehow found myself back to the place where I grew up: Richmond, VA.  However, after being back for almost a year and a half I am finding that there is still so much for me to discover.  This city has changed quite a bit since I moved away in 2004 and I am enjoying this time of reacquaintance.  This place has so much to offer.
Richmond (now more hiply referred to as “RVA”) has appeared on so many travel lists recently.  When Travel + Leisure listed Richmond as the #3 Place to Travel to in 2016 I literally laughed out loud.  That list includes exotic locations all over the world, why should people want to come here?  Well, I’ve discovered there are so many reasons why people should come here to visit but I’ve found that they are also fantastic reasons to come here to live:
– As a resident that eats out more often then I’d like to admit, I still have a long list of places I need to try…and places I want to retry because one meal just wasn’t enough.  Here are a few of my top restaurant picks: Sabai (amazing Thai with a fun atmosphere),  Lunch. (the best brunch in town), Mama J’s (soul food that will change your life…get the catfish), Rappahannock (our local oysters are something to write home about and this oyster bar also makes a mean Old Fashioned which happens to be a happy hour special…what more could you want in life?).
– The James River runs right through the city and there are activities on the water 365 days a year.  You can challenge the class IV rapids or paddle in the calmer areas, either way it provides wonderful outdoor activities for everyone at every level.  You can walk out onto the large rocks at Pony Pasture to sunbathe or watch others journey down the river as you take a stroll across the new pedestrian bridge.
– The Virginia Capital Trail starts in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom and goes on for 52 miles to Williamsburg, VA.  You can walk it, run it, bike it, or just drive alongside it to see the beautiful landscapes and explore the rich history of the area. It’s so nice to have this free, scenic “workout route” as I like to call it.  BONUS: Just outside RVA in Charles City County there is a wonderful winery located not far off the trail that sits right on The James.  Grab a glass at Upper Shirley as your reward for the exercise you put in to get there.  Rumor has it there will soon be services offered to pick you and your bike up from the winery in case you lose interest in biking back home.
– We have the familiar shopping staples if you like that kind of thing: Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.  But we also have some amazing local stores like Ellwood Thompson’s (great for groceries, hot meals, coffee, fresh juice, and more) and Mongrel (my go-to spot for unique gifts and funny cards).  Carytownand The Shops at 5807 are great destinations for retail therapy when the going gets tough.
– If learning is your passion, this city is steeped in history…but it’s not just the civil war stories that most people know about…there are so many other amazing historical gems around town such as this Tudor manor house that was disassembled and shipped across the Atlantic from Lancashire, England to be rebuilt on the banks of the James River in the roaring 20s.  In the summer, their courtyard is the home of the Richmond Shakespeare Festival.  If you are looking for unique local history exhibits and historical walking tours, The Valentine is the place for you.  They are a small but mighty museum and a true wealth of knowledge.
– I’m actually a kid trapped in an adult life, and I was so excited to discover there are pocket parks hidden all throughout my neighborhood (The Fan).  These little parks are tucked away down alleys in between homes but they belong to the city and thus exist for us to share.  Some of them even have Little Free Libraries.  My inner child adores these secret playgrounds and eventually I hope to create a map of all their locations with the friend that first introduced me to their magical existence.
As you can see, it will take more than a long weekend to really experience RVA…and my notes above only scratched the surface.  Let’s not forget our craft beer scenethe mural art, the festivals (this one being our most noted), and there’s so much more!
Move here and join me on my adventures to discover it all.  You can then also join me on election day at the polls 😉
About the Author:
Patricia Bradby is the Communications and Events Manager for Leadership Metro Richmond as well as the Community Lead for TEDxRVA. Her passion is for connecting people to resources and experiences that align with their needs and interests while also helping them to grow personally and professionally. She is a graduate of New York University (BM, Music Business) and The University of Texas at Austin (MBA).
Ms. Bradby also has an adorable company called the Miss Priss Tea Co. that she runs out of Richmond. Check it out here!
Interested in writing a love story to your city? Please email me at swingstagemigrationproject@gmail.com or need a little more guidance, become a Swing State Ambassador  HELP US!

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