River City Virginia: A Beginner’s Guide to Richmond

By: Andrew Cothern

January 15, 2014

The Capital of the Confederacy and home to some of the most beautiful historic buildings around, Richmond, Virginia is famous for its abundant local history and culture. Otherwise known as RVA, or the River City, Richmond also offers a thriving music scene, a vibrant arts district, award-winning dining establishments and trails along the river, which winds its way through the heart of the city.

Richmond is home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, a three-story museum featuring more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Collections range from Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Fabergé, and the art of South Asia. Travelling exhibits have included photographs of Elvis, the paintings of Picasso and costumes sourced from Hollywood films. Every month, Broad Street lights up with the First Fridays Artwalk, where more than 20 galleries, shops and restaurants host new exhibitions and events that bring the people of the city to the bustling arts district.


River Road Shopping | A Beginner's Guide to Richmond

River Road Shopping Center, home to a selection of boutiques and stores © Richmond Region Tourism


While many regard cities such as Nashville or Austin as home to the best music scenes, Richmond is very close to surpassing them. Having started as a strictly punk town, Richmond has since grown to support a thriving music scene with numerous acts in every genre from jazz and folk to indie rock. In recent years, Richmond has produced big names such as Lamb of God, Jason Mraz, No BS Brass Band and Matthew E. White, who have gone on to show the rest of the world what the River City has to offer. Catch up-and-coming acts at venues like The Camel and Strange Matter, while the National is where the big guns grace the stage. There are also some great music festivals held in Richmond every year, including Fall Line Fest, Innsbrook After Hours and Friday Cheers.


Groovin in the Garden | A Beginner's Guide to Richmond

Groovin in the Garden, one of Richmond’s top music festivals © Richmond Region Tourism


For visitors of a culinary inclination, Richmond offers a dining scene like no other. The city has restaurants around every corner and new venues popping up daily. Not content with simple, everyday establishments, restaurant owners in Richmond take pride in perfecting their craft. From the vegetarian options of basement Ipanema Cafe to the locally-sourced foods from The Roosevelt to the wildly popular sushi at Sticky Rice, Richmond has something for every palette. If you’re looking for a food town, Richmond should be at the top of your list.


Palani Drive | A Beginner's Guide to Richmond

Palani Drive, one of Richmond’s top restaurants © Richmond Region Tourism

Header photo: Richmond Syklinel © David Coleman/Thinkstock/iStock

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Written by Andrew Cothern


Andrew Cothern

Andrew Cothern is a media professional in Richmond, Virginia. He has written for a variety of publications and websites in the area, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch,, Style Weekly,, WRIC 8News,, Virginia Business, The Richmond Scene, GayRVA, River City Rapids and many others. A certified music nut, Cothern is the founder and editor of, a music site that focuses on the local music scene in Richmond.

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