Richmond, Virginia: Weekend Itinerary for Special Occasions

Richmond, Virginia is earning acclaim for its innovative culinary scene, which pairs well with unique American history and architecture dating to the 1700’s. The state capital of Virginia was also the capital of the Confederacy during the US Civil War. From the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to the Virginia State Capitol Building and beyond, there is a lot to experience. Here are some recommendations for planning a special occasion in Richmond!

Statue of Jefferson in the hotel lobby

The Jefferson Hotel for a Wedding Anniversary

We recently celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary at the historic Jefferson Hotel and had a fantastic time. The Jefferson opened its doors in 1895 with the intention of bringing the country’s finest hotel experience to Richmond. At least 13 US presidents have been guests, along with many foreign dignitaries and celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Tom Hanks and the Rolling Stones. This palatial property is AAA’s only 5 diamond rated hotel in central Virginia, so it’s the premier place to celebrate a special occasion.

Exterior of Jefferson Hotel Richmond

A Welcome from Thomas Jefferson

In the lobby, visitors are greeted by a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson, the country’s third president. The statue has been a part of the hotel since its founding in 1895. Palm Court also features a beautiful skylight and windows, much of which is Tiffany glass dating back to 1907. You can enjoy high tea in the Palm Court from 3pm-4:30pm Friday through Sunday.

Inspiration for Gone With The Wind?

The mezzanine features rich tapestry panels and reproductions of fine paintings featuring presidents and other notable figures. The hotel’s famous Grand Staircase, with 36 marble steps, resembles the one in the classic film Gone With the Wind. Intricately adorned Corinthian style columns support a 70-foot ceiling, with multi-colored gold leaf designs and an impressive skylight. Every Sunday the Jefferson hosts a lavish champagne brunch there, featuring a Jazz band. It’s a throwback experience that also feels a little like stepping into The Great Gatsby.

Opulent foyer at the Jefferson hotel set up for brunch

Guest Rooms and Suites at The Jefferson Hotel

Spacious and comfortable guest rooms have been recently renovated and feature ultra-modern amenities like TV’s built into the bathroom mirror. There are also a variety of apartment-style suite options, from the 700 square feet Virginia King Suite to the 1,400 square feet Jefferson Suite. All rooms have plush amenities like Nespresso machines, Molton Brown toiletries and luxurious bedding.

We stayed in a lovely and spacious Ginter Suite, which is over 1,000 square feet. The suite is named after Major Lewis Ginter, a storied entrepreneur who founded The Jefferson Hotel in 1895. The apartment-style suite includes three televisions – large flatscreens in the living room and bedroom, along with a TV in the mirror of the bathroom!

The foyer includes an adjacent half bath, leading to a spacious living room. The living room features a large dining room table, flatscreen TV, comfortable couch and kitchenette. The bedroom has a plush king bed, second flat screen TV and comfortable seating. A spacious bathroom has a separate soaking tub, enclosed shower room and dual vanity. The TV in the mirror means you can watch a favorite show while getting ready or soaking in a relaxing bath!

Richmond, Virginia special occasion

Check out the variety of rooms available at The Jefferson Hotel.

Jefferson Hotel Packages

The Jefferson offers several packages including a Romance Package, Bed and Breakfast Package and Lemaire Dinner Package. Packages start at $295 per night. Our anniversary there was truly memorable and we’ll look back on it fondly for years to come.

Alex & Bell in the hotel bed drinking their morning coffee

Things to Do in Richmond

Virginia State Capitol Building

The Virginia State Capitol, completed in 1788, was designed by Thomas Jefferson. It features the only statue of George Washington sculpted during his lifetime. Washington posed for the statue, which also dates to 1788. The Virginia State Capitol also features the nation’s oldest Greek rival columns.

Statue of George Washington Capitol in Richmond, Virginia

Visitors can take a free tour of the Virginia State Capitol seven days a week. Learn more about the founding of Virginia’s elected government in 1619, the historic building and American and US Civil War history. You can see the old Virginia House and Senate chambers, featuring paintings and sculptures of notable figures and events. The tour also includes a visit inside the current Virginia House of Representatives chamber to learn how the chambers operate (when not in session). During our visit, the Virginia Senate chamber was only viewable from the hallway.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Opened since 1936, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. You can see a range of art from ancient Egypt to contemporary pieces. The VMFA is home to one of the largest Faberge egg collections in the world too. Admission to the permanent collection is always free too!

Maymont

Maymont is a 100-acre public park and Victorian estate in Richmond. It includes the Maymont Mansion Museum, an arboretum, gardens, a carriage collection, native wildlife exhibits, nature center and children’s farm. The Romanesque style mansion dates to 1893 and is a well-preserved example of a Gilded Age estate.

It’s free to tour the grounds and gardens and just $5 to tour Maymont Mansion.

White House of the Confederacy and American Civil War Museum

The White House of the Confederacy was home to Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the US Civil War. The house is a 50/50 mix of original pieces and reproductions. A painting of George Washington hangs in the dining room. Washington was revered by both the Union (as a symbol of stability) and by the Confederacy for his revolutionary spirit and because he was a Virginian. You can also visit the nearby American Civil War Museum.

White House of the Confederacy Tours typically run on the hour and cost $12.

Tour of the White house of the confederacy

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is considered one of the finest on the continent. USA Today readers recently ranked it the fourth best public gardens in North America. The gardens are open year round except for Thanksgiving, December 24th and Christmas Day.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens admission prices

Adults $13
Seniors (55+) $11
Military (with ID) $10
Children (3-12) $8
Children (under 3) Free
Members Free

Virginia Museum of History and Culture

The Virginia Museum of History and Culture’s signature exhibition, Story of Virginia, covers 16,000 years of history from pre-historic times to the present. Current special exhibitions include Fresh Paint: Murals Inspired by The Story of Virginia, The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Advocates and Allies and Oh Shenandoah: Landscapes of Diversity.

Admission is by donation and suggested at $10 for adults, $8 for 65+ and $5 for children 6-17.

Great Places to Eat in Richmond

Lemaire

The Jefferson Hotel’s Lemaire Restaurant is one of the premier fine dining choices in the region. It’s an elegant experience, with so much attention to detail. We were surprised and touched to receive special menus wishing us a happy 14 year anniversary!

Fried oysters, beef cheek and personalized menus at Lemaire

Lemaire’s menu combines fresh locally sourced ingredients with a French twist. We loved the chicken fried oysters with hot sauce and gribiche. Their root beer braised beef with pecans and rutabaga puree is another bold and delicious offering. The slow braised lamb shank with herb pistachio relish and jumbo sea scallops are two excellent choices for mains.

Alex and Bell and a main a dessert collage

Lemaire’s wine list has something for everyone, including a selection of bottles for under $30! Ask to speak with their sommelier for recommendations. Rich provided great service and the maître d, Chauncey, is excellent as well. There are a lot of inventive cocktails and a happening bar at Lemaire too. Be sure to make dinner reservations in advance, especially on weekends, and let them know if you’re celebrating a special occasion.

Fun fact: Lemaire was Thomas Jefferson’s maître d while he was president. 

Stella’s

Stella’s is a wonderful modern Greek restaurant that helped change the landscape of the Richmond dining scene when it opened in 1983. If you like grilled octopus, Stella’s serves some of the most tender and delicious we’ve eaten. Their keftedes (lamb and beef meatballs) are also great. Make reservations well in advance for a weekend visit.
Alex with the food at Stella's restaurant, Richmond
There is a second Stella’s location in Charleston, South Carolina that’s so good we went twice during our visit there. There’s also a couple of Stella’s markets in Richmond so if the weather is good, grab some food and coffee and head to one of Richmond’s green spaces for a picnic.

Little Saint

This quaint little restaurant whips up some inventive southern dishes. We highly recommend their grits bowl, which includes pulled pork or chorizo tofu, flash fried kale, a runny egg and hot sauce. Little Saint is a fine example of why Richmond’s innovative culinary scene encompasses more than just fine dining.

Perly’s

If you enjoy great NY style delis or diners, you’ll love Perly’s. Both deli and retro-style diner, this is the place to go for a great pastrami sandwich or other Jewish favorites like latkes and cinnamon babkas. Perly’s is popular so you’ll probably need to wait a bit for a table during the lunch and dinner rush.

Urban Hang Suite

Richmond also has a cool coffee scene, and Urban Hang Suite makes great cappuccinos. They have a convenient downtown Richmond location, walking distance from hotels like The Jefferson. It is a quiet spot for lunch too, as it doesn’t typically get as busy as Perly’s nearby.

Rice bowl and coffee at Urban Hang Suite in Richmond

Other Great Places to Stay in Richmond

If the Jefferson Hotel is booked or beyond your budget, check rates at the Omni Richmond. Hilton Richmond Downtown, Hilton Richmond Hotel and Spa Pump Center, Richmond Marriott and Linden Row Inn are some additional well-rated choices.

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Planning a Road Trip up the East Coast?

If you’re taking a road trip up the east coast, read our article, Great Road Stops from Florida to Washington, DC. That article covers historic destinations from Saint Augustine, Florida to Annapolis, Maryland. Richmond makes for another great stop if you’re traveling along I-95, and you don’t have to go out of your way.

Alex and Bell out the front of the Richmond state capitol

Disclosure: We were guests of the Jefferson Hotel but all opinions written here are our own. Special thanks to Jennifer Crisp and the entire staff at the Jefferson Hotel for making our 14 year wedding anniversary a truly memorable experience! 

26 thoughts on “Richmond, Virginia: Weekend Itinerary for Special Occasions

    1. Yes! Next time you’re driving through Virginia, Richmond has a lot to offer visitors! We were especially impressed with the Virginia State Capitol Tour and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Both those attractions are free too! Great foodie scene in Richmond too.

    1. Thanks also, Zenja! Yes we were very impressed with the Jefferson and it made for a wonderful anniversary celebration. Happiest of travels to you! 🙂

  1. Wow that hotel is gorgeous! I really enjoyed my time in Virginia! It is a state with a lot of culture and history.

    1. Glad you’ve enjoyed visiting Virginia also, Brittany! The state is celebrating its 400th birthday this year. Really warm hospitality can be found around Virginia as well 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for such a useful sharing, I found many interesting and useful information in your post. And your pictures are beautiful, it will be nicer if you make them picture size, my recommendation. Keep working on it <3

  3. I love Faberge and I had no idea that the largest collection in the world was housed in the VMFA. I will have to add a visit to my ever increasing bucket list. Thanks for an interesting read.

    1. So glad to hear you’ve added the VMFA to your bucket list, Janine! You’ll definitely really enjoy the museum when you go. Happy travels!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! Yes, Richmond’s culinary scene was a welcome surprise to us also. We’re looking forward to re-visiting and trying a few more of the restaurants there. Happy travels to you! 😀

          1. Here’s my short list (believe me, there are MANY more):

            1. Can Can Brasserie in Carytown: You really feel like you’re in Paris in this cute restaurant in the heart of Richmond’s trendy/artsy/hipster Carytown district (http://www.cancanbrasserie.com/).

            2. The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing: Go here for spectacular views of the city skyline along the James River (my sister’s getting married here this summer!) (https://www.boathouseva.com/locations/rocketts-landing).

            3. Amuse at the VMFA: Fantastic views of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ sculpture garden. Be sure to make a reservation (even for lunch), as it’s a super-popular place (https://www.vmfa.museum/visit/dining/amuse-restaurant/).

            4. Lehja at Short Pump Towne Center: This amazing Indian restaurant is out in the ‘burbs, in the popular Short Pump area (where I live). I go here on a regular basis. The owner/chef, Sunny Baweja (who is so friendly and gracious), was just nominated as a James Beard semi-finalist! Also, the restaurant was named best in Richmond in 2017 by Richmond magazine. (http://www.lehja.com/) (https://www.richmond.com/food-drink/restaurant-news/it-feels-like-a-dream-five-richmond-restaurants-recognized-by/article_82a377db-3306-5c43-9414-b97352bff924.html)

            Bon appetit, everyone!!!!

          2. Thank you for adding to our restaurant recommendations in Richmond! The sculpture garden at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is really lovely. It was a little too cold to sit outside when we visited so we’ll have to return when the weather is warmer for that. Good French and Indian is a great call too. Enjoy the spring weather and we look forward to trying some of your recommendations next time we visit Richmond! 😀

  4. First and foremost, I would like to greet you both for your 14th year wedding anniversary. Reading your blog post about your stay at the historic Jefferson Hotel makes me want to celebrate our anniversary in this Hotel as well. I’m happy to know that you both had a fantastic time together.

    1. Thanks so much for the nice anniversary wishes! And we’re so glad we’ve inspired you to want to celebrate an anniversary at the Jefferson also! It’s a gorgeous place to stay and you’ll really enjoy it when you go. Happiest of travels to you!

    1. Glad you learned about Richmond from our article, Rebecca! So much American history to discover and the Jefferson Hotel really adds to that experience. Happy travels!

  5. Never knew that Richmond has so many beautiful things to do. It would be great to visit Jefferson hotel and some of its parts resembled Gone with the Wind. I love such places and would definitely book this hotel stay when I visit Virginia.

    1. So glad our article has inspired you to visit Richmond and The Jefferson Hotel! You’ll love it when you visit – yes it’s such a regal place packed with history. Happy travels, Yukti!

  6. Thanks for the great guide! I particularly love the Jefferson Hotel. That champagne brunch looks amazing and I totally agree it’s like stepping into the Great Gatsby. Thanks for the pictures of the food too, it looks delicious and I really appreciate having that in guides to help me make my selections.

    1. Thanks for the nice comment, Natasha! Glad you enjoyed the food photos too! Yes – the Jefferson Hotel is an all around wonderful experience – great history, architecture and an amazing staff. Excellent food at Lemaire, during Sunday brunch and also high tea in Palm Court. Happy travels!

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