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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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
|Military (with ID)||$10|
|Children (under 3)||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
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!