14. Road Trip 2: Washington D.C. to North Carolina – Part I Richmond, VA


In retrospect, I don’t know how we did this second road trip: 7 places in 4 days. Ambitious, I know. We did it though and with grace! It was June. Beach sounded good. Outer Banks was supposedly not that far. We looked at the map. If we were to go there, might as well check out few other places along the way.

And that’s how we landed with this 777 mile drive plan. 13 hours on the road. I just made sure I had enough snacks, fresh fruits, good music, and good stories to keep us alive on the road.

Road Trip Map 2
Road Trip Map 2

Our first destination was Richmond, Virginia, located about 2 hours away from Washington, D.C. Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Like Charlottesville, it has been an independent city since 1871. James River is in the middle of the city. U.S. history lovers can find history resonate in places like the Richmond National Battlefield or St. John’s Church. Monticello is actually not that far from this place.

Richmond, VA
City Capitol area in Richmond, VA

We got here just in time for lunch. As we walked few blocks after our fresh fish tacos, I noticed random art sculptures. It was pretty cool. In fact, according to Atlas Obscura, you can find interesting sites like the Markel Building. It is a building inspired by foil-wrapped potato and that has been deemed as one of the 10 ugliest building in the world. Pretty interesting, eh?

Markel Building, Richmond, VA
Markel Building, Richmond, VA
Richmond VA
Richmond VA – June 2014

I don’t really have a long highlight list for Richmond because we had only few hours here. We didn’t even have enough time to see any museums! The only place we really enjoyed for a bit is Virginia State Capitol, but here are a few other suggestions that I looked up. I hope you can take better advantage of it than us!

  1. Virginia State Capitol and St. John’s Episcopal Church

The State Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style, has housed state government since 1788. The big high white columns on the green grass hill did give off a grand presentation. The little park next to it with a little fountain was the perfect place for local people to take their lunch breaks. The Capitol also offers free public tours and guided tours.

Virginia City Capitol, Richmond, VA
Virginia City Capitol, Richmond, VA – June 2014

The St. John’s Episcopal Church is right near the Capitol too. This was the Richmond church where Patrick Henry famously pleaded “Give me liberty or give me death!” in 1775. Many tourists have visited here for that historical reason. We didn’t get to explore inside, but travelers note that the St. John’s historical tour is informative and interesting. If you are nearby, you should at least see the building.

Virginia Capitol Area Map - Richmond, VA
Virginia Capitol Area Map – Richmond, VA
  1. Richmond City Hall – Old and New

The new building and the old building is right next to each other. The Old City Hall is a beautiful gothic style building. You can enter as a guest inside but can only see the first floor. The officer kindly informs you that it is still a fully functioning building and cannot let tourist walk pass a certain point.

Old City Hall, Richmond VA
Old City Hall, Richmond VA
Inside the Old City Hall - Richmond, VA
Inside the Old City Hall – Richmond, VA

The New City Hall is the modern looking building. The fun is inside. You can see the panorama city view for free if you go up on the top floor. Just note that they have certain hours they clean the place and close.

New City Hall - Richmond VA
New City Hall – Richmond VA
  1. Maymont

Maymont used to be the home of a wealthy Richmond residents Major James H and Sallie Dooley. Upon their death, they left their home and grounds to the city. Now this 100-1cre property is one of the top activities for travelers and locals. We did a drive around the huge park but didn’t get to explore the house, but I can see how locals may enjoy spending their weekends here. It’s a good picnic place.

Richmond, VA
Maymoth, Richmond, VA

If you have more time in the city, here are some other suggestions!

  1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, or VMFA, is an art museum opened in 1926. The museum started with donations of 50 paintings to the Commonwealth of Virginia. General admission is FREE. There is cost for special exhibitions. You could still easily spend few hours in the general admission section. So why hesitate?

  1. Edgar Allan Poe Museum

All American students have learned the great work Edgar Allan Poe left. Though he never lived in this building, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond holds apparently one of the world’s largest collection of original manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings of Edgar. It also offers tours where they inform the time Edgar live.

We were back on the road pretty soon since we had another 2 hours to get to Durham before dinner. For Durham story, check out my next story!

Sculpture in Richmond VA
Sculpture in Richmond VA

Copyright © 2015. Monica H. Kang, All Rights Reserved.

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