Thinking about a visit to Richmond? While theme park attractions draw lots of families with kids and NASCAR has its fans, sophisticated couples can find a few romantic spots if they pursue the arts, museums, better restaurants, and Richmond's outdoor garden and riverfront attractions.
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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was practically empty when we paid a weekday visit, and what a treat. From its ancient Indian art collection to its priceless Fabergé eggs and bijoux to its British sporting paintings to the modern art, sculpture, and photography, the collections inside this marble-clad museum are first-rate. And if you want to bring home a souvenir of your trip to Richmond, the museum shop has a fine selection of gifts, prints, and books.
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The James River cuts through Richmond, and in recent years the riverfront has been revitalized. Today it's a place where couples can stroll the 1.25-mile corridor that's home to shops and restaurants; attend a concert or other event on Brown’s Island and the Turning Basin on the Canal Walk; or ply the waters on a narrated Richmond Canal Cruise. The Richmond Riverfront is also where the Civil War Visitor Center is located. It's just one of the area's historic and cultural attractions.
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Thanks to enlightened curators, historians, and the public, the Museum of the Confederacy has taken a back seat to a more balanced perspective on the Civil War. The mission of this Richmond attraction "is to be the preeminent center for the exploration of the American Civil War and its legacies from multiple perspectives: Union and Confederate, enslaved and free African Americans, soldiers and civilians." One of three locations part of the museum, The White House and Museum of the Confederacy has been restored to how it looked mid-19th century when the South came close to seceding. A 40-minute guided tour explains its history.
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Richmond Magazine dubbed Julep's restaurant, located in the historic Shockoe Bottom district, one of the “top seven sensations of Richmond.” Even if you start your meal with one of the eatery's Southern Delight Mint Juleps, you may be tempted to order from the inspired wine list, which features vintages from Virginia along with other domestic and international choices. Dessert adds to the restaurant's attraction: Banana foster cheesecake with caramel topping, anyone?Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Has the heat got you down? (Richmond can be a bit warm in the summer for those not accustomed to Southern climes.) Take a drive in an air-conditioned vehicle down wide and well-planted Monument Avenue.
As the name implies, the avenue is punctuated with monuments of Confederate and other southern heroes set alongside some distinguished Beaux-Arts, Tudor Revival, Georgian, Roman Revival, and even Mediterranean-villa style architecture.
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Built in England more than 500 years ago, disassembled, crated, sent across the Atlantic Ocean, and reassembled on the banks of the James River, Agecroft Hall today welcomes visitors to the Elizabethan house and gardens. Pause for a romantic walk through the latter; among the elaborately clipped shrubs of the knot garden, you'll feel as if you're strolling back in time.
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Despite being born in Boston, Edgar Allen Poe's true home was Richmond. Here he came to maturity, married, and attracted a literary following. The Poe Museum provides insights into the Richmond where Poe resided and worked in the early 19th century. The museum documents the life and career of Edgar Allan Poe with images, poems, and relics. On the last Thursday of every month from April through October, the museum stays open till eight and there's music, hors-d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. Couples can rent the Museum's Enchanted Garden to hold a wedding ceremony.
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If Edgar Allen Poe's museum didn't spook you, you may be ready for a visit to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. Although two U.S. presidents (James Monroe and John Tyler ) are buried here, the real draw is the setting itself. Walkers can stroll past fascinating monuments and epitaphs in this gardenlike environment. Scenic paths wind over hills and beneath mature trees. Open from 8 am to 5 pm daily and till 6 pm during daylight savings time.
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You may enjoy strolling through this historic hotel, which opened in 1895 and reflects the sensibilities of the age. For instance, there were once separate parlors for men and women. While guest rooms have been modernized, public spaces are decorated with historic tapestries, reproduction paintings, antique replica furniture, and faux-marble columns. Those with environmental sensitivities to mold, mildew, dust, and other pollutants are advised to avoid this attraction.