So the rural thing isn’t your cup of iced tea? Head to the Capital City for a totally urban experience. Richmond sometimes takes it on the chin for lacking in the diversity department, but we disagree. For example, in October 2019, two fantastic events celebrate the city’s distinct rainbow hue.
On October 5, come explore your inner Latin diva at the Viva RVA. Hispanic Music Festival (diversityrichmond.org). This exciting celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month honors Virginia’s Latinx LGBT community. Viva RVA! is a free family-friendly event at Diversity Richmond and features authentic Hispanic music, food, dancing, and live music.
The Richmond Folk Festival (richmondfolkfestival.org) on downtown Richmond’s waterfront is the following weekend of October 11-13. The Festival presents the very finest traditional musical artists from across the nation with 25 performances ranging from bluegrass and Cajun to Indian and African. Don’t forget to head over to the Festival Marketplace and shop authentic crafts by over 20 international artisans.
Festivals aren’t the only way to taste the Richmond rainbow. The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (virginiahistory.org) does a great job of cataloguing America’s diverse past by interpreting the unparalleled story of Virginia. In fact, their signature exhibition, The Story of Virginia, recently added an LGBT chapter to the 16,000 years of Virginia history it covers.
While we’re on the museum tour, a visit to the nearby Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (vmfa.museum) is a must. But be prepared: there’s a lot to see, and you’ll want to see it all. In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently declared that the Museum is a two-day affair. With over 5,000 years of art from around the world, take your time to explore exhibitions ranging from Fabergé and Russian Decorative Arts to their most recent addition, Edward Hopper and the American Hotel.
If you still have the strength, head over to Carytown (carytownrva.com) for some of the most eclectic shopping and dining in RVA. The heart of Richmond’s gayborhood is only one street long, but you’ll be surprised at the variety of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment in this nine-block slice of bohemia.
While there, don’t forget to check the schedule at the Byrd Theatre (byrdtheatre.org). In the past, the Byrd has presented LGBT programming with icons such as John Waters and their popular MonGays Movie Festival during Pride month.
Where To Stay
The Quirk Hotel (destinationhotels.com) in downtown Richmond lives up to its name. With its original artwork, eclectic design sensibility, and location in the middle downtown Richmond’s dynamic arts and design district, it is indeed out of the ordinary. Voted by US News and World Reportas one of the country’s top hotels for 2019, Quirk is an experience that will please even the most jaded traveler.
For a more traditional Richmond experience, stay at the Linden Row Inn (lindenrowinn.com). This National Register hotel is comprised of seven row houses built in the mid-1800s and meticulously restored. Guest rooms are furnished with antiques from the middle and late 1800s. Trivia alert: Edgar Allen Poe spent his childhood playing in the hotel’s garden courtyard.
Where To Eat and Drink
We have one word for you, and it’s French: L’Opossum (lopossum.com). Chef David Shannon will tell you that his definition is “tongue-in-cheek faux French presented as delightful whimsy on the menu, but seriously delicious cuisine on the plate.” Gay-owned and operated, L’Opossum was named the Southern Living Magazine’s2018 Best Restaurant. In the whole South.
If Southern home cooking makes your stomach growl, take a seat at Weezie’s Kitchen (weezieskitchen.com) in Carytown. This is lip-smacking fare at its most fattening and delicious. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a meal at Weezie’s is a culinary experience of its own.
Scott’s Addition Foodie and Arts District is the newest and hippest food and drink destination in town. The National Historic District has become the brewing center of Richmond. Within walking distance you’ll find breweries and cideries interspersed with hip lofts and eclectic restaurants.
If you’re looking for a superb drag brunch, Godfrey’s (godfreysva.com) is the queen. It’s home to Richmond’s most famous drag brunch with two seatings on Saturday and Sunday. Godfrey’s also doubles as a mixed bar in the evenings with special events most nights.
And if you’re craving a little socializing with your people, Babes of Carytown (facebook.com/babesofcarytown) and Barcode (barcoderva.com) are the two queer nightlife spots in town.
Visit Virginia.org/lgbt for a comprehensive list of Virginia’s LGBT-friendly travel destinations, businesses, and events.
Eric Hause is the publisher of OutWire757.com, Hampton Roads’ LGBT Media Company, and OutVirginia.com, a statewide online LGBT resource. He and his husband spend countless hours and dollars exploring the Commonwealth’s queer and allied businesses and organizations.