RVA Mag’s Downtown Holiday Jaunt

by | Dec 23, 2020 | EAT DRINK

Well, here we are — close to closing out this most difficult and unusual year in RVA. We have all been trying to find a way to navigate, mentally and physically, this season. Our downtown is all lit up for the holidays. At night, you can see our wonderful River City in all its glory across the river, with buildings outlined in lights for Christmas and New Years.  I desperately want to be a part of it all somehow, just like in years past.

This season, probably more than any other, I have been making sure to shop local, to support local restaurants and markets this holiday season. For many years, I have taken family or friends into the city for the lights and for good eats around this time. Despite the many precautions required by the pandemic, navigating all that now is still possible with a little planning and preparation. In this article, I’m going to show you how you can do exactly that. Think of it as a Day in the Life of RVA Downtown in 2020. 

Before we begin, I don’t think of this as a guide; it’s hard to have an exact plan in 2020. Perhaps it’s something that gives you a sense of the possibilities that make sense for your trip. Ways to do it, be safe, and still have fun — all in support of the city and local businesses we love. So then — let’s get to it. I’m making our plan, packing up the car, grabbing our masks, hand sanitizer, coat, and gloves, and we’re heading out early morning. It’s a sunny day in RVA — a little cold, but just perfect for a river trip and a warm drink.

Let’s start by looking at our MAP to get an idea of where to head first. Ah yes — COFFEE! The first stop is coffee, because let’s be real: we need that badly. There are a few spots to choose from, all roasted up perfect. You can smell it before it’s even in your hand. I had to try Sefton, though Whisk was calling me with those pastries. We grab two cappuccinos to go and get back in the warm car. 

Sefton Coffee To go? I think so!

Downtown Coffee stops:

We got the coffee, and the zombie feelings are starting to fade.Now, maybe some will get their food at the local coffee spot. But we had a certain spot, and plan, in mind for our breakfast. Perly’s is one of our favorites – lox and bagel curbside pickup sounds about right. So that’s this trip’s plan, but let’s list out a few other local favorites where you can grab that perfect breakfast. 

Perly’s Breakfast Bagel Lox is the play.

Breakfast to go:

We head now to find a spot by the river for a walk with our coffee and bagel in tow. We go down by Rocketts Landing on the river to get a view of the James River across from Ancarrow’s Landing. However, there are many sweet spots on the river where you could spend a morning; let’s list a few. 

City View by the River

River Spots:

Now to the actual plan for our day trip: we’re going to tour some murals around downtown. There are plenty to visit, and you can route them as needed. Let’s get a map and plan together. Here are some guides and links for starting your mural tour. 

Canal Walk Murals

Mural Tour Links:

We could be at this all day, easily. But it’s getting close to lunch and it’s time for a break. Let’s regroup with a beer, and figure out our lunch plan. There are a few close-by places where we can grab a brew; we can even have them outside, or just make a pickup and figure it out. Perhaps we can even pick up some packs for home. Let’s go over our best potential spots.  

Triple Crossing in Fulton with its sweet outdoor area

Lets Grab a Brew:

That was needed; now we’re feeling refreshed and we want to get some grub. There are plenty of spots to choose from downtown. It’s also easy to hit a market for some quick bits to go. I’m craving some tacos (duh), so we’re hitting up Soul Taco. But any of these spots are top quality and have easy to go pickup.  

Soul Taco Reminder by the River, good idea.

Lunch Spots for your tummy:

River walking on a sunny day

Having grabbed our lunch, we head to finish up any remaining mural spots, then take a walk on the river as we digest our food. At this point we could stay on the river, do some Christmas shopping, hit up some disk golf, or even check out some museums in the area. Let’s list some possible choices, and we can form our plan from that. Remember to check for COVID-19 rules at some of these places; if you’re going to a museum, you may need to purchase tickets online before you show up.

Valentine Museum

Museums & Galleries

Gillies Park Hole #18 Midday Disk golf

Disk Golf Trip: 

We opted for The Valentine Museum to take in some Virginia History. It also has a nice shop in it, so we picked up a classic Richmond gift. Now we’re gonna go down Shockoe Slip to take in the sights and make a popular stop at Fountain Bookstore. 

Fountain Bookstore is always worth a visit

Shopping & More:

After that busy afternoon, we’re getting hungry and want to grab our dinner. Ordering some takeout from J Kogi seems to be in order. We need that bulgogi badly, so we’re getting some super spicy to go. There are plenty of other amazing meals we could do in the Downtown area, and quite a few came up in discussion. We settled on J Kogi, but you might pick from any number of great options.  

J kogi Noodles… heartwarming.

Dinner to go: 

RVA Holiday Night Lighting by @rvaphotog

Finally we take in our surroundings as the sky gets dark and the city lights up all over. Heading back down to Shockoe, going past Kanawha Plaza to stop and see the lights, then over towards Brown’s Island so we can take in the light tour. The river walk is all lit up, from Turning Basin to Belle Isle. Feeling Christmasy about now.

Links and Maps for Lights:

Well, we’re feeling pretty tired after all that, but successful overall, so let’s grab desserts and find a warm fire. For that, we’re hitting up Capitol Waffle on the way home, because they’ve got that one sweet waffle for win. Goodnight RVA — thanks for the sweet sights.

Remember: Shop Local ❤️ Local!

For more information on all of the shops, restaurants, and sights in downtown RVA and beyond, visit Venture Richmond & Virginia is for Lovers!

John Reinhold

John Reinhold

John Reinhold is currently CXO of Inkwell Ventures Inc. which owns and operates RVA Magazine and GayRVA. Also, he is a deejay with PLF, husband and father to a couple of great kids.

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