2 hours away
Once the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond has been revitalized in recent years with interesting dining and nightlife choices that keep people downtown after dark.
During the day, there are 48 museums to explore. Last year, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts unveiled a renovation and expansion. Visit by May 15 to see an exhibit of 176 works by Pablo Picasso from the artist's personal collection, courtesy of Paris' Musee National Picasso. The VMFA is the only museum on the East Coast hosting the traveling exhibit.
Among the accommodations offering Picasso packages is the Linden Row Inn (804-783-7000). The inn's original buildings date to the 1840s. Guest rooms are furnished with Victorian and Empire-period antiques and reproductions. Rooms are $99 to $269 including continental breakfast.
Another reason to visit Richmond: This is the 150th anniversary of, as some in the South still call it, the War of Northern Aggression. The American Civil War Center is unique in equally examining Union, Confederate, and African-American perspectives.
The Confederate Congress met during the war at the Virginia State Capitol, where there are excellent guided tours.
On land once owned by Patrick Henry is the 80-acre Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. If you're in Richmond for Historic Garden Week, April 16 through 23, you also can tour some glorious private gardens and homes.
People feel at home at Millie's Diner, and many enjoy its Devil's Mess—a curried scrambled-egg-and-sausage concoction served at brunch. For dinner, try Six Burner (804-353-4060), one of the few Virginia restaurants government-approved for sous-vide, a low-temperature water-bath cooking method that retains more aroma and flavor. Chef Philip Denny, formerly of DC's Citronelle, changes the menu weekly.
Admission to the Picasso show is $20. Ontorichmond.com has information about activities surrounding the Civil War's 150th anniversary, and visitrichmondva.com provides a general visitor guide.
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