Richmond.com recently came out with its "10 Reasons We Love Richmond" List:
1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
2. The Fan District
3. Micah Initiative
4. Belle Isle
5. Shaka Smart
6. Edgar Allan Poe
7. The Lincoln Movie
8. The Hippodrome
10. Location, location, location
Check out the full article for more details behind each.
This list inspired me to come up with my own:
1. Performing arts abound. High quality Symphony, Opera, Ballet, Theatre - all right here for a fraction of the cost and headache of Washington, DC and other big-city arts meccas.
2. Its deep, rich history... and all of the awesome buildings and museums that go along with it. The State Capitol (designed by Jefferson); St. John's Church, site of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty" speech; Confederate White House and Museum; Historical Society of Virginia; the entirety of Monument Avenue; Valentine Richmond History Center; Hollywood Cemetery; Maymont...
3. Stella's. I don't need to elaborate on this one. There's a whole entry about it already.
4. Livability. Listen, I learned a thing or two about livability when I was in DC. DC = not very livable. Sure there are lots of things to do and see, but getting to them is more often than not a nightmare and you spend 12 hours of your day commuting and working anyhow (if you're lucky, it's only 12 hours). Then you spend ALL your money on the insane rent and other costs of living. If you live in Bethesda, Maryland and your friend lives in Fairfax, they may as well live in California because that's how much of a pain it is to do anything. In the Richmond area, I can have a good sized house with a mortgage that is less than the rent on my tiny 2 bedroom apartment on the edge of the ghetto in Gaithersburg, MD. Downtown Richmond is easy to navigate and once you get to know it, parking opportunities abound. If you end up in a deck, it will cost you $5 for the day (instead of $20 or more in DC). If you have to feed a meter, you'll get a full HOUR for 50 cents. If you get a parking ticket, it will be $20 (not $90).
5. James River Parks and Trail System - Kayak, white water raft, hike, bike, run. You can do all of it. In the heart of the city. With ease.
6. The lack of traffic. Richmond's idea of "traffic" is a 10 minute delay. And that happens just about never. After dealing with DC traffic for 6 years, Richmond's version is a blessing.
7. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Its free, its beautiful, it has been hosting a whole string of awesome exhibitions lately (Picasso, Fabrege, Mummies from the British Museum, Elvis, the current Maharaja: Splendours of India's Great Kings), it has a kick ass restaurant (Amuse), and awesome after hours events (Jazz Cafe, Friday Art and Wine, Burlesque, Silent Movies, etc).
8. Carytown. Blocks and blocks of local boutiques, fashionable thrift stores, unique shops, and restaurants. The historic Byrd Theater, where you can see your movie in a real movie palace for a mere $2. FREE PUBLIC PARKING. EVERYWHERE. Need I say more?
9. The billion other delicious local restaurants. La Grotta, Cafe Rustica, Pescados, Acacia, Can Can, Carytown Cupcakes, Strawberry Street Cafe, Cafe Ole, Basilis, Sticky Rice, Cous Cous, Kuba Kuba, Bottom's Up, Julep's, Tobacco Company, City Dogs, LeMaire, Carytown Burgers & Fries, Kitchen 64, Comfort, 821, Lift, Avenue 804, Bistro 27, Tarrant's, Chez Foushee, Hill Cafe, Alamo BBQ... you get the point. You will never go hungry in Richmond and surprisingly, most of these places are very affordable.
10. I'm going to go with Richmond.com and say "location, location, location." In less than 2 hours I can be in the mountains, at the beach, at Busch Gardens, in Williamsburg, in Virginia Wine Country, or in the Nation's Capital. The Outer Banks are a very do-able 3.5 hours away. I can take the Amtrak to just about anywhere, or even better, hop a plane at the Richmond International Airport (which doesn't really cost that much more than flying out of DC and the parking is only $7 a day!) and really get out of town.
Truly, we Richmonders are spoiled rotten.