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A Perfect 24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

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Greetings, Internet Stranger, and welcome to a 24 hours in Richmond itinerary. Richmond, Virginia isn’t the first city that people think of when they imagine charming Southern cities. The architecture isn’t as old as that of many other Southern cities, and it doesn’t have a party reputation like cities like Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a great time during our 24 hours in Richmond itinerary, y’all! If the city was good enough for Edgar Allen Poe, it’s good enough for us. Today we’re going to get as much sassy Southern food and Poe-riffic ghost stories as you can shake a flying squirrel at. (The Richmond Flying Squirrels are the local baseball team.) Just follow me!

24 hours in Richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

Where to Stay

When I was enjoying my 24 hours in Richmond itinerary, I found the prices at Downtown Richmond hotels to be a little crazy. So I opted to stay slightly outside of town at the lovely Virginia Crossings property. It was easy to get an Uber here to and from the rest of Virginia, and I still saved money on my room.

Plus, the grounds were beautiful, quiet, and safe, and my room had a nearby ice machine and a coffee maker in the room, which is totally all I care about.

You can book a room in this lovely hotel yourself by clicking here. Or if you’d rather explore great deals on tons of other hotels in Richmond, just click here. I’m sure you’ll find something in your price range for your 24 hours in Richmond itinerary.

24 hours in richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

Shopping List

  • An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures all during your 24 hours in Richmond itinerary.
  • The best guidebook to Virginia, with DC even thrown in as a bonus.
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
  • Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by Johnny Reb during your 24 hours in Richmond itinerary.
24 hours in richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

Morning: Poe Museum

Edgar Allen Poe is one of those drunken incestuous oddballs whom everyone wants to claim as their own. There are monuments to him in Philadelphia, Baltimore, NYC, Charleston…basically everywhere he ever went. Baltimore even named their football team after him!

But for my money, the best Poe related attraction in the country is the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia, so that’s where we begin our 24 hours in Richmond itinerary. Here you can learn all about the oddest person ever to become his country’s most celebrated poet! (Actually there might be stranger poets than Poe. Poets are pretty weird people.)

I will be delighted to share a few of the fun facts I learned at the Poe Museum! But first…breakfast!

24 hours in richmond itinerary
24 Hour Treat: Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa is one of the most celebrated bakeries in all of Richmond. At the moment they are only doing take-away, but it’s worth it to come here and try one of the most delicious pastries you can ever wrap your gums around. Where else would you want to start your 24 hours in Richmond itinerary?

Above you see my fig and cheese croissant which was simply too elegant with its sweet and savory filling and unbelievably flaky crust. I even made the mistake of ordering it with hot coffee on an 89 degree day in Richmond, but the pastry was so good that I didn’t care my coffee was roasting me alive.

And now we are fed, we are ready for…

Three Fun Facts: Poe Museum

24 hours in richmond itinerary
1) Why is This Museum So Cool?

Well, first of all it’s run by some absolute Poe fiends. Poe didn’t actually live in the house where the museum is located, but the museum is full of precious artifacts that belonged to Poe-seph him. The attention to detail in the replicas is just incredible.

Look at that garden in my photo above! That garden is completely based on a poem by Poe called “The Enchanted Garden”. But I can neither confirm nor deny that there are actually any magical creatures present in that garden at this time.

On top of that, your admission to the museum includes a nifty audio tour, so you’ll get all the information about Poe that you could possibly want. You can even use the money you save because of the free tour to buy some candles in the gift shop. (All the candles are named after Poe poems. I bet you can guess what The Cask of Amontillado candle smells like.)

24 hours in richmond itinerary
2) What Was Poe’s Childhood Like?

Poe had a very sad childhood. He was abandoned by his father and grew up with his mother who was a Celebrated and Scandalous actress. She died tragically young of a Wasting Disease–we will learn more about this on our ghost tour tonight–and so Poe was left to be raised by a mean foster father in Richmond.

As a result, Poe became obsessed with writing about beautiful women dying young. “Quoth the raven, nevermore,” indeed. He fell in love when he was young, but his fiancee decided to marry someone else. (They actually reconnected and became engaged again shortly before his death.) So to answer your question, Poe’s childhood was pretty rough. But who needs love when you have tons of money from writing creepy poetry, as the Beatles said.

24 hours in richmond itinerary
3) Are There Lots of Creepy Things at the Poe Museum?

Creepier than this black cat wandering around the museum for no reason? Not sure. But yes, there’s plenty of creepy to go around.

After Edgar Allen Poe’s first love dumped him, he went on to marry his…teenage cousin! I think that’s plenty creepy, although I guess it was more normal in the 19th century. She went on to die young, just like the women in his poem. (Honestly, why has no one written a mystery novel about Poe murdering his wife to recreate his poetry? You could call the book Nevermore!)

Poe himself died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 40. In fact, no one knows exactly why he died. The museum has a sign with all the theories about how he died from Brain Lesions to Tubercular Meningitis. Sadly, “Oswald Acting Alone” is not one of the theories.

24 hours in richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

Afternoon: American Civil War Museum

Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, so you can’t come here without visiting the excellent Civil War Museum. There are several different branches of this museum, but the one I recommend for the purposes of this itinerary is called the Tredegar Branch. You can find more information about it here.

Tredegar was the largest ironworks for the Confederacy, so it’s a massive building and the perfect place to learn about the Civil War in Richmond. But yes, I promise to get you lunch first.

24 hours in richmond itinerary
24 Hour Treat: Lunch at Whisk

We’ve already visited one amazing bakery in Richmond today, so why not try another? And we’re having an earlyish dinner, so we will want something light like a sandwich. That’s why I recommend getting that sandwich at Whisk.

I chose the Richmonder sandwich, since this is a Richmond itinerary, which came with turkey, cheddar, and bacon aioli. I honestly don’t know what says “Richmond” about any of those things, but they all tasted delicious together. My favorite part was the bacon aioli which adds a special amount of salt and fat. Salt and fat is really as you need in life, as my grandmother used to say.

And now that we’ve had lunch, let’s continue to the Civil War Museum and learn more than…

Three Not Fun Facts: American Civil War Museum

24 hours in richmond itinerary
1) Were There Any Cool Spy Stories?

This was a war, so of course there were cool spy stories. My favorite was about Mary Richards, who was a free Black woman who spied on the Confederacy for the Union. She posed as a laundry woman in the Confederate Executive Mansion and got access to their secret documents that way. Then she passed on the information to the rest of the network of Union spies.

In fact, the leader of the Union spies was a Richmond woman named Elizabeth Van Lew. I had no idea that women played such a large role in espionage in this war. I’d rather see a biopic of these women than another James Bond movie. Why don’t we call the Mary Richards biopic The Spy Who Loved Me? I feel sure that’s not taken.

24 hours in richmond itinerary
2) Do They Talk About the Confederacy?

Yes, but you don’t need to worry about any Lost Cause ideology at this museum. The American Civil War Museum is very upfront about how the Confederacy was motivated by the desire to keep Black Americans enslaved, and that’s why they seceded from the Union after Abraham Lincoln was elected president.

The Confederate government was also deluded about their ability to successfully wage war against the rest of the United States. There’s even an exhibit on how the South thought they could make sure slavery would remain strong through the rest of the Americas, even though Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829, and slavery had been abolished in English and French colonies shortly after that.

But by the end of the Civil War, the Confederate army was so weak and in need of soldiers that they were conscripting their teenage boys to fight the Union. (You can see the uniform of a Confederate teenage soldier above.)

24 hours in richmond itinerary
3) What Was the Most Dangerous Part of the War?

According to the museum, the military prisons were more dangerous than the battlefield. That’s because prisons were overcrowded and became a breeding ground for disease. Thank God for modern medicine and vaccines, so almost of the diseases that killed Civil War soldiers are treatable now.

You can see one photo of a famous Civil War prisoner above, and you might be surprised to notice that she is a woman. Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was the first female surgeon in the US Army, and she is still the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor. She was captured by Confederates and held prisoner in Richmond for several months. Again, where is this woman’s biopic? We can call it Casino Royale or Goldfinger. (Email me if you think of a better option.)

24 hours in richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

Early Evening: Dinner at Shagbark

We’ve got a fun evening activity ahead on our 24 hours in Richmond Itinerary. (Spoiler alert! It involves ghosts and Edgar Allen Poe. Boo!) So we’re going to get an early dinner at one of the most popular restaurants in Richmond: Shagbark. This delightful place specializes in modern versions of Southern classics, like the Shagbark sour you see pictured above.

24 hours in richmond itinerary

And what could be more Southern than an appetizer of fried green tomatoes? These tomatoes were sturdy enough to hold up perfectly to being fried. They were made even more delicious by being served with tangy blue cheese, bitter dinosaur kale, and sweet roasted tomatoes, so you get all the flavors in one. And of course, the whole thing is on top of grits. This app is so Southern it hurts, y’all!

24 hours in richmond itinerary

For the main, I selected this pork chop with Vidalia onions, summer squash casserole, ham and stewed pole beans, and bourbon BBQ sauce. Aside from the fact that this has every Southern ingredient that wasn’t included in our appetizer, I loved the many enjoyable textures in the dish, especially the squishy squash.

Also, they let me take home some of the pork chop so I could stick it in my hotel fridge and eat it for breakfast the next day. Thanks, Shagbark!

24 hours in richmond itinerary

And finally, we have a lovely blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. After the Pork Chop That Ate Richmond, this was the perfect light and sweet treat, especially since I went to Shagbark right in the middle of blackberry season.

24 hours in richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

Haunted Capitol Hill Ghost Tour

Remember how I said we were having an early dinner on our 24 hours in Richmond itinerary? Well, be ready to be back on Capitol Hill at 7:30 so our Haunted Capitol Hill Ghost Tour can begin! (If you’re visiting during the summer months, like I did, the sun will definitely set during the tour.)

If you’re looking for a creepy and fun side of Richmond history, this is definitely the tour for you! You can book the tour easily yourself by clicking here. (The company has other ghost tours available, but this tour was the only one of theirs that I tried.)

Once you’ve got your ticket, get ready for your guide to show you the main sights of the Capitol Hill area while entertaining you with ghost stories that may or may not be true. I absolutely will not spoil all the stories, but I will share with you…

Three Spooky Non-Facts: 24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary Edition

24 hours in richmond itinerary
1) Is This Hotel Haunted?

YES! Apparently there are at least two ghosts at this hotel. One is the former owner, who loved his hotel so much he could never leave. Apparently his ghost likes to show up when people get married at this hotel and check on the wedding. (Note to self: do not get married at the Berkeley Hotel in Richmond, Virginia.)

Another ghost is a woman who used to live in the Berkeley. Her mean kids made her move out of the hotel into an Old Folks Home and then she died of misery. You suck, mean kids! But now the ghost is happy because she can haunt the Berkeley as much as she wants and no one charges her for the room. Hmm. That almost makes death sound pleasant. After all, when you’re dead, there are no bills to pay.

24 hours in richmond itinerary
2) Is The Virginia Governor’s Mansion Haunted?

YES! Apparently on a bleak night many decades ago, a beautiful woman was leaving a party at the Virginia governor’s mansion, only to be killed in a carriage accident of some sort. (This was in the tyme before automobiles.) Now this lady strolls about the governor’s mansion on occasion, especially if there is a party. (Note to self: do not become the governor of Virginia.)

You might be a little bit skeptical of this story, and I myself can never be sure that ghosts are real. But you know who does think ghosts are real? The wife of former governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine. (Mr. Kaine is currently one of the senators from Virginia, and he also served as Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016.)

Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, lived in the governor’s mansion twice: once as the wife of the governor and once as the daughter of the governor. (Her dad was Linwood Holton, elected governor in 1969.) Wife and daughter of a governor? Sounds like she has a fascinating life! Where’s her biopic? I say we call it Live and Let Die.

24 hours in richmond itinerary
3) Is Edgar Allen Poe a Ghost?

MAYBE! The last stop on our 24 hours in Richmond itinerary is the Monumental Church, dedicated to the victims of a horrible fire that took place on this spot in 1811. This fire broke out in a crowded theater, which I’m pretty sure is one of the worst possible spots for a fire to break out in.

But our guide told us that the fire could have claimed even more lives. Edgar Allen Poe’s mother, the Scandalous Actress, sometimes performed at this theater, and indeed she might have been performing there that night, except she was sick. If she had performed, Little Child Edgar would have been there watching the show. Many children who died in the fire were never identified, so it’s possible that Poe’s name would have been lost to history. Nevermore!

There were tons more interesting ghost stories I learned, but you’ll just have to take the tour yourself to find out what they were.

24 hours in Richmond itinerary

24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary

How to Get There?

By Car: This is an easy way to get to your one day in Richmond itinerary, if you are coming from somewhere else on the East Coast in the United States. You can drive here easily from Washington DC, Baltimore, or even North Carolina.

However, I don’t know how to drive, so this wasn’t an option for me. Fortunately Uber is widely available in Richmond. If you need to rent a car, you can use the search engine Expedia to find the best price from the available car rental companies.

24 hours in richmond

By Plane: Fortunately, there is an airport in Richmond! I have never needed to use it because I live close enough to Richmond to get there by bus and train. But if you’re coming from far away, you can fly directly into the city. (Again, I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.)

By Train or Bus: I used the Amtrak train to get from Baltimore to my 24 hours in Richmond itinerary, and it was easier than riding George Washington’s horse. If you live on the East Coast, I definitely think taking the train to Richmond is the way to go.

I have also taken the Wanda Coach bus from NYC to Richmond, but I didn’t find it to be as reliable as Amtrak. Oh, you’ll get to your destination! But when will you get there? Hard to say! Still, if you’re on a really tight budget, this might be your only option.

24 hours in Richmond itinerary

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Richmond Itinerary!

What would you do on a 24 hours in Richmond itinerary? Did Edgar Allen Poe murder his child bride? And would you eat a porkchop for breakfast? Email me at [email protected] and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should only spend a 24 hours in Richmond itinerary.