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Day Trips to Take Within an Hour of Richmond

We love Richmond and we love Virginia Commonwealth University, but sometimes we all need a little break from the same old place. This is especially true for freshmen who live in the dorms and aren’t allowed a car anymore (thanks, new stupid rule). It’s quite easy to get cabin fever up in here. There is so much to do in Richmond, but once you do most of the activities, it becomes hard to feel like you have anything fresh to do. So hop in your car (or your upperclassman friend’s car, little freshman) and drive off into the sunset towards these wonderful excursions below.

1. Petersburg, Va.

Petersburg is about 20 minutes south of Richmond, and it is one of the most historic cities in Virginia. Most of the buildings there were constructed around the Civil War era, allowing for beautiful architecture. Don’t let the slightly run-down-ness of the city discourage you – it is full of beauty, mystery and history. Start your day off with a coffee at Demolition on Bank Street, serving up a local favorite – Lamplighter roasts. The Dirty Banana is honestly to die for – banana, soy milk and caramel blended with espresso and ice. And, their breakfast options will also leave you extremely satisfied. If you’re in the mood for a doughnut or pastry instead of the breakfast options at Demolition, try Buttermilk Bake Shop a couple doors down. Their doughnut sandwiches filled with fresh fruit and creme are like something out of a French film. Next, I suggest you go for a walk up the hill that stands opposite of Demolition and Buttermilk. There is a stretch of adorable bungalow houses from the 1920’s and a gorgeous brick mansion slightly up the hill. If you’re in the mood to shop, Petersburg is full of mostly antique shops, and they all have pretty good deals and interesting finds. Whenever you start to get hungry for lunch, head on over to either Dixie’s restaurant or Saucy’s BBQ, which is right near Demolition. Dixie’s will make you feel like you’re in a 1950’s movie and Saucy’s will leave you wanting to quit your job and smoke meat for a living. If you’re of drinking age, both Trapezium Brewing Co. and AMMO Brewing call Petersburg home, so enjoy, you legal people.

2. Charlottesville, Va.

Charlottesville has a stretch of restaurants and shops that is surrounded by cute little vintage houses and, of course, the University of Virginia. Upon pulling up to Charlottesville, you may want to refresh with a nice juice. The Juice Place, as simple as that sounds, is essentially the Pit and Peel of Charlottesville, and they have impressionable smoothies and juices. They even have a beet latte – cold brew espresso blended with fresh pressed organic beet juice, agave nectar and unsweetened almond milk. Wowza. Once you’re all juiced up, take a walk down to the shops. There’s an Urban Outfitters for the chain girl of course, but there’s also many antique shops and vintage shops for the unconventional type. Low is an underground palace chock full of records and one of a kind vintage clothing. I met the lead singer of the rock group Franz Ferdinand in there over the summer, which shows you how cool it is. Sadly, like Petersburg, there are not a lot of clothing stores in Charlottesville so we may have to stay in Richmond for our threads. Whenever you start to get hungry again, pop into one of the tasty lunch places around town, such as Bizou, which serves up modern southern fare in a classic diner atmosphere. If you still have room, jog on over to Splendora’s Gelato Cafe and try one of their almost 40 flavors they have available daily. After that, check to see if there’s a show playing at the Jefferson Theater and rock the night away.

3. Fredericksburg, Va.

Ah, Fredericksburg. What a sweet city. It’s area known as “old town” is the center for shops and restaurants. I have considered moving to Fredericksburg many times because of how adorable this area is. Start your day off with a smoothie or coffee from Hyperion Espresso, and always try one of their many, many seasonal specials. Next, it’s time to do some shopping. Forage is a wonderful, classy consignment shop similar to Clementine in Carytown, but they also sell vintage clothing. They have an amazing sale rack that is always around 75 percent off. Antique shops are also prevalent in Fredericksburg, so if you are into those, have a wack at it. Next, try hitting up the local pool hall. That’s right. An original vintage pool hall/hangout for the college students called The Recreation Center. It’s been there since 1940, which just melts my heart. If you’re hungry for lunch, try Foode, which is located in an old bank with the vault open. Trippy, no? The food is almost upscale American, but still affordable and approachable. For dessert, walk on over to The Frenchman’s Corner for a decadent piece of chocolate. They always have many seasonal truffles, but my favorite is reoccurring – dark chocolate with dried violets on top. Before you go, drop into a tea place who houses frogs called the Pa Dutch Tea & Spice Company​. Yes, you heard right. Big frogs, little frogs, they have it all. And how about you pick up two ounces of your favorite chai tea while you’re in?

Take a break from your average day in Richmond and head to one of these Virginia gems!

Photo credit: Cover, 1, 2, 3

Madeline Wheeler is a journalist major with a focus in print and online journalism at VCU. In her free time, she enjoys drinking floral teas, going to underground concerts in smoky basements, and hunting for keys to the past in antique stores.
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