Day Trip to a Southern Commonwealth Capitol (Part 1)
On the banks of the James River in Virginia, Richmond is a city rich in American history. Founded in 1737, Richmond has seen much of this country’s history. During the American Civil War, Richmond served as a capitol city for the Confederacy. Since then, it has grown to a city of roughly 200,000 people and is the capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Being a city on the smaller end of the spectrum, you can find a central spot to park and explore on foot. Being as I needed the exercise, that’s what I did. I found a parking lot near The Greater Richmond Convention Center, grabbed my bag, and headed out for the morning portion of this day trip.
At the visitor’s center located at the convention center, I stocked up on brochures, pamphlets, and tourist maps. I spoke with the lady working there, and she pointed me in the direction of a lot of interesting sites and things to do. You could easily turn a trip to Richmond into a multiple day event. Afterwards, I wandered through the small gift shop and posed for the obligatory picture with my head in a wall.
On this trip, I brought my 12-year-old son, who is interested in what I am doing and wants to be involved behind the scenes. He also adds a bit of comic relief to my life. As we made our way towards the Virginia State Capitol Building, we passed several historic churches and some old theaters.
As we entered the area of the Capitol, we were greeted by The George Washington Equestrian Monument. Unfortunately for us, some much needed restoration work was going on, so we were unable to see much of its glory.
Along the rear of the Capitol Building, there are several statues and memorials. They included Maj. Gen. William Smith C.S.A., Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson C.S.A., and Hunter Holmes McGuire, M.D. There is also the beautiful Virginia Civil Rights Monument. It’s nice to see all aspects of our history being presented and supported.
Before making our way to the front of the Capitol, we stopped to admire Virginia’s Executive Mansion. Completed in 1813 and restored in 1999, this Federal-style Executive Mansion is the oldest serving governor residence in the U.S.
Coming around the front of the Capitol, which is the center of Virginia’s political leadership, we were given wonderful views of the Oliver Hill Building and the U.S. Court of Appeals. I love the architecture of these buildings. They simply don’t build them like this anymore, which is sad.
The scale and the beauty of the Virginia State Capitol Building are massive. As much as I love the design and layout of this building, I feel like they could use a little bit of color. Anyone got a paint brush?
Instead of touring the inside of the Capitol, we chose to stroll through the Shockoe area of downtown. As we passed many buildings that have been renovated, restored, and updated, we eventually find ourselves at Richmond’s Canal Walk.
The Canal seems to follow the original canal that allowed for barges to bypass the falls on the James River. Similar to other canal or river walks, the path is well maintained and used. You see everything from couples taking a stroll, to people jogging, and people riding bikes. Having grown up in a city on the water, canal and river walks like this make me feel at home.
By this time, lunch was on our minds. We talked over all of our options and chose to follow a suggestion given to us at the visitor’s center. We made our way back to the car and headed a few miles out to a barbeque joint called Buz and Ned’s.
My absolute favorite style of food is barbeque. As we pulled up, we could see the outside grills and smokers working. The smell was absolutely mouthwatering.
Inside, we were met by an awesome staff who greeted us and asked where we were from. After a short exchange of short conversation and ordering our food, we found a booth and prepared for our feast. I ordered a large pork sandwich with fries and baked beans and my son got a small brisket sandwich with fries and corn bread. Needless to say, we were VERY pleased with our food.
With our bellies full, we began to discuss where to go next and what to do with the rest of our day before we made the three-hour trip back north. We looked through the brochures and pamphlets and my son chose a location he really wanted to visit. So we decided to drive a few miles back and visit a 15th century Tudor-style hall that was originally in Lancashire, England. We were going to go and visit Agecroft Hall!