Hi all, I moved to Richmond 17 years ago. In my free time, I love to travel, attend the many Richmond food festivals, and sleep -- because frankly naps are underrated! Since 2016 I've run UnlockingRVA, to help dispel the rumor that “there is nothing to do in Richmond.”
Enjoy unlocking these awesome date night ideas! - Faith Wilkerson
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Oct. 13-15
1. The Richmond Folk Festival
One of Virginia’s most popular events, the Richmond Folk Festival makes its triumphant return this weekend. For three days you can “celebrate the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance traditional crafts, storytelling and food.” Find me as a judge at the Step Team competition on The Community Foundation Stage judging the Step Team competition at The Community Foundation Stage on Saturday at 3. When you do, let me know how your dating life is going! I may have some on-the-spot suggestions. And check out OG’s Folk Festival Guide for Romantics!
2. Comedian Mike Epps
Although Petersburg is about 30 minutes outside of Richmond, I wanted to put a newly added entertainment arena on your radar for events. Last year, Virginia State University added a multipurpose center, which serves as host to “athletic events, live concerts, family shows, trade shows, and more.” This weekend, actor and comedian Mike Epps makes his way into town alongside Sommore and Bruce Bruce.
3. 15-Year Verses Anniversary
Richmond’s longest running poetry event, Tuesday Verses, celebrates its 15th anniversary and it should not be missed. It will be a night filled with live poetry and outstanding music. May I even suggest stopping into to local favorite Bottoms Up Pizza for a bite before heading in. My absolute favorite is its signature white sauce pizza, the Chesapeake.
4. Foo Fighters at the Richmond Coliseum
The Foo Fighters are making their way into the Richmond Coliseum for their Concrete and Gold tour. After the rock show you can keep the music flowing by popping into Vagabond to hear the band Camp Howard and grab some food from the late-night menu.
5. Festival of India
If I’ve ever stated the words, “this is hands down my favorite festival,” I am truly sorry because well, I lied. The Festival of India truly holds the No. 1 spot for my heart each and every time. The event is truly the perfect blend of cultural food, music and Indian traditions. My favorite thing to grab is the vegetable Samosas from India Karaja and to visit the out-of-this-world market, which sells beautiful jewelry and handmade garments.
6. Kickin’ Chicken Wing Festival
Ready to heat things up? The 4th Annual Kickin' Chicken WingFest is back this weekend and boasting as Richmond’s “biggest tailgate party.” This festival has it all: multiple wing vendors, a wide beer selection and most of all, football! See the Washington Redskins take on the San Francisco 49ers on the big screen throughout the event. This is the perfect outing for any couple that battles about how to spend their Sunday afternoon.
7. Henrico Restaurant Week
Henrico will not be silenced when it comes to some of the amazing restaurants the county has to offer. You have the remainder of the weekend to try out places like Charles’s Kitchen and Deep Run Road House. With lunch and dinner prices ranging from $10-$30, you have room to pick more than one dinner option for the weekend. Which is great considering that there are three full days to take advantage of.
8. Coffee Then Lipstick
I want to let you in on an amazing event happening Oct. 25, from 7-9 a.m. Richmond businesses Coffee with Strangers, Lou Stevens Glam Squad and Capture Photography would like to treat some deserving local women to mini makeovers before they head into work. This is a chance for them to win a full makeover, photo shoot, “Coffee with Strangers” interview and dinner for two from the Richmond Hospitality Group! All you have to do is nominate a woman you think deserves to be spoiled. So
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Oct. 6-8
1. Drop Some Hints at the Richmond Parade of Homes
You’re ready to take things to the next level. Want to send a not-so-subtle signal? Try the 66th annual Parade of Homes! The Richmond Home Building Association gives you a chance to view 91 homes on a self-guided tour, offering an “opportunity to see innovative ideas, spectacular design features and floor plans, and master craftsmanship.” It happens throughout October and viewing each property is free. Happy hint-dropping!
2. Spell it L-O-V-E at “Akeelah and the Bee.”
You should know by now I firmly believe that sometimes dates should include the kiddies. Until Nov. 5, the Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn is performing “Akeelah and the Bee.” This play is based on the 2006 film that follows Akeelah’s travels to Chicago for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. At the very least you’ll walk out being able to spell words you can wow your coworkers with at the water cooler Monday. Did I also mention that Duck Donuts is steps away? Now that’s i-n-c-e-n-t-i-v-e.
3. Prepare to Scare Together
I can’t believe it’s already time for Halloween. OccasionGenius keeps you posted on all the seasonal scares, but there are a few catching my attention now. The first is The Veil Brewing Co.’s Outdoor Horror Movie Nights every Friday in October. It features “The Shining,” “The Sixth Sense” and more -- and kettle popcorn is provided! Another one to watch is The Hof’s Halloween Masquerade Party on Saturday, Oct. 28. Admission in advance is $20 and includes three levels of horror and two drink tickets.
4. Get Handsy at the RVA MakerFest
The RVA MakerFest returns to the Science Museum of Virginia on Saturday, Oct. 7, for a free, family-friendly event “featuring hands-on demonstrations in robotics, science, art, technology, engineering, sustainability, food, music and fashion.” Afterward, head across the street to Lalo’s Cocina. There’s a menu item called El Guarache and it is so delicious.
5. Enjoy Music and Culture at the 2nd Street Festival
This marks the 29th year for the 2nd Street Festival, which celebrates Richmond’s Historic Jackson Ward area. This can be an action-packed weekend featuring music performances, Zumba and line-dancing demonstrations, and of course, lots of food vendors. I particularly love that of this year’s performances are homegrown acts.
6. Kiss Amid the Petals at the Rose Festival
Imagine you and your date walking through a “winding path of 1,800 roses.” Sounds amazing, right? The Rose Fest at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden promises to heighten all of your senses with entertainment from the Latin Ballet of Virginia, and gives you another chance to see Butterflies LIVE before it disappears Oct. 15. This sounds like the perfect Sunday afternoon.
7. Explore the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen
I absolutely love the year round entertainment offered by the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. On any given week there could be an art exhibition, concerts, a play and several modern and classic dance performances. I’m looking forward to “Pinocchio” on Oct. 14, by the Virginia Repertory Theatre. Strangely, I’m most curious to see how they’ll make his nose grow right before our eyes.
8. Celebrate Virginia Wine Month
The entire month of October is dedicated to Virginia wine! I know, I just became really excited too. This month-long celebration the perfect time for you and your mate to not only enjoy some award winning wine, but also take in the amazing “landscape, rich history and fine dining” of our glorious state. Through the Virginia Wine website can focus on certain regions and see all the events to attend. In this area, click on Central Virginia. The options are almost endless.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 29-Oct. 1
1. The State Fair of Virginia
The State Fair of Virginia is back this weekend for 10 days of nonstop fun at Meadow Event Park. I can’t think of a better reason to ride a Ferris wheel, eat elephant ears and drink some hot cider all at the same time. I suggest waiting to go Friday, Oct. 6, to take advantage of Barn Appetit, when you can enjoy a ”farm-to-fork dinner in Meadow Hall mansion featuring locally sourced foods and craft libations."
2. Virginia Comicon
I hear the couple that Cosplays together stays together. On Saturday, Sept. 30, you can celebrate your favorite superheroes, zombies and comic book characters all in one place -- Virginia Comicon. The best part? Kids 12 and younger are free! I love a date night that can truly serve as a night out for the whole family. Please note dressing up is optional, but how cool would your family look dressing up as the Incredibles?
3. Drag BINGO
Diversity Richmond raises funds throughout the year to “support local nonprofit, LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+-friendly community-based organizations.” Its Drag Bingo event is such a fun way to support a great cause and have a little fun playing the ultimate game of chance. I love that they also have some of the top drag performers in Richmond. Mark your calendar for Friday, Sept. 29, and make sure to save up those one dollar bills, as the performers love to be tipped.
4. Grapes and Hops Festival
I know this blog is about having great dates in Richmond, but every now and then I have to push you to travel outside of the city, even if it's only 30 miles. It’s also because I love wine, there I said it! On Saturday, Sept. 30, head down to the Grapes and Hops Festival in historic downtown Petersburg. I hear one of my favorites, Mattaponi Winery will be on hand and serving up their Makadewamin (blackberry) fruit wine.
5. Blue Grass and Blue Crab Festival
This event had me a “Blue Crab." For one price you head in to a date night with live music, steam spiced crabs and beer and wine! The Blue Grass and Blue Crab Festival also is family friendly and features clowns, magicians and even a silent auction.
6. Festival of Light at VMFA
Celebrate the Hindu holiday Diwali or “Festival of Light” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts this weekend. I love this event because it gives you and your date a chance to make “an Indian-inspired lantern in preparation for 1708 Gallery’s annual InLight exhibition” taking place in November. Every year, InLight “features performances, sculpture and interactive projects that illuminate pathways, walls, sidewalks, green spaces.”
During the month of October, CultureWorks brings us artoberVA. Throughout the month you and your significant other can catch various art or cultural experiences happening in the Richmond area. I am most excited about the Tattoo Festival happening on Sunday, Oct. 1. The event usually features some of the top tattoo artists, live painting and an auction for charity.
8. Modlin Center for the Arts
Did know the University of Richmond is home to the Modlin Center for the Arts? Throughout the year it serves as a host to live concerts, plays and highly regarded guest speakers. I/m really looking forward to the Festival of South African Dance, which features “20 dancers accompanied by live musicians, the Gumboots and Pantsula Dance Companies."
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 22-24
1. Share the Awe at RVA Street Art Festival
If you love the amazing murals across town, then this weekend’s RVA Street Festival will knock your socks off. The group is turning the Flying Squirrels baseball stadium “into a canvas of mixed-media art -- including painted murals, projection lighting and landscape art.” Concerts, food and beer trucks and other activities for all ages are included.
2. Get Thee to Publick Days
As I’m sure you know, Virginia is filled with tons of history. This weekend you can head to Henricus Historical Park to watch “living history re-enactments, military drills and musket firings.” You can even tour a replica of Godspeed, a 17th-century Jamestown Settlement ship. While out there, I suggest checking out Chesterfield’s Dutch Gap Trail. You can hike, bike and ride horses along its 4.5 miles.
What a better way to bond than by giving back to others. On Saturday, Sept. 23, HandsOn Greater Richmond wants you to Give a Day RVA. You and your partner can choose a project at one of 55 nonprofit and community partner sites and spend the day making a big difference. One thing I love is the DIY projects -- you can knock them out ahead of the event if you find yourself unable to commit to the full day.
If you’ve never attended Virginia’s annual PrideFest, then you’re missing out. It’s the state’s largest LGBTQ+ celebration -- and it’s free to everyone at Brown’s Island. Just like many of our local festivals (see 10 fantastic fall festivals in Richmond here), you’ll find food vendors, a variety of activities and lots of great entertainment. With the event being set against the background of the James River, you just can’t lose.
Did you know that Richmond has an Artisan Pickle Club? It has monthly meetings where members literally share and all things pickled! You may want to save this outing for date No. 3, once you’ve ensured your mate likes things a little briny! The group’s Pickled & Fermented celebration kicks off this weekend at Ashland brewery Center of the Universe. Come say hi -- I’m a judge, currently prepping to try all of the pickled goodness.
Sunday brunches at Mama J’s have returned -- and this time, I hope it’s to stay. If you enjoy the restaurant’s normal menu, then you’ll fall in love with these brunch options and so will your date. Classics like catfish, chicken, waffles, grits, baked apples and more will be available on the all-you-can-eat buffet. And because you can’t have brunch without a mimosa or bloody Mary, there’s a full bar on hand as well!
Have you experienced the improved Vagabond restaurant yet? It’s recently revamped the menu to a more southern dining experience. It’s also ramped up nightly entertainment options in the Rabbit Hole speakeasy, where you can “enjoy the best jazz, blues, and R&B that metro Richmond has to offer.” Speaking of live music, did you know Vagabond was right next door to The National? I suggest checking out its performance schedule to create a full night of fun.
The Coalition Theater is home to live comedy as well as a place to take improv and other comedic classes to sharpen your skills. This theater should stay on your date-night rotation because it provides fresh content each week. Shows touch on everything from gender to race and sexuality in fun ways that anyone can appreciate. You’ll have lots to talk about afterward.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 14-17
The Afrikana Film Festival makes its way back to Richmond this weekend, creating the potential for some special date nights. I suggest taking full advantage of the Saturday Shorts and end the night at the festival’s after-party, being held at the Hofheimer. On tap is a Blue Mountain Octoberfest draft you just have to try!
I love how Lewis Ginter is stepping up its weekly events. You can “learn how to use smoked, charred and grilled produce from the late summer harvest to create a delicious craft cocktail” on Thursday, Sept. 14. This class is a part of the Garden to Glass series that will be going well into the fall months. So if you can’t make this one check ahead for October and November!
Want to head into this year’s Oktoberfest and impress your date? Just hold out and your cup and proudly shout, “Mehr Bier”! I bet you never thought you’d learn a new language through this blog! With plenty of German delights like pretzels, potato pancakes, pastries from Reinecker’s Bakery and endless imported beer this is one date you are sure to enjoy to the max.
Who says you can’t get a little rainbow dirty on a date? The Color Vibe 5k is a fun race where all levels are welcomed to come out and have a little colorful fun! Throughout the course you’re sprayed with an array of nontoxic paint powder colors. Once you reach the end a DJ awaits to get the party started.
The 43rd Street Festival of the Arts is filled with fine arts, crafts, music and food. Because it’s located in Forest Hill Park, you and your date also can take advantage of the 3-mile track for a stroll, or take in a view of the James River.
There’s no museum like the Valentine. It’s the best place to learn about Richmond’s 400-year-old history. Running until 2018, you can catch a dynamic exhibit called “Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond.”
With more than 100,000 Latinos living in the area representing an array of backgrounds, this presentation allows you to take a glimpse into their movement into the city and how they began to transform our culture.
Before you leave, stop by the gift shop, where many local artisans have specialty Richmond products for sale.
I’m so excited about the latest food crazes making their way to Richmond. Rolled ice cream is definitely at the top of the list. I could describe exactly what rolled ice cream is, but I want it to be a surprise date-night for the both of you.
Let’s just say this little piece of heaven may be hard to miss, so here’s what you should do. Pop into the local Korean grill Zzaam, preferably on a Tuesday when its delicious tacos are only $2. Now, before you walk to your car, look for a set of blue pop-up tents and smiling faces on the corners of Cary Street and South Dooley! Enjoy!
In my opinion, staycations have the ability to truly help you appreciate the surroundings you take for granted daily. Between the rooftop bar, wine tastings and its weekly $55 dinner for two special, the Quirk Hotel can be the perfect choice for a weekend getaway if things rae getting serious. And if you really want to show off, spring for the Terrace King Room, where you have your own private patio to catch the sunset each day.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 8-10
1. Feel the Armenian Love
One of the many things I love about Richmond is that festival season seems to go on forever. The 59th Annual Armenian Food Festival returns to St. James Armenian Church this weekend, laying out the perfect date needs: music, food and wine! I like you, so I’m going to share my annual concession order with you. Pay attention. Are you ready? It’s simple: Order the Hye Burger with a side of Lupia and Pilaf. For dessert, remember the Bourma and grab a bottle of the Khoran wine to wash everything down. Trust me when I say it’s worth every single bite and sip!
2. Come Out of Your Shell in Shockoe
Do you see what I mean? The festivals are never ending! The annual Shockoe on a Half Shell heads back to Shockoe Bottom on Sunday, Sept. 10, giving you a chance to try smoked, grilled, roasted or fried oysters -- or every style. Personally, I’m hoping that featured vendor The Boathouse will have its delicious Oysters Rockefeller to serve up, because let’s face it, everything taste better with bacon!
3. Check Out the Beer and Wine Classic at Maymont
Each year Maymont is the host to the Beer and Wine Classic. You can sample beer and wine from across Virginia while enjoying live music and an entire “game zone” from ClubWaka Richmond. Such local restaurants as Slideways Mobile Bistro and Continental Divide also will be on hand serving up the good eats.
4. Get Your NASCAR On
Unless you live under a rock you’re probably aware that Richmond is home to several NASCAR races through the year. This weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY series will hit the raceway for some roaring fun. There are multiple ticket packages to choose from, like the Saturday Drive Intro Pass which allows you to “get up close to all 40 drivers and be able to stand on the track just minutes before the green flag is waved.” My only advice: Remember the earplugs.
5. Take Drink Richmond for a Spin
I had the amazing opportunity to try out “Richmond’s Ultimate Educational Drinking Experience” called Drink Richmond. New to town, the tours allow you to meet new people while enjoying beverages from such places as Buskey Cider, James River Distillery and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. Along with the tastings, each stop also serves as a time to learn more about each company and their products in detail. I also love how Drink Richmond allows you get together 14 of your friends for your own private tasting tours. Smells like a couples’ night out to me!
6. Get the Conversation Going with the Virginia Opera
Although not exclusive to the Richmond area, Virginia Opera’s new season is not to be missed. For starters, it’s kicking things off in October with the story of Samson and Delilah -- you know, the biblical story about an “Israelite warrior” who fell in love with a “Philistine seductress” who ended up cutting off exactly seven locks of his hair before turning him over to his enemies. To me this describes every Lifetime original movie I’ve ever seen. Imagine the intense conversation you could have with your date afterward. Perhaps even over a Lafayette sandwich down the block from the theater at Secret Sandwich Society. Word of advice: Go ahead and ask for the extra pickle once you’ve placed your order. Trust me!
7. Explore Hollywood Cemetery Together
No, this is a not a joke. I am actually suggesting that you visit a cemetery … on date … for fun! The Hollywood Cemetery truly serves as an amazing “outdoor museum” with many stories to share. And it’s actually the second-most-visited cemetery behind Arlington National Cemetery. It offers beautiful views of the James River and serves as the final resting place for two American presidents and six Virginia governors. I highly suggest trying out a 90-minute RVA Gem Car Tour to truly unlock some of the cemetery’s hidden stories.
8. Enjoy the James River Park System
Did you know there are more than 12 locations to explore the James River Park System throughout Richmond? The opportunities at each location are endless for “strolling, whitewater rafting, fishing, tubing, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, picnicking, rock climbing and photography.” (If you’re a runner, check out OG contributor Chad Williams’ favorite routes.) My favorites to visit this year by far were Texas Beach and Belle Isle. If you don’t want to venture off alone, don’t worry. There are year-round staffed recreational opportunities for all ages that can be found on the James River Park calendar.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for Sept. 1-4
1. Bond Over Fried Oreos
I love when fair season arrives because that means extra-large turkey legs and fried Oreos are right at my fingertips. The Chesterfield County Fair is in full swing through Saturday. A date there is sure to provide some playful fun, friendly competition, cool entertainment and lots of great food! I highly suggest the Longbranch Rodeo show. I never knew watching a cowboy get tossed into the air could be so entertaining.
2. Welcome September with First Fridays
RVA First Fridays is a year-round art walk that takes place at the top of each month. People turn out in droves to visit various galleries, locally owned stores and restaurants. For years the event was centered on downtown Richmond, but recently expanded south into the Manchester area. Check out 12th Street between Bainbridge and Porter Street on Sept. 1, from 4-10 p.m. for tons of music performances, food and art.
3. Bid Summer Adieu at the Bee
Richmond’s local urban cidery is sending off summer with a bang this weekend. On Saturday, Sept. 2, you and your date can taste Blue Bee Cider's new ginger-infused dessert cider, do a little shopping with the Mod & Soul boutique and best of all, grab a burger from my favorite food truck, Slideways. Its black-and-blue version is in my Top 10.
Make it a full weekend and pop back the next day for their Bagel Brunch with Nate’s Bagels. I highly suggest the sea salt bagle with the scallion cream cheese -- it's definitely my go-to any time it’s available.
4. Hear DJ Williams & Soulciety at the Broadberry
If you haven't seen the DJ Williams Projekt perform live, you're missing out! But here's your chance: He and his crew perform Saturday, Sept. 2, at the Broadberry. This can truly be a laid-back date night where you grab dinner, drinks and solid entertainment all in one casual environment. If the weather holds out, The Broadberry even has outdoor patio seating to take in some intimate moments before showtime!
5. Buy Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
Our beloved Richmond Flying Squirrels close out their season this weekend, but they promise to go out with a bang! At the end of most of this weekend’s games they'll be sending off fireworks. Let's hope it's to celebrate some big wins. And on Monday, Sept. 4, they'll host their annual Barks in the Park. Your pet gets in for free, and the first 2,000 folks get a magnet version of the Squirrels' 2018 schedule.
6. Take a Free Visit Through Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The Genworth Free Community Day at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden happens on Labor Day. And it's definitely a date you won't soon forget. First, let’s start with the fact that admission is waived. Next let’s discuss how in one day you can take Salsa/Bachata dance lessons, hear music from DJ Lonnie B and gain free access to the Butterflies LIVE and Wild Art exhibits.
Did I mention that all of this is free? Last year, King of Pops was on hand dishing out some amazing treats. I'm now closing my eyes wishing really hard they will return with the watermelon mojito popsicle.
7. Share Your Creative Sides at Studio Two Three
Studio Two Three serves as a great place for seemingly neverending date activities. It offers monthly events and weekly classes as wide-ranging as filmmaking, photography, screen printing and weaving. The best part is they're all affordable and open to any skill level. Which means you and your date can overdevelop film together as a team.
8. Warm Your Souls
I always try to offer up date ideas that can include of every type of couple. And Soul Aerial provides classes and special events for nearly everyone! Plus, there are so many reoccurring monthly classes and weekly events that you won't grow tired.
At their performing arts center you can do acro yoga, aerial hammock, hoop dance, Capoeira Angola -- and I'm pretty sure I just saw marketing for a new fire-eating class! I personal completed one of the pole dancing classes -- don’t you judge me -- and I had the time of my life. The people who make up the Soul Aerial team are so fun and really mean it when they say classes are for all learning levels.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for August 25-27
I must remind you a few more times of how great the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is for a date night. Did you know that each Friday you can head to the museum to hear live music and partake in half-priced beer and wine? You can even bring a blanket and food and hang out on the lawn. This is the final weekend of the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, you can get a buy one, get one free deal Friday from 5:30pm-8:30pm.
After watching the documentary “What the Health,” I began to question the meaning of my entire life! Thankfully, there's a new salad market in town called Good Leaf. It's sure you make you and your date remember that arugula is really good! Many of the ingredients offered are locally sourced, and Billy Bread comes on the side -- that's healthy, right?
You don’t have to have to leave Richmond to experience a Virginia winery. Located along Historic Route 1, James River Cellars is host to events all year long that you and your date can experience.
On the weekends, “Fridays on the Patio” features live music, with “Sundays in the Shade” closing out the weekend. Most of the events are either free or moderately priced. Make sure you grab a sample of the winery's Colonial Red -- it's one of the best red wines I've ever tasted!
The winter months are fast approaching, and time is running out to enjoy the great outdoors. For your next date, why not try out a Crosswind Adventures Tour? It features a 3-mile tour of Deep Bottom Park while exploring “various inlets, creeks and ponds” in their natural state.
Did I mention that you do all of this from an inflatable paddle board? Most notable is that every weekend a portion of proceeds is donated to a local nonprofit.
If water isn’t your thing, what about a walk through history? James River Hikers has more than five hiking tours that can take you and your date from Belle Isle to Hollywood Cemetery in a day. This could be a great way to enjoy a Richmond history lesson -- and with optional food additions offers a way to try tasty new eats.
With the Richmond Street Art Festival returning Sept. 22-24, it's a good time to can catch up on the last five years of Richmond’s emergence as one of Buzzfeed’s top world cities to see street art.
Thankfully the Richmond Mural Project curated a map to find all of the colorful magic. And the best part is you can head to each stop by foot or car. Or maybe you'll want to try the Richmond Bike Share launching next week.
Create a group date and turn Richmond into one big scavenger hunt! Using your smart phone as a guide, Urban Adventure Quest allows teams to make their way through overlooked areas of the city, solving various clues and puzzles while getting a very fun history lesson.
The cool part is you can play when you want and at any pace. Savings alert: You can get 20 percent off your adventure by using the promotion code VISITRICHMOND at checkout! Happy hunting!
Pulling your date up to locally owned market Ellwood Thompson's is going to cause a bit of a head turn. But I promise, once they realize this 28-year-old store also holds an in-house bakery, a juice bar, a made-to-order food station and an event space called The Beet, you'll get the points you deserve.
The Beet holds weekly events all involving food and live music. I absolutely love its first Sunday Jazz brunches, especially alongside its Green Eggs & Scram bowl.
Faith's 8 Great Dates for August 18-20
1. Start a Q&A Other Over Some Smoked Meat
The summer is winding down and so are the Richmond food festivals. This Saturday, treat your date to the amazing flavors of the BrewBQ festival right in Shockoe Bottom. With eight food vendors and 15 breweries on tap, this event should not disappoint.
I suggest pairing an Inner City Blues BBQ sandwich with some Jalapeño Mac and Cheese from Alamo BBQ while washing it all down with Isley Brewing Company’s Blueberry Plain Jain White Ale.
Note that because of the renovation of the 17th Street Marketplace underway, the event will be held at 1615 E. Broad St.
2. Get Sweet on Each Other at Shyndigz
You know how when you were a kid you had to eat your food before you could even touch dessert? Well, guess what? You’re an adult now and you can eat dessert whenever you want.
So why not take your date to one of the city’s sweetest restaurants, Shyndigz. Most of its delicious treats are four to five layers tall, so I suggest simply skipping dinner altogether and just load up on buttercream icing and wine -- did you know they had that?
I have only one request: Could you order a slice of Fruit Cake for me?
3. Butter Each Other's Biscuits.
Who says breakfast can’t be a great date? An even better question is, has the person who invented biscuits been awarded the Noble Peace Prize yet?
There are two places that make my mouth water whenever I think about them: the Fancy Biscuit and the Early Bird Biscuit Co. Both places provide a relaxed environment and daily house-made options for every palate type.
4. Up Your Dinner and a Movie
There’s nothing wrong with the traditional dinner and movie date, but let’s take it up just a notch. One way is to eat at local favorite Citizen Burger Bar, where you can customize everything from the bun to the french fries, and afterward cross the street to the Byrd Theater.
Each week the Byrd shows a big-screen classic like “The King and I,” and current films before they head to DVD format. I also believe the Byrd has the best popcorn in town. It must import the butter from some fancy place in France!
5. Dare to Re-Create That Scene From "Ghost"
From painting to pottery, photography and weaving, Richmond Parks and Recs has the adults covered. And learning something new together makes for a great date.
If you’re a Richmond resident you can even secure up to a $20 discount on many of the courses. I know it’s super hard to think of creating things to do with your significant other, but with their online program guide you can plan all the way through 2018.
I’m just excited to turn 55 because the quilting class has my impending retirement life written all over it.
6. Dine on the Go With Real Richmond Food Tours
I wonder every day how couples could ever experience all of the amazing cuisines in each area of town. It’s possible that Real Richmond Food Tours could solve that problem in a matter of hours.
Each of its specialty tours are about 1.5 miles of casual walking, and in most of the restaurants visited you’re able to sit and take it all in.
The “Both Sides of Broad” tour looks quite tasty, featuring such restaurants as Rappahannock, Pasture, Mama J’s, J Kogi and Greenleaf’s Pool Room.
7. Sweat Together While Surfing Between Breweries
At Richmond’s Turn Cardio Jam Studio, you and your date can try a 45-minute fitness class that focuses on burning fat and increasing muscle tone all while paddling out and performing pop-ups on a stationary Surfset Board.
The best part? It’s located between Ardent and Isley Breweries! I just feel like you and your date deserve a celebratory drink after engaging your core, don’t you?
8. Meet the Family
The annual Elegba Folklore Society’s annual Down Home Family Reunion celebrates “aspects of West African cultural traditions that are African American and that were absorbed by the American South.”
It takes place Saturday, Aug. 19, in Abner Clay Park, and will feature world music, a marketplace and most of all, some amazing food for you and your date to enjoy!
Faith's 8 Great Dates for August 11-13
1. Rock the Mic at Tuesday Versus
Open Mic nights will never get old. For more than 10 years, the people behind Tuesday Versus have provided a platform for local poets, lyricist and singers to share their talents. Each Tuesday from 8-11:30 p.m., they fill the Addis Ethiopian Restaurant in Shockoe Bottom to capacity and give attendees an experience that keeps them coming back for more.
During this date night you can kick back and just enjoy the amazing food and artistry or decide to jump on the microphone and profess your love. Just be sure to think that plan through: Remember, I said the restaurant is filled to capacity. And that’s a lot of people who could go Facebook live with your spoken-word tragedy!
2. Tug at Heartstrings with the Symphony and Common
I never thought I’d ever suggest the symphony for a date night, but thanks to the people at Richmond Symphony my opinion has completely changed.
After attending more than 10 shows this year, I’ve seen them make the biggest effort to make shows engaging, family-oriented and inexpensive. I also love that whenever they can they take the performance outside of the theater, they do.
There are weekly performances at local breweries, museums and local festivals. In fact, this weekend the symphony is performing alongside Chicago rapper Common at the Richmond Jazz Festival. How cool will that be?
3. Let the Zoo Fuel Your Animal Urges
Yes, it’s true: We have a zoo. It’s in Chesterfield County, a 20-minute drive from Richmond. But what’s the hurry when you know you’re about to see some really awesome goats, llamas, chickens, sheep and budgie birds -- I don’t know what they are either.
There’s also have a safari sky lift train ride, as well as, an option to combine your admission with a day at the Treetop Zoosfari, where you get to travel from tree to tree via zip lines above the zoo. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t get stuck over the cheetah cage!
4. Feel Your Heart Beating Faster at G-Force
Go-karts, laser and archery tag, and an arcade. You should know by now I think date nights are meant for a little competition, and this place provides the best platform for just that all under one roof. I can never get enough of the go-karts.
Hitting speeds up to 35 mph on the quarter-mile, indoor track, you begin to really feel like you’re in a NASCAR race. To up the ante, perhaps have the loser pick up the tab.
5. Go for the Group Date with Richmond Brewery Tours
In an earlier post I encouraged you and your date to try to complete the Richmond Beer Trail. One of the ways to complete that task could be taking a public tour with Richmond Brewery Tours, which run Thursday-Sundays.
You'll head to three award-winning and up-and-coming breweries across town. This could serve as a fun way for you and your date to meet new people along the way and to learn a very important fact: Do you like sour or IPA?
6. Take a Carriage Ride at Maymont
I’ve seen this date night activity a lot and it melts my heart each and every time. Did you know that Maymont offers two-passenger, private carriage tours around the estate? I hear one of the stops is the Japanese Gardens, which features a koi pond and an amazing waterfall. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of planning wedding locations. No pressure!
7. Get Inspired at St. John’s Church
Reading about this in school almost made me not want to see this reenactment. But the moment the doors to St. John’s Church closed and the fake Thomas Jefferson and George Washington walked in I was sold!
My date and I really felt like we were in 1776 attending the Second Virginia Convention watching Patrick Henry proudly declare he was ready for an American Revolution, with “Give me liberty or give me death.”
I promise you and your date will have much to talk about afterward. How about splitting a signature meatball pizza at nearby Anthony's on the Hill, and share a canolli and gelato afterward?
8. Share a Sweet Slice at the Carytown Watermelon Festival
I actually refuse to eat watermelon until August every year. The Carytown Watermelon Festival this weekend will feature five outdoor stages, more than a hundred street vendors, and of course, freshly chopped watermelon provided by grocery-chain newcomer Publix.
It takes place Sunday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Its free and a great way for you and your date to enjoy local fares in a casual fun environment. (Plus, you can play against each other in our Carytown Watermelon Fest BINGO.)
Faith's 8 Great Dates for August 4-6
1. Get on Top of the World
Nothing says romance like a date with a view. The great thing about Richmond is it doesn’t have to be only for dinner or at night. Scale to the top of the Hofheimer building in Scott’s Addition, or head downtown to Quirk Hotel for some delicious apps and specialty drinks.
My favorite is the Kabana Rooftop at 7th and Main streets. Because it’s right in the middle of downtown, you can grab some amazing 180-degree views of the city and the James River.
2. Get Chopped
A cooking class can serve as a great way to look into your future. If your date has issues with boiling water, it could be a great time to rethink the entire relationship.
One of my favorite places to go is Sur la Table in the Stony Point Fashion Park. From classes on pasta making to surf and turf, there’s truly something for all palate types. The best part is when get to assemble each piece of the dish you worked so hard on and well, eat!
3. Is That a Van Gogh or Are You Happy to See Me?
Paint nights have to be my No. 1 activity. I mean it. I love paint nights so much I have an entire wall in my dining room dedicated to my craft, and I dare someone to judge me for it. There’s a company called Paint Night that I appreciate the most because it rotates among various restaurants and bars across the city and surrounding counties. This provides a great opportunity for you to show off your artistic side while trying out a brand new restaurant at the same time.
4. Take the Road Less Traveled
Question: Have you ever thought about ditching that Uber and just taking a stroll to your next date destination? May I suggest the Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge? If you were to start at the Manchester side and take the 1,600-foot pedestrian pathway to the other side you would end up on Brown’s Island. Once you’re there I suggest a nice picnic while watching a few brave souls whitewater raft along the James River. Or, you could keep moving and pop into the Tredegar Historic American Civil War Museum.
5. Get a Little Handsy
Volunteering is something we don’t do enough of in this world. What better way to really gauge one’s purest intentions than by watching them give back to others? HandsOn Greater Richmond’s mission is to provide fun and unique ways to connect to the nonprofit sector. I absolutely love its site because at any time you can log in, click “I want to volunteer,” and instantly see a ton of opportunities pop up. This could be a rewarding addition to any date night.
6. Make Reading Sexy and Fundamental
The library -- cues up dramatic pause -- I know you’re having flashbacks to your college days, but think back to when you were a kid and used books as a way to escape reality and learn new things. It might be hard to believe, but Richmond Public Libraries offer some of the top programming across town and provide access to thousands of books both new and old.
With a variety of locations, the options are endless. I believe books provide great ways to have someone understand feelings you may not be able to express in your own words. Maybe you want your date to know why you have an obsession with over-communicating -- and if that’s the case a copy of “Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” could be the first on the check-out list!
7. Go Electric!
Maybe you hated me for suggesting that you actually get out of your car and walk somewhere. How about a good old-fashioned bicycle ride with a twist? Have you heard of Pedego RVA? This local company offers electric bike tours of this amazing city. Guides encourage you to exercise as little or as much as you like “with no fear of getting tired.” I personally, like the way that sounds.
You and your date could do the two-hour tour of the Hollywood Cemetery or the four-hour wine-tasting tour at Shirley Plantation, which is enough incentive for me to complete any sort of physical activity!
8. Root for the Home Team
Who needs to live in a New York or Los Angeles to get your sports fix? From the Flying Squirrels, to the Kickers, and the championship-winning Roughriders arena football team, you’re covered all season. If you throw some Virginia Commonwealth University or University of Richmond basketball in the mix you’re looking at never-ending date-night options.
What I love the most is every one of our local teams offers affordable ticket pricing, great entertainment and some of the best mascots you’ll ever meet. I have a little secret to share: I really want to be Nutzy the Squirrel’s best friend. Which one of you can make that happen?
Faith's 8 Great Dates for July 28-30
1. Visit a Local Farmers' Market
Our Richmond farmers’ markets are a great place to not only experience locally sourced foods, but also mix up that future dinner date at home.
Use this time to buy some impressive-looking fruits and vegetables or even something sweet. Have you ever tried an amaranth and honey treat called Alegria? It’s made by MaloKin, a brother a sister team who can be found at the West End Farmers' Market each and every Saturday. There's also South of the James Market, the Lakeside Farmers' Market and many more.
2. Follow the Ale Trail
Unless you've been living under a rock you know that one thing Richmond has a lot of is breweries!
Saturday, July 29, is a great time to kick things off at Hardywood as it brings you the 2nd annual Heart & Soul Fest.
Also, I almost forget to mention, there's actually a reward for moving along that trail map! Once you've visited five local breweries you're eligible to redeem limited-edition Richmond Beer Trail gear. I see matching selfies in your future! Cheers!
3. Spell it B-I-N-G-O
Pay attention to what I am about to say next: Bingo is not just for your grandma’s Canasta club.
If you haven’t already noticed, I love a date with a little bit of competition mixed in. Pops Bingo Hall is the perfect place for just that! There's a full snack bar and a chance to win the money you need to finish that Richmond Beer Trail!
4. Let the Fluff Cool You
These are some pretty hot days around the Capital City. And who doesn’t like to cool down with a big scoop of ice cream?
Charm School is truly one of my favorites because it offers free sprinkles, and every flavor deserves that dollop of toasted fluff on top.
Oh, just in case you were wondering, balancing a book on your head is not required!
5. Just Bust a Move
From tap dancing to hip hop, Zumba and Latin dance, Dogtown Dance Theater has it all. And with each class run by an independent artist each week, Dogtown is able to offer up several options for you to choose from at affordable prices.
I have to say the hip-hop dance class run each Wednesday by the Studio 4 Dance Company is my favorite. Any time a Bruno Mars song hits the airwaves I now have a full choreographed routine waiting for anyone who wants to battle!
6. Eat RVA
If there was a gold and shiny award for the city with the best food festivals it would have to go to Richmond each and every time! I feel like every single weekend there's a festival highlighting everything from bacon to oysters.
On this section of UnlockingRVA, I curated a few that could be a great way to plan future dates and some of Richmond’s local restaurants.
7. Laugh Until You Make It
I'm a firm believer that laughter should be a huge part of your dating life. Comedy shows provide the groundwork for those beautiful “inside jokes” that just the two of you share.
One of my favorite places to catch a show is the Richmond Funny Bone. It offers not only amateur local comics, but also top performers like Gary Owen and Aries Spears.
8. Go Topless
Richmond’s surrounding counties hold some of the area’s most precious gems. The Goochland Drive in Theater is one of them.
Each week you can spend a night under the stars while catching the latest releases, coupled with your concession-stand favorites, all from your vehicle. This weekend it's serving up a triple feature of "The Emoji Movie," "Spiderman: Homecoming," and my top choice, "War for the Planet of the Apes."
Faith's 8 Great Dates for July 21-23
Nestled alongside the 17th Street Market, this top-20 wine bar in America is a great place to grab a light meal and find the perfect wine to keep the conversation flowing.
They have an amazing selection of small plates. I suggest trying the deviled eggs and empanadas. There’s an extensive list of wines from around the world. The atmosphere can be both quiet and filled with the sweet sounds of live jazz each week.
The best part: They take reservations!
I can’t be the only one daydreaming about what a night in Havana, Cuba, would feel like. Fortunately for us, Havana ’59 is sure to mimic that very feeling.
Did you know on Thursdays they offer salsa lessons? Nothing can bring a couple closer than a hot night of Latin dancing on a rooftop patio. To top it off, if you work up an appetite -- no worries. The Cuban nachos and deep-fried plantains can save the day.
Oh, and did I mention you’ll fine some of the tastiest mojitos and one of the widest selections of cigars in the city?
If you haven&rsq