Staycation for Art Lovers
The River City should be any art lover’s dream destination. We have the nation’s top public university art school, and we’re home to one of the world’s premier art museums. We have a vibrant downtown arts district, where you’ll find many diverse galleries. So, let’s plan an Art Lover’s Weekend Getaway. Our suggested itinerary has been designed to give you a taste of Richmond’s beauty, talent and creativity.
We’ve made reservations at The One Bed and Breakfast (1 N. Boulevard), a couple of blocks from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Polly Brooks and her husband Sean have been operating their 100-year-old mansion as a bed and breakfast since 2011. There are three upstairs suites, but Polly recommends The Cellar. Although the name may sound dark and foreboding, nothing could be further from the truth. With five windows, the Cellar offers bright yet cozy accommodations in 750-square-feet of living space. And if you seek privacy, the Cellar has its own separate entrance.
After exploring the amenities in your room, as well as the whimsically decorated commons area upstairs, where a continental breakfast is served each morning, get ready to do a little more exploring as you head south on the Boulevard to the VMFA (200 N. Boulevard).
The museum has extended hours on Thursday and Friday evenings (‘til 8:30 p.m.). This might be a great time to tour the Faberge’ and Russian Decorative Arts Collection, featuring 280 Faberge’ objects.
You can do that either before or after you enjoy a fantastic meal at one of the most unique restaurants in all of Richmond — Amuse, located on the third floor of the museum. The floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as the patio balcony, provide a great view of the Robins Sculpture Garden below.
The staff at Amuse is as creative as the artists whose works fill the galleries. With each new major exhibit comes an inventive food-and-cocktail menu inspired by that exhibit. Napoleon: Power and Splendor, is scheduled to run from June 9 to Sept. 3. As we go to press, Liz Skirpan, manager at Amuse, informs me that the staff has not yet finalized their Napoleon-themed menu. But check the website for updated information. You can be sure that whatever they come up with will tickle both your sense of aesthetics as well as your taste buds.
After a restful night’s sleep, you may choose to simply enjoy the continental breakfast at your B&B. However, there are several excellent spots for brunch, all within walking distance or just a short drive away. One of my favorite spots is Pik Nik Craft Cocktail Bar (2301 W. Main St.). Pik Nik offers a fantastic brunch on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The scallops are the best I’ve had anywhere. Chef Alex Bailey recommends the organic chicken with a fried egg and a watermelon salad on the side. He also suggests you try a variation of one of his crepes. You can have them filled with vegetables, meat or seafood. Order what you want, but you have to try the waffles.
Since the VMFA opens at 10 each morning, seven days a week, and since there’s no way you could have seen it all the night before, you’ll probably want to spend more time there, then head over to the city’s Arts District.
Your next stop after leaving the museum is at the corner of West Broad and Belvidere streets, the recently opened VCU Institute of Contemporary Art (601 W. Broad). This very modern building, designed by New York-based Steven Holl Architects, creates an imposing and beautiful gateway to the city’s Arts District. Let’s start there.
Next, take a stroll east on Broad, and you’ll pass several popular galleries, which dot the north and the south sides of the street. If you plan your getaway for the first Friday of the month, most of the galleries in the neighborhood will be open late. First Fridays is a signature event in the city’s Arts District. Check their Facebook page for a schedule of upcoming First Friday exhibits. Most of the galleries along Broad are open until 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information on the local galleries, visit RVAArtsDistrict.com.
You’ve had a long and busy day, so our dining suggestion for the evening is near your accommodations. Hopefully, that will allow you to squeeze in a little time to rest up. However, if you’re trying to pack as much as possible into your weekend getaway, why not head over to Cary Street for a bit of shopping in some of the city’s most unique boutiques. Carytown begins just a block from your B&B. Visit CarytownRVA.com for further information.
Make an early dinner reservation at Spoonbread Bistro (2526 Floyd Ave.). Chef Michael Hall brings his unique blend of Southern cuisine with French finishings to this charming Fan eatery. You’ll enjoy perusing the menu, which includes such delights as Black Molasses Roasted Duck Breast, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and the chef’s favorite, The Cat Sea Pig (sea scallop wrapped with catfish then wrapped with Applewood smoked bacon, served with creamy rosemary grits and roasted brussel sprouts and finished with roasted tomato truffle sauce).
As an art lover, you’ll want to spend your Saturday evening enjoying the city’s vibrant performing arts scene. There’s so much from which to choose. For a fairly comprehensive listing of upcoming performances, read our spring/summer Performing Arts Guide in the May/June issue of Richmond Navigator Media’s River City Magazine.
You still have one more day of your staycation, and we have just the place for you. While they don’t call it brunch, the Can Can, a beautiful French brasserie (3120 W. Cary St.), offers their Coffee House breakfast from 7 until 11 a.m. every day, including Sunday. Select from the quiche du jour, or perhaps a delicious patisserie — including their GrandBrioche (served only on the weekends) — is more to your liking. You’ll also find fruit, croissants, crepes and coffee, including cappuccinos, espressos and French-press offerings.
The Can Can showcases works of art on their walls, many of which are available for purchase. If you see a piece you like, just ask, “Can Can?” The answer may well be, “Oui oui.”
Finishing off your weekend with an original work of art just might be the perfect way to end your Art Lover’s Richmond Staycation.
See more in our staycation series:
Staycation for History Lovers
Staycation with the Kids
Staycation for Foodies