Looking for a quick getaway? This week Evan Kaufman, the Director of the Hopewell Downtown Partnership, is joining us as guest editor. His nonprofit has been hard at work revitalizing one of our region’s most charming Main Streets: Broadway in Hopewell. Take it away, Evan...
Just a half hour drive from Richmond’s Southeast, the Wonder City may be a tiny town of 22,000, but it punches above its weight when it comes to history, dining, and culture. Hopewell recently served as the set for the new Walking Dead TV show, but this waterfront town has a lot more to offer than staged plane crashes and zombies. Plan an afternoon or day trip and discover why Hopewellians call it the Wonder City for yourself!
Since 1634 when the first settlers established City Point—Virginia’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement and today part of the National Park Service’s Petersburg National Battlefield, the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers has been the lifeblood of Hopewell. The new boardwalk at Hopewell City Park offers a half-mile promenade along the waterfront. At City Point you can explore Appomattox Manor and the wartime cabin of President (then General) Ulysses S. Grant. After enjoying Hopewell’s verdant riverfront the fresh seafood and cocktails of the Boathouse at City Point beckon. There’s no better way to end an outing than with a drink and a view of the river from their terrace.
Over the past several years, Broadway in Hopewell has transformed into one of the region’s most charming Main Streets. It seems like new businesses are opening every month, so it can be hard to keep up, but here are a few must-visits for your day trip to the Wonder City. Guncotton Coffee & Gallery (pictured) is a hip nonprofit-run coffee house and venue space with a “whack and unwrap” latte that can’t be missed. Saucy’s BBQ, a Petersburg favorite, opened a second location in this Tri-City, and everything on the menu from pulled pork to brisket is cooked to perfection. There’s no better way to finish out your culinary tour through Hopewell than with a stop at Haley’s Honey Meadery! Every one of their honey wines on tap are delicious, but Liquid Silk may be the best of all!
Most Richmonders likely haven’t noticed the steadily growing roster of festivals, open mic nights, stand-up shows, farmers markets, and concerts in the Wonder City, but the culture of this member of the Tri-Cities is thriving. Hopewell’s historic Beacon Theatre offers a wide variety of live music and touring bands. Every 1st and 3rd Thursday, Downtown Thunder gathers some of the regions coolest hotrods and vintage cars for a party and live music along Broadway from 6-9 pm. Those who love the outdoors can join the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) for their Paddle-or-Battle event on the 28th to canoe, kayak, or SUP their way down the Appomattox in a race or on a guided tour.
If you were disappointed Pride Month was over so soon, never fear: Virginia celebrates its own local Pride in September. For the first time in history Tri-Cities Pride is taking its Petersburg Out & Proud festival to Hopewell. On Monday September 16, Guncotton is hosting a pop-up MonGays screening of the Gospel According to Andre. All money raised from this showing of the documentary on the first black man to break into the world of high fashion will go to support Nationz Foundation’s free mobile HIV testing and food pantry outreach in the Tri-Cities.
It’s that time of year for summer picnics, road trips with friends, backyard shenanigans, and exploring this place we call home. We’ve rounded up three quick recommendations to keep your summer lovin’ at an all-time high this week. Let's get to it...
There’s nothing we love more than recommending a little old place where everyone can get together. That place this week is SB’s Lakeside Love Shack, a funky Lakeside favorite known for its big personality, energetic fanbase, and overall good vibes. Owned by Sarabeth Hagen, this 1,300-square-foot neighborhood watering hole offers a playful menu where you might find items like the Big as a Whale Breakfast and Funfetti French Toast, a smattering of Love Potions, plenty of hangover cures, and even breakfast-to-go bags. There’s also a tiny hidden patio, live music, and a rockin’ happy hour. Best of all, the Lakeside Love Shack is brimming with genuine neighborhood love, where “Lakeside is the best side.”
Bonus tip: After you treat yourself to the Lakeside Love Shack experience, head down the street to Pulp Fiction RVA, a juice-moothie truck known for its exotic and natural blends, that just opened a brick and mortar location in the former Early Bird Biscuit digs at 5411 Lakeside Avenue. Pulp Fiction RVA was inspired by women and focuses on promoting self love.
Grab some friends and pile in, it’s time for a summer movie under the stars at a drive-in theater. Yes, this slice of quintessential Americana still exists and there’s an option only a short drive from RVA. While many drive-ins have closed over the years since their debut in the 1930s, a new crop of theaters have dusted off the concept. Over at the Goochland Drive-In Theater things are going strong thanks to the authentic drive-in environment they’ve created with an updated, sharp digital projection and sound provided via FM signal in your car. Goochland Drive-In typically offers double-features of new and current-release movies for $8.50. You heard that right, that’s two movies for less than the cost of seeing one movie in those fancy pants multiplex cinemas. And what’s a drive-in without a snack bar! We’re talking classic American eats—corn dogs, BBQ, popcorn, candy, and frozen treats. Well-behaved pets on leashes are welcome too. Showtime at dusk!
Celebrate love, unity, and our diverse community at the RVA Reggae Jerk Fest on Brown’s Island this Saturday. Reggae, originating in the tough neighborhoods of Kingston, Jamaica, carries a message of peace and brings people together. And the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated reggae music as an intangible cultural heritage. In RVA, you can celebrate all things Reggae this Saturday while enjoying an impressive Caribbean rum tent experience, Caribbean Jerk Chicken by 10 of the best jerkers around, arts and crafts, and live performances by the likes of Mighty Joshua (pictured), Ever-G, Mystic Vibrations, Emanuell Wildfire Wilson, and more.
Turn off the cell. Burn the map. Get lost. This week we're encouraging you to wander and ramble east on foot, bike, or boat. See ya out there!
Wandering east on your way out of Richmond, look for the Low Line Gardens, a linear park that transformed a neglected stretch of weeds into a bustling garden path along the Kanawha Canal. Inspired by New York City’s High Line, the Low Line is the brainchild of Capital Trees, a Richmond nonprofit that aims to create beautiful and environmentally sound public landscapes. The group relies on public-private partnerships to deliver urban green spaces that build community and improve the health and wellbeing of those who use them. Here, native plantings bring life and beauty to what had been a pocket of blight, and now attracts walkers, joggers, cyclists, pets, and children to the restored outdoor space. Underway now is phase two of the project, known as the Low Line Green, that will extend the restoration of the five-and-a-half-acre corridor between Great Shiplock Park and the floodwall at 17th Street.
Head east on Route 5 and along the riverbank you’ll find Ron Blaha, the last of the old time riverboat captains still plying the James and Appomattox Rivers. At 79, Captain Ron will dazzle you with stories about adventures on the James in a turn-of-the-century wooden tugboat, his years sailing a 41' Formosa Ketch along the East Coast, and living off the grid in the Bahamas. He’ll even sprinkle in a few side stories of sailing off the coast of Mexico, two of the Great Lakes, and the Adriatic Sea between Italy and the Czech Republic. But each tale always leads Ron back to the beautiful James River where he has lovingly rebuilt and re-furbished two houseboats at the Richmond Yacht Basin (Virginia’s oldest marina) that are for rent through Airbnb, VRBO, and Homeaway. When booking a night on one of these charming boats, you’ll also want to save time to hop over to the Lilly Pad for burgers, oysters, and beer served dockside. And before you leave in the morning, make sure to ask Ron to sign a copy of one his books so you can bring home some of his adventurous spirit with you.
Hop on your bike, hit the Virginia Capital Trail, and simply follow your nose! You’ll soon find yourself at a small outpost at 2097 New Market Road that is home to the best Southern-style ribs in all the land. Behind the smoker, you’ll meet the father-son duo, Ronnie and Darrell Logan. These Varina natives once worked a slower cooker in a lot near Millie’s Diner that became so legendary that the pit masters opened their own permanent digs just east of town. A hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts and BBQ purists alike, The Original Ronnie’s BBQ is the perfect reward (and fuel) after exploring the Virginia Capital Trail. And don’t stop just for the ribs, make sure to try Ronnie’s fish, pulled pork, brisket, and chicken wings. Most of all though, spend a little extra time listening to Ronnie and Darrell’s stories, learn about the area, and get inspired by their family-run business before wandering back to RVA.
Represent Richmond well in our comfy cotton t-shirt emblazoned with a hand-drawn design. Yes, that's Richmond's airport code. We consider this tee perfect attire for wandering Route 5, hitting the trail, exploring traveling the world, or simply enjoying a lazy day. Trust us — it's so super soft, you'll be wearing it everywhere.