Photo credit: Jeffrey McKee via Flickr
Set along the beautiful James River, Richmond (RVA) is a small city most beloved for its local breweries, coffee culture, and community conscious citizens. Often overlooked as a queer travel destination, Richmond is a little hidden gem. Asha and I have been lucky enough to call Richmond our home for the past 2 years, and still have loads to explore. Come along for a ride as we walk you through our favorite perks so far.
Queer friendly neighborhoods
This neighborhood is named after its “fanning” streets. It’s perfect for the queer lady who wants some quiet but also wants to be close to the action. It’s in walking distance to several shops, restaurants, cafes, and coffeeshops. It’s very close to Carytown, which is Richmond’s premier shopping and restaurant strip. Carytown houses Richmond’s only lesbian bar and club, Babes.
Like The Fan, but a little less expensive. This neighborhood gets its name from the bordering museums. It’s also close to Carytown and a myriad of restaurants and shops. This neighborhood caters mostly to young professionals and young families
Downtown/Shockoe Bottom/Shockoe Slip
Downtown is the central urban part of Richmond, featuring coblestone streets, bars, and restaurants. This part of town lies right along the river, and features several loft style apartments and condominiums. Perfect for the lady queer who wants to be close to city action. This part of town also hosts the infamous Folk Music Festival each year.
Arguably the best neighborhood to watch for its emerging foodie scene, Church Hill is Richmond’s actual first neighborhood, and the neighborhood Patrick Henry delivered his “give me liberty or give me death” speech. Quieter than its counterparts, Church Hill is perfect for the queer who wants to be close to some restaurants and cafes but wants some peace and quiet too.
Scott’s Addition is the place to be if you want some boozin’ in your hood. Scott’s Addition is another neighborhood to watch for its emerging cideries and breweries.
Queer friendly coffee culture
Photo credit: Craig Sunter via Flickr
Richmond is known for its coffee culture. There are coffeeshops all over the place, but these are a few of our favorites.
Lamplighter – This is the most well-known queer friendly coffee shop. It is a hipster mecca with many tattoo clad 20 somethings and delicious coffee. Ignore the pretentious service at the main location, as there are two other locations way less pretentious.
Cafe Zata – This less-known coffee shop is a hidden jewel. Housed in the forrest hill neighborhood, it styles a spacious two story shop with a full menu and ice cream. Cafe Zata’s second loft level has comfy couches to sit, read, and drink coffee. My absolute go-to coffee shop, hands down.
Crossroads – Another coffee shop with ice cream in the Forrest Hill neighborhood, but smaller than Taza. It often has live music and is poppin’ on the weekend.
Alchemy Coffee – Alchemy Coffee is a fantastic little shop that actually started as a coffee cart. It hosts a simple design with simple industrial tables.
Sub Rosa Bakery – If you like pastries with coffee, look no further. This charming little spot in Church Hill has some of the best pastries in Richmond.
Queer Friendly Eats
Richmond is all about independent local eats, particularly farm to table spots. The following are some of our favorite places.
Union Market – Cute and wholesome market with an attached eatery. Amazing sandwiches and amazing salads. Very vegetarian.
Ipanema Cafe – Hipster vibe vegetarian and vegan focused small restaurant. Amazing food but pretentious service. They don’t even have menues, you have to read it from one chalkboard. Can you say hipster?
Sticky Rice – Asian fusion sushi. Just delicious. I dare you to try it.
Nacho Mama’s – Delicious Mexican food with strong margaritas. Could you ask for more?
821 Cafe – Another great vegetarian friendly eatery, with craft beer and tattoo clad servers.
Harrison St. Cafe – This two-story cafe features delicious vegetarian food and great work spots. The cafe caters to a lot of VCU students and is hence a good choice for getting some quiet work done.
Get your queer dancin’ and boozin’ on
Babes – The only lesbian bar and club in Richmond, Babes is a small club with a food menu and an outdoor volleyball set that houses casual community lady pick-up games in the warmer months.
Club Colours – This gay club caters to the Richmond queer ladies of color. It’s a little more upscale than its counterparts and features a VIP lounge and arguably better music than the others.
Godfrey’s – A medium-sized gay club that houses a diverse mix of parties for dancing, drag shows, and drinks.
Barcode – This gay bar caters predominantly to older gay men, but can still be fun to go for drinks and laughs with lady friends.
Buskey Cider – Trust me, this place is awesome. I didn’t think I liked hard cider so much, but this new cidery is where it’s at.
Hardywood Brewery – The most well known Richmond brewery and for good reason. This brewery also hosts food trucks every Thursday evening in their lot, which include food from different restaurants in Richmond. Beer and food? Yes please.
Legend Brewing Co – Another notable brewery with an expansive view overlooking downtown Richmond.
The Great Outdoors
Belle Isle – The hottest place to be especially when whether gets warmer, Belle Isle is right along the James River. The perfect place to lounge, hike, raft, and even swim when it gets warm.
Maymont – 19th Century estate and mansion with beautiful walking trails and gardens.
Byrd Park – Beautiful urban park featuring lakes, walking trails, and picnic areas.
Botanical Gardens – A bit of a drive from the city but worth it – expansive gardens that stretch for acres. The botanical gardens also host live music which is a plus.
Libby Hill Park – A small hilltop park overlooking downtown Richmond and the James River.
Queer Cultured Life
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – Wonderful diverse art museum that also hosts a cute cafe with an excellent happy hour.
The Valentine – Private museum that focuses on the history of Richmond. This museum is incredibly gay friendly and even hosts an exhibit about RVA’s LGBT families.
ROSMY – ROSMY is focused on LGBT youth. They offer 3 support groups: one for middle schoolers, one for high schoolers, and one for trans identified youth. ROSMY also hosts an LGBT prom and partners with other organizations in Richmond.
Diversity Richmond – Diversity Richmond is centered around LGBT adults in the community. They offer discussion groups, periodic classes, special events, and supports for LGBTQ adults.
Now tell us: what are some of your favorite queer friendly cities and towns?