With Valentine’s Day upon us, many readers are searching for the perfect place to spend a little time with the significant other. Whether your ambitions include a long walk in the woods, a wine picnic on a hill, or a public makeout sesh, we’ve got you covered with our guide to the top romantic spots in the city.
With Valentine’s Day upon us, many readers are no doubt searching for the perfect place to spend a little date time with the significant other. For variety’s sake, you might want to think about taking your love somewhere other than just the usual, expected restaurant. Whether your ambitions include a long walk in the woods, a wine picnic on a hill, or a public makeout sesh (of which, by the way, Richmond Proper does not approve), we’ve got you covered with our guide to the top romantic spots in the city.
1700 Hampton Street
We’ll start with the obvious one first. There’s a reason why Maymont is one of Richmond’s favorite dates: it’s in the city but makes you feel like you’re on a rural getaway, and it has something to please everyone. Choose between a Victorian mansion, wildlife, long walks, internationally-inspired gardens, a petting zoo, huge expanses of comfortable grass, and dozens of large shade trees, or just do everything. Even just finding a quiet spot and relaxing in silence is a satisfying experience, as the park’s 100 acres are gorgeous year-round.
The dead end of E. Grace Street, just past N. 22nd Street
At the eastern end of Church Hill, Grace Street ends in a precipice and right there is a lovely little bench with a fantastic view of Downtown. This secluded spot soaks up the very Old Richmond feel of the surrounding neighborhood, with historical gems such as St. John’s Church and the former site of the Van Lew Mansion nearby. This would be the perfect place to bring a Thermos of hot chocolate and just sit and watch the motion of the business district below.
Monument Avenue between Lombardy and Roseneath
Richmond’s famous statue-lined street is impressive anytime, but particularly on crisp, wintry nights in February. The grandeur of our boys in stone is at is best when viewed at the slow, deliberate pace that only walking can afford, and at night the streaming spotlights add drama to the stroll. Between monuments you and your man can decide which of the hundreds of stately houses on the avenue is your favorite as you peer over their boxwood hedges and brick walls in the moonlight.
412 S. Cherry Street
Designed in 1847, Hollywood was one of the first cemeteries in the country built in the “pastoral” style, meant to be more of a pleasant park than the sad little rows of graves that were typical of pre-Civil War America. Full of winding roads, imposing mausoleums, ancient trees, and dead Presidents, Hollywood Cemetery is the cure for the common romantic destination. Walk for hours amongst the crumbling headstones and read aloud from the epitaphs, or find a spot along the river and watch people at play on Belle Isle just across the falls.
10th and Bank Streets
Capitol Square is home to several must-see items including the Governor’s Mansion, an epic statue of George Washington, and of course, the beautiful Capitol building sitting stark and white on its lush, green hill. Thomas Jefferson got it right with the design for the Capitol, because Classical Roman architecture always works no matter what the current trends are. The benches lining the brick path on the Capitol’s grounds are a prime place for enjoying a lunch from the Downtown food carts with your favorite person.
1800 Lakeside Avenue
Instead of bringing your lady a few flowers, bring her to where vast multitudes of flowers live. After traversing Lewis Ginter’s many themed gardens in the frosty air, retreat into the warmth of the Conservatory for a more tropical climate and whisper sweet nothings amidst exotic plants. Referred to as “the Jewel of the Garden,” the glass-domed, brightly-lit Conservatory has the appearance of a steampunk fortress surrounded by the dark gardens at night.
The middle of the James (parking available on Tredegar Street)
Richmonders flock to Belle Isle during the summer months for sunbathing on the flat rocks along the riverbanks, but that’s just one of the little island’s many attractions. Just getting there is an adventure: an exhilarating walk over a footbridge that’s suspended from the Lee Bridge and dangles over the river, swaying slightly in the breeze. A couple can find plenty to explore with benches to enjoy views of the river, lovely paths flanked by honeysuckle in warmer times, and old ruins of a mill, a quarry, and a huge hydroelectric plant.
2700 E. Main Street
There’s nothing more romantic than this place at sunset, especially when surveying the scene from a picnic blanket. Hands down, this is the best view of the city. It was supposedly from this vantage point in 1737 that William Byrd II gave Richmond its name, because the view of the James from Libby Hill Park is a dead ringer for the view of the Thames from Richmond Upon Thames in the UK. Grab your girl and find out whether you agree with Mr. Byrd.
Near Blanton Avenue and Pump House Drive
As it’s one of the best kept secrets in town and quite buried in the woods, the Pump House is the perfect place for a lover’s tryst. Stroll along the banks of the old canal and investigate the gargantuan Pump House as it towers overhead. Once a popular gathering place for public dances, the Gothic-style stone castle now sits abandoned and waiting to provide an idyllic backdrop for a romantic afternoon.