There's no shortage of Black-owned businesses to support in Virginia's capital city.

By Patrice J. Williams
February 13, 2021
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Credit: Getty Images

Richmond, Virginia, is a city that's steeped in history. Like many places in the U.S. — and the world — that includes a past that can be tough for some to honestly acknowledge. However, the former capital of the Confederacy and one of the largest hubs for trading enslaved Africans is a present-day progressive capital. 

You won't find the traffic and congestion of Washington, D.C., or the high prices of New York City, but Richmond is overflowing with a thriving arts community, amazing food, and Black-owned businesses that add flavor to the River City. 

If Richmond is new to you, or you just want to support a new-to-you business, here's a great 72-hour itinerary for Virginia's capital.

Day One 

Checking in for your stay at the Graduate Hotel is the first order of business. Though it's a not Black-owned property, the Richmond location pays homage to tennis great Arthur Ashe. The Brookfield cafe is named after the park where Ashe, the Grand Slam champ and hometown hero, learned to play tennis, and the walls are lined with tons of aviator glasses, his signature style marker. 

A short walk from the Graduate is Jackson Ward. Tulsa is always referenced as the Black Wall Street, but Jackson Ward also has that honor. Every Jackson Ward visit should include a stop at Urban Hang Suite. In addition to the usual coffee and all-day breakfast, you'll find one of the most impressive, diverse lineups of craft beer here, thanks to a curation from Uncap Everything. And don't overlook the small freezer directly next to the cash register. That's where you'll find sweet treats from Black-owned businesses, like Favour Cookie Co.'s vegan cookie dough. 

Take a walk around and you'll come across amazing street art honoring Jackson Ward legends as well as the Maggie Walker statue on Broad Street, dedicated to the first Black woman to charter a bank in the U.S. If time permits, foodies or anyone with a sweet tooth will want to pop into One Way Market. This store sells exotic snacks that you likely never even knew existed, like salted caramel Oreos, tomato-flavored Cheetos, and cotton candy Cap'n Crunch.

After an afternoon of strolling and snacking, dinner at Lillie Pearl is a must. The Smashville fried chicken sandwich has a bit of kick without being too spicy and maintains its perfect crispy crust whether you're dining in or taking it to go. Locals love their pimento cheese, so it's no surprise the menu has a few options, from the breaded panko balls to the cheese adding extra goodness to the short rib egg rolls.

Day Two 

Credit: Courtesy of Nile Bistro

After a jam-packed day, slow down a bit with BareSoul Yoga. The sessions are suitable for all skill levels. Head to the spacious studio for yoga or meditation, or log on to a virtual sitting.

A short walk from BareSoul is the 17th Street Market in Shockoe Bottom, a former hub for slave trading and now the go-to destination for weekend brunch and independent shops. When the weather permits, the Black Farmers Market sets up shop and has vendors selling everything from stationery to candles to beauty goods. Speaking of beauty, Adiva Naturals has been a community staple for almost 20 years, selling all-natural hair and body products. Keep your lunch light with healthy yet filling cold-press options from Juice Life, or order a charcuterie box from Amazin' Graze. The individual box is perfect for a picnic at Libby Hill or Chimborazo Park. 

Eating a light, flavor-packed meal is easy at Church Hill's Nile. The Ethiopian restaurant's menu offers vegan options like red lentil or potato stew, as well as a delicious lamb entree. Whether you choose the small or large serving, you'll leave full and won't break the bank.

Day Three 

Liberty Leads Her People by Nico Cathcart (IG: nicocathcart) & Austin 'Auz' Miles (IG: auz_can) Location: 2928 North Ave Richmond, VA 23222
| Credit: Brenda Soque

The final day should be spent in Richmond neighborhoods that are continuing to expand and have exciting developments. 

Cross the James River and head to Manchester — the formerly industrial area is now home to modern apartments and lofts with stunning views of the city, as well as a heavily anticipated food hall. 

Brewer's Waffles serves up sweet and savory (and Instagram-worthy) waffles and shakes. But if you want lighter fare, just head to nearby Brewer's Cafe, where you can grab a quick, to-go snack before exploring Manchester on foot and marveling at murals that are a part of Hamilton Glass' Mending Walls project.

Brookland Park is another exciting neighborhood that's worth checking out. Since 2015, the family-run Nomad Deli has been serving soup and sandwich combos, oyster mushroom po boys, and vegan options like fried eggplant sandwiches.

Finally, one of the most exciting, new additions to the Northside neighborhood is Ruby Scoops. After a successful Kickstarter, the bright, adorable shop opened in late 2020. It slings handcrafted ice cream and sorbets (think flavors like blackberry mandarin mojito and chocolate dulce de leche), plus floats made with root beer or kombucha. Even when the temps drop to the 30s, it's not usual to see a line outside the door.