The seventh annual Richmond Jazz Festival ran from August 11th to the 14th, in venues around town and culminated at the lush 100-acre Maymont Park with a two-day outdoor fest. Musicians like Herbie Hancock, Stephanie Mills, The Roots and Diane Schuur thrilled music fans. And when festival goers weren't lapping up the music they toured Richmond, taking in sites, restaurants and sports activities. You can go where they went and do what they did.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 N Boulevard) Thursday night folks flock to the VMFA's weekly Dominion Jazz Café, which is sponsored by the Richmond Jazz Society. Local jazz bands play in the large open lobby, as music fans sit enraptured. Between sets people wander around one of the top ten U.S. art museums and view dazzling art exhibits like Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott and Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic or they dine in the Amuse Restaurant.
Mama J's Kitchen (415 N. 1st Street) If you visit Virginia you have to try the local soul food. Mama J's doesn't take reservations, so get there before six or be prepared to wait for the Fried Shrimp appetizer and the tasty Fried Chicken with a side of Potato Salad and Collard Greens. Don't feel guilty when you end the meal with a piece of Layer Cake and Ice Cream. The people watching is almost as engaging as the food.
Edgar Allen Poe Museum (1914 E Main St.) The world-renowned poet who wrote "The Raven" grew up, married, and gained a national reputation as a writer in Richmond in the 1800s. This diminutive museum, founded in 1922, consists of a string of small buildings that house the artifacts, writings and memorabilia of a writer credited with inventing the modern detective story.
Early Bird Biscuit Co. (119 N Robinson St.) There are lots of good reasons to get up in the morning in Richmond, although this unique breakfast and lunch eatery may provide the strongest motivation. Flaky Buttermilk Warm Biscuits filled with jam, chicken salad or Applewood Smoked Bacon. Coconut Almond Macaroons, Espresso Dark Chocolate Cakele and Chorizo Quiche further entice the Bohemian crowd that hovers.
Science Museum of Virginia (2500 W Broad St) If you've got the kids in tow, head to this family-friendly introduction to science. Set in the former Broad Street Station, (circa 1919) and opening in 1970, the museum is out to make science engaging and accessible to all. Check out the most technologically advanced digital dome theater in the world. Visit the Boost! Exhibit, which features a series of interactive challenges.
Alamo BBQ (2202 Jefferson Ave) Walking up to the small Alamo BBQ cafe is like taking a trip to Austin. You can tell tasty food is being served from the smell of the authentic Texas style BBQ that drifts through the air. Located in the heart of historic Church Hill, the popular millennial hangout serves award-winning Beef Brisket. The Smoke Link Sausage and Pulled Pork Sandwiches could tempt a hardcore vegan, though they could munch on the BBQ Portobello.
Westwood Club (6200 West Club Lane) This tennis club has provided a place to play tennis since 1927. 7 indoor Har-Tru Clay courts, 2 indoor DecoTurf cushioned courts, 2 outdoor DecoTurf cushioned courts and 9 outdoor Har-Tru Clay courts give tennis players plenty of room to play. Hook up with the affable tennis coach Romain Ambert. He'll give you expert instruction, some competitive play and he'll smile when he lobs you.
Vagabond (700 E Broad St) The fine, eclectic cuisine at this chic restaurant includes the most delectable Oyster Po Boy Sandwich. If you're lucky, the Market Fish of the day will be seared Rock Fish, which you can have served on top of a bed of lettuce. The Braised Pork Cheek Tacos are high on the list of must eats too. And it's hard to walk out the door without pleasing your sweet tooth with their Peach Cobbler.
The Country Club of Virginia (709 South Gaskins Road) You get your choice of two 18-hole courses, James River or Tuckahoe Creek, when you tee off at CCV. The club has attracted golf legends like Jack Nicklaus and will be the host site of the Dominion Charity Classic PGA Champions Tour Playoff event this year. If your strokes aren't all they should be, look up Eric Layton, Director of Golf Instruction.
The National (708 East Broad Street) This vintage theater, vaguely reminiscent of the Fillmore East and West, dates back to 1924, was renovated and turned into a 1500-seat music venue in 2008. It hosts around 25 shows a year, featuring different styles, genres and artists like Willie Nelson and The Roots. The most celebrated concert was a Foo Fighters' show that was funded by a crowd-sourcing campaign. Performers get to lounge in a backstage dressing room with a hot tub and sauna.
The Richmond Jazz Festival makes a great calling card for a cool southern town that digs its jazz as much as its restaurants and tourist sites. For more information, go to: https://www.visitrichmondva.com
Visit NNPA Syndication Film Critic/Travel Writer Dwight Brown at DwightBrownInk.com.