[sponsored] The Girls Weekend Guide to Richmond with Graduate Richmond
[sponsored] The Girls Weekend Guide to Richmond with Graduate Richmond
When my best friend booked her plane ticket to Richmond earlier this year, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to host a girls weekend staycation.
With 20+ years of planning BFF trips together, we’ve done nearly everything you can think of: malls, shopping, ice cream, movies, fun dinners out etc. There’s anything wrong with those things (because we totally still got in lots of drinks and shopping), but we can do better right??
Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or staycation, I’ve got you covered for 48 hours in Richmond!
Jai’s plane arrived during our most recent tornado/flood warnings, but didn’t stop us from enjoying good food and drinks. Enter: Brenner Pass. Easily my favorite spot in Richmond, we enjoyed the sourdough bread + butter, olives, brussels and cauliflower dishes while sipping dirty martinis (her) and craft beer (me).
PRO TIP: head to the bar + order alllll the starters and small plates. The charcuterie selections are amazing and the diots (sausages + spinach) are so good.
Because no good girls weekend can start without coffee, we headed to Whisk for a splurge treat - a mocha latte for Jai and a dirty chai for me. If you reallllllly want a splurge, add the french bun - it’s basically a cinnamon roll / croissant hybrid that is so. good.
*PRO TIP: know the milk options! They include regular, skim, almond and soy (no coconut or oatly).
Like any good beauty lovers, getting super fun manicures was on the list and we made a stop at Holy Chic. Unfortunately we didn’t have an appointment (we learned they don’t do walk-ins!) so this didn’t happen, but if you plan ahead, you can come out better than us. All appointments come with complimentary drinks including fresh juice to enhance your spa like appointment in this super cute new to RVA eco-nail salon.
*PRO TIP: Call ahead and make an appointment! They are by appointment only. We learned this the hard way.
Carytown! Specifically: Clementine, Roan and Roan Vintage, Phoenix, and Brick and Mortar - amazing boutiques with a range of styles + price points. While in Clementine, I found Jai a pair of Pedro Garcia heels for $40 (retail $400+). Perks of stylists as BFFs. We also stopped by Na Nin which is about 6-8 blocks after Carytown proper.
*PRO TIP: Stop by Sugar + Twine and pick up a coconut macaroon and/or more coffee!
Graduate Richmond! I’ve partnered with Graduate Hotels before for a stay at their Charlottesville location and they were the first on my mind when I created our girls weekend itinerary. Graduate Richmond took over the old Double Tree (fun fact - where hubby + I stayed after our wedding!). I love staying at Graduate Hotels because each one is curated specifically to mirror the history and culture of the city / town they are located in. When you stay at Graduate Hotels, you really feel like you are staying in that city - a fun thing especially if you are from out of town - it makes you feel at home!
We checked in around 2 PM, scooped out our gorgeous room which had a mini living area complete with sofa, peeped at the sweetest welcome package from Gifted RVA, and promptly headed down to the Brookfield bar for salads and deconstructed tacos (an order of our own making! Basically just the tacos without the shells).
*PRO TIP: Call ahead to see if you can get early check in. General check in is at 3 PM, but sometimes they can accommodate you as early as 1 PM.
SHOP + MORE EATING -
Once refueled, we walked the 3 blocks from Graduate Richmond over to Broad Street to scope out the cute boutiques - Verdalina (sustainable, eco fashion) and Rosewood Clothing (vintage) are my favorites, Ledbury is great for the guys and Mod & Soul for the affordable fashion shopping - and stopped for ice cream at Charm School - my FAVE ice cream place in all of Richmond. They are known for their vegan and unique options (vegan orange cardamom anyone?) which is exactly what I got.
Back at Graduate Richmond, we changed into athletic wear and borrowed their two complimentary hotel bikes for a ride around downtown! We took full advantage of the Franklin St. bike lanes (which are right outside Graduate Richmond front doors) which provide a super convenient and safe way to explore RVA via bike. Our route took us down to 2nd street where we cruised through Tredegar and Brown’s Island, over the Tyler Potterfield Bridge, to the bridge look out, over the Flood Wall and back. This was SUCH a fun way to see Richmond, get in some healthy activity, and do something out of the norm for your typical weekend visit. I can’t recommend grabbing a bike and exploring enough and love that Graduate Richmond offers these on a first come first serve basis to their guests.
PRO TIP: The bikes have a basket on the front, BUT things can “jump” out if you hit potholes, so take a small book bag or fanny pack to secure valuables. Also - roads in Richmond are MUCH steeper than you think they are! Be prepared for a few big inclines on your way back to The Graduate!
Rooftop vibes ALWAYS! We changed into somewhat dressier pieces and headed to the roof for dirty martinis (Jai) and mojitos (me). While the drink list had fairly basic options - the views from Graduate Richmond rooftop are hands down THE BEST in the city. We were rewarded with the most gorgeous sunset and the staff brought out blankets for after the sun went down - which I totally ended up needing as it got super chilly - love this thoughtful detail.
We could have ordered dinner at the Byrd House (the upstairs bar), but the menu was identical to the lunch menu - perhaps due to the season being October? - so we opted, for other plans. As die hard Indian food lovers (it’s our tradition every visit to get Indian!), we grabbed our car out of valet parking and drove to Short Pump (a quick 20 minute drive) for dinner at Lejah. For two, we ordered one meat and one veggie dish which was more than enough for us (with leftovers!). Each meal comes with rice + you know I ordered naan and Jai got poppadom.
PRO TIP: Order the poppadom - it’s off menu, but is an alternative to gluten (in my beloved naan). My best description is that it’s like a thin, but huge cracker and comes with 2 each of the three varieties made with rice, lentil and chickpea flours. Perfect for those avoiding gluten!
After dinner + drinks we made it back to Graduate Richmond by 10 PM with no other plans than to jump into the king size bed - so luxurious! - and sleep. I tend to always recommend a BYOP - bring your own pillow - stance when visiting hotels (if it makes sense) based on your personal recommendations. Jai found the pillows to be softer than she liked while I didn’t notice any major difference.
COFFEE + BREAKFAST -
Graduate Richmond was hosting rooftop yoga with Bare Soul Yoga and while we considered it, we opted for a more casual approach to our morning - aka sleep in and grab breakfast at the downstairs bar. Similar to yesterday's lunch, we had quite the custom breakfast order and the staff was super accommodating with all of our food requests - including sourcing maple syrup from upstairs to replace honey (a food allergy). I actually ate my leftover Indian food for breakfast (yay for hotel fridges!) along with a huge coffee and the biggest melon bowl I ever saw. After being sufficiently fueled, we checked out and headed to our next activity.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is a great way to spend a leisurely morning, especially if you make it during their annual butterfly exhibit. I was quite literally enthralled with their room of butterflies that flew all around you as you walked through. There were several different kinds and they were all so pretty! We also just walked the gardens, taking in the sites and enjoying the exercise.
PRO TIP: Go during butterfly exhibit time! Plan to walk a lot, so wear comfy shoes.
Short Pump Mall has quickly become THE shopping destination in Richmond with a HUGE variety of new + luxury stores. While there we popped into Madewell, Free People, Sephora and Anthropologie along with Chocolates by Kelly who recently located from her Broad St. store into her new + improved retail and experience space.
PRO TIP: Schedule a truffle making class with Chocolate by Kelly, a local brand!
There’s no shortage of places to grab a bite in and around Short Pump. We actually did Lehja AGAIN - I told you were were obsessed! And yes, the staff recognized us - but a few of my other favorite stops are listed below:
Casa del Barco - Mexican (RVA local brand, in the mall)
Cava - Mediterranean (DC based brand, outside of the mall)
Tazza Kitchen - American (VA and Carolina based brand, outside of the mall)
After our adventures, we headed to The Veil Brewing Co. to meet up with hubby + friends and enjoy a few drinks. I had the Never Never Calm Calm, a super juicy pineapple gose, while most everyone else enjoyed the IPA offerings. Veil typically has a huge variety of beer styles always on tap (think: IPAs of all types, lagers, sours, and stouts - plus cans/bottles to go!) and I love their modern + edgy vibe.
PRO TIP: Order 4-8 6 oz pours to create your own flight!
*Disclosure - I work part-time at Veil pour beer on the weekends!*
Always and forever, visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This free museum is open to the public and while they have a mainstay of regular pieces, they change up the current collection with some frequency in addition to adding unique, paid exhibitions. Nothing particular was happening this day, but as two creatives, it was fun roaming the rooms and seeing art from all cultures across the ages.
If you make it through this itinerary on your next visit to RVA, let me know! I always have a blast showing off Richmond to friends and family and this girl’s weekend was no exception! We ended the trip feeling super reconnected and ready to plan another full weekend girls trip in another city - with 13 current locations and another 7 on the way - I’m thinking Nashville + Graduate Nashville may be next!
Thank you to The Graduate who sponsored this post! They provided us with complimentary room + food during our stay. All opinions are my own.