We drive past Richmond on our way to Hampton Roads often. At least half a dozen times I've said, "We should stop and see what's going on there." But, as way leads to to way, that road has proverbially been left not taken.
Until recently, when our family took a trip to Virginia's state capital for a few days. We discovered Richmond offers plenty of culture and entertainment, while providing a sense of familiarity and friendliness found in small towns.
Plus, top-notch restaurants abound. My favorite kind--delicious but not too pricey. Quaint neighborhoods welcomed us as we drove into the city. They soon gave way to more urban life as we reached downtown.
There is something about being on a college campus that makes you feel alive. VCU was no different. Not only were thousands of students of all backgrounds everywhere, there was a sense of being in a big city without feeling too crowded. The funky neighborhoods surrounding campus were equally fun to explore.
Belle Isle Historic Park is a 54-acre island in the heart of Richmond. Part of the James River Park System, the main access to Belle Isle is by pedestrian footbridge from Tredegar Street.
It was so secluded on a chilly afternoon that we thought we were in the wrong place. We walked the long bridge and discovered the beauty of Belle Isle. The views were both grim and spectacular as there were natural spaces and grey industrial buildings surrounding us.
The most important time spent on our family vacation was walking the Richmond Slave Trail. We were humbled to travel the path of our ancestors. We walked in silence at first, too moved to speak. Then, talking and singing replaced the quiet.
Sometimes we forget, as Americans--nay, as human beings--how far we've come. If you find yourself in Richmond, please walk the slave trail and visit Henry "Box" Brown Plaza.
"Richmond Slave Trail is a walking trail that chronicles the history of the trade of enslaved Africans from Africa to Virginia until 1775, and away from Virginia, especially Richmond, to other locations in the Americas until 1865.
It begins at Manchester Docks, a major port in the massive downriver Slave Trade that made Richmond the largest source of enslaved Africans on the east coast of America from 1830 to 1860. The trail then follows a route through the slave markets of Richmond, beside the Reconciliation Statue commemorating the international triangular slave trade, past Lumpkin's Slave Jail and the Negro Burial Ground to First African Baptist Church, a center of African-American life in pre-Civil War Richmond."