Top 10 Magical RVA Experiences During The Winter Months

Richmond in Winter? Yes, Please!

The winter holiday season is one of my favorite times of the year in the greater Richmond area. The neighborhoods and storefronts shine brightly with dazzling light displays and the holiday festivities seem endless. But, the fun definitely doesn’t end in December. There’s actually so much to do here during all winter months. So, I’m sharing a few of my ‘favorite Richmond winter things to do’ with hopes that you may find a new tradition or create warm memories!

Kings Dominion Winterfest: November 20, 2021 – January 9, 2022

The park is magically transformed into a winter wonderland that treats friends and family to the ultimate holiday celebration. Winterfest has it all: the sights, sounds, food, and experiences are absolutely enchanting. The park’s over two million shimmering lights, 300-foot tree, lavish displays, holiday activities, live shows, selection of rides, and strolling performers are classic family fun. I’m sure you’ll even leave with a fun story or two to talk about for years to come.

Southern Afternoon Tea: The Jefferson Hotel

A Richmond landmark, The Jefferson Hotel is adorned with hundreds of poinsettias, yards of garland and ribbon, thousands of twinkling lights, and dozens of toy soldiers. The hotel is absolutely beautiful any time of year. But, during the winter holidays, it’s truly marvelous to behold at every turn. Be sure to call ahead for seating reservations. 

Light Up the Tracks Celebration: Downtown Ashland, November 6, 2021 – January 1, 2022

I hope you’ll take a stroll along the mile-long holiday light display in the downtown historic district and revel at the sight of the iconic railroad tracks donned with twinkling white lights! Maybe grab dinner at one of the charming restaurants and take in a local shop or two in this vintage Christmas village. There are scheduled events, including live musical performances and more.

Tour Historic Maymont

During December and January, the Maymont Mansion revels in Victorian holiday splendor with a 12 foot Christmas tree, lavish gifts and games of 1893, and so much more. Plus, Maymont is one of Richmond’s most beautiful parks. Major and Mrs. Dooley’s spectacularly decorated Gilded Age home is open to the public year round. Stroll the hilly grounds, discover the Japanese gardens, tour the mansion, or visit the zoo — all even more beautiful in the winter months!

Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, November 22, 2021 – January 9, 2022

This annual tradition is the ultimate holiday extravaganza. It boasts over a million glimmering lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations as far as the eye can see, model trains, and more. Every year there is a featured theme. This year’s theme, ‘Naturally Connected’, underscores how we are all connected to each other and to nature.  One thing is for sure, illuminated beauty connects every possible view, with figures such as unicorns, butterflies, their famous peacock, and the live Christmas tree inside the conservatory. Be sure to enjoy s’mores and hot cocoa by the fire pit to warm up!

Photo Courtesy of Tom Hennessy Photography

Experience a Food Tour

Even in colder weather, food tours are a must-try. Whether you prefer eating indoors (check out Carytown Food Tour or Scott’s Addition Food Tour), or desire to stay outside (Church Hill Food Tour), you’ll have a great time exploring the unique history of Richmond and its diverse food options.

Explore Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) Exhibits

The museum is Richmond’s most popular (and free museum), with more than 33,000 works from about every major world culture. There are also a handful of rotating collections — The Ansel Adams: Composition in Nature exhibit is currently headlining through January 2, 2022. You can enjoy the “drama and splendor of the American landscape as seen through the lens of photographer Ansel Adams.”  Another collection, Man Ray: The Paris Years, is timed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Man Ray’s arrival in the French capital. His portraits capture the nature and character of ‘the crazy years’ of Paris between the two world wars and includes more than 100 portraits of such cultural luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway. The exhibition runs through February 21, 2022. While there, be sure to grab a bite at Amuse, VMFA’s upscale restaurant. 

Go For a Swim

I’m guessing that some of my readers may think this is a crazy idea…any takers? If so, please know that you will have one chance this winter to take an icy plunge. Yes, the “Shiver In The River” takes place on February 26, 2022 at Historic Tredegar.  Mark your calendar. 😉 

Spend Time in Your Favorite Café

Richmond has a bustling hot beverage scene and plenty of cafés to choose from. Just to name a few, there’s Lamplighter, with 15+ years of roasting experience; Blanchard’s, rumored to have Richmond’s best espresso; Rostov’s Coffee for its wide selection of roasted deliciousness; and Riverbend Roastery, with their small but thoughtful selection of house-roasted regular and flavored brews. If coffee isn’t your thing, order hot tea or cocoa and enjoy people watching!

Visit The Poe Museum

The Poe Museum began over a century ago when an Edgar Allan Poe collector and researcher, James Howard Whitty, and a group of literary enthusiasts met in Poe’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia to create the state’s first monument to the writer. Inside the museum is a vast collection of Poe’s manuscripts, letters, possessions, and much more. 

Try One of Richmond’s Favorite Cocktails

Richmond’s booming craft cocktail scene is alive and thriving during the coldest season of the year. Whether it’s the “Thoughts & Feelings” at Heritage, or a “Danville Rattlesnake” at The Roosevelt, there’s no better time to imbibe. The Jasper in Carytown is home to one of the city’s premier cocktail bars. The bartenders are knowledgeable and the menus are regularly updated. If you’d rather enjoy an adult fancy beverage at home, you will be happy to know that many of Richmond’s cocktail bars have added to-go menus. 

Yes, winter is here. But, if you’re a Richmond resident or visitor, you don’t have to stay inside for several months!  The crisp, cold air has ushered in so many awesome seasonal activities to enjoy with family and friends. 

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