by Kate Vinnedge
Well, it’s officially summer, which means until the middle of August, VCU’s campus - and some of the best of what Richmond has to offer - will have a lot less foot traffic. With all the students gone, now is the perfect opportunity to visit some of the best (but often most crowded) places in the city.
There’s nothing quite as classic on VCU’s campus (regarding Richmond eats) as The Village. I won’t bother describing their menu, as it is as well-known as it is expansive, nor worry about imparting the quintessential late mid-century Richmond feel the space oozes with gusto.
I still remember my first visit to the American diner and cafe - a cold and rainy autumn night, by myself, at the start of my freshman year at VCU (ironically, considering the topic of this blog), the Misfits humming in the background. The wet neons shown in the booth’s glass, and I knew I had found the perfect hangout spot.
And that was before I turned twenty one, and got to enjoy one possibly the best part of The Village. Other than the milkshakes.
Have you had a chance to check out the refurbished Monroe Park? Those magnificent old trees were always a delight to walk or sit under, but now, with a little bit of shine, some new sidewalks, and some updates here and there, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Remember the old gazebo? Well, now it’s got a great little patio area around it, complete with tables and umbrellas!
Every year, First Fridays gets a little better (although it’s always been good), and just a little more crowded. During the summer however, there’s a little bit of a reprieve from squeezing between kiosks, crowds, and art while walking down Broad Street sidewalks.
It’s always great to take advantage of the summer months to catch shows, exhibits, and galleries at your favorite, but all too often jammed pack with people shops that make up First Fridays.
Let’s not pretend there’s any time, on any nice day, of any season of the year that Belle Isle isn’t crowded. It is, however, substantially less crowded during the mid-summer months, as the students migrate back north, and the geese come south for summer vacation. Or did I get that backwards?
So find yourself a sunning rock before mid-August before they’re all gone for another year - Belle Isle river real estate is hotter than the city’s right now.
Finally, reward yourself for visiting all those old nostalgic stomping grounds with a cup of coffee from Lamplighter. Take it out to the park that cozies up to their cafe situated at the head of those mid-street islands that punctuate the Fan, and take a sip while you enjoy the relative peace and quite of less students than normal.
And then, quietly, so no once will notice, reminisce just once more about how great it was (no matter what school you went to) to be a student.
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