I absolutely love where I live. Richmond is one of the best places in the world (if you ask me) and Carytown is one of the hot spots to visit!
Take it from me. I’ve visited plenty of other states, and while there are many spots that have part of my heart, RVA will always be my favorite. I’m constantly urging my friends from around the globe to visit, because there’s much more than meets the eye. In fact, Forbes.com named Richmond one of the “10 coolest U.S. cities to visit in 2018“! That’s quite an achievement if you ask me!
RVA has so many fantastic spots to visit. Carytown is located just outside of the Museum District, close to VCU, and only a few minutes from where I grew up. It’s a cluster of shops, restaurants, and other venues that span a few blocks and make it easy for you to park on one end and walk the entire length – without breaking a sweat. Within those blocks are 20 things that make Carytown a special part of Richmond.
Keep reading to learn more about those must-see locations, and view some Instagram photos I’ve taken over the years at the top spots!
20 Sights To See When You Visit Carytown
Places to Eat
Anyone for pad thai? I’m a total sucker for the dish, and this spot has some of the best. It’s a bit of a hole in the wall and you might miss it if you’re not looking. Be watching for the purple walls on the exterior of the building!
Citizen Burger Bar has very quickly become my favorite restaurant in the city. Their meat products solely come from grass-fed cows and free-range chickens, and their burgers are on another level because of it. They allow you to customize your burger (without paying an arm and a leg for it), and the sweet potato fries are fresh from paradise. Seriously – as someone allergic to white potatoes, I made it my mission to find the best sweet potato fries around, and CBB won by a landslide. I honestly could write an entire post about this spot, but I think you should just take my word for it and stop by!
This is my favorite brunch spot in Richmond! I love their passionfruit mimosa with all my heart. It’s actually where I had my first drink out after I turned 21! The vibe is super relaxed and the food is always delicious. I love sitting at the bar to chat with a friend, or taking advantage of their spacious patio seating in the warmer months.
I don’t think you ever need an excuse to go to Can Can. If you’re craving a good drink, the most delicious French desserts, or a steak and frites like you’ve never tasted – this is the restaurant for you. It feels oh-so fancy, and in the warmer months, they open a massive window in the front to let in the summer breeze. It’s also the best place in all of Richmond to get hot chocolate, in my opinion.
If you’re a Riverdale fan, you may love the idea of Pop’s Diner. Galaxy is one of the closest we have in RVA. The front door slides open to reveal mirrored walls, funky bar stools, and delicacies like fried Oreos and milkshakes. It can tend to garner a crowd, so I suggest it for weekday lunch or late-night dessert, that way you’re not waiting too long!
Speaking of Harry Potter, each year, Carytown Cupcakes turns their entire shop into a Harry Potter world that rivals Universal Studios! Bite into a cupcake that will determine your house and enjoy all the fun decorations. The rest of the year is just as wonderful! While it may not be Harry Potter themed, you’ll definitely enjoy some of the yummiest cupcakes – and they offer a ton of vegan and gluten-free options as well!
Craving a good bowl of pho? This restaurant is the absolute best. They use only the freshest organic ingredients, often locally-sourced, and cater to those with allergies or diet restrictions. The atmosphere is very calming and it’s a wonderful spot to go to if you want to chat with a friend over some delicious food.
Places to Shop
Literally any kind of chocolate you can imagine is housed in this shop. The moment you walk in, you want to sink into a bed of chocolate because of the alluring scent. Sample some truffles, grab the yummiest fudge, or find a chocolate from another country that you’ve been dying to try. It’s an excellent place for gifts as well (I filled up my parents’ Christmas stockings real good last year)!
Another candy store? Don’t worry – it’s a completely different feel than the chocolate shop. Vintage posters of Marilyn Monroe, life-size cutouts of Han Solo, and candies you’ve never heard of before will greet you inside. Just notice the pirate who’s ready to shake your hand on the street, and you’ll know you’ve come to the right place! This is where my fiancé and I always stop to buy candy before a movie!
I love the vibe in this record shop. But don’t be fooled – they also have a massive selection of CDs, DVDs, and the like. It always makes me feel like I’ve waltzed back into my childhood when I see the Breakfast Club cover or a Michael Jackson album!
Don’t be fooled by the name because this is actually a book shop! There are two stories to this cozy shop, and you can find a wonderful array of literature to choose from, used and new. There are often little pop-up shops on the second floor, so make sure you head up there to see if you can find a new pair of earrings or a pottery piece to bring home with your book. And make sure to check the window and the check-out counter for Wonton, the store cat!
I could honestly spend hours in this store, and not get bored. Ariel from The Little Mermaid would love the amount of knick-knacks and thingamabobs they carry. Sure, not everything is practical but it’s all so much fun! Macaron-shaped soap, maps of the best breweries in Richmond, succulent planters shaped like a corgi’s butt … you can find all that and more at Mongrel.
What’s not to love about furniture shopping, especially when it’s this beautiful? My man and I love window shopping, because their displays are on another level. Every time I visit, I leave feeling inspired. Our favorite throw blanket in our living room is from this store, and we constantly get compliments on it!
Every time I passed this store as a teen, I thought it was meant for little kids. On the outside, it looks like a quirky toy shop. There is a curved mirror standing on the sidewalk that makes you look like you’re 2 feet tall, and I always took pictures in it to laugh about with my friends, but never walked inside. Then a few years back, I stepped in and found that, yes, they definitely have a ton of toys, but they also have board games, wrapping paper, candy, and more. It’s another great place for gifts, and in the back of the shop, step up on a platform and try on Sorting Hat from Harry Potter, or a unicorn mask, or a wacky pair of sunglasses, and enjoy the feeling of being a kid again!
This is definitely my fiancé’s favorite spot. Think vintage GameStop. All the video games you loved when you were a kid are likely to be found here. PS2 games that haven’t been available for years will pop up every once in a while, and even Game Boys or pieces for your older consoles are easier to find here than most places. There’s also a really fun selection of what I like to call “handmade nerdy products”: hand-etched tumblers, necklaces, and keychains with Pokémon, superhero, and the like as the main feature!
Places to Drink
Is it a vintage clothing shop? Is it a café? It’s both, and that makes it one of my favorite spots in Carytown – and really, all of Richmond. Shop, sip, and enjoy their cozy atmosphere for hours and hours.
Only open Saturdays, this is a bubble tea and puffle ice cream stand you don’t want to miss! Their flavors are excellent, there are tons of “topping” options, and you aren’t paying an arm and a leg. Plus, during the summer you’ll be able to sit on their patio under twinkle lights and enjoy relaxing after walking up and down the street!
Built in 1928, this theatre gives you grandeur in the form of crystal chandeliers, velvet curtains, and a trip to the past – and you only need to pay $4 to step inside. Two movies play per evening – usually after they’ve left “normal” theaters or have made their way to DVD and Blu-ray. Sometimes they even play throwback films on the weekends or holidays! The smell of their popcorn alone is tempting enough to lure you inside. It’s a cheap date and an experience like none other!
On the weekends, you may notice a street magician outside this fun shop! Stop and enjoy the show for a bit, then head inside to buy a board game, a cool deck of cards, or watch the guys in the back forming their strategies for Dungeons and Dragons.