Best and Worst 2022: Places and Spaces

Best and Worst 2022: Places and Spaces

This article has been edited since it first appeared in print.

Multicategory Winner


1700 Hampton St., 804-358-7166 

During the beginning of the pandemic, Maymont offered a way for people to gather outside. “We saw a record number of visitors during the pandemic, over 850,000 last year,” says Executive Director Parke Richeson. Maymont in 2020 completed a remodeling of its Robins Nature Center, adding  new species and a 34-foot climbing structure. Audio tours resumed in 2021, and at the Dooley Mansion, an exhibit “In Service & Beyond” showcases the staff who worked at the house during the Jim Crow era. This fall, the park opens a new orientation center and a classroom for active learning. Maymont remains Richmond’s favorite 100-acre park with its offerings of concerts and special events.  

Best park in the city

1. Maymont

2. Byrd Park 

3. Bryan Park 

Best place to take a first-time Richmond visitor 

1. Maymont

2. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts   

3. Belle Isle 

Best place to picnic

1. Maymont

2. Libby Hill Park   

3. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Best park in the counties 

Deep Run Park, Henrico County

9900 Ridgefield Parkway, 804-652-1430 

“Deep Run Park is one of our most popular parks, with over 384,000 guests in 2021,” says Henrico Recreation & Parks spokesperson Pam Kempf. Shady trails invite runners, walkers and cyclists; multiple playgrounds provide kids with plenty of romping; and athletes take to the fields for cricket, soccer and other sports. The Recreation Center and park programs include open gym sessions, crafts, canoeing and outdoor movies. A new fitness center opens later this year.  

2. Rockwood Park, Chesterfield County

3. Tie: Dorey Park, Henrico County; Pocahontas State Park, Chesterfield County  

Best neighborhood for walking  

The Fan

Turrets and finials. Bayfronts and Palladian windows. Stained glass and wrought iron. Mansions and town houses and balconied apartments. Flowering front yards and alleys that yield delightful gardens, such as those between Robinson and Mulberry streets, or the lovely Scuffletown pocket park off Strawberry Street, or Federal Park, between Floyd Avenue and Main Street containing a tot lot and a bench for watchful parents. All of these are on display during a meander, after which you can satiate your hunger and thirst at a corner restaurant.  

2. Museum District  

3. Church Hill

Worst neighborhood for walking  

Scott’s Addition

Greater Scott’s Addition Association President Rob Long wearily responds, “Sad as I am to hear of our ‘award,’ hopefully it helps to continue to bring attention to the struggles we have had with the neighborhood.” The community is overwhelmed by its sudden advancement from a slumbering warehouse district to a residential and recreation epicenter. City plans call for an array of traffic-calming measures and enhanced lighting, bump-outs and more sidewalks. Meanwhile, don’t forget to look both ways when you cross the street.  

2. Downtown

3. Tie: Church Hill; Gilpin Court

Best local hike  

Buttermilk Trail, James River Park System

Josh Stutz, executive director of Friends of the James River Park, hikes the park’s trails weekly to check conditions and monitor water levels. The James River Park System, which includes the Buttermilk Trail, is slated for $100,000 in capital improvements in 2023, along with $60,000 for environmental protection. “The park’s 50th anniversary is this year,” Stutz says, with a celebration scheduled for Sept. 17 on Belle Isle, featuring music, food trucks, a kids’ area and an honoring of past park superintendents.  

2. Anywhere along the James River; James River Park System trails in general  

3. Belle Isle

Best historical attraction  

Hollywood Cemetery  

412 S. Cherry St., 804-648-8501 

Among those resting in this funerary park along the James River are novelists James Branch Cabell and Ellen Glasgow; editors and historians Douglas Southall Freeman and Virginius Dabney; journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe; the fairly respected U.S. President James Monroe; the not-as-respected President John Tyler; and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who lies buried apart from the more than 15,000 soldiers who died under his doomed leadership. Also in Hollywood are GWAR founder Dave Brockie/Oderus Urungus and musician Bryan Harvey and his family.  

2. American Civil War Museum  

3. St. John’s Church

Best place to people-watch  


Here you can see “all breed of humans,” as advertised by the slogan of Mongrel, a popular and enduring Carytown shop. The mile-long agglomeration of homegrown and national retail, restaurants and entertainment attracts buskers of music, art, sleight-of-hand and sidewalk salesmanship — as well as an annual zombie parade. The district is anchored by the 1928 Byrd Theatre and its original Wurlitzer organ. Also, Sunday, Aug. 14, brings the 40th Carytown Watermelon Festival. 

2. Short Pump Town Center  

3. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Best place to watch the sunset  

Libby Hill Park

The compelling comparison between the sensuous curve of the James River toward downtown and that of a similar feature by Richmond-upon-Thames, west of London, caused the overlook to be dubbed “the view that named Richmond.” The city’s grudging founder, William Byrd II, apparently noticed the similarity. The vista, so far unmarred by high-rise apartments, is marvelous, and the park serves as a location for music, public events, sunset collectors and stargazers.  

2. Anywhere along the James River  

3. Belle Isle

Multicategory Winner

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

200 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., 804-340-1400 

The VMFA stays open until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, encouraging visitors to relax and gather on the sculpture garden lawn, with perhaps a bottle of wine and convivial company. Squint, and the scene resembles one from Renoir or Seurat. “Beautiful works of art, amazing dining experiences and special evening events, including live music performances and sizzling tango lessons, make VMFA an impressive first-date destination,” says VMFA Director and CEO Alex Nyerges.  

The museum, open 365 days a year, is free and invites everyone to experience varied creative endeavors, from the most ancient to the up-to-the-minute. All this, plus free jazz on Thursdays, too.  

Best place for a first date 

1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts  

2. Maymont  

3. Brambly Park Winery  

Best nonprofit art gallery or museum 

1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts  

2. Gallery5  

3. 1708 Gallery

Best winery within 90 miles of Richmond 

Upper Shirley Vineyards

600 Shirley Plantation Road, Charles City, 804-829-9463 

Part of Virginia’s newest geographical wine designation, the Virginia Peninsula AVA, Upper Shirley Vineyards features varietals that stand out due to the area’s soil constitution and winemaker Michael Shaps’ experience with wine production, says Wine Director Tayloe M.B. Dameron. Producing classic and unique blends, Dameron says Upper Shirley is one of two vineyards in Virginia that grow the French mourvèdre grape, creating three vintages with the harvests to date. 

2. New Kent Winery 

3. James River Cellars Winery

Best daytrip destination from Richmond 


With more than 40 wineries located within about 25 miles of Charlottesville, the area, says Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesperson Brantley Ussery, “is quickly becoming one of the most recognized wine destinations on the East Coast.” After enjoying a glass of vino, hit the shops at the historic Downtown Mall, then cap off your daytrip by checking out The Looking Glass, billed as Virginia’s first immersive art experience. 

2. Williamsburg  

3. Virginia Beach

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