With the weather slowly changing and summer rapidly approaching, minds are shifting from work mode to vacation mode. You’re spending your lunch break scouting locations, searching for flight deals, and putting family members and friends on alert that a summer getaway is in the works. It’s an exciting time for many, but the truth is that vacations take heavy planning; securing time off isn’t always feasible, saving for a fantasy trip can be difficult, and aligning schedules to get everyone together can be borderline impossible. The more people that join, the more planning is involved, which ultimately means more money is required. Between hotel costs, rental car fees, attraction admissions, and meals, the numbers add up rather quickly. So, what do you do? Do you forfeit the idea of a vacation altogether, or do you find ways to make it work and enjoy time off as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible? The answer: you plan a staycation.
Unlike a vacation, where you “vacate” your current city and spend anywhere from a few days to a week in another state or country, a staycation is exactly that: you “stay” in your current city or state and unplug, unwind, and enjoy time away from everyday life. Most times, a staycation consists of either visiting a neighboring city or booking a hotel in your own city, right in the heart of downtown. They provide the perfect opportunity to look at your hometown through a different lens and step outside of the box, gaining new perspectives and experiences you’d otherwise never have. Try new restaurants, explore unfamiliar neighborhoods, or check out those museum exhibits you’ve heard so much about, but never got around to visiting. You’ll be surprised how different your experience is when you treat your own town like a distant land you’re experiencing for the first time. And yes, you turn off your phone to prevent distractions and truly live in the moment.
So, how do you make a staycation happen right here in Richmond, VA? On the surface, it seems like Richmond, as quaint and charming as it is, has already shown its residents all it has to offer. But what if you researched the city as a tourist instead of a lifelong resident? What you’ll find is not that you managed to spend yet another weekend in the same old city doing the “same ol’, same ol’,” but that you’ve learned about the rich history behind the historic neighborhoods you drive through daily. You’ll meet small business owners, discover delicious restaurant gems, and find yourself in pockets of the city you may have never known existed. What you’ll find is that an amazing retreat is possible when you allow yourself to be a tourist in your own hometown. Even better is that if you’re staycationing with children, they’ll relish in the opportunity to sleep in a hotel or home-away-from-home for a few nights. Everyone wins.
Planning a staycation in Richmond is a breeze. From historical visits to nature walks and everything in between, there’s no shortage of activities to do in the state’s capitol city. First, you must decide where to stay. Thanks to sites like Airbnb, you can easily reserve homes in neighborhoods you’ve always wanted to visit. Do you love the charm of Carytown? If so, you can bet that a host in that area has a beautiful home for rent. If you’ve always wondered how it’d feel to sleep in a high-rise loft apartment with stunning views of the James River, there are listings for those, too! Your options are limitless when it comes to hosting sites, and as we discussed in our article about international travel, the prices are tough to beat.
Once you’ve got your location locked in, it’s time to plan your activities. Our suggestion? Give nature a try! Richmond has an array of trails, parks, and river walks that offer beautiful views and miles of terrain on which to explore.
Julexus Cappell, rising Junior at Virginia State University, devoted her staycation to navigating the Appomattox River Heritage Trail, something she’s had her sights set on since moving to Petersburg in 2015. Thanks to the demands of undergrad, carving out the time and saving the money for a vacation is quite the struggle, so she decided to take matters into her own hands and plan her own little getaway right here in town. She’s no stranger to exploring the great outdoors, so choosing to unplug for the weekend with a hiking trip was a no-brainer.
“Before college, I loved walking trails with my mom, but with my mom two hours away in Harrisonburg, VA, I kind of let it go,” she explains. “College has a way of not letting you make time for the things you love, so I took the time to pick that hobby back up. Richmond and the tri-cities have over 15 hiking trails in the area, and they don’t lack in variety of scenery; I chose the Appomattox River Heritage Trail because it’s less than a mile from historic downtown Petersburg, with the restaurants and shops that make the area so charming.”
Over the course of the weekend, Cappell enjoyed tackling the 10-mile stretch alongside the water that allows for biking, hiking, jogging, and dog-walking. The views and quiet of the trail are incredibly serene, providing the perfect opportunity to escape daily life and restart the week with a clear head.
Of course, nature walks aren’t your only option when planning your staycation in Richmond. Other options include renting a home in the museum district and spending your days wandering through each museum exhibit, soaking in as much art and culture as your heart desires. Enjoy museums like the great Agecroft Hall, the Science Museum of Virginia, the Children’s Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, to name a few, and take advantage of the neighborhood that boasts rows of beautiful historic homes, local restaurants and coffee shops, and the historical Byrd Theatre.
What you’ll also find are how many great sites you’ll stumble upon when you’re open to exploring. Thanks to the rising creative scene brought about by VCU’s School of the Arts, you’ll find breathtaking art in the form of beautifully painted murals and street sculptures. At every corner, you’ll see the creative minds at play in Richmond, something you might overlook when simply passing through the city.
Whether staycationing in Richmond or traveling a little further to a town such as Colonial Williamsburg, discuss with your family the types of attractions and experiences that will make the staycation feel like you’ve truly left town. It’s all about cultivating an experience that allows you to see the beauty in scaling back on vacation costs while still making lasting memories. What’s even better is that in between exciting vacations to Disney and family trips abroad, you’ll always know that when you’ve mastered the art of staycationing, a vacation is only a few clicks—and even fewer dollars—away.