Richmond’s roots as the capital of the Confederacy have not kept it from developing into a modern Southern city. Taking cues from its revitalized neighbor to the north, Baltimore, Richmond has seen a major push to bring its historically significant but recently underutilized waterfront/canal district back to life. Trendy shops, restaurant hot-spots, tony loft apartments and hotels now line the 1.25-mile corridor along the Haxall Canal and the James River & Kanawha Canal. For those more interested in the history of the canals (or those just looking to see more of the area without taxing their legs), thirty-five minute narrated boat tours, which depart hourly April through November from between 14th St. and Virginia St. are both informative and relatively inexpensive ($5.00 adults, $4.00 children/seniors).

The city is also lucky to be the home to a number of nationally-accredited colleges and universities, including the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University . VCU is consistently ranked among the nation’s top programs in the arts, and the talent in and around the school continues to make Richmond a place to be to see top talent in the visual and performing arts. Nearby the college, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts showcases, among other highlights, important collections of Classical and African art and exceptional holdings in the Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles. The museum also revealed in 2003 plans for a $100 million dollar expansion of its buildings and collections to be completed by 2008.

Virginia’s capital also plays host to a number of annual events that bring out scores of tourists and locals alike. The Virginia state fair is held just outside the city near Richmond International Raceway every September. During the month of December, the entire downtown is illuminated for the holiday season, while April brings both the Easter on Parade street festival and two film showcases: the ever-popular James River Film Festival and VCU’s French Film Festival.