The last time my family and I visited Staunton we noticed the same “Virginia Main Street” signage that we had seen previously in Ashland, another one of our favorite towns. After some quick research we learned that The Commonwealth has recognized 30 Advancing Main Street Communities. Each area provides its own unique history, experience for visitors and commercial district.
Fortunately, for Richmonders there are four Main Street Communities less than an hour away, each awaiting visitors to discover its individual offerings.
1. Ashland: A train town, a college town and belovedly called “Center of the Universe”, this charming town is a family favorite for many reasons. Just north of Richmond, Ashland is a nearby and affordable place to visit! We typically grab treats at Homemades by Suzanne while watching the trains pull right up to the station. Any train enthusiast must stop at Tiny Tim’s Trains & Toys for both toys and collectibles. The Ashland Library is located along the train tracks as well. Although not directly in the downtown area, there are also two popular parks: Pufferbelly and Carter; and, a new walking trail called the Trolley Line Trail.
2. Farmville: Home to the popular Green Front Furniture, Farmville downtown has everything to create a fun and inexpensive day trip! If you’re looking for exercise, begin at High Bridge Park and head downtown on your bike (or drive over after your walk). Restaurants like family-owned Walker’s Diner and Charley’s Waterfront Cafe are excellent options for families. Longwood Center for the Visual Arts offers free admission and provides a bag with art supplies to children. Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the unique LOVE sign, inspired by Farmville’s history.
3. Fredericksburg: With galleries, museums, restaurants and recreation visitors can be certain to find plenty to do in Fredericksburg. Popular eatery/pharmacy since 1867, Goolrick’s Pharmacy has the nation’s oldest continuously operating soda fountain. Additionally, The Washington Heritage Museums tell the history of Fredericksburg through the 4 different museums. Popular recreation nearby is: Alum Springs Park and Old Mill Park, a public park along the water.
4. Hopewell: About 40 minutes south of Richmond, Hopwell provides an idyllic setting for a family day. Right in the downtown area is scenic City Point Park and the Riverwalk, a gorgeous boardwalk along the Appomattox River. Also in downtown Hopewell: The Hopewell Library and the Beacon Theater. Unique shopping includes: The Silver Unicorn & Time Capsule, Bobby’s Antiques and Collectibles. For dinner opt for a picnic at City Park or go to the Boathouse to enjoy your meal along with a picturesque view. Also be sure to check out Legacy Roasting Co., Guncotton Coffee, and Wonder City Bakery.
As you plan daytrips for the fall be sure to include these nearby Virginia Main Street Communities. Each offering specialized experiences without breaking the bank.
— By Lindsay Garrison
Richmond on the Cheap contributor Lindsay Garrison is a Richmond, Virginia based mom to two young children. A graduate from Chesterfield Schools and Randolph-Macon College, Lindsay is proud to call Richmond home. In the years prior to planning activities and outings with her own children, she was a French teacher. During her tenure she earned accolades for her creative teaching style and ability to connect with her students. Lindsay now applies the skills she learned when she was planning student trips to France, to her own family adventures. She can’t wait to take her own children to France one day! Follow the Garrison’s family adventures on Instagram: @thegarrisonsrva
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