You want to see the world, but sometimes the world is an unfriendly place. That’s why HelloGiggles is bringing you Feminist Passport, a guide to all of the most inclusive hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, and sights to visit on your next big adventure. Because travel should be for everyone.
I was born in Manila, Philippines, but grew up in Richmond, Virginia. After I graduated from high school, I went to college in North Carolina and eventually accepted a job in New York City. Three years later, I decided to become a full-time freelance writer and moved to East Africa to live with my boyfriend. In short, it’s been a while since I’ve spent much time at home.
This past holiday season, I accepted a press trip and extended my vacation in Richmond until the end of January. I figured this would be the perfect time to reacquaint myself with my hometown through the ultimate staycation. I expected to spend a few nights at a hotel I’d never stayed at before, but otherwise, I thought everything else about the city would be pretty much the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I stumbled upon rising neighborhoods that even I, as a local, knew very little about. Over the years, the area has become so much more than male-dominated craft breweries and Virginia Commonwealth University, which sprawls through downtown. There’s a newfound inclusivity and sophistication. From all the female bosses making a statement to the array of LGBTQ pride events around town, Richmond has come a long way.
1Enjoy art and accommodations at the Quirk Hotel
Businesswoman, hotel co-owner, and Quirk Gallery director Kate Ukrop is the creative mastermind behind this inspired pink space. The dog-friendly hotel has a coffee shop in the lobby, featuring its own custom blend, a cozy, elegant restaurant, a rooftop bar with incredible city views, and, last but not least, a trendy art gallery two doors down featuring work by plenty of local and international women artists. The hotel, too, is bursting with creative work—from the signature wall hanging by artist Susie Ganch in the lobby to the quirky paintings by Virginia local Aimee Joyaux adorning the walls in some rooms. Sleep soundly knowing you’re surrounded by the energy of amazing women.
2Feel the power of inclusion at The Broad
If you’re visiting Richmond for business, get some work done by purchasing a day pass to The Broad, Richmond’s workspace and social club for women and non-binary folks. It’s definitely a step up from Starbucks, and I guarantee you’ll feel like you belong as soon as you walk in the door. Make sure you stick around for the after-hours events—you never know what connections you’ll make. The organization is dedicated to uplifting the community, hosting events such as a weekly divorce support group, lunch-and-learn networking sessions, and, since most members are freelancers, a very relevant tax panel discussion.
3Hit up happy hour at Blue Bee Cider
Richmond is well known for its craft beer scene, but Blue Bee Cider owner Courtney Mailey is taking things to the next level with her tasty artisanal ciders. She has her own ciderie in the city’s trendy Scott’s Addition neighborhood, and once you do a tasting, you’ll have a new appreciation for the underrated drink. Just make sure to pace yourself because her ciders have an ABV of up to 18%.
4Then grab a bite at Babe’s of Carytown
Enjoy comfort food and a show at this gay bar located in Carytown, one of Richmond’s most popular nightlife hot spots. From drag shows to karaoke, there’s always something exciting happening here. For 33 years and counting, owner Vicky Hester has strived to make this place an outlet for the LGBTQ community, with the majority of her kitchen staff identifying as queer.
5Have your cake and eat it too at Shyndigz.
Badass female pastry chef Nicole Jessee is the co-owner of this town favorite, and her salted chocolate caramel cake and peanut butter pie will blow you away. There aren’t very many cool places to just hang out and eat dessert, so you have to put this one on your list.
5Dance the night away with DJ Lady Syren
Look for DJ Lady Syren at bars like Social 52 or Bar Solita, and you won’t be disappointed—she actually plays songs you want to hear. And I don’t just mean today’s hits. DJ Lady Syren’s throwbacks will also hit you hard. If you’re going to go out, why not support Richmond’s fastest-rising female artist?