South's Best Neighborhoods: Jackson Ward, Richmond
Zero in on the action by spending a day in one of Richmond's most soulful districts.
Why We Love It: Jazz, soul food, and African-American enterprise have always been the cornerstones of this historic neighborhood, and they’re also driving its revival.
Our Perfect Day: Start with a seasonal sandwich—say, the Brie, strawberry, spinach, and egg panini ($9)—at the colorful, loft-like Lift Coffee Shop & Café (liftcoffeeshop.com) before starting an art crawl along Broad Street. Keep an eye out for Gordon Stettinius’ fine-art photography space Candela Books (candelabooks.com), the newest addition to Gallery Row. Then visit the 28-room Victorian urban mansion that was once the home of Maggie l. Walker (nps.gov, free admission), the first African-American woman to found a bank, and The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia (blackhistorymuseum.org, $5 admission). Don’t miss dinner at Mama J’s Kitchen (mamajskitchen.com), where Velma Johnson cooks up Southern classics such as country-fried steak ($7).
Top Tastemaker: Michael Ng is on a mission to beef up the Ward, buying up storefronts on Second Street and opening his new lunch spot, Thai Corner (804/343-2009), in one of them.
The Ideal Souvenir: Albums from Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and James Brown—all of whom used to perform at venues on Second Street, aka “The Deuce”—at Steady Sounds (steadysounds.com).
Everyone’s Talking About: The Hippodrome Theatre (hippodromerichmond.com), a 1914 theater that just reopened after decades of dormancy and a $12 million Art Deco-inspired renovation.
Five More Neighborhoods to Watch
Washington, D.C.’s H Street NE. Corridor
A veritable embassy row of restaurants, H Street Ne. is fast becoming the capital’s next great dining spot. Miami’s Wynwood District
What started in 2009 as a graffiti installation has blossomed into a bona fide arts district with 75-plus galleries, cafes, and a slew of festivals. Austin’s East Side
Old-school blues clubs and time-tested Mexican restaurants rub shoulders with food trucks, edgy music venues, and a new boutique hotel. Savannah's Starland District
The steady stream of students and relatively affordable victorian storefronts make this area a haven for young gallery owners. New Orleans’ Freret Street
Its rezoning as an arts and entertainment district helped reinvent this stretch, now rife with markets, bars, and specialty food shops.