Days and nights in Richmond, Virginia, sparkle during December more than a socialite draped in jewels. Legions of stringed lights hang like tinsel on trees. Candy-colored bulbs decorate foliage at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. And James River plantations treat guests to a colonial-style Christmas. From candlelight tours to light shows, this town offers more weekend choices than a travel agent's checklist.
The Beautiful Stays of Christmas
The Jefferson Hotel, named for Thomas Jefferson, has pioneered grand lodging since 1895 and offers Sunday brunch with Santa on December 16 ($44). Nonguests are welcome to attend as well. Room rates start at $235.
In the middle of Shockoe Slip (a historic shopping district near Kanawha Canal), The Berkeley Hotel dons AAA diamond ratings. Rates start at $195. For a less expensive option, try the Crowne Plaza Richmond Downtown, which overlooks the James River and sits within walking distance of Shockoe Slip. Rates start at $99.
Or spend the night in one of the James River plantations located between Richmond and Williamsburg on State 5. North Bend Plantation offers four rooms for overnight guests. Quiet and serene, nighttime brings feeding deer to the property. Rates start at $135.
Cute box lunches from Sally Bell's Kitchen have fed Richmond for 83 years. A roast beef sandwich, deviled egg half, potato salad, and cheese wafer satisfy even the biggest appetites ($7.45).
Lively lit floral displays, as pretty as presents, illuminate paths during GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Don't miss the Conservatory, where beautiful poinsettias steal the show.
Gents and gentlewomen in Victorian garb share Christmas cheer and hot cider during tours of the distinguished Maymont House Museum. The 100-acre country estate includes a stone barn and mausoleum among its 25 original buildings.
When it's time for dinner, put your money at Bank Restaurant. The popular eatery offers great shrimp and grits.