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Road Trip

Style and Sustenance Along Cary Street in Richmond

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

WHERE: Richmond.

WHY: A stylish mile, a Fan-tastic neighborhood and warehouses of food.

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HOW FAR: About 3.5 miles from start to finish.

For your next visit to Richmond, set your pedometer to the Mile of Style and beyond.

Cary Street has some of the best shopping and strolling around, with wide, uncrowded sidewalks that encourage window ogling and curbside idling. The street is easily accessible, too: It runs through central Richmond, parallels Main Street and is directly off Interstate 95 and Route 195. The James River flows a few blocks away, adding a bucolic touch to an otherwise urban setting.

Carytown, on the far western edge, is known as the Mile of Style. The vibe is unapologetically bohemian, thanks to offbeat art stores, acupuncture offices and a beatnik-style cafe that serves up strong coffee and polemical diners. The sights are mainly retail but are heads above the usual mall finds. You can camp it up in pink flamingo sunglasses from World of Mirth, for example, or go L.A. chic in a Pade Vavra snake necklace from nearby Pink.

Heading east, Cary Street runs through a leafy residential section before arriving at a foot-friendly neighborhood called the Fan. (The name derives from the way the roads fan out to the west from North Belvidere Street.) Sleepier than Carytown, the Fan has less retail density and more historic homes, parks and monuments, as well as the Monroe Park campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Shockoe Slip is a fitting finale. The downtown district was the heart of commerce in 18th- and 19th-century Richmond but now traffics in good times. Old tobacco and grain warehouses have been converted into bars, breweries and restaurants appropriate for Sunday brunch or a bachelor party, depending on the hour. For your purposes, though, the Shockoe watering holes may work best as refueling stations before trekking back up Cary Street.

-- Ben Chapman


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