48 Hours in historic Richmond, Virginia

RICHMOND, Virginia Fri Aug 6, 2010 11:10am BST

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RICHMOND, Virginia (Reuters Life!) - The history of the United States and the Civil War that nearly severed it are on display in Richmond's historic district.

Robert E. Lee accepted the leadership of the Confederate Army of Virginia in the grand state house of Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, while the American Civil War Center sits on the canal planned by George Washington, the country's first leader.

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors to get the most out of a 48-hour visit to the city which will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in 2011.

FRIDAY

5 p.m. - After arriving book into the Omni Hotel, a comfortable modern inn, or the historic Jefferson Hotel, a wedding cake of Rococo flourishes. Both offer a free car and driver to deliver and retrieve you from any destination in the historic district.

6:30 p.m. - Stroll and shop in Carytown, a lively restored midtown area with boutiques, shops, restaurants, bars and street musicians.

7:30 p.m. - Stop at the Water Grill for dinner and try the arugula salad and locally caught rockfish. www.thewatergrill.com.

9 p.m. - Walk to the Byrd Theater, an opulent movie palace from the 1920s that is opened 365 days a year. It was the first American theater with a sound system. To check what is being featured go to www.byrdtheatre.com.

SATURDAY

9 a.m. - Ride down Monument Boulevard, the statue lined street that bears the images of Civil War heroes, ending with African-American tennis great Arthur Ashe. Visit the historic Fan District, a candy-colored array of Victorian houses.

10 a.m. - Tour Agecroft, a 15th Century Tudor home that landed in Richmond, literally, from Lancashire, England. The crumbling estate was lovingly reassembled and restored. www.agecrofthall.com

11 a.m. - See a live bald eagle and buffalo at the gilded age 100 acre-estate of Maymont, which includes a Romanesque-style mansion that was completed in 1893. The Robins Nature Center also features a pair of playful otters and a tram passes bobcat, bear, foxes and birds of prey. www.maymont.org

12 - If you have worked up an appetite try the Comfort Restaurant which offers a good wedge of meatloaf and green beans. www.comfortrestaurant.com

1:30 p.m. - Visit the Virginia State House. Thomas Jefferson chose a classical style for the building. A perfect likeness of George Washington stands in the center. It is also home to the Confederate Congress and a bronze likeness of Robert E. Lee marks the spot of rebellion. www.virginiacapitol.gov

2:30 p.m. - Tour the White House of the Confederacy. The furnished home was purchased as an executive mansion for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. See his restored office on the second floor and the nursery where his children played. www.moc.org

3:30 p.m. - Stroll over to the Museum of the Confederacy which is nearby. The museum brings the war to a human level using letters from soldiers and their meager possessions to showcase their daily life. www.moc.org

6 p.m. - Stop at the bar at the Jefferson Hotel for drinks and try the Two Grapes cocktail.

7 p.m. - Adjourn into Lemaire, the Jefferson's elegant restaurant. Indulge your cholesterol levels with the "as Southern as it gets" Berkshire pork chop with Coco-Cola barbeque sauce, mac-n-cheese and collard greens. www.lemairerestaurant.com

9:30 p.m. - Stroll along Shockoe Bottom, a nearby entertainment district. Bars and novelty shops such as These Four Walls are open late.

SUNDAY

9 a.m. - Visit the American Civil War Center, which is the only museum which also examines the conflict from the slaves' perspective. www.tredegar.org

11 a.m. - Take a break from history at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens where a large children's garden, complete with a tree house, provides a beautiful playground for the family. The orchid collection can be seen in the Conservatory. www.lewisginter.org

12 - Eat lunch in the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Tea House where fresh ingredients transform a salad and the garden view nourishes the soul.

1:30 p.m. - Stop at the Poe Museum, which features manuscripts, letters, memorabilia and items that belonged to the famous poet Edgar Allan Poe, who lived and worked in Richmond. Guided tours of the museum are available. www.poemuseum.org

2:30 p.m. - Try to catch a re-enactment of the speech that ignited the Revolutionary War. Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" address was delivered at St. John's Church. Poe's mother was buried in the graveyard. www.historicstjohnschurch.org

3:30 p.m.- For the adventurous there is white water rafting on the James River. Richmond is the only urban area that offers Class III and IV rapids. www.riversideoutfitters.net

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