A Transplant’s Guide to RVA


Are you new to Richmond and wondering why “Southside” doesn’t render any results in your GPS?

Here is your guide to some of the lingo of RVA (that’s what we call Richmond).

Downtown – Where the big corporate buildings are and geographically close to the center of the metro area.

The West End – Where all its citizens think they are the center of the metro area. True West Enders can’t imagine living anywhere else. The “near West End” includes areas like Tuckahoe with an Old Richmond feel while the “far West End” has Short Pump retail and lots of newer subdivisions. It’s a Gatsby-like divide.

Southside – Anything south of the river: Bon Air, Midlothian, Manchester, Chester…while all very different they get lumped into a foggy “Southside” bubble.

Northside – Actually should be North/Westside but the residents of the quaint walkable communities want nothing to do with any title that sounds like the West End.

The East End – Both urban and rural areas (I’m looking at you Varina) get lumped into the generic “East End” descriptor. If it’s geographically east of downtown, it’s the East End.

The Fan – An area between downtown and the West End where all the roads fan out causing endless confusion navigating.

Scott’s Addition – Once warehouses now hip breweries. And the rebranding award goes to…

Shockoe – Located downtown near the canal, Shockoe Slip (the hill) and Shockoe Bottom (the bottom of the hill) are filled with restaurants where business people have lunch and people far hipper than I am go at night. Word to the wise – don’t walk on the cobblestone streets in heels.

The (James) River – An impossible chasm to cross. Heaven help you if you live on the “other” side of the river. Have your passport handy to get stamped.

The Rivah – Where Richmond goes to get out of Richmond. It’s no specific river, it’s just on some river somewhere east of RVA.

Maymont – A botanical garden and mini-zoo all rolled into one for free. This 100-acre park is located inside city limits and is a special gem of Richmond.

The Nickel Bridge – Doesn’t actually cost a nickel anymore. Officially named the “Boulevard Bridge” it connects Forest Hill to Byrd Park near Maymont (see above).

Powhite – pronounced Poe-white – it’s the easiest way for Southsiders to get downtown.

Brown’s Island – I’m still not sure if it’s an actual island, but the site of many a great outdoor event downtown.

T-Pot Bridge – The hippest thing to talk about. This new footbridge (actually the Tyler Potterfield Bridge) can be accessed near Brown’s Island.

Pony Pasture – There are no ponies and there is little pasture, but this area on the South bank of the James near the Huguenot Bridge is fun for walking trails or sitting on rocks while the river rushes by. Be careful to follow all posted signs and never go on the river, even just the rocks, when it is near or above flood levels.

OBX – Outerbanks/Nags Head, NC – The other place Richmond goes to get out of Richmond. With one main road traffic is ferocious in the summer like RVA rush hour, every hour.

Ukrop’s – A family-owned grocery store that was sold in 2010. It is held in high esteem by seasoned Richmonders who believe that no grocery store will ever replace this Richmond staple. Their baked goods division selling White House Rolls, rainbow cookies, and Dot’s pound cake is still going strong and these goods can be found in local stores.


Also, be prepared at these places for strangers to make eye contact with you and say hello. No, you don’t have something on your face. We really are that friendly in Richmond. But don’t worry, they don’t actually care what your response is. So just mutter hello back and be on your way to your next RVA destination.