Richmond, Virginia’s Forest Hill – A Neighborhood Guide

RVA Neighborhood Guide – Forest Hill

If you’re looking to buy, here’s why you should consider the “Forest Hill” neighborhood, according to Sydney Lester of @ChicStripes.

My husband and our three cats moved to Forest Hill in 2012. During our home search, we looked at several different neighborhoods including North Side and Church Hill and ending up loving everything about Forest Hill – it was close enough to the city to have easy access to everything (literally a 10 minute drive or 15-20 minute bike ride!) but also had a neighborhood feel with big backyards and ample parking (unlike a lot of city living). We purchased our 900 square foot, one story ranch with a full basement and haven’t looked back!

I’m a personal stylist, speaker and coach as well as the founder + CEO of Chic Stripes, a full service personal styling company that helps women create sustainable and timeless wardrobes and the creator of BEYOND, a school that teaches personal stylists how to grow their businesses. And a bit about me: I love black coffee, vintage and can typically be found just as often in climbing/hiking shoes as heels. Follow my RVA adventures, travel, and cat photos on Instagram at @chicstripes.

Local watering holes and restaurants

In just the few, short years that we’ve lived in Forest Hill, the neighborhood has evolved with tons of new shops, restaurants and coffee spots. Here are a few of our favorites – all within a few blocks (walking distance between 3-5 minutes) from our home.

  • Little Nickel – The newest restaurant from the owners of The Galley (a longstanding and beloved Southside spot) has caused more Richmonders to cross the river than ever before – with a near constant waitlist we often opt for the “early bird” time or grab a seat at the bar. Without fail we ALWAYS get the nachos – an appetizer that is big enough for a dinner for two with your option of meats (or none). They never disappoint.
  • Outpost – This bike repair / grocery store hybrid has it all – from avocados, to local wine, to bike tires – making it a great, one stop shop for the locals who need to stock up on everything for their next ride or a leisurely breakfast at home. I’ve had many a bike tire replaced here while also scooping up kombucha and pita chips from Mediterranean Bakery (located in Henrico).
  • Cafe Zata – One of my favorite places to work, Cafe Zata (formerly Taza and what I still lovingly call it today) is one of the largest coffee shops in Richmond – it’s spacious and quiet; the perfect place to cozy up with a coffee + donut (rumor has it it’s the old Daylight Donuts recipe) and get things done.

Honorable mentions – these are ONLY honorable because they are on the “other side” of Forest Hill aka a 20 minute walk or short 5 minute drive.

  • Laura Lee’s – Owned and operated by Kendra Feather, restaurateur at the head of Ipanema, The Roosevelt, and Garnett’s (shout out out to some of the best sandwiches in the Fan), this sophisticated but laid back spot is home to great food and a fun atmosphere, whether you are dropping in for a fine dinner or casual drinks at the bar.
  • Crossroads – This bustling, small coffee shop has long been a neighborhood favorite, made even better by their outdoor patio + beer options. And from one local to another, their Friday morning Breakfast Cabaret is NOT to be missed.
  • WPA – Finally! When this Churchhill bakery announced their opening on the Southside, the neighborhood rejoiced. Gluten free (and full flour options available) delights make this a stand out for all of your pastry needs. My go-to is their gluten-free english muffin breakfast sandwich with eggs, dairy free cheese, and bacon combined with a piping hot cup of black coffee.

While we’re apparently a very food / coffee / beer centric neighborhood, there are a few shopping gems that must be named.

  • RVA Nest – Antique store / art gallery, RVA Nest curates the best vintage finds with local makers. Quite a few of our favorite home decor items came from here and their jewelry selection is always my favorite to pursue – I purchased a vintage silver ring here several years ago that has become a part of my daily uniform! Known for their Ladies Nights (there are infamous brownies to be had at these events), art gallery openings, and Holiday Market, RVA Nest is the best place to pop in and always find something you’ll love.
  • The Clothes Rack, Stratford Hills – A boutique consignment store, you’ll find the typical J. Crew or Banana Republic items, but nestled amongst the mall brands will be Prada, Dior, or Burberry. This store seems to fly under the radar, but it’s long been one of my favorite haunts!

Neighborhood events and activities:

There’s quite literally always something going on in Forest Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods (Westover Hills, Stratford Hills, and Woodland Heights). Here are a few of my favorite events

  • Breakaway RVA. This monthly community bike ride will ensure that you meet your neighbors, learn something cool about Richmond history, and go somewhere you’ve never been before. With four starting locations spread out over the city, you’ll meet up with the other riders for one big, group ride. Now in its third year, Breakaway RVA’s mission is to build community through biking and biking through community.  Each ride averages 70-100 riders for an easy 5-10 mile bike ride. The Southside ride meets at Outpost – 4th Thursday, 5:30-8 PM, May – October.
  • Breakfast Cabaret at Crossroads. Not to be missed, this is a great way to spend your Friday mornings. Options include working from the patio while you are serenaded or just kicking back to enjoy the fun. Friday mornings, 9-10:30 AM
  • South of the James Farmers Market, Forest Hill Park. The largest of the city’s farmers market, SOTJ is both for socializing, grabbing a donut from Mrs. Yoder’s, and getting your weekly grocery haul. With vendors that include veggies, fruit, eggs, meat, and bread to flowers, candles, dog treats and more – you can get all of your shopping done. Saturday mornings, 8-12 PM (summer hours) / 9-12 PM (winter hours). Rain or shine.
  • Jazz, Cafe Zata. A fun way to spend a lazy Sunday listening to neighborhood locals get funky. Sundays, 11 – 2 PM.
  • Music in the Park, Forest Hill Park. BYOP (bring your own picnic) for this warm weather, outdoor concert series. A great way to kick back with friends, kids and dogs, this is always packed. Sunday evenings, 5-8:30 PM, Spring – Fall, weather pending.

Special events:

  • 43rd Street Art Festival
  • Run for the Hills 5k
  • Annual neighborhood yard sale

Get involved:

As a neighborhood dweller, you have the option to join the Forest Hill Neighborhood Association where you can have a direct impact on issues related to the neighborhood and help out with many of the events listed above. 

About the Neighborhood / Unique characteristics

The Forest Hill vibe is one that is laid back, creative, and fun. It’s a great mix of families, young professionals, and retirees.

What sets Forest Hill apart from most any other neighborhood in Richmond is its proximity to the James River. With the Buttermilk Trail, Forest Hill Park, and Reedy Creek, we’re literally five minutes from hiking, running, and mountain biking on the 31 trails covering 23 miles of the James River Park System. With several areas to put in by the river, kayaks and canoes are another frequent sight in the neighborhood.

Every now and then we’ll consider renting our home and exploring other neighborhoods within Richmond, but Forest Hill has our hearts. We love living mere minutes from the heart of the city, walking or biking to and from our favorite spots, and hopping down to the river for a quick run or to just relax with a good book on the rocks.

Pro-tip for living in Forest Hill: get an EZ-pass. Living on the Southside means you’ll be paying tolls to get practically anywhere else in the city, so opt for the easy sailing option (and leave the quarter stash at home).

Neighborhood Data:

School District:

ElementaryHigh

High

High

Westover Hills Elementary SchoolOpen Middle School

George Wyth High School

Huguenot High School

Walkability according to Walk Score: 42

Average Days of Home on Market: 39 Days

Average Price of Home on Market: $290,000

***In the DADO app you’ll be able to view neighborhood vitals like school performance as well as walk and transit scores, property tax assessment and more. Download the app to keep your home search organized.

Staying organized when you are house hunting in the museum district….

Buying a new home can be equally as exciting as it is overwhelming – that’s why DADO is here to help. Our goal is to make your home buying journey enjoyable while providing the data needed for making smarter decisions. With DADO, users can keep their home search organized and share their notes and photos with all of the people in their lives that need to be in the know. No more scrolling through your camera roll, struggling to remember the details of the four houses you visited last week. The DADO app allows you to save all of the important information you need to keep straight in one place. Invite your significant other, friends or even your mom to stay connected with you during the exciting search for your first home.

Users can also use the app to crowdsource, collaborate and compare real photos and information about homes on the market, connect and share information with friends and family and help keep information organized when it’s time to narrow down which homes you choose to buy (click here to learn more about DADO). The house itself is just a piece of the puzzle when searching for a new home, so DADO partnered with a few local influencers in Richmond, Va. (RVA) to create neighborhood guides that curate the best things to do, eat and see locally.

Happy House Hunting!

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