RVA Neighborhood Guide – The Fan
I relocated to Richmond, VA five years ago for graduate school at VCU. The first apartment that I ever toured was in the heart of the Fan District, and I didn’t look at a single other place before signing (maybe don’t do that?). And while I’ve moved apartments twice, I have yet to leave the Fan because of a number of different factors– the walkability, the bars, the restaurants, all the beautiful row homes In fact, I even started an Instagram account @FanDistrictRVA to celebrate the Fan’s splendor, which blew up overnight and has many locals tagging their own beautiful photos of the neighborhood.
Besides running an Instagram devoted to the “most hipster neighborhood in Virginia,” according to Buzzfeed, I also run the blog As Told Over Brunch with former Fan resident, Sara Woznicki. As Told Over Brunch is a forum for intelligent discourse over mimosas—or whatever twenty-somethings talk about at brunch, e.g. dating, work, and Instagram filters. As Told Over Brunch’s flagship event is Richmond Brunch Weekend, which has raised over $50,000 for VCU Massey Cancer Center and has several participating restaurants located right in the Fan. You can follow the blog on Instagram at @AsToldOverBrunch and their Richmond Brunch specific account @RichmondBrunch. You can find me on my personal Instagram @CazeyW.
Local watering holes and restaurants
- Idle Hands Bread Company: This bakery moved into the Fan a little over a year ago, situated between Strawberry St. Café (a local staple) and the newly opened Scoop, the Fan’s very own ice creamery. Idle Hands is open every day except Monday with a delicious display of carbs for the taking and an espresso bar. My favorites are the breakfast sandwich (cannot emphasize this enough) and their cold brew with mint syrup when it’s available.
- Joe’s Inn & Shields Market: Joe’s Inn may be even more famous than the Fan itself. Open since 1952, this diner-style restaurant has a Greek slant and few pretensions. If you want pasta plus leftovers (that may not make it to lunch the next day), order any of the spaghetti dishes! Across the street is the affiliated Shields Market, which is something of a grocery/conve
nience store, but includes Joe’s Inn takeout and Nightingale Ice Cream Bars.
- Bamboo Café: This is an often-overlooked dive bar located on Main St. and Mulberry, so you’ll feel the most local if you drop in. Their drinks may be the cheapest you’ll find in Richmond, and their food isn’t something to pass over either. It’s especially great for people watching and casual first dates.
- Sabai: Located on the edge of the Fan (and cattycorner to Scott’s Addition), this is an Americanized take on Thai food accompanied with the booziest cocktails you may find in these parts. They also have a speakeasy in the back if the wait’s not too long (it often is). If it’s your first time and you’re not sure what to get, their Koa Pad Sapparot is famous because it’s served in a pineapple shell.
About the Neighborhood / Unique characteristics
What makes your neighborhood unique? The Fan is an instantly recognizable neighborhood to everyone, even out-of-towners. Called the Fan based on its geographical shape (it fans outward from the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park Campus to Boulevard), it houses the cultural heart of Richmond and encompasses multiple tourist staples. Highlights include the famous Monument Avenue, the Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, and the homes themselves, whose styles range from Italianate and Queen Anne to Gothic Revival and Art Deco. The Fan is also walking distance from Byrd Theatre, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), the Science Museum of Virginia, and Carytown among other must-sees.
Who should live here? – Everyone is welcome in the Fan! In terms of affordability, most renters are college-aged closer to VCU and span toward young professionals in their early 30s on the border closest to Boulevard and the Museum District. Homeowners are most often retirees or young families. The Fan boasts one of the best public elementary schools in Richmond, William Fox Elementary School, and it must be a special type of childhood to grow up among the magic of Fan living.
What do you love about living here? – Everything is at your fingertips! I really appreciate its accessibility, you can walk everywhere in the Fan, from grocery stores (including Kroger and all the local marketplaces) and laundromats to restaurants and bars cloistered along the most scenic streets and cobblestone alleyways. It’s basically Richmond’s spin on living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but more affordable and southern. My favorite pastime is a nighttime stroll passing couples walking their dog and hearing all the locals hanging out on their rooftops or balconies, vino in hand.
|William Fox Elementary School
Albert Hill Middle School
Binford Middle School
Thomas Jefferson High School
Walkability according to Walk Score: 90
Average Days of Home on Market: 51 days
Average Price of Home on Market: $352,194
***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.
The Fan hosts several neighborhood-specifics festivals including Easter on Parade and Concerts in the Park. Easter on Parade takes place – you guessed it – every Easter on Monument Avenue. Similarly, the Fox Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) hosts the Strawberry Street Festival every spring complete with games for the kids, local vendors, and (naturally) strawberries! The annual Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K also happens every year and cuts right through the Fan’s middle.
Every Halloween, Hanover Avenue closes down and hosts the most spectacular trick-or-treating event you’ve ever experienced (adults are invited, costumed or not!). Monument Avenue is famous for its holiday lights in December, and the Fan District Association even hosts a Fan Holiday Home Tour every winter. And every so often in the summer, the same Fan District Association throws concerts in the park, which are advertised by popup signs in residents’ yards.
Favorite sites or neighborhood activities:
Walkers, joggers and bikers alike can enjoy an array of beautiful aesthetics from the historic homes and rowhouses located in The Fan to colorful murals and historical monuments. The Fan also houses a bunch of public, but not so known parks, including Scuffletown Park and the Lombardy & Park Triangle (grab a sandwich at nearby Garnett’s!). My best advice is to grab some ice cream or coffee at any of our local markets or bakeries and then wander around with your camera. You won’t be bored.
Staying organized when you are house hunting in the fan 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!