Like many southern cities, Richmond's history was shaped by its role in the American Civil War. After Virginia seceded from the United States in 1861, Richmond was designated the capital of the Confederate States where the General Assembly, Confederate Congress and the "White House of the Confederacy" soon made their homes.
After the city was captured by the Union Army and burned to the ground, the residents began a reconstruction that would pay homage to its roots while signifying advancement into a new era. Richmond has since become an eclectic blend of "modernized traditionalism," preserving the antiquity and charm of the buildings reminiscent of "Gone With the Wind" but in a way befitting the 21st century. Antebellum buildings have been restored as funky urban lofts, chic restaurants and boutiques while retired tobacco warehouses play host to concerts.
A quick glance at the map and it's no mystery why locals were eager to restore their fine city. The James River, the 12th longest in the United States, runs straight down the center of Richmond providing 410 miles of recreation opportunities. If you prefer the mountains or the beach, you're just a short 2-hour drive from either one. With ample access to outdoor activities, an abundance of historical sights easily discovered on foot and a surprising amount of urban chic, Richmond gets a thumbs up for its reconstruction efforts and athletic-minded opportunities.