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Where to Stay, Where to Eat, What to Do in the Fourth

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on April 07, 2015 3:50 PM

If you're arguing before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (or just stopping by on your federal circuit tour of the United States), you're going to end up at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. courthouse in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

You might only be there for a day or two, but that doesn't mean you can't avail yourself of the things Richmond has to offer.

What to Eat

As soon as I get into a new city, that's the first question I want to have answered.

Mamma 'Zu is, of course, the go-to restaurant in Richmond. Reviewers bemoan the not-so-great service, the fact that it's quite small, and their somewhat bizarre practice of taking only cash, checks, or American Express. All of these sins, however, are forgiven in light of their food, which Saveur described as "heavenly, heavy-on-the-garlic Italian food."

But you're in the south, right? The Roosevelt offers upscale southern dining, meaning there's catfish, crawfish, and grits, with peanut butter pie for dessert. Their cocktail selection includes plenty of drinks made with gin and bourbon, as well as an $18 Booker's Manhattan made with Booker's bourbon and "stirred with Stonewall Jackson's magic wand."

Where to Stay

The courthouse is located downtown, just across the street from the Virginia State Capitol, so finding a hotel won't be a problem.

I love ghosts, so of course I was naturally drawn to the Linden Row Inn, a hotel composed of seven historic townhouses built in the 1840s and 1850s. "It's just the sort of place where you can easily imagine encountering a spectral vision in crinoline in an upstairs hallway or floating on the long, romantic veranda on a moonless night," The Washington Post said in 2010. It's less than a mile from the courthouse -- a 12-minute walk -- so it's good if you want to be close, but not too close, to the action.

If you want to be closer to downtown, but still don't want to stay in a chain hotel, consider The Berkeley Hotel, which has an old-time feel even though it's just one year older than Taylor Swift. You can get fried green tomatoes at the hotel's restaurant, appropriately called The Dining Room.

What to See

Obviously the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Dedicated to the man who perfected both the short story and the detective story, the Poe Museum contains Poe letters and artifacts, including his walking stick and the Poe family Bible, which chronicles the history of the Poe family.

Richmond has plenty of other museums, too (if that's your thing), including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Maymont (a 100-acre Victorian country estate), and the Museum of the Confederacy.

If you think you're going to have time to visit Colonial Williamsburg, think again: It's an hour away by car, so you'd better make a whole day of it. (Monticello, by the way, is an hour in the other direction, so you'd best make up your mind.)

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