Being uprooted from familiar surroundings and changing cities can be a tough adjustment to make. That's why we asked some local experts for their advice on how to settle in to a new home and professional network — how to connect, what to see, where to eat and more. Before long, you may find that the River City is — as its marketing motto says — "Easy to Love."
Tourism coordinator for the city's Department of Economic and Community Development
On where to live: "If you're looking for history, Church Hill is a fabulous neighborhood. Bellevue and Ginter Park offer us an example of the city's streetcar history — neighborhoods that were established as a result of the streetcars that were developed before the turn of the century. For an eclectic mix of homes, I recommend the Fan. Meanwhile, neighborhoods on the city's South Side have access to great outdoor activities and recreation, there's Forest and Westover Hills."
On outdoor activities: "The James River Park System along the riverfront is one of the best assets that we have. If you like walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, or just want to collect your thoughts on a rock, you have access to all of it. We're the only urban environment that has Class 4 and 5 rapids. It's a really great opportunity to see the city from a view that most people don't take advantage of."
Executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs
On professional de-velopment: "Both the University of Richmond and VCU have professional-development offerings, starting with a full-on MBA and also one-off courses. Likewise, the community colleges have offerings that are focused on work-
President of CultureWorks, an organization in support of local arts
On what to do: "There are zillions of choices. You have live theater at Richmond Triangle Players or Firehouse Theatre Project, the arts walk on the first Friday evening of every month downtown on Broad Street, or exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which are free 365 days a year. Next door, there's also free admission at the Virginia Historical Society. You can check out the Poe Museum in Shockoe Bottom or the Black History Museum downtown. The Richmond Symphony performs at Richmond CenterStage, which has a lot of venues for other performing arts as well. Or take in a contemporary dance performance by the VCU Department of Dance and Choreography at the Grace Street Theater."
On professional networking: "The No. 1 thing you should do is become a member of the Greater Richmond Chamber. The chamber has a wealth of networking opportunities. And then there's Leadership Metro Richmond. People who go through LMR automatically gain relationships with their classmates. They have programs where you can meet other professionals in town and learn about the Richmond region."
President and CEO of the Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council, a minority business association
On where to eat: "Richmond has some of the best restaurants. I'm a pretty big fan of Tarrant's Café, Gibson's Grill and Bistro 27, which are all along Broad Street. There's a lot of great locally owned restaurants in the Fan. Shockoe Bottom has the kind of places where I'd bring a group of friends. The Wine Loft is really nice in terms of just coming in and having a glass of wine."
President and CEO of the Children's Museum of Richmond
On places for kids: "There are lots of things to do with children in Richmond, like visiting the animals at Maymont. If it's a beautiful day, there's a children's area at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. If you travel south, there's the Metro Richmond Zoo. I also encourage people to go to the river. Pony Pasture is a great place for young children, and Belle Isle is wonderful for walking."
Executive director of the James River Green Building Council
Networking as a young professional: "The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce has a young professionals group called HYPE. They do networking events after work, social hours and some educational events as well. That's something young professionals should get involved with and spans a lot of areas."
On sustainability: "If you're into sustainability, there's an event called Green Drinks [details at greendrinks.org ] that happens every third Thursday of the month. It's informal, free, and it's usually at a local bar.