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River City has woken up from its nap – and we like it. No longer just for history buffs, this former Capital of the Confederacy is redirecting the spotlight to up-and-coming neighborhoods and the feisty James River. Gourmands, style-makers, whitewater adventurers and glossy magazines are taking notice.

The James River wins most photogenic, and also earns kudos for easy accessibility and a range of watery adventures, from tubing to rafting to kayaking. New farm-to-table restaurants and hip gastropubs are revving up established neighborhoods like the Fan and Church Hill and bringing crowds to grittier streets not far from the business district.

Downtown, the Museum of the Confederacy and the adjacent White House of the Confederacy showcase Civil War artifacts. The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar examines the war from several perspectives. For art lovers, the modern and contemporary collection really shines at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Literary travelers flock to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, which displays the macabre author’s manuscripts and personal effects.