From its 57-slip floating dock on the shores of the James River, Rocketts Watersports Company rents out pontoons, fishing boats, and kayaks to prospective mariners. The comfortable marina provides space for boat owners to refuel, recharge on 30- and 50-amp power hookups, and wash off clinging squids at the complimentary showers. Day-trippers can rent out a pontoon or fishing vessel for eight-hour adventures on the river. Sporty boaters rent Bic, Surftech, and Tahoe standup paddleboards and kayaks, working out core and arm muscles as they drink in gorgeous Virginia vistas from their perch on the river.
Elegantly lit and plushly upholstered, The Byrd Theatre looks much the same as it did on its opening day in 1928—and sounds much the same, too, thanks to its centerpiece, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Every Saturday night, resident organist Bob Gulledge takes his seat at the orchestra-pit console and might preface the evening's second-run screening of a blockbuster film with selections from Phantom of the Opera or a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The antique pipes and bells—which occupy four rooms above the stage—roar back to life with a candy-colored sonority that triggers nostalgia and wakes up any vaudeville performers napping inside.
Since 2007, The Byrd Theatre Foundation has helped facilitate the restoration and preservation of the 1,300-seat auditorium and its organ, making sure it stays State and National Historic Landmark it is today. The Byrd Theatre supplements regular screenings with year-round events, ranging from film and comedy festivals to public-arts forums.
Teachers and doctors. Moms and sisters. The River City Rollergirls don't really care who you are, as long as you're ready to hit someone—and foster an environment that values diversity and gender equity in the process.
The skater- and volunteer-operated league sprouted in early 2006 as Richmond's first all-women's flat-track roller-derby association. At the start, the league featured just two teams—Poe's Punishers and the Uncivil Warriors—but has since expanded to include new members, including the Carytown Cadets, the Hollywood Undertakers, and the Jackson Wardens. All teams take falls and crack skulls as part of the Eastern region of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association. But off the track, players put away their growling game faces when participating in community-outreach programs.
In 2011, the VCU Rams athletics program emerged under the national spotlight's brightest bulbs when the men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Final Four as an 11-seed. But while their Cinderella story may have made VCU a household name and bedtime story for sports-loving children, it is hardly the only instance of Rams' athletic success. A perennial powerhouse on the tennis court, the men's program has raked in 16 conference championships and eight All-America selections while spending 17 straight years in the ITA top-25. Members of the Atlantic 10 Conference since 2012, the Rams don their black-and-gold uniforms to proudly represent their university at a number of fan-friendly facilities.
As its name implies, the course at River's Bend Golf Club nestles into a curve of the James River, whose waters rush alongside three of the fairways. Its design sprang from the mind of accomplished course architect Steve Smyers, who drew inspiration from the legendary architects of the 1920s and 1930s and their penchant for Herbert Hoover–shaped sand traps. For River’s Bend, Smyers incorporated naturally sloped terrain and woodlands to create fairways that challenge both novices and experts. Players pass rustic wooden bridges and white fences as they play, eventually facing off with a substantial pond tucked among the three final holes of the front nine.
Before teeing off at the first hole, players can warm up their swing at the driving range or take advantage of dedicated chipping and putting practice areas. For more guided practice, clubbers can sign up for lessons with golf pro Brandon Kelley, who covers everything from fundamentals to preshot mental routines, such as visualizing the golf ball as a miniature moon that needs to be returned to orbit.
Course at a Glance:
River City Rafting, a whitewater outfitter, showcases the beauty of the James Rivers’ rapids and relaxing stretches through its guided trips. Its guides have traversed rivers such as the Ocoee, the Gauley, and the Colorado, gathering the experience that makes them savvy aquatic leaders and excellent fish impersonators. Rafting trips swirl through up to Class IV waters, though some stick to smaller-scale rapids. Tubing trips, alternatively, peruse the river’s more leisurely segments.
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