If you somehow missed it, Barbie is breaking out of her box and into movie theaters on July 20, and from Time magazine to Airbnb to HGTV, everyone seems to be swept up in nostalgic, hot pink, ’80s-fab anticipation.
This got us thinking: On her grand journey outside Barbie Land, what if Barbie and Ken stopped for a long weekend in Richmond, Virginia?
This is what we’d put on their hit list for the River City.
Morning: Glitter & History
Does Barbie eat? We aren’t sure, but for the purposes of this article, yes. And she’d start her day with a hearty meal of “Glitter on the Mattress” sausage and bacon gravy served over Texas toast and finished with a hearty sprinkle of edible glitter at SB’s Love Shack.
After getting her fill of sparkles, caffeine and ‘80s tunes, it’s time for some history. Barbie’s not just a blonde bombshell—she’s held careers from doctor to astronaut to NASCAR driver—so she’d want to learn about a fellow history-making lady at the home of Maggie Walker, the first African-American woman to charter a bank and serve as bank president in 1903.
While in the neighborhood, she’d swing by Sugar & Salt Bakery for a champagne and raspberry mini-cake dressed so elegantly it could easily have come from the Barbie Bakery.
- Scott Elmquist
- Barbie gets started with ample “Glitter on the Mattress” sausage and bacon gravy served over Texas toast at SB's LoveShack in Lakeside, which is hosting a Barbie Week!
Afternoon: Shopping & Sun
Barbie can’t take a vacation without a shopping spree. She’d start at the newly opened 5807 South in the Stony Point Village shopping center. With over 25 vendors in one spot, cue the movie makeover scene! She’ll try on summery ensembles at Madras, like-new designer finds at Baggio, and even take home a hot pink, Richmond-designed Swig tumbler from All About the Beverage.
Shopping bags will be loaded on those arms that are so toned they inspired a plastic surgery procedure (scary), so she’ll need to take a break for a pick-me-up at Southbound and sip on drink magician Jess Benevour’s Faerie Blossom cocktail, an easy sipping, pink-toned refresher with a blend of blood orange scrub, lemon and the slightly bitter Cochhi Rosa.
Next she’ll hop in her helicopter (Barbie ain’t got time for Richmond toll backups) and head to Carytown where she’ll make a custom confetti popper, grab some oversized spangly earrings and an Unas Bolsas fair-trade tote made in Mexico from upcycled water bottles at Pop of Confetti. Yes, she’ll make Ken do a photo shoot of her posing in front of the shop’s signature, rainbow-toned selfie wall.
She’ll take her bag, her tumbler filled with a sparkling rose from female-owned, natural wine bar Celladora, and her new look to Rocketts Landing, where she and Ken will soak up some sun on Seaside Suite Cruises RVA’s newest Tiki Club BYOB boat with tropical vibes and room for dancing. In the cooler, they packed a Truckle Cheesemongers picnic—you can order them online and swing by for a quick pickup before any afternoon outing.
- Scott Elmquist
- What better way for Barbie to check out the James River than an afternoon Tiki Club Cruise? BYOB (Bring Your Own Barbie). Remember just don't go swimming after it rains.
Evening: Dinner & Drinks (duh)
Barbie can’t miss a hip new cocktail spot. Still in tiki mode from the boat tour, they’ll head to Emerald Lounge in Church Hill for island-inspired libations. Barbie orders the Miami Vice, a flirty frozen rum mash-up of a strawberry daiquiri and a pina colada made with local Virago Rum. Ken sips the Emerald Lager, a hoppy Pilsner collab with The Veil Brewing. Dinner won’t be ruined if they both munch on the addicting togarashi popcorn with ‘shroom powder and tingly Japanese seven spice.
For dinner, it’s back to Carytown where Barbie dons her beret and settles into a booth at Can Can for champagne, moules frites and profiteroles for dessert. She considers donning her Parisian Barbie Can Can gown and dancing down the bar like they do on Bastille Day, but instead she drags Ken down to Papi’s for some of the most inclusive dancing in town and plenty of photo-worthy backdrops.
For Barbie’s first night in the River City—of course, she’s staying at Quirk Hotel. Fully outfitted in pink, Quirk is almost as good of a match for Barbie as Ken. She books the Mural Suite by Emily Herr. Herr is a local Richmond artist who believes women should “take up space” and who assisted in Quirk’s vision of uplifting young female artists. Proceeds from staying in any of the Mural Suites go to Visual Arts Center of Richmond's Make Space, a program pairing sixth-grade girls with local female artists for mentoring.
- Scott Elmquist
- Barbie is all about Quirk Hotel, and she'll put her accommodations to good use by staying in the Mural Suite designed by local artist Emily Herr.
Morning: Fitness & Fine Art
Nothing stops Barbie—drinks go straight through her (literally, she has no organs)—so she’ll be up early to center herself with an hour of yoga at The Well Collective. Ashley Williams has created a space for wellbeing and healing. As a former aerobic instructor, Barbie understands the importance of movement and community and she loves that no one in Richmond even slightly side-eyes her side pony, hot pink sweat band and matching knee pads and scrunch socks.
Then it’s smoothies all around with a healthy breakfast on The Pit and the Peel rooftop overlooking the lower end of Richmond’s Fan District. Ken and Barbie split a Beach Bowl of açaí, mango, banana, pineapple, and orange and a Pink Dragon smoothie with almond milk and fuchsia dragonfruit powder.
- Scott Elmquist
- Barbie chilling at The Pit and the Peel rooftop with some refreshing summer smoothies.
Barbie and Andy Warhol go way back, so after her morning fruit intake, it’s time for a tour through the VMFA. They’ll take in the permanent collection of the Mellons. Rachel Lambert Mellon contributed to the arts by donation of one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces designed by French jewelry designer Jean Schlumberger who has designed pieced for Audrey Hepburn and Tiffany’s. It’s a must-see for the stylish. Next, she settles into one of the oversized green womb chairs at Amuse while sipping a sparkling Snapdragon cocktail featuring sweet passionfruit and a kick of ancho pepper.
Afternoon: Date Night Prep!
The evening will bring another fab date night, and Barbie likes getting dolled up as much as she likes adventuring. She hits up Nellie George for an over-the-top, bedazzled cocktail dress and then dashes to Lex’s of Carytown for party-worthy platform heels. Then it’s out to Short Pump Town Center to complete her ensemble with a statement necklace and scarf from Sassy Jones, whose mission statement is “helping women feel undeniably confident through style.” Is there anything more Barbie in RVA than this?
- Scott Elmquist
- Barbie feeling confident at Sassy Jones in Short Pump Town Center.
She begs Ronny Bags to bring her a tiny embroidered handbag—these delicate handmade purses sell out quick and just might be more Barbie than the purses that Mattel sells for her. To get one for yourself, follow for drops at @ronnybags on Instagram.
While she’s primping, Ken sneaks away to Sun & Selene for a handmade jewelry design to surprise her with. He’s torn between a moonstone ring to symbolize her new beginning outside Barbie Land and those oversized Goddess of the Slay bee-shaped earrings honoring Beyonce. Stylish and friendly owner/designer Brittany DeRaffele convinces him to buy both, along with an evil eye stud to protect himself on his journey to enlightenment—jewelry is for Ken, too!
Evening: Music, Dinner and Dancing
Before dinner, they stop into Plan9 Music to ask the knowledgeable employees for a preview of the “Barbie The Album” listening party (Tuesday, July 18 at 5:30 p.m.), plus there’s themed merch to be had. No one wears a pink visor quite like Barbie. Not even Ken, although he tries. The album isn't in yet, but its Barbie, so she already knows the songs by heart.
For dinner, they’re going ski chalet-style at Brenner Pass, where owner Brittany Anderson serves up fresh chilled seafood, fondue, truffle focaccia and Snow Bunny cocktails with eye-catching appeal that’s says Barbie dream party all over it.
After dinner, Barbie and Ken head to the “hidden” dance club, The Jungle Room behind Sabai. Barbie and Ken are hopeful Love Club is playing. Part-dance, part-music education, pop-up DJs Constantine Giavos and Alex Delaney are all the rage, Barbie knows. She’ll share a Mammoth Tusk large format punch bowl with Ken. They’ll sip on the boozy balanced combo of passion fruit syrup, lime juice and Rhum JM White.
Did you know that Barbie was born in (fictional) Willows, Wisconsin? We think a Midwestern girl also just might sneak back over to Brenner Pass sister bar Black Lodge for a Chicago Dog and a Dressed Up Pony—a Miller High Life pony bottle with bourbon and ginger added, before she turns in.
Her night will end at Linden Row, a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Richmond. Once a former school for girls, set up by Miss Virginia Randolph Ellett (and attended by Irene Gibson, The Gibson Girl) and restored by renowned architect Mary Wingfield Scott, Linden Row has seven large Parlour Suites complete with large sitting areas or in Barbie’s case, dressing areas, perfect for all of her outfits.
- Scott Elmquist
- Did you know Barbie has a racing license? You best believe that come Sunday, she's headed to Richmond International Raceway to rev up.
Snacks, NASCAR & More Shopping (because Barbie)
On Sunday morning, you’ll find Barbie sidled up to the pink-tiled bar at Lolita’s nibbling avocado toast with jalapeño aioli and cilantro micro greens and sipping an elderflower spritz.
She’s got a Nascar morning planned. Because Barbie holds her racing license, she needs to glimpse Richmond International Raceway in anticipation of the upcoming NASCAR race (July 29th-30th). She pops through the Ally Torque Club, a bespoke full experience with dedicated parking, indoor seating and all-you-can-eat snacks. Unbeknownst to Ken, she inquires about tickets —won’t that just start his engine?
Before she heads home to Barbie Land, she’ll grab a quick, iced pick-me-up in the form of an Iced Coconut Ube Latte from Blanchard’s Coffee, lavender-hued, frothy and nutty. Oh, and a final pit stop by Alma’s fun, feminine, colorful gallery for hand-carved wooden sculpture earrings that look like Runts candy and decorative pink blown glass knots and bottles to decorate her mansion.
Flashback to the cultural jamming prank of the Barbie Liberation Organisation of 1993 (ahhh, the '90s):