Weekend in Richmond: How to Travel with a Baby

If you have been reading this blog over the last few years, you know that we have been to Richmond many times. However, our most recent Richmond trip was the first time that we went with a baby (4 months old!) It was a lot of work but also extremely rewarding and lots of fun. Here is a recap and some tips to help with traveling with a baby.

Ride Amtrak

Rather than drive and keep our son cooped up in a car seat for three hours, we took Amtrak from Union Station to Richmond Main Street, Richmond’s downtown train station. This way, we had plenty of time together as a family. We could easily feed Bren, change his diaper and most importantly, get to play with him!

Marnay and Brendan on the Amtrak train heading to Richmond, Virginia

There are two spots in each Amtrak car that have extra leg room, perfect for changing a diaper and keeping a stroller unfolded. An airplane this is not! One spot is usually reserved for disabled riders, so keep an eye out for signs. We made sure to seek out one of these seats each time we were on the train.

Brendan on the Amtrak train heading to Richmond, Virginia

The other thing to keep in mind is that once Bren was asleep, I was able to go to the café car and get us some wine and snacks! We just relaxed, enjoyed our wine and a little time to ourselves and waited to arrive in Richmond.

Take Public Transit

Richmond Main Street Station is large, comfortable (lots of places to sit) and has nice bathrooms. It’s all you could want when traveling with a child. Once you step out on Main Street, the bus rapid transit, with its high platforms and level-boarding, is right outside the station. We didn’t have to fold the stroller on the bus, just take our son out and hold him. That was much easier than both holding a folded stroller and a baby.

Stay at a Cool Hotel

Our digs for the weekend were at the Quirk Hotel, a hip loft-style boutique hotel in Richmond’s hopping Arts District. In a great move for parents taking the train, the hotel offers Pack n’ Plays for your little one to sleep in. It was a HUGE help, because it would have been difficult to bring our travel crib in addition to all Bren’s other things.

Paul and Brendan at the Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Virginia

You can’t beat the location. Once Bren was asleep, I walked over to Charm School Social Club, home to some of the most creative ice cream sundaes (both vegan and non-vegan) you will ever see. Charm School is conveniently located within a 2 minute walk of the hotel. I’ll be honest, the vegan sundae was just as good as the non-vegan!

Vegan and regular ice cream sundaes from Charm School in Richmond, Virginia

Be Prepared for a long day out

Saturday was our big day out so we were prepared with everything Bren could need. Toys, outfit changes, LOTS of diapers and wipes and every warm outfit he owned. We also attached a “footmuff” to his stroller, which looks like a sleeping bag for babies. It was in the 30s that morning but Bren LOVED his stroller. He slept the entire time and was so cozy!

Brendan in his stroller in Richmond, Virginia

A few weeks before our trip, we realized that Saturday morning was the Richmond Marathon. That meant no bus service. Our plan had been to spend the day in the hopping (but kid friendly) Scotts Addition neighborhood, a few miles from our hotel. No worries, though! We walked the 3 miles in the cold (due to detours) but Bren kept so warm!! And his parents got to enjoy some nice walking time too!

We stopped for coffee and bagels with housemade veggie schmear at Chairlift, the café inside of the acclaimed Alpine restaurant Brenner Pass.

Bagels with housemade veggie schemer at Chairlift in Richmond, Virginia

Our main event was lunch at ZZQ. (As you know, once you have a baby lunch becomes your main event). However, we didn’t want all three of us to be waiting in line before ZZQ opened in the cold. That is why while I left to stand in line, Marnay and Brendan hung out at Chairlift. Marnay finished her coffee and changed Bren in preparation for a Texas barbecue extravaganza.

ZZQ serves up the best Texas BBQ outside of Texas. It also happens to be very child-friendly! While we were enjoying our massive, peppery beef rib, we had plenty of room to keep Bren inside his stroller. We even had enough space to move to the bar after our meal, enjoy some Lone Stars while Bren stayed asleep in the stroller! That was the biggest game changer for us.

Brendan at ZZQ BBQ in Richmond, Virginia

Besides incredible barbecue and restaurants, Scotts Addition is the land of breweries and distilleries. Post-BBQ, we hung out on the awesome heated patio of Blue Bee Cider, our first time at this location! Bren loved playing with his toys at the picnic tables and we loved drinking the dry, delicious local cider.

Brendan at Blue Bee Cider in Richmond, Virginia

Find time to rest

Once we walked back to the hotel, we took turns resting while the other one took Brendan to the lobby to play. When it came time for dinner, there was no shortage of options for takeout near the Quirk Hotel. We chose a personal sized Neapolitan-ish pizza from Stoplight Gelato Café, a cute spot for gelato, sandwiches and pizzas in the Jackson Ward neighborhood. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the Quirk Hotel, so I walked over to get it and we ate it as Bren settled into his crib for the night.

Even after all we did, we still had to end the night with ice cream sundaes from Charm School!

Vegan ice cream sundaes from Charm School in Richmond, Virginia

Treat Yourself

The next morning, we had a 9am train to catch. But when your baby is waking up at 5am, 9am doesn’t seem that early. Instead of going out for breakfast, we treated ourselves to some seriously good room service. It was wonderfully relaxing to eat in the loft-style hotel room as our son napped.

Room service breakfast at the Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Virginia

It’s only a 1.3 mile walk from the Quirk Hotel to the Main Street Station and we enjoyed the fresh air. Boarding the train can be stressful so you need to have a strategy. This station has a low platform, so you can’t easily put the stroller onboard. Therefore, I boarded first with our suitcase and backpacks while Marnay stayed with Bren and the stroller. I put the suitcase in the luggage nook by the door and then zoomed to the front of the car to reserve one of the two seaters with extra legroom. I then hurried back to get Marnay, Bren and the stroller and bring them all back to our saved seats.

Our weekend in Richmond with Bren was honestly not that different from our child-free weekends in Richmond. I think that was mainly a testament to our preparation and to Bren being a chill baby, for the most part. We were still able to do a ton of different things and enjoy the weekend as a family.

Marnay, Paul and Brendan Meyer at ZZQ BBQ in Richmond, Virgnina

Nicoletta Italian Kitchen

It has been a very, very, very busy past few months, hence the lag between posts, but Eatnowrunlater is back! Yes, we are back and we want to introduce you to our son, Brendan Kieran Meyer! This big boy is now four months old! Following in his parents footsteps, he recently had his first big meal out, at Nicoletta Italian Kitchen.

Paul and Marnay's son, Brendan

Both Marnay and I had the day off, so we took the stroller onto the metro to Nicoletta Italian Kitchen, chef Michael White’s ode to the “Mid-Western style pizza” from his youth in Wisconsin. By the way, if you are going to be traveling to this restaurant with a stroller, we STRONGLY suggest using Judiciary Square. Gallery Place is just as close to the restaurant, but it requires three separate elevators to get to street level. On the other hand, Judiciary Square is only one elevator, from the platform directly to the street!

Now, we have heard of Detroit-style pizza, but Midwestern-style is new to us. If Nicoletta’s version is an accurate representation of the style, then let’s get some more Midwestern-style pizzerias in the DC area ASAP.

We ordered the Funghi pizza and the Classica. The Classica was similar to a margherita pizza. The pizza dough is a three-day process, and all that fermentation time lends itself to a marvelously flavorful crust. The Funghi was loaded with both beech and porcini mushrooms.  All those mushrooms were piled on top of a crust that isn’t exactly quite deep dish, but it’s certainly not thin-crust. Somehow, the crust tasted like a pretzel…it was different, but we really liked it.

Funghi pizza and the Classica pizza at Nicoletta Italian Kitchen in Washington DC

The best part of the Classica was the chunks of sweet(ish) tomatoes in the sauce. I am a sucker for chunky tomato sauce on pizza (see our Corner Slice review).

We didn’t only eat pizza, although we could have. That wouldn’t be setting a good example for Brendan now would it?! Luckily, the crispy, crunchy Veggie Fritto Misto tasted like calamari for vegetarians. Particularly tasty were the breaded and fried hot peppers, although everything was good. I am not a ranch fan, but I couldn’t stop dipping the hot and crunchy veggies in the Calabrian chili ranch. Marnay said that the crunchy broccoli was one of the only times she’s ever been actually excited to eat broccoli.

Veggie Fritto Misto at Nicoletta Italian Kitchen in Washington DC

Nicoletta was a great restaurant to go to with or without kids and we’d definitely make the trip again. In most ways, our lives have totally changed now that we have a baby. On the other hand, our love of food and running has never let up. Eatnowrunlater is here to stay!

Paul and Brendan eating at Nicoletta Italian Kitchen in Washington DC

Best Bite
Paul: Funghi Pizza
Marnay: Veggie Fritto Misto

Address
Nicoletta Italian Kitchen: 901 4th St NW Washington, DC 20001
Closest Metro: Judiciary Square

A Guide to Mocktails

As you may have seen in our Instagram post from our recent trip to Austin and Houston, we are expecting!

Marnay and Paul are expecting a baby boy

Yes, Marnay is pregnant and baby boy Meyer will be making his arrival in July 2019. As a result of this, we have gotten quite good at ordering mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) at bars and restaurants. For the record, I am also not drinking during the pregnancy. I figure if Marnay can do it, so can I. If you are also expecting, don’t drink, or just want to give drinking a break, here are some tips we picked up along the way:

Ask Your Server
If you don’t see anything you like on the menu, just ask your server if the bartender can make something special for you. We did exactly this at Himitsu and they came up with a drink simply called “Orange-Ginger,” a very well-balanced mocktail.

Orange-Ginger cocktail at Himitsu in Washington DC

Consider Agua Frescas
Tacos, Tortas, Tequila (TTT) in Silver Spring makes great margaritas. (I mean, it has tequila in the name). But now that we’re not drinking, it was time to discover agua frescas, non-alcoholic sodas made from fruit, spices and nuts. At TTT, Marnay’s favorite agua fresca is the Jamaica and I am a fan of the Horchata.

Jamaica and Horchata agua fresca's at Tacos, Tortas, Tequila (TTT) in Silver Spring, Maryland

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
When eating Indian street food at Chai Pani in Decatur, Georgia we looked for a non-alcoholic drink that would complement the food. We ordered a Lime Ricky and a drink called a Salt Lassi, which was purely savory. One of the most unique beverages I’ve ever had. It was a lot to handle on its own but it complemented the food very well.

Salt Lassi cocktail at Chai Pani in Decatur, Georgia

You Don’t Need to Avoid Bars
Even though we aren’t drinking, we do not need to avoid the fun and energy of sitting at a bar. At Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, we had the best mocktail of our lives. The bartender asked us what we wanted and Marnay said “something refreshing with cucumber.” The bartender put a lot of effort into making a drink with cucumber, lime, mint and sparkling water. It’s no surprise that Anvil was recently named a 2019 Semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award.

Cucumber mocktails at Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston, Texas

Topo Chico
We love Topo Chico! It is our go-to sparkling water and while we can find it at Whole Foods in the DC area, it was EVERYWHERE is Texas. During our recent trip to Houston and Austin, we had Topo Chico at least once per day, usually twice. The source is from a spring in Monterrey, Mexico and it just feels exotic, like a fine wine. It is something fun to drink. We also enjoy drinking it for “happy hour” at home before we cook dinner.

Topo Chico in Austin, Texas

We honestly have not missed alcohol during these last five months. It makes it easier not drinking when you can still have fun with cool non-alcoholic drinks. It’s helping us to became more well-rounded in our knowledge of food and drink which, frankly, is exciting! We hope this guide helps you on your journey!