Things To Do In Richmond
A beautiful and historic city, Richmond is the capital of Virginia. It has a strong connection to both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. But there’s more to Richmond than just its history.
There’s a great park system around the James River, interesting neighborhoods and a thriving craft beer scene. Here are our picks for the 15 best things to do in Richmond.
1.Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is one of the best things to do in Richmond for art lovers. Its impressive permanent collection contains more than 33,000 pieces from around the world, spanning 5,000 years of history. Find the world’s largest collection of Faberge eggs outside of Russia.
And a huge collection of Art Deco and Art Nouveau pieces. The Modern and Contemporary American art and German Expressionist collections are notable as well. There’s also a lovely sculpture garden, reflecting pool, gift shop, cafe and fine dining restaurant. Special exhibits and events are held regularly.
Popular events include live jazz and happy hour. Open year-round, it’s free to visit the museum, though special exhibits do charge a fee.
2.Virginia State Capitol
The Virginia State Capitol is the oldest continuously operating legislature in the western hemisphere. Located in Capitol Square, it was designed by Thomas Jefferson in the Monumental Classical style. The impressive building has inspired countless other important buildings throughout the years. It is home to the General Assembly, and the seat of the state government of Virginia.
Explore this National Historic Landmark on a free guided tour, or on your own. There is also a gallery with changing exhibitions, cafe and gift shop. Also nearby is the Governor’s Mansion, a historic bell tower and numerous monuments honoring notable Virginians.
Visiting Maymont is one of the best things to do in Richmond. The beautifully preserved estate spans 100 acres. It includes a magnificent mansion built during the Gilded Age at the end of the 19th century, several gardens, a nature center and children’s farm.
Start at the Robin’s Nature & Visitor’s Center, where you can learn more about the estate and the James River. Wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens, including an arboretum and Italian, Japanese and specialty gardens. The Children’s Farm is home to hundreds of animals.
It’s free to explore the grounds, gardens and Children’s Farm. There is a small charge to tour the house and nature center.
4.Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Enjoy nature, and beautiful flowers and plants, at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Spanning 50 acres, the features 12 themed gardens, a domed conservatory and 2 miles of paths. The conservatory is home to exotic orchids, palms and other tropical plants.
Themed gardens include a Rose Garden, with more than 700 varieties, a Healing Garden, Victorian Garden and Asian Valley. The popular Children’s Garden encourages interaction, and kids can dig, climb and cool off in a water play area.
There’s also a wheelchair-accessible treehouse. Activities include classes, tours and other special events. There’s also a great gift shop, cafe and tea house.
Kings Dominion is one of the best things to do in Richmond for families and thrill seekers. Located just 20 miles north of Richmond, the popular theme park offers something for everyone. Spanning 400 acres, the park features more than 60 rides, attractions and shows.
There’s a whopping 12 roller coasters, one of the largest selections on the East Coast. Thrill seekers will love rides like Intimidator 305, Twisted TImber and Dominator. For families and little ones, there’s Planet Snoopy, with gentler rides and the whole PEANUTS gang.
Your admission ticket also gets you into Soak City, a 20-acre water park featuring water slides, wave pools, splash pads and more.
6.St. John’s Church
It was at St. John’s Church, that Patrick Henry gave his famous, “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in 1775. The speech was considered a key turning point in the Revolutionary War. On Sundays over the summer, there’s a reenactment of the speech and the debate among the country’s founding fathers.
Reserve your tickets ahead of time for a small fee,or try for same day tickets for free. You can also explore the grounds of the church for free. St. John’s is the oldest wooden church in Virginia. It was in fact the very first church built in Richmond. It still remains an active congregation today.
7.American Civil War Museum
To learn all about the Civil War, head to the American Civil War Museum. The museum comprises three sites, two of which are in Richmond. Learn about the war’s causes and effects from the perspectives of the Union, Confederates and African-Americans at Tredegar, housed in the former Tredegar Iron Works complex along the James River in Downtown Richmond.
See artifacts and learn about personal stories at the restored Museum and White House of the Confederacy. This was where Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived. Gain unique insights into the end of the Civil War and its legacy at the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox in Appomattox.
Each site requires a separate ticket, or you can book a combo ticket to cover two or all three sites.
8.Metro Richmond Zoo
Enjoy close encounters with animals, and a range of interesting experiences, at the Metro Richmond Zoo. It’s one of the best things to do in Richmond for animal lovers and families. The zoo is home to more than 2000 animals from more than 190 species. Animal enclosures are modeled after their natural habitat.
In addition, the zoo offers a number of unique ways to experience the zoo and animals. Get a birds-eye view with a Safari Sky Lift over the zoo. Explore 8-acres with free ranging animals on the Safari Train. There’s also a Jungle Carousel and a Penguin Drop and Twist Tower. Feed giraffes from your hand.
Immerse yourself in the budgie aviary and experience the colorful birds landing on you. Or pet and feed barnyard animals.
9.Edgar Allen Poe Museum
Explore the world’s largest collection of Poe’s works and memorabilia at the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. The famous writer spent much of his earlier life in Richmond. The museum’s collection is spread over three buildings: the historic Old Stone House, believed to be the oldest original house in Richmond, the Memorial Building and the North Building.
Although Poe never lived in any of these buildings, it does include items from his childhood home, including his bed. The museum also contains letters and manuscripts, first editions of his works, photos, memorabilia, clothing, personal items and even a lock of his hair. Explore on your own or make arrangements ahead of time for a private tour.
Carytown only covers about nine blocks, but it packs a big punch. Known as the “Mile of Style” this eclectic neighborhood is a great shopping destination. It’s full of local boutiques and independent shops. There are also more than two dozen restaurants and dining options, so you won’t go hungry.
To sample some of the best Carytown has to offer, try a guided food tour. Don’t forget to look for interesting murals and street art as you walk around. Catch a movie at the landmark Byrd Theatre. Tickets are only $4. The Carytown Farmers Market is held every Sunday. And many events and festivals are also held here throughout the year.
The James River runs through the city and getting on or near the river is one of the best things to do in Richmond. The James River Park System is a collection of trails, islands, meadows and forests that stretches along the river.
Cross a footbridge over to Belle Island. It used to be a Civil War prison camp and is now known for its great trails. Enjoy great skyline views from Floodwall.
Catch a live show or festival at Brown Island. Tackle the Pipeline Walk. Or stroll along the promenades of Canal Walk. The James River also offers some of the best urban whitewater rafting in the country. There are even class III and IV rapids on the Lower James.
A cemetery may seem an unusual attraction, but Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in the country. It was founded in 1847 as a rural style garden cemetery.
And it’s the final resting place of Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, two Supreme Court justices, six Virginia governors, 22 Confederate generals, 18,000 Confederate soldiers, numerous other notable Virginians and the “Richmond Vampire.”
There’s an impressive arboretum on-site and the cemetery also offers spectacular views of Downtown Richmond, the James River and Belle Isle. Explore on your own, or join a guided walking, trolley, electric car or Segway tour to learn more about this historic landmark and its famous residents.
With a history dating back to 1895, The Jefferson is one of the top hotels in Richmond. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, it’s worth stopping by. Admire the grandeur of its exquisitely decorated lobby. There’s even a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson. Grab a cocktail or a glass of champagne in the lobby.
For an iconic experience, enjoy afternoon tea, complete with scones, pastries and finger sandwiches, or their Sunday champagne brunch to the tunes of live jazz. For luxurious pampering, opt for a spa treatment. Or enjoy a meal at Lemaire, one of the best restaurants in the city.
14.Richmond National Battlefield Park
Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and the site of several key battles that were fought during the Civil War. See these sites for yourself, and learn more about the history, at the Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Covering more than 80 square miles, the park comprises 13 separate battle sites and 4 visitors centers. Explore by walking, driving or joining guided tours. The visitors centers highlight and interpret events from various battles. Several sites also include electronic battle maps. Explore the Confederacy’s largest hospital.
Learn about a naval campaign. The park also hosts special tours, living history demonstrations and educational programs throughout the year.
15.Richmond Beer Trail
Richmond is home to a large number of microbreweries. And a great way to experience them is to follow the Richmond Beer Trail, which features more than 30 breweries, distilleries, cideries and a meadery.
Grab a passport and get them stamped at each location. After 5 stamps, you get free gear, like a Richmond Beer Trail hat. To enjoy your tastings without having to drive, head to the Scott’s Addition neighborhood, which is home to 10 different venues. Popular options include Isley Brewing Company, Ardent Craft Ales and The Veil Brewing Co. Guided tours are also an option.
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