Richmond, Virginia, is a historic city with a lot to offer, from its charming downtown area to its many museums and historical sites. The city is easy to get around too, whether walking, taking public transportation, or riding a bike.
In terms of food and drink, Richmond has an up-and-coming culinary and beer scene. A great way to explore the city is by taking a food tour or tasting new brews on the Richmond Beer Trail.
The downtown area is filled with Victorian-style architecture, and the riverfront is a lovely place to take a stroll or a canal cruise. Check out our favorite things to do in Richmond, Virginia, when visiting.
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Popular Things to Do in Richmond, VA
Riverfront Canal Walk
Canal Walk is along downtown Richmond, Virginia’s riverfront. The James River and the Kanawha Canal were intended to be a hub for shipping goods up Virginia’s coast, but a railroad was built around the same time, rendering the canal obsolete.
Today, Richmond’s Canal Walk is a popular dining, shopping, and entertainment area. Enjoy outdoor waterfront dining at the Cases Del Barco restaurant, or check out the local shops. Riverfront Canal Cruises offers guided tours in a canal boat up and down the canal. Take a stroll down Canal Walk and learn more about the area via the history medallions and statutes along the 1.25-mile route.
The Poe Museum
Located in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond, the Poe Museum is considered the international center for all things Edgar Allan Poe. Admission is $9 for adults and $3 for children under six. On-street parking is available and on the side of the building.
The museum is within a charming and photogenic old stone house built in the 1740s. Edgar Allen Poe did not live in the home, but the home is used to celebrate his time in Richmond, Virginia. There are several buildings on the property that you can explore. Each building focuses on different events throughout Poe’s life. While visiting, you may even be joined by the two black cats that live on the property!
Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery is one of the most beautiful and historic cemeteries in the United States. Located on a hill overlooking the James River, the cemetery features an array of beautifully landscaped gardens and sculptures. Among its many notable features is a Confederate Memorial Chapel, which contains the remains of more than 1,800 Confederate soldiers. The cemetery also includes the grave of United States Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler. Hollywood Cemetery is a must-see for anyone visiting Richmond.
Maymont Japanese Garden
Richmond, Virginia, is home to a beautiful Japanese garden tucked away on the grounds of the Maymont Mansion. The garden was originally built in 1911, and it has been meticulously maintained ever since. Visitors can enjoy strolls through the peaceful gardens or participate in traditional tea ceremonies. The Maymont Japanese Garden is a true oasis in the city, providing an excellent opportunity to learn about another culture. Richmond is fortunate to have such a beautiful and historic garden right in its backyard.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Richmond’s Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a beautiful place to visit year-round. The garden comes to life in the spring with blooming flowers and verdant foliage. The summer months are perfect for picnics and exploring the gardens’ many paths. Fall brings a riot of color as the leaves change, and in winter, the grounds take on a serene beauty, blanketed in soft white snow. No matter what time of year it is, there is always something to see and do at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
Richmond Raceway is a D-shaped racing track that hosts NASCAR and INDYCAR events. The track has a deep history, dating back to 1946 when it was first built as a half-mile dirt track. In recent years, the track has undergone several renovations, including installing a concrete racing surface and adding lights for night racing. Today, Richmond Raceway is among the most popular tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Its annual NASCAR race is typically one of the season’s most anticipated events. Richmond Raceway is a one-of-a-kind racetrack thanks its rich history and exciting races.
Food, Beer, and Music in Richmond
Richmond Food Tour
If you’re looking for a delicious way to experience Richmond, Virginia, you should check out one of the many food tours available. These tours offer a great way to sample some of the best local cuisines while also getting a behind-the-scenes look at the city’s culinary scene. You’ll have the chance to visit several different restaurants and learn about the history and culture of each one. From Southern comfort food to fresh seafood, there’s something for everyone on a Richmond food tour. And what better way to experience the city than by sampling some of its best eats?
Richmond Beer Trail
Richmond, Virginia, is quickly becoming known for its thriving craft beer scene. The Richmond Beer Trail is a great way to explore the city’s many breweries and taste the unique beers that each has to offer. The trail includes over 30 breweries, all within easy walking or biking distance of each other. You can start at any location and work through the trail at your own pace. Along the way, they’ll sample a variety of local brews, learn about the city’s rich brewing history, and meet the people who are keeping that tradition alive today.
Music in Richmond, Virginia, is rich and varied. The city has a thriving live music scene from bluegrass and country to rock and punk. There are plenty of venues to choose from, whether you’re looking for an intimate club setting or a large concert hall. And if you’re looking for something a little different, you can always head to one of the city’s many museums or art galleries, which often host live music performances.
In addition, Richmond is home to several festivals devoted to various genres of music. The Richmond Folk Festival, for example, features a wide range of traditional and contemporary music from around the world. And the Richmond Jazz Festival offers a chance to experience some of the best jazz musicians from across the country.
Shopping in Richmond, Virginia
Carytown is a historic shopping district in Richmond, Virginia, known for its eclectic mix of independent shops and restaurants. You can enjoy a variety of unique shops and restaurants, as well as lively entertainment options. The district is also home to several annual events, including the Watermelon Festival and the Halloween parade.
Short Pump Town Center
Short Pump is a bustling shopping area full of high-end stores, restaurants, and cafes. The mall is the area’s centerpiece, but numerous shops and businesses line the streets. Short Pump is an excellent place for entertainment, whether you’re looking for a new outfit, a meal, or just a cup of coffee. The area is also home to several events and festivals throughout the year, making it a great place to visit no matter what time of year it is. If you’re looking for things to do in Richmond, shopping Short Pump is an enjoyable experience for all.
Richmond, Virginia Art
Richmond Mural Project
Richmond, Virginia, is home to the Richmond Mural Project, an ongoing public art initiative celebrating the city’s vibrant arts community. Founded in 2010, the Richmond Mural Project invites local and national artists to create large-scale murals in downtown Richmond. To date, more than 30 murals have been completed as part of the project, with each one adding a splash of color and creativity to the cityscape.
In addition to beautifying Richmond, the Richmond Mural Project also supports local artists and creates opportunities for public engagement with art. The project has received rave reviews from locals and visitors, and has helped to put Richmond on the map as a destination for public art.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) was founded in 1934 and has an impressive collection of art from around the globe. With a collection that spans more than 5,000 years of history, the museum is a great place to spend the afternoon. The museum houses an impressive array of artwork, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculptures.
Things to do Outdoors in Richmond, VA
Belle Isle is a small island located in the James River, and it is accessible by footbridge from Richmond’s Brown’s Island. The island has a rich history, and it was once home to several different businesses, including a glass factory and a Richmond newspaper. Today, Belle Isle is a popular spot for recreation and is also home to an environmental center. You can enjoy panoramic views of Richmond’s skyline and the opportunity to see some of the city’s resident wildlife, including ducks, geese, and turtles.
Belle Isle is a trendy spot for things to do in Richmond, Virginia. Locals flock to Belle Isle for hiking, biking, fishing, rock climbing, history, kayaking, and the views. Swimming, however, is discouraged as the rapids make for rough waters.
James River Park
James River Park is one of Richmond, Virginia’s most popular outdoor destinations. The park features a variety of trails for hiking and biking, as well as scenic views of the James River. Visitors can also go fishing, kayaking, or canoeing in the river. In addition, James River Park is home to several historical landmarks, including the ruins of an old railroad bridge. The park is also a popular spot for bird watching, and it is not unusual to see herons, eagles, and ospreys flying overhead.
Historical Sites in Richmond, Virginia
Virginia State Capitol
The Virginia State Capitol is the seat of state government in Richmond, Virginia. The neoclassical building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, was completed in 1788 and has been home to the Virginia General Assembly since 1800. The capitol was the site of several important events during the Civil War, including the vote to secede from the Union and the inauguration of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Today, the capitol is open to the public for tours and features a museum dedicated to Virginia history. The building also houses the Virginia governor’s office and serves as a symbol of state power and pride.
American Civil War Museum
Richmond, Virginia, was the capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Today, it is home to the American Civil War Museum, which tells the story of that conflict from both the Union and Confederate perspectives. The museum is located in Richmond’s historic Tredegar Iron Works, which played a pivotal role in the Confederate war effort.
You can see how Richmond was transformed during the war years and learn about the lives of soldiers and civilians caught up in the conflict. The museum also features a collection of artifacts from the war, including weapons, uniforms, and personal items belonging to Union and Confederate soldiers. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking to learn more about this crucial period, the American Civil War Museum is well worth a visit.
Things to Do with Kids in Richmond, VA
Metro Richmond Zoo
The Metro Richmond Zoo is a great place to visit for family fun. With more than 200 animals on exhibit, there is something for everyone to see. The zoo is just minutes from downtown Richmond, and its expansive grounds offer space to explore. In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo also has a playground, a picnic area, and a gift shop. There is also a train that visitors can ride around the park. The Metro Richmond Zoo is a great place to learn about different animals and their habitats. It is also a great way to spend time outdoors with the family.
Kings Dominion Amusement and Water Park
Founded in 1975, Kings Dominion is a 400-acre theme park 25 minutes from Richmond, Virginia. The park features more than 60 rides and attractions, including 12 roller coasters. Kings Dominion is also home to one of the world’s tallest water slides, Heights of Fear. In addition to its thrill rides, the park also has a variety of family-friendly attractions, such as Planet Snoopy and Dino Land U.S.A. Kinds Dominion is one of the most entertaining things to do in Richmond when visiting.
Science Museum of Virginia
The Science Museum of Virginia is a great place to learn about science and have fun at the same time. The museum has a variety of exhibits, including a dinosaur exhibit, an exhibit on the human body, and an exhibit on the history of Virginia. In addition, the museum offers a variety of programs, including a planetarium show, a hands-on science lab, and a tour of the museum.
You can experiment with optical illusions, try virtual reality games, or even launch a rocket. The museum is open every day except Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day. Admission is free for children under 3, and discounts are available for seniors, students, and military personnel.
Children’s Museum of Richmond
The Children’s Museum of Richmond is where kids can learn and play. With interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, the museum offers a fun and educational experience for children of all ages. The museum also hosts annual special events like family festivals and birthday parties. In addition to its many attractions, the Children’s Museum of Richmond is also home to a cafe and gift shop. The museum is located in Richmond, Virginia, and is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children.
Wrap Up: Things to Do in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is a thriving metropolis with a rich history dating back to the American Revolution. The city is home to several museums, historical sites, various restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. You can explore Richmond’s past by taking a stroll through one of its many historic districts or by visiting its iconic monuments and memorials.
Richmond also offers a wealth of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, from hiking and biking trails to canoeing and kayaking on the James River. During your visit, you’ll find plenty to see and do in this charming Virginia city.
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This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Photo Credit: [@sepavone/DepositPhotos]
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.