While Richmond, Va., attracts a lot of history buffs due to its connections with the Confederacy and the Civil War, it offers much more than just a spot for stepping back in time. With a variety of cultural attractions as well as beautiful surrounding scenery for enjoying the great outdoors, here are some of the best things to do when visiting Richmond.
Richmond National Battlefield Park (Nearby Hotels)
Richmond National Battlefield Park hosts multiple battlefields and miles of elaborate original fortifications, as well as a critical industrial complex. Sprawled across 80 square miles, it features 13 separate battle sites and four visitor centers, not only in Richmond itself, but in Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield counties. Visitors can take guided tours, view museum exhibits, watch living history demonstrations and more.
Stroll Monument Avenue (Nearby Hotels)
Monument Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Developed in the 19th century, it hosts numerous impressive monuments and statues like the controversial statue of Robert E. Lee. It also includes many spectacular examples of architecture and is lined with grand mansions from the end of the gilded age, which reflect the works of famous architects. If you stop by the Virginia Center for Architecture, you can discover the heritage behind that architecture. If you can be here for Easter, this is where the annual Easter parade takes place, with locals gathering together wearing their Easter bonnets to stroll the avenue.
Maymont Estate (Nearby Hotels)
This stunningly preserved estate and garden is open to the public for tours and includes the beautiful 1893 Maymont Mansion, as well as a nature and wildlife center, perfectly manicured Japanese and Italian gardens, an arboretum, and a children’s farm where you can feed some of the animals. Take a guided tour of the gilded age mansion and you’ll get a good glimpse at the lives of the Dooleys — James, a wealthy lawyer and philanthropist, and his wife, who bestowed it to the people of Richmond after their deaths. You may want to bring a picnic as well, to enjoy underneath one of the stately elms or alongside the babbling brook.
Virginia State Capitol (Nearby Hotels)
The Virginia State Capitol is the seat of the state government of Virginia as well as the home of the General Assembly, the oldest continuously operating legislature in the Western Hemisphere. The impressive Monumental Classical-style building was completed in 1788 and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours are offered, and you’ll also have the chance to view a number of exhibits and displays, along with a short interactive film about the state’s role in American history.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Nearby Hotels)
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden spans more than 50 acres and features a wide range of beautiful flowers and plants in specialty and themed gardens, as well as a classic conservatory. Look forward to strolling through the Cochrane Rose Garden, the Asian Valley, and the Children’s Garden to learn about the many different collections and soak up the spectacular displays. It also hosts two eateries — Robins Tea House and the Garden Cafe — focused on fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as a gift shop that sells everything from gardening tools and books to seeds and home decor.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Nearby Hotels)
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is one of Richmond’s top attractions. It hosts an impressive permanent collection that includes over 35,000 works of art from across the globe. The collection includes Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Modern and Contemporary American art, along with Post-Impressionist and French Impressionist works. Guided tours and a range of educational programs are offered as well. The museum also hosts two dining options, a casual cafe overlooking the Robins Sculpture Garden and the reflecting pool, and the fine dining Amuse Restaurant.
Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Nearby Hotels)
Housed in the city’s oldest building, The Edgar Allan Poe Museum celebrates the author’s work and life. Poe lived in Richmond during various periods of his life, from his youth through adulthood. It includes one of the most extensive collections of Poe’s manuscripts, letters, and artifacts. The founders of the museum, established in 1922, collected everything they could that was related to Poe’s life, including furnishing and clothing — even a pair of his socks and a lock of his hair that was taken after his death.
Food Tour (Nearby Hotels)
Richmond has a fantastic foodie side, and you can experience some of its best by taking the Real Richmond Food Tour, a two-and-a-half-hour walking tour where you’ll visit a number of popular eateries, and taste samples of their most exceptional cuisine. You’ll also get an introduction to Richmond’s culture and history, including some of its most impressive architecture. There are several different tours to choose from such as the Butchers, Bakers & Beyond tour or the Eateries & Art tour. Private and custom tours are available too.
The Science Museum of Virginia (Nearby Hotels)
The Science Museum of Virginia is dedicated to inspiring locals and visitors to take an interest in science, and use it to enhance their lives. It hosts a wide range of excellent experiential exhibits and displays, interactive technologies, and hands-on programs. The museum is considered one of the top attractions for children in the city, although it’s sure to fascinate the adults too. There are displays on our planet, space, electricity, and health, along with the 76-foot amphitheater called The Dome. The state’s largest movie screen, it shows films related to science and space.
James River Park Pipeline Walkway (Nearby Hotels)
Pipeline Park can be accessed by way of a small catwalk on top of a pipeline that cuts across a section of the James River. It’s just about the water level, and occasionally below it after especially heavy rains, and on a small island right across from it, there is a large Great Blue Heron rookery. Here, dozens of herons nest and raise their chicks, providing the rare opportunity to view the nesting birds up close and watch them hunt for fish in the river too. This section of the river is also popular with kayakers and rafters, and further downstream visitors can take a dip in the swimming hole, have a picnic, fish or sunbathe.