The Best Things to do in Richmond, Virginia – Don’t Miss Out!

The Best Things to do in Richmond, Virginia – Don’t Miss Out!

Beautiful and historic, Richmond, Virginia is a great place to visit. Whether for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, the capital of Virginia has something to offer for any interest or season. As the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, the city is rich in history and has a variety of museums and historic sites to offer the history buffs. If you prefer to be active and outdoors, a variety of adventures await you there. Foodies will be drawn to Richmond’s wide selection of fantastic restaurants and tasting tours. Families traveling with children will find plenty of fun experiences to keep kids of all ages engaged and entertained.

There’s so much to do in Richmond that you could never fit it all into a single visit. To help you narrow it down, here are the top 17 things to see and do in Richmond, sorted to help you find the type of attractions you’re looking for: museums, historic sites, tours, outdoor fun, and family-friendly options. Find out why these treasures put the “rich” in Richmond!

Museums

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

  • Location: 200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard. (Map)
  • Hours: Saturday – Wednesday 10am – 5pm; Thursday – Friday 10am – 9pm
  • Cost: Free general admission. Special exhibits – see website
  • Website: https://www.vmfa.museum/

Explore the world of art one region at a time with galleries that collect works of art from different places and times. From ancient Egyptian works to modern American exhibits, there is something to suit everyone’s tastes and interests. It is open 365 days a year and admission is always free, so whether you have time to spend the whole day or just a couple of hours, don’t miss the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

White House of the Confederacy

Take a guided tour of the restored executive mansion that housed Jefferson Davis and his family during the brief existence of the Confederacy, from 1861-1865. Exhibits do not focus solely on the Davis family but also on the others who lived and worked there during this time, as well as famous visitors to the house such as Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln. Because the home was purchased as a memorial within 30 years of the end of the Civil War, it quickly became the largest repository for Confederate memorabilia in the country. The mansion and adjoining museum house a vast collection including the Appomattox uniform, Lee’s field tent, Stonewall Jackson’s sword, and much more. The White House of the Confederacy is one of three locations in Virginia which together form the American Civil War Museum.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum

  • Location: 1914 E Main St. (Map)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm. Sunday 11am – 5pm. Closed Mondays.
  • Cost: $8 per person.
  • Discounts available: Children 6 and under are free. $2 discount for ages 7-17 and 60+ / $2 AAA discount / Blue Star program for active military personnel and their families.
  • Website: http://www.poemuseum.org/

A museum dedicated to 19th Century author and poet Edgar Allan Poe, known as a pioneer in the psychological thriller and science fiction genres. Poe grew up and lived much of his life in Richmond, and the museum collection is a combination of items both from his life and inspired by his work. Visit the Old Stone House, though Poe never lived in this specific house, and the Enchanted Garden, inspired by his poetry. Once a month, typically on the last Thursday of the month, the museum hosts an “UnHappy Hour” with live music, special exhibits, a cash bar, and other Poe-themed fun.

Historic Sites

Hollywood Cemetery

  • Location: 412 South Cherry St. (Map)
  • Hours: 8am – 5pm daily. During daylight savings time, 8am – 6pm.
  • Cost: Visiting the cemetery is free. Tour tickets available through The Valentine, $15 per adult. Children under 18 are free.
  • Website: https://www.hollywoodcemetery.org/

This garden cemetery draws visitors from around the world to see its amazing landscaping and architecture. This cemetery is the resting place of two United States presidents: James Monroe and John Tyler. There is also a 90-foot pyramid, built in 1868-9 as a monument to the 18,000 Confederate soldiers who were buried in this cemetery. Confederate president Jefferson Davis is also buried here along with his wife and children. Walking tours are available daily during the season from April-November. For a self-guided walking or driving tour, download a map from their website. While this cemetery contains a lot of history, it is also still active, so visitors should respect mourners and avoid the areas around funerals.

St. John’s Church

  • Location: 2401 East Broad St. (Map)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 10am – 4pm, Sunday 1pm – 4pm. Tours every half hour, last tour at 3:30pm.
  • Cost: Tours: $8 for adults, $6 for children ages 7-18. Reenactment tickets $6.17 per person ages 2+
  • Discounts available: For tours, $1 discount for adults ages 62+ / Group discounts for groups of 20+ with reservation. No discounts for reenactments.
  • Website: https://www.historicstjohnschurch.org/

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers met here in 1775 for the Second Virginia Revolutionary Convention. The discussion was heated and a decision to go to war was not to be made lightly. It was at this meeting that Patrick Henry arose and gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech, credited with convincing many that war with Britain was inevitable. Tour the church with a guide in period clothing, or plan to visit on a Sunday afternoon for a dramatic reenactment of the convention and Patrick Henry’s historic speech.

Tredegar Iron Works

  • Location: 490 Tredegar St. (Map)
  • Hours: 9am – 5pm daily
  • Cost: $15 per adult, $8 per child (ages 6-17)
  • Discounts available: $2 discount for seniors, teachers, retired miltary, and students; 10% discount for purchasing tickets online in advance; Package prices available for tickets to The White House of the Confederacy and/or the American Civil War Museum.
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/richmond/Tredegar.html

The Tredegar Iron Works was the center of Richmond industry for most of the 19th Century, but never more so than during the Civil War, when it supplied the Confederacy with cannons and iron plating for armored ships. The prominence of the iron works was a major factor in selecting Richmond to be the capital of the Confederacy. Though most of the original buildings were destroyed in a fire in the 1950s, several still remain and have been restored to their antebellum state. The buildings are used by the National Park Service as a visitor center for local Civil War battlefields, as well as museums about the iron works itself and the Civil War as a whole.

Tours

Church Hill Free Walking Tour

Church Hill is the oldest residential neighborhood in Richmond but has also become the hippest. Here the full history of Richmond can be told through architecture, significant places, and geography. Locals and visitors alike can learn something new and get a great overview of Virginia’s capital from the fun and knowledgeable guides of Richmond Tour Guys. This neighborhood is best explored on foot, allowing you to experience the area from the perspective of those who have gone before you.

Carytown Food Tour

Carytown is referred to as Richmond’s “Mile of Style”. It is an eclectic mix of old and new, boasting the oldest outdoor shopping center on the East Coast and an old-fashioned movie theater operating alongside trendy restaurants and boutiques. Learn about the history of the area and its establishments on a walking tour that includes sampling food from 5-6 different restaurants and shops. As eclectic as the neighborhood, the tour includes a taste of authentic French cuisine, tacos, cupcakes and a few surprises along the way. Perfect for history buffs and foodies alike, this tour is the perfect way to experience Carytown.

Richmond Historic Landmark Trolley Tour

  • Location: Meet at the Richmond Visitor’s Center, 405 North 3rd St. (Map)
  • Hours: April 1 – October 31: Monday – Friday 10:30am and 1:30pm; Saturday – Sunday 11:00am and 2:00pm. Tours last 2 hours. See website for winter season schedule. Reservations recommended.
  • Cost: $38 per adult, $25 per child
  • Discounts available: $3 discount for seniors. Group discounts available.
  • Website: https://rvaonwheels.com/trolley/historic-trolley.html

See all the sights of Richmond from a comfortable, air conditioned trolley with a fun and experienced guide. The trolley tour covers more distance than a walking tour and saves you from fumbling with maps in your car attempting to navigate the city on your own. You’ll learn about landmarks, history, and architecture throughout the city of Richmond and the riverfront. The trolley gives you a great view and adds a fun and historic flavor to your tour. This two-hour tour is a perfect introduction to the city!

Richmond Brewery Tour

  • Location: multiple locations – contact Richmond Brewery Tours for more information.
  • Hours: Thursday – Friday 5:30pm; Saturday 11:30am and 4:15pm; Sunday 1:00pm
  • Cost: $67 per person (non-drinking guests, $40). Gratuity encouraged.
  • Website: https://richmondbrewerytours.com/

Richmond has become a hotspot for craft beers and breweries! Beer enthusiasts will enjoy this tour, which includes a short beer-tasting course at the beginning. You will visit three different breweries, each with its own character, ambiance, and flavor. Ticket prices include a flight of samples at each brewery as well as a guided, behind-the-scenes tour at one of the breweries. Guests also receive complimentary snacks and refreshments throughout the tour and a souvenir at the end. Explore the finest craft beers in Virginia with a knowledgeable and experienced designated driver.

Outdoor Activities and Sports

Capitol Building and Capitol Square Park

  • Location: 1000 Bank St. (Map)
  • Hours: Capitol Building: Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday 1pm – 5pm. Guided tours available each hour, with the last tour starting at 4pm. Self-guided tours available any time the building is open. Park open daily from 6am – 11pm.
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: https://virginiacapitol.gov/

Richmond has been the capital of Virginia since 1779 when it moved there from Williamsburg. During the Civil War, it was also the capital of the Confederacy. The buildings of Capitol Square and the surrounding park are both beautiful and historically significant. This site is designated as a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grounds host the Capitol Building, the governor’s mansion, and other historically significant government buildings. Surrounding these structures are beautiful gardens, fountains, monuments, and statues. Tour the Capitol Building and enjoy a walk through this lovely and historic park.

Maymont

  • Location: 1700 Hampton St. (Map)
  • Hours: Ground and gardens, 10am – 7pm daily. Farm pastures and wildlife, 10am – 5pm daily. Nature Center, Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm. Maymont Mansion, Tuesday – Sunday 12-5pm.
  • Cost: Farm and wildlife habitats, $5 per person. Maymont Mansion, $5 per person. Nature center, $4 per adult (ages 13-59), $3 per senior (age 60+) or child (ages 4-12).
  • Website: https://maymont.org

Maymont is 100 acres of fun for everyone. It is part historical mansion, part elaborate botanical garden, part farm, part zoo, and part nature center. Guided tours of the mansion tell you more about the history of Richmond and the Maymont property from the late 19th Century and on. The farm is home to all of the traditional farm animals, big and small. Bring quarters for the food dispensers if you would like to feed the animals! The wildlife area protects Virginia native species such as black bears, elk, deer, bison, and bald eagles. Check the schedule for animal encounters to get up close to Monty the bobcat. The nature center also offers animal encounters with some of the animals that live in its 30,000+ gallons of aquarium space. Around the Maymont grounds, a variety of specialty gardens can be found, including an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, and an arboretum. There’s never a dull moment at Maymont!

James River Park System

  • Location: several different locations throughout Richmond
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset daily
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: https://jamesriverpark.org/

The James River is the heart of Richmond in so many ways. Throughout history and still today, the James River, as it winds its way east to the Chesapeake Bay, is the lifeblood of the city. The James River Park System offers a multitude of ways to enjoy the river itself and its shores from a variety of locations around the city. There are parks located on both the north and south shores, so wherever you are in Richmond, you’re never far from a park. From jogging and biking paths to boat launches for canoes and kayaks, outdoor sports enthusiasts have a range of options available in the parks. Belle Isle is the most popular park in the system, with wooden walking paths, mountain biking trails, and opportunities for fishing, rock climbing or simply sunbathing.  For swimming, wading or paddling in rapids, don’t miss Pony Pasture Park. Try these or any of a dozen other locations for a natural escape from the hustle of the city.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

  • Location: 1800 Lakeside Ave (Map)
  • Hours: 9am – 5pm Daily. Open until 9pm on Thursdays during the summer season (June – September 12). Opens at 8am on weekends during the summer season (Memorial Day – Labor Day)
  • Cost: $13 per adult, $8 per child (ages 3-12)
  • Discounts available: $2 discount for seniors (ages 55+), $3 discount for military (with ID). $1 admission available with SNAP or WIC EBT card.
  • Website: https://www.lewisginter.org

Any time of year is a great time to visit the beautiful gardens at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Each season has something to offer, from the Cherry Tree Walk in the spring to explosion of color in the summer and fall. In the winter, find relief from the winter blues in the warm, fragrant gardens of the domed conservatory and stay for the holiday light show. There are temporary visiting exhibits, restaurants and performances. Families will especially enjoy exploring and playing in the children’s garden. There’s something for everyone and every season at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden!

Family-Friendly

Science Museum of Virginia

  • Location: 2500 West Broad St. (Map)
  • Hours: Daily 9:30am – 5:00pm
  • Cost: $15 per adult, $13.50 per youth (ages 6-12) or senior (ages 60+), $10 per preschool child (ages 3-5)
  • Discounts available: Group rate (10+ people) $10 per person. Free admission for educators, active/retired military and veterans with ID. Member of the ASTC passport program.
  • Website: https://www.smv.org/

Three floors full of exhibits offer hundreds of hands-on experiences for kids and adults alike. Explore physics, energy, biology, robotics, and so much more in fun and unique ways. There is a targeted area for the youngest visitors, under age 5, as well as a teen room specifically for visitors ages 13-18. Have you ever watched two rats play one-on-one basketball? If not, you won’t want to miss this exciting demonstration! You’ll be having so much fun, you won’t even realize how much you’re learning! Don’t miss the chance to spend the day at the Science Museum of Virginia!

Metro Richmond Zoo

  • Location: 8300 Beaver Bridge Rd, Moseley (Map)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 9:30am – 5:00pm
  • Cost: $17.75 per adult, $11.75 per child
  • Discounts available: $1 discount for seniors (age 60+), 10% discount for active/retired military with ID
  • Website: http://metrorichmondzoo.com/

Enjoy a day at the zoo with animals from around the world. See them up close during a keeper talk, or purchase food to feed some of the animals (including giraffes) yourself! In addition to animals, the zoo offers a variety of rides (at an additional cost) and seasonal extras such as the Miracle of Christmas pageant. The Metro Richmond Zoo is home to many endangered and rare species, including pygmy hippos and white lions. There is a cheetah breeding center that saw a rare litter of septuplet cubs born in 2018. Animal lovers of all ages are sure to love the Metro Richmond Zoo.

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Learn about the remarkable life of Maggie L. Walker, a civil rights leader during the era of Jim Crow laws in the South. Her house is restored and preserved and the surrounding buildings serve as exhibit areas and a visitor center. Park rangers offer tours every hour and kids will enjoy completing activities throughout the site to earn an official “Junior Ranger” badge. Don’t miss this fun, educational, and free experience!

Richmond truly has something to offer everyone! From its rich history and beautiful nature to its trendy neighborhoods and culinary delights, your visit to Richmond offers you a wide variety of experiences to suit any mood or preference. Have a great trip!

Further read:

Christine Lindstrom

Christine Lindstrom is a freelance writer and digital nomad who has made travel her lifestyle. She has explored parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Central America and is currently traveling in the United States in an RV with her husband and three kids. She is passionate about helping others learn to travel well and overcome common challenges, especially women and families.
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