Richmond is the history buff’s paradise. It has famous historical sites where wars were waged and revolutions were planned. There are tours and memorabilia to bring those events back to life. Richmond’s culinary offerings and craft breweries are a great attraction, as are the nature trails and water sports. There are parks, museums and monuments galore. Richmond, the capital city of Virginia, also has the requisite Government buildings and offices, most notable of them being the Capitol. If you are looking for the complete experience, chock-full of both fun and learning, then Richmond is a great place to start. Here are some of the most notable tourist attractions in Richmond.
Let's explore Richmond points of interest and 15 best things to do in Richmond:
1. Visit the Virginia State Capitol
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The Capitol is the seat of the Government in Virginia. This is where the General Assembly, the oldest operating legislature body in the western hemisphere, meets. The building was partially designed by Thomas Jefferson himself, in the in the monumental classical style, paving the way for the design of countless government buildings from here on across the US. The capitol has since been declared a National Historic Landmark. There are guided tours to take visitors through the building and offer snippets about the history, architecture, exhibits and design of the structure. They also offer a screening of a visually interactive film about the state’s history.
2. Tour the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is dedicated to preserving Art and the methods of creating Art. With a massive exhibit featuring over 33,000 artworks, the Museum has displays ranging from artforms across the world, from French Impressionist to American Contemporary, from Art Deco to Post-Impressionist Art. It has a large collection of Indian, Tibetan and African arts as well, not to mention famous artists like Degas and Renoir. The museum offers a variety of educational and community outreach programs, guided and packaged tours, and a fantastic meal at the famous Amuse Restaurant on premises.
3. Stroll along Carytown
Carytown is a shops and restaurants area in the museum district. Though the food may be a tad overpriced, the shops are a charming collection of quirky alternatives to the usual, like the World of Mirth or the Need Supply Co. Boutiques reign in this section of the town, but if you are a shopping enthusiast, then even window shopping and the ambiance will appeal greatly. The Byrd theatre is especially popular for it screens movies or hosts plays at just 2 dollars per person entry.
4. Visit the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
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The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, built on former Powhatan Indian hunting ground, is a sprawling 50-acre large display of lust flora, verdant blooms and a domed conservatory. The garden hosts events year-round like the Garden fest of lights in November and Goblins and Gourds Halloween. The two restaurants onsite, Garden Café and the Robins tea house provide delicious food. There is a garden shop as well which can get you started on your own planting projects.
5. Ride the rollercoasters at Kings Dominion
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The kings Dominion is a 400-acre large theme park, great for a visit with friends or family. It has thrilling rides, a soak city water park and some great, if a little overpriced, food. You may want to buy a souvenir bottle which is a one-time cost. It can get you free refills all day, for water or soft drinks. The most acclaimed ride is said to be the Grizzly Coaster which takes you on a hair-raising rollercoaster ride through a dense forest.
6. Visit the Maymont
The Maymont estate used to belong to wealthy Richmond residents who left it to the city after their death. It has sprawling gardens with lush Japanese and Italian plants and layout. Their mansion itself is a beautiful structure with 33 rooms and opulent interiors. You can pack a picnic to enjoy on the perfectly kept lawns and then visit the arboretum and the petting zoo and then check out the carriage collection. The Nature Center will give you a sketch of the history and more information about the things to see and do on the estate.
7. Take in the Monument Avenue
The Virginia Center for Architecture will give you a rundown on the heritage and treasures preserved on the monument avenue for centuries now. The Boulevard of monuments is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It features statues and monuments and beautiful, architectural delights like the townhouses and apartment buildings designed by famous architects like Duncan Lee and John Russell Pope. A stroll along the boulevard can take you back in time.
8. Visit the Virginia Aviation Museum
The Virginia Aviation Museum is located on the premises of the International Airport. It is dedicated to tracing the history of flight. It has a classic vintage collection of aircraft and even a reproduction of the famous Wright Brother’s flight contraption. Volunteers offer knowledge on the exhibits and the history of famous commanders, admirals and their expeditions. There are flight memorabilia in exhibits and even an Aviation Hall of Fame. Aviation movies are screened in the Benn Theatre. You can also take controls of a J-3 Cub and experience a wind tunnel in action.
9. Enjoy the Real Richmond Food Tour
A two and half hour walking tour, the Real Richmond Food Tour introduces to food and cuisines greatly rated and appreciated by top gourmands and connoisseurs. The tour will take you through the history and the architecture of the city all the while introducing you to samplings of the top offerings of the eateries you stop at. Some featured tours are the Carytown Museum: Butchers, bakers and Beyond and Both sides of the Broad: The Art and Soul of Richmond. These tours can also be custom designed or booked for private.
10. Visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum
The Edgar Allen Poe Museum is dedicated to the life and works of the famous author and poet, who lived and worked here. It has a collection of his childhood memorabilia, letters and artifacts. Some of his works are displayed in exhibits. Called America’s Shakespeare, Poe was master of a variety of literary genres, from short stories to horror stories and from lyrical poetry to fiction. The museum is situated close to his home and place of employment, the southern literary messenger.
11. Tour the American Civil War Museum
The American Civil War Museum has 3 sites, 2 of which are in Richmond. The Museum and White House of the Confederacy and the Historic Tredegar. Museum of the Confederacy, however, is in Appomattox. The museum here displays weapons, costumes, art and artifacts from the Confederate war. It also has several war flags on exhibit. The White House was home of the president of the Confederate. Guided tours are conducted throughout the day.
12. Visit the Virginia Historical Society
The Virginia Historical Society is a veritable treasure-house of civil war memorabilia. It has everything stored and preserved, from books, letters, photographs, newspapers and even genealogical records and sheet music from back when. While entry is free, visitors may have to pay for some special exhibits. However, it is an engaging, fun and educational visit, and a must-do for any history buff. The museum and library are closed on Sundays.
13. Attend mass at St. John’s Episcopal Church
This Richmond Church is the famous site where Patrick Henry pleaded to God, ‘Give me Liberty or give me Death!’ This historical tidbit, more than religious reasons, is what makes St. John’s Episcopal Church popular with tourists. Re-enactments of the speech are held from Memorial Day to Labor Day by costumed actors. The cemetery here also hosts the final resting places of notable personalities Elizabeth Arnold Poe, Edgar Allen Poe’s mother, and George Wythe, a signatory to the American Declaration of Independence. Visitors can sign up for tours to know more about the history and heritage of the place.
14. Visit Agecroft hall
The Agecroft Hall Estate is a tribute to history. Built to replicate the original Elizabethan manor house from Lancashire, England on the banks of River Irwell, the Hall overlooks the James River. It has opulent interiors, rich furnishings and an architectural blend of the Tudor and 20th-century styles with decorative elements very like the house in England. The wood paneling and period art is particularly noteworthy. The house itself is surrounded by rose arbors and Elizabethan-style gardens replete with a knot garden and boxwoods.
15. Tour the Richmond National Battlefield Park
The park is the site of the civil wars. There are original fortifications, weapons, the Confederacy's largest hospital and the industrial complex. It has 13 separate war sites and 4 visitor’s centers that arrange for tours through the park. There are special events, exhibits in the museum and living history demonstration throughout the year, as well as educational trips and activities.
Richmond is deep-rooted in history and celebrates its freedom with monuments, museums and events that honor the struggle behind the freedom movement. It is also a destination of good food and natural exploits that make it worth a visit.