Steeped in Civil War history and packed with amazing museums, galleries, and restaurants, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Richmond, Virginia.
Richmond, Virginia is one of the trendiest, up-and-coming city break destinations in the United States, offering a range of attractions for families, couples and travellers of all ages. Richmond is a city of rich culture and fascinating history, packed with monuments to the American Civil War, US literary legends, and of course, the founding fathers.
A paradise for history buffs, there are plenty of things to do in Richmond, Virginia if you’re interested in uncovering the secrets of America’s past.
However, a visit to Richmond isn’t just about looking back. This vibrant town is filled with fashionable bars, shops and restaurants. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures too, from white-water rafting on the rapids of the James River, to hiking, mountain biking or horse riding through the James River Park.
A buzzy city with a foot in the past, there’s never been a better time to visit Richmond, Virginia. Stuck for ideas? Here’s my guide to all the best things to do in Richmond. Happy travelling!
Weather in Richmond, VA
The weather in Richmond can be a little unpredictable, but typically, the summers are hot and humid, and the winters can become very cold. Temperatures in the summer can hit averages of 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit), and lows of -1 Celsius (30 Fahrenheit) in winter.
Whenever you travel, it’s best to come prepared, as Richmond experiences relatively high rainfall and you may catch a shower at any time of year.
Things to Do In Richmond, Virginia
Explore Richmond National Battlefield Park
Virginia is steeped in US history, and Richmond is no exception. During your stay, be sure to visit the Richmond National Battlefield Park, which commemorates a number of important sites relating to the American Civil War.
A Confederate heartland, Richmond was a key strategic centre during the war, and this fascinating park allows you to learn a little American history whilst wandering between fortifications and 19th century monuments. This is one of the best places to visit in Richmond for history buffs, and there’s enough here to keep all visitors entertained for an afternoon.
Wander Through the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for a feast for the senses, don’t miss a trip to the beautiful Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. While therem you’ll enjoy a kaleidoscope of colours and fragrant scents from the flowers that populate over 50 acres of gardens. The elaborate domed conservatory holds a dazzling array of plants, and the themed gardens mean there’s plenty to keep you entertained, no matter what time of year you visit.
A day out at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in Richmond in summer, when the flowers are in bloom, and the friendly staff put on many family-friendly activities for children and adults alike. There’s an excellent café and teashop too, if you get a little tired on your plant-watching expedition!
Visit John Marshall House
John Marshall was an instrumental figure in US history, credited with a crucial role in the establishment of the Supreme Court. This fascinating museum is based in his home, and offers a glimpse of American life at the turn of the 19th century.
Today, John Marshall House is an important centre for Black history, sharing previously untold stories of slaves who worked in the local plantations and in Marshall’s service. With some truly fascinating exhibits and clever storytelling, this little museum brings Virginia’s hidden histories to life.
Visit Belle Isle
A visit to the aptly-named Belle Isle is one of the most unique things to do in Virginia. This tiny island on the James River was once a Native American settlement, and later a notorious Confederate prison camp.
Today, it’s a peaceful place for a wander, offering expansive views and a picturesque setting – the ideal spot for a breath of fresh air during your stay in the city and one of the most popular places to visit in Richmond.
Visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Richmond is a great city for for art lovers, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the a must if you’re keen to see works by key artists throughout history. The permanent collection boasts works by Cézanne, Renoir, and an important selection of American, African, Indian and Tibetan art.
A visit to this gallery is the perfect rainy day activity or a great option if you’re looking for things to do in Richmond in winter.
Go Shopping in Carytown
If you’re looking for Richmond’s trendiest neighbourhood, head to Carytown. This area is packed full of boutique shops, vintage stores, and fabulous bars and restaurants.
It’s the ideal place to go for your shopping fix, with unique stores and a whole host of quirky establishments where you can grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Prices here can be a little on the steep side, but everyone can afford to window shop!
Visit the American Civil War Museum
Perched on the banks of the James River, the fascinating American Civil War Museum is one of the best things to do in Richmond, Virginia. This multi-site, award-winning museum tells the story of the American Civil War, from the munitions factories at Historic Tredegar, to the impressive White House of the Confederacy.
Packed with artefacts from this critical juncture in American history, the American Civil War Museum is a must for anyone hoping to learn about America’s complex and fascinating past – a past which still has echoes in US politics today.
Go White-Water Rafting on the James River
The James River offers surprising variety when it comes to outdoor adventures, and white-water rafting is one of the best things to do in Virginia if you’re a thrill seeker.
There’s a good range of options on offer, from relatively calm, short trips to heart-stopping adventures on the foaming rapids! Bigger kids will love this activity too, and Richmond is fast becoming one of the best places in the US for adventure sports out on the water.
Attend the Richmond Jazz Festival
Calling all music fans! The Richmond Jazz Festival is the most popular event on the summer calendar in this city, with an amazing array of artists and musicians coming together to celebrate their love of all things jazz.
This legendary event takes place every August, and it’s definitely worth timing your visit to coincide with the festivities. With fabulous music, delicious street food and a buzzy vibe, there’s no better way to celebrate Richmond’s musical heritage.
Where To Stay In Richmond, Virginia
The Linden Row Inn is the ideal place to stay in Richmond if you prefer your accommodation to be quirky and unique. The building itself comprises seven homes that date to before the civil war, and are packed with period features and antique finishings.
Just a stone’s throw from all the major attractions, this beautiful boutique hotel is ideally located, and offers comfort and style with a little character.
One of Richmond’s landmark hotels, The Commonwealth is the perfect stop if you’re looking for a little luxury during your stay in Virginia. With handcrafted furniture supplied by local artists, and boasting an unbeatable downtown location, this hotel has everything you need for a relaxing city break.
You’ll also be within walking distance of the Virginia State Capitol, some excellent restaurants, and the best shopping that the city has to offer. If that all sounds a little hectic, you can simply curl up and relax in the state-of-the-art spa facilities. Bliss!
This pretty boutique hotel is one of the most popular places to stay in Richmond, offering comfort and style at a price that won’t break the bank. Perfectly located close to the Virginia State Capitol, the Berkeley Hotel oozes old-world charm, and has all the facilities you would expect from a four-star hotel.
There’s a top restaurant too where you can feast on tasty Southern cuisine. It’s the ideal place to stay during a city break in Richmond.
There are so many fascinating attractions in the River City. Hopefully, this quick overview helps you plan your trip. There are so many great things to do in Richmond, Virginia – let me know what you get up to!
If you’re looking for other interesting places to visit nearby, you could spend a weekend in Washington DC. It’s under two hours from Richmond and there’s plenty to do once you’re there.
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