Visiting Richmond - What to See and Do
(Richmond International Airport RIC, USA)
has been the capital of Virginia
since 1780 and is a fantastic destination for anyone with an interest in the American Civil War. Once the capital of the Confederate South, the city was the site of numerous important events during this struggle. Enthusiasts will find a wealth of battlefields and historic monuments in and around the city.
Richmond is also known as a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character and set of attractions. It has large pockets of lovely historic homes, one of Virginia's finest art museums and a number of leafy parks. The James River cuts right through the city, offering visitors a nice place to stroll along its Riverfront Canal Walk and even the chance to go boating.
Music fans will be pleasantly surprised at the depth and diversity of Richmond's live music scene. Head to Shockoe Bottom for a memorable night out of drinking and music. The dazzling new CenterStage venue in downtown proves the capital also has a solid performing arts agenda as well. Visitors rarely have trouble entertaining themselves in this part of Virginia.
Ten things you must do in Richmond
- A jewel in the crown of the downtown district is its Riverfront Canal Walk. This restored path runs for around a mile between the interesting sites of the Tredegar Iron Works and Shockoe Slip, where canal barges will take you on a superb 45-minute cruise during the summer months. Any time of year, the Canal Walk is great for a convenient stroll along the water in the heart of the capital.
- One of the best Civil War sites in the city is the Richmond National Battlefield Park. As the capital of the Confederacy, the city was the number one target for the Union army. The battlefields are toured by car and require at least three hours to absorb all the history. Before entering the park, stop by the Tredegar Iron Works, where the Richmond Civil War Visitor Center will help you get your bearings.
- America's premier spot to learn more about the Confederacy is the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. Its collection of Confederate relics, weapons, propaganda and other items is the largest in the country, making this attraction a must for any Civil War enthusiast. Next-door to the museum is the 1818 White House, where Jefferson Davis lived while serving as President of the Confederacy. Tours of the White House take about two hours.
- One of the city's star tourist magnets not related to the Civil War is its superb Museum of Fine Arts. It contains a marvelous collection of artistry that covers the spectrum. The collection of Fabergé eggs is the biggest outside of Russia, while paintings from Matisse, Monet, Picasso and most other European masters are on permanent display.
- A great way to experience what the city has to offer tourists is by taking the two-hour guided walking tour of the historic downtown area, provided by Historic Richmond Tours. Head to the Valentine Richmond History Center to schedule the walk, taking time to check out the impressive visitor center as well.
- One of Virginia's finest botanical gardens is here in the form of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Created by tobacco magnate Lewis Ginter in the 1880s, the 40-acre / 16-hectare park is now managed by the state. A diverse range of attractions are onsite, including the historic Bloemendaal House, the Conservatory and the education complex. Two cafés are also in the gardens and offer a pleasant lunch spot.
- Head straight to the Shockoe Bottom district when you are ready to experience Richmond's lively nightlife. The entire neighborhood is packed with bars, live music venues and funky boutiques. Far from genteel, Shockoe Bottom represents the punkish side of the capital, boasting the city's best live bands and cutting-edge drinking spots.
- The other great Civil War attraction in Richmond is the Petersburg National Battlefield Park. Located along the southern and eastern edges of the city, the battles fought here led to Union victory over Richmond. From the informative visitor center, a 4-mile / 6-km one-way road leads you through all the main battle sites, some of which have short walking trails.
- To experience the plantation heritage of Richmond and southern Virginia, plan an afternoon at Scotchtown. Built around 1719, it is one of Virginia's oldest plantations and was once the home of patriot Patrick Henry. The main house is completely open to the public and looks much as it did when Henry lived there.
- Spend a day away from all the history of Richmond and have some fun at Kings Dominion. This massive amusement park is one of America's best, boasting an unbeatable selection of roller coasters to go with its other exciting thrill rides. The other major attraction here is WaterWorks, a water park almost as big as the theme park itself.