Great things to do in Richmond Virginia include historic, nature, food/drink, and other activities. Richmond is only a 90 minute drive from Washington DC.
Richmond, Virginia is steeped in American history but today is blossoming as an adventure and foodie destination. Traditionally known as the capital of the US South (including the capital of the Confederate States during the 1860s), Richmond is also the hometown of Arthur Ashe, Shirley Maclaine, Warren Beatty, Fran Tarkenton, D’Angelo, and Bill Robinson (Bojangles).
Yes, you can say that there are at least two sides to Richmond—the traditional, historic Richmond and the Civil Rights, progressive, and cosmopolitan Richmond. Richmond is only a 90 minute drive from Washington, DC and well worth a multi-day visit so that you can experience all sides yourself.
Before your next Richmond VA visit, read 9 Divine Secret Places to Eat in Richmond Virginia
8 Great Things To Do in Richmond Virginia
1. St. John’s Church
One of the most important events in US history occurred at St. John’s Church in Richmond Virginia. In front of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and more than 100 other prominent leaders, Patrick Henry gave his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. That saying became a rallying cry during the American Revolution, which began only one month later. Today you can tour the historic church and graveyard, and perhaps catch one of the reenactments of the events from March 1775.
Stroll around the graveyard on your own, especially if you have never seen table top cemetery stones.
2. Virginia State Capitol Building
The Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond was named the #1 building that changed America. Thomas Jefferson envisioned and help design the building, specifically as a statement of USA’s independence from Britain. The Virginia State Capitol is modeled after an ancient Roman temple in southern France and countless USA buildings (including the US Capitol) are modeled after it.
This plaque inside the Virginia State Capitol shows how far back Virginia history extends.
3. Edgar Allan Poe Museum
Edgar Allan Poe spent most of his early childhood in Richmond Virginia. The Poe Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of Poe’s writings in the world. The museum building is not one that Poe lived in but is the oldest building in Richmond.
The Poe Museum rooms have period furnishings and decorations and Poe’s Enchanted Garden is a highlight. Watch out for the Black Cat.
4. Hollywood Cemetery
Impress your friends with this trivia: Hollywood Cemetery is the only US cemetery where three Presidents are buried. Two US Presidents are buried here—James Monroe and John Tyler—along with Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. OK, you might groan, but I did not say “three US Presidents.” Other important Hollywood Cemetery burials include six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, and over 18,000 Confederate soldiers (including 22 Generals).
No doubt, Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia is very historic, but it is also gorgeous. The cemetery encompasses the native nature and features beautiful walking paths and majestic trees. Its setting on a hill overlooking the James River makes visiting Hollywood Cemetery a popular great thing to do in Richmond Virginia.
5. Belle Isle
Belle Isle is an island in the middle of the James River with wonderful hiking and biking trails. During the Civil War, Belle Isle housed the largest Confederate prison and later Belle Isle was home to various industrial pursuits. A pedestrian bridge from Tredegar Street is perhaps the easiest way to access Belle Isle.
From Belle Isle, you can see the Hollywood Cemetery, downtown Richmond, and more.
6. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is open every day of the year and charges no admission fee. When I last visited, major displays included equestrian art, art deco furniture, and Tiffany glass lamps.
7. Richmond VA Street Art
Over 100 street art murals can be found throughout the neighborhoods of Richmond Virginia. Here is a listing of street art by neighborhood and years. RVA Street Art Fest, a 3 day festival in April, draws artists from around the world to create these amazing murals.
8. Richmond Virginia Food and Drink
The local food and craft beer scene in Richmond is crazy. So many creative chefs and brewers are opening places in Richmond and environs, and they strongly integrate with and appeal to the expanding adventure crowd.
I had these amazing pork cheek tacos for lunch at Vagabond.
The roast pork omelet at Kuba Kuba is phenomenal.
Capital Ale House is in the downtown area and serves many local brews.
For lunch one day, we explored Carytown for awhile and then selected Weezie’s. They make very good sandwiches and interesting side dishes.
On Thursday evenings from April through October, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery hosts a food truck court. During our visit there were over a dozen food trucks onsite. Oh, and Hardywood has incredible craft beer.
BONUS: Richmond’s Monument Avenue
Monument Avenue—a bonus to my 8 great things to do in Richmond Virginia list—recognizes Confederate heroes (like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson) but in 1996 the Arthur Ashe monument was dedicated. The monuments have been in the news lately (with protests) and the situation along Monument Avenue is fluid.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Richmond VA?
Note: We—Julie at FuninFairfaxVA.com and I—were hosted by Richmond Region Tourism (Visit Richmond VA) as an opportunity to explore and learn about Richmond, Virginia and share our favorite findings with our network.
Where to Stay in Richmond Virginia
The Jefferson Hotel is an ultra luxury hotel in downtown Richmond. It is a member of Historic Hotels of America and Preferred Hotels & Resorts. The Jefferson Hotel is one of only a few dozen USA properties to earn 5 diamonds from AAA and 5 stars from Forbes Travel Guide.
Thank you for reading our suggestions for favorite things to do in Richmond Virginia.
34 thoughts on “8 Great Things To Do in Richmond Virginia”
We have a new, unique event that you can only experience in RVA. Our Soaps, Sips and Aperitivo combine natural soapmaking with an Italian inspired Happy Hour that includes: soapmaking, wine, charcuterie, Spritz and fun.
Sounds fun. If anyone has been to Richmond and attended one of these events, let us know.
It’s funny that I’ve traveled to so many other countries but some places in my own haven’t been visited — especially the historic ones like Richmond. I’d go just to see the street art!
I would return to Richmond just to see the street art, too. We are lucky, though, that they also have amazing food and drink and attractions and adventures.
It’s sad that I live in Richmond and have only done one of the these. I keep meaning to do more where I live but it doesn’t seem to happen.
Oh, my, which one? I am sure you have done much more than I have. Of course, you have 2017 and much more time to do these things. I love Richmond and hope to re-visit soon.
There sure is a lot to do in Richmond! I especially enjoyed your photos of the food (of course!). Looks like theres a lot of yummy food choices.
I am no foodie expert like y’all but Richmond seems to have an amazing food vibe. Much young, creative culinary talent.
I didn’t realise Richmond was so close to Washington DC. It would have been easy to visit here when we were in Washington. The food alone would have drawn me there but therw’s so much to see too!
Plus I am nearby, so you should re-visit!
Richmond sounds like a place I’d really enjoy visiting. I like exploring history, street art and eating! And I have never seen a table top cemetery stone.
Many things for you to enjoy there, Donna!
Richmond, Virginia is a great place to visit. I did miss the Poe museum when I was there last, so will add it on to my to-do list for next time. BTW, would love for you to submit your Poe cat image to my website photo gallery “Cats around the world.” Just compose a blurb like the others to go with it. http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Way-Beyond/Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-Cats/photos-of-cats.html
Sure thing, Carole. RoooWWWWRrrrr!
Thanks for sharing and introducing Richmond. It’s great to see there are some exciting things to see and do in the city and I wish to be there myself some day! @ knycx.journeying
Thank you for your nice note. I also hope you can experience the treasures of Richmond yourself soon.
The place looks like a super beautiful and arty place. Can’t wait to see with my own eyes!
Thank you for the note. Hope you enjoy your Richmond visit.
I love Virginia! Can’t wait to go back and take a look at some of the places you went- especially Kuba Kuba, that omelette looks amazing! Thank you for a great read!
These spots are really cool!!!
seriously have to think about this place, well having a list of travel destinations to visit this year, have to put Richmond Virginia on my list for sure.
Keep posting such amazing places
Thank you for the note, Rajkumar.
There’s an Edgar Allen Poe museum? How cool! I’d love to check that out. I have a friend that lives near Richmond, I think I should make a visit soon so we can check out some of these spots.
Definitely. Such a fun small city.
My sister lives in Richmond and I want to second your Hardywood recommendation! It is GREAT!
Hey, thank you, Rebecca. Appreciate the note.
I love Richmond and used to visit quite a bit when I lived in MD. The Richmond Science Center has Rat Basketball, where rats play…basketball! Ha! Betcha didn’t even know it was a thing! Thanks for the great ideas for when I go back!
Ratsketball! Awesome. I will return to RVA just to see that. Thank you, Kelly.
I wish I had had this list when I visited Richmond a couple of years ago. It’s such a cute town. I’ll have to go back.
Very cute. I also want to go back. Thank you for the note, Jyl.
Such cool stuff! The Poe Museum, the street art, the food!!! Now I must go. Thanks for the info.
Thank you, Becky. How are you? I gotta get me down to southern Alabama in 2017.
I’d like to return to Richmond to raft on the James River, bike some of the Virginia Capital Trail, and sample more of the great dine and drink scene. Fantastic city!
So many discoveries to make in Richmond Virginia!
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