On the streets of Richmond, Virginia, I realized I could live here forever. It’s a wholesome city with a beautiful entanglement of greenery, history, waterfalls, and the massive James River embracing Richmond’s ethereal beauty.
The city proffers multiple museums, art galleries, and street murals for the great thinkers and art enthusiasts.
Emphasizing their culture through statues, interpretive art, and street culture, Richmond is home to many authentic and historical museums, such as the famous Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts, Black History Museum & Cultural Center, and many more.
Photo by Eric Scott
When the sun takes a dip and colors the sky in pristine hues of vibrant pinks and violets, a James River tour beside Richmond will fulfill you with contentment. The majestic boat ride on the river will introduce you to the whole city more intrinsically.
Wholly covered with nature, this town will offer greenery wherever you look—there’s an abundance of natural destinations in Richmond, including the serene Maymont Japanese Garden, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Powhite Water Park, Buttermilk Trail, and more!
“Richmond is for lovers of history, of course.” The city is full of historical sites—popular for its famous museums and restored historic mansions like the Virginia House, St. John Church, Virginia Executive mansion, or the famous Hollywood cemetery.
But history is never enough, and Richmond knows how to boost travelers with adrenaline and fun as well. When the moon primes in the gloomy sky and darkness engulfs the city, Richmond transfers into a spooky town and calls upon a scary adventure with the ghost tour—be prepared to have your breath taken away!
For the kids, Richmond has the biggest amusement park called Kings Dominion, Metro Richmond Zoo, Kids Museum Park, Bogey Kids Park, and so much more!
Where to start your tour in Richmond? Here’s my thorough guide of things to do in Richmond and where to start your travel.
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- 7 Must-Try Chesapeake Restaurants
- Serene Outdoors Things To Do In Richmond VA
- Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
- Buttermilk Trail—Forest Hill Park
- Riverfront Canal Cruises
- Belle Isle Island
- Adventurous Things To Do In Richmond VA
- Art And Historical Places To Visit In Richmond, VA
- Other Historical Sites To Visit In Richmond, VA
- Wrapping Up Things To Do In Richmond VA
Serene Outdoors Things To Do In Richmond VA
Before going on mysterious ventures, take Richmond’s walking tour or stroll through the city on a bicycle—introduce yourself to a wide range of street art, historic buildings, exquisite cuisine, and beer trails. Richmond is equally famous for its culinary and cultural shops.
If you are a morning person who loves to take long trails in nature, the Buttermilk Trail connecting Forest Hill Park will stimulate your energy with serene surroundings, a shimmering lake, and the forest.
Visit the Maymont Japanese Garden in the early evening to acknowledge the 100-acre Victorian estate with a historic mansion, wildlife, waterfall, and carriage exhibits.
As evening awaits, Richmond will offer you a whole range of nightlife clubs to dance away your worries.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a floral heaven on earth with over nine huge floral gardens, an Asian valley, the conservatory, and thousands of flower species. Spread over 50 acres of landscape, the garden is a stretched fairytale coming into existence.
When I visited Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in May, I was astounded at the variety of colors and millions of flowers in the gardens and throughout the locality, especially the cherry trees.
This botanical garden is a paradise for people looking for that one peaceful morning or evening—nothing gives more solace than taking a walk through the woodland path or the cherry canopy. The pavilions, water reservoirs, fountains, and waterfall amid the thousands of bushes of flowers further emphasize its overall ethereal beauty.
LG Botanical Garden—Famous Wedding Venue and Date Nights
For the same reasons, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a famous wedding avenue for extravagant, fairytale marriages—every turn around the corner is majestic.
That’s not all; the garden also hosts events, exhibits, and educational tours—you can enroll in an in-depth study of the trees, flowers, and the rest of the horticulture right in the garden.
For kids, the garden has a separate playground section with fun water activities. There are many educational programs, summer camps, volunteer associations, and school tours of the garden throughout the year.
At the time of Christmas and GardenFest, there’s a beautiful Model Train display for kids to explore.
Food and Shops
Enjoy the patio with music, outdoor dinner, and tea in the evening.
The LG botanical garden has a tea house, a cafe, and a cozy garden shop. In fact, on Thursdays, it remains open after 5 PM. You can appreciate the sunset and the whole garden in golden and orange tones—it’s euphoric.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
Not a single tree or stone is left behind when Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is decorated with lights in the festive season. Each November, the garden is illuminated with thousands of colored lights.
At night, the garden glitters with colorful decorations all around, accentuating and emphasizing the overall beauty of trees, flowers, water, gazebos, and everything else. LG botanical garden is probably one of the most beautiful locations to spend your Christmas at—it feels like a beautiful home.
1700 Hampton St // +18043587166
Take a day off to this wonderland, Maymont, and explore the diverse beauty of nature. Spread over 100-acres, Maymont Garden offers four continental gardens—a huge Victorian Mansion, small historic cottages, carriage display, vintage exhibits, preserved wildlife, and farms.
Maymont’s theme has a diverse blend of different continents. The Japanese garden displays traditional lanterns, native Asian flowers, and infrastructure. The Italian Garden, Via Florum, offers classic renaissance architecture with long pergolas, symmetry, dome, fewer flowers, but forever greenery.
Via Florum’s Pergola is widely used for weddings and receptions. On the other hand, the Japanese Garden is an attractive Asian spot for traditional Asian gatherings.
Other specialty destinations include the Marie Butterfly trail, accompanied by thousands of butterflies and floral beauty. The Maymont garden also has the Grotto, a rare Rome infrastructure lost in history.
- The carriage house garden
- Vegetable farm
- Maymont Mansion’s lawn
- Native Virginia landscape displaying trees, shrubs, and plants native to Virginia.
Maymont offers vintage carriage rides to explore the garden on wheels. Wear something Victorian-style and live the historic youthful era.
Maymont also conducts various events throughout the year. The festive feast near the end of the year will lighten up your visit to the Japanese garden. Other events include mansion tours, horticulture classes, Christmas decorations, and volunteering.
Running four miles long, the Buttermilk trail is the perfect destination for steady hikers, brave bikers, and nature lovers.
If you are a fan of morning runs, sunrises, forest canopy, and sloppy roads, this Buttermilk trail will be a great ride in the city. But, not for the faint hearts, the trail is one of the oldest and scariest loops of the town—with bikers speeding up and steep alleys pulling you down.
If you want to relax, choose a day that’s least frequented by bikers and riders to enjoy a safe and risk-free journey. If traveling with family and kids, it’s best to avoid this path.
Although at a moderate elevation, the Buttermilk trail offers many small wooden paved paths and is only a stone’s throw away from Forest Hill Park. Every season will offer beautiful views throughout the trail.
To take a quick stop, Forest Hill Park serves a beautiful scenic pause with a glittering lake, a stone house, a children’s playground, and multiple other small trails. The park features picnic sheds, gazebos, and benches.
Forest Hill Park is a perfect destination for families looking for a fun picnic time and resting area!
Other Trails in Richmond
- Belle Isle Trails: Crossing some huge stones and steep pathways, Belle Isle is a river-side trail giving you scenic views of the massive James River crossing by.
- RVA Pipeline Trail: There’s a narrow trail bridge above Belle Isle island and the James River. In the end, the bridge connects to the river’s shore and allows you to relax for a couple of minutes near the water. You can witness activities like kayaking and boating at the site.
139 Virginia St, Richmond // +18046492800
With the Riverfront Historic Canal Cruises, you can cruise over the historical sites of Richmond while relaxing in a sunshade.
Situated near Virginia Street, these canal cruises operate throughout the town and ride along the famous triple crossing railroad, James River’s wildlife, gardens, Virginia Capitol trails, historic tobacco warehouse, etc.
If you are a history buff like me, tour the city with these canal cruises once in Richmond. It’s a delight to quietly sit, listen to music, and watch history unfold on water.
Other City Tours on Wheels include—RVAtuktuk & RVA Trolleys
After bicycling and walking around the town, it’s time you catch up some speed and tour the city on wheels. Richmond has two authentic rides for travelers—RVA tuk-tuk and RVA trolleys. Both the rides give a vintage vibe and narrate the 400 years old history of Richmond.
RVA tuk-tuks are electric, open-limos, perfect for city tours, weddings, and haunted tours. In addition, the organization serves various private tours throughout Richmond.
They will offer you private history tours, haunted city-side tours, bar hops, and scavenger hunts (for families).
TVA trolleys are vintage (air-conditioned) trolleys giving an authentic ride. The services provide a two-hour historical tour, covering the whole of Richmond. I hopped on all these rides to get the gist of Richmond, and boy, was it fun!
Situated within the James River, Belle Isle is a rock-bed park covering 54 acres of landscape. It’s one of the most popular destinations in Richmond to mesmerize the sunset, the river, sunbathing, walking, bicycling, and playing.
Belle Isle offers a beautiful view of Richmond’s Hollywood cemetery and Richmond’s skyline. The public park is free to use, and you will have multiple locals simply enjoying the river post. Belle Isle Island is perfect for family picnics, group parties, and nightlife.
I sat there for an hour, enjoying how the city lit up at night. It’s a peaceful spot for tired nights. You can reach the island through the suspension footbridge under the Robert E. Lee bridge. Then, when the water level is down, you can reach the island on foot.
Adventurous Things To Do In Richmond VA
Well, Richmond city isn’t only about museums, gardens, and the James River—it’s so much more and so much fun! So plan a day off to go to the Kings Dominion Amusement Park and have the fun of your life at the roller coasters and the exclusive water rides.
At night, take the Canavaha boat ride tour circling downtown. After strolling around Richmond in RVA tuk-tuks, canal cruises, and RVA historic Trolleys, head towards James River and dive straight in the water for some adrenaline-boosting activities.
James River offers kayaking, whitewater river rafting, paddleboarding, tubing, and so many other exciting activities inside the water.
The fun never stops in Richmond, and these haunted tours at night are the evidence of something spooky. If you have a strong heart and willpower, visit the city ghost tours during Halloween months—it gets scary after 8 PM.
16000 Theme Park Way // +18048765000
With over ten roller coaster rides, twenty acres of the massive water park, hundreds of thrill rides, and a huge kid’s play area, Kings Dominion will offer you the adventure of your lifetime.
Whether you want to scream your lungs away at the Dominator or Intimidator roller coaster or want to enjoy a less-scary ride (Great Pumpkin coaster and Woodstock Express) with kids, Kings Dominion has multiple varied thrill levels for different groups of people.
While the roller coasters will twist and turn you above water bodies and beyond imagination, Kings Dominion’s other attractions are also equally fun—whether it’s moving with the gravity on the drop-down ride or getting tipsy on the delirium (frisbee)—the choice is yours.
Luckily, this amusement park offers hundreds of rides to choose from.
Call me delicate, but my favorite rides will always be the Ferris Wheel (called Americana) and Merry Go Around (carousel) at night—the colorful neon lights all over the amusement park are almost psychedelic.
The top view from the Ferris Wheel will seize your night and give you a view of the whole city!
My second favorite attraction was the twenty acres of the water park called Soak City, offering multiple water slides and wavy adventures.
Some of the water slides to enjoy at the amusement park are the Aqua Blast (water loop), Lazy River (slow current river on rafts), Sand Dune Lagoon, White Water Canyon, Tidal Wave Bay, etc.
100 N. 17th St. // +18045979379
Did you know Richmond is considered the nation’s scariest ghost city, with thousands of walking dead, their spooky history, and unsolved crimes that still leave the city dreaded?
Eerie Night Ghost Tours unfolded this side of Richmond for my friends and me in the most spine-chilling theatricals.
Dressed as haunting Victorian ghouls with blood splattered all over, Eerie Nights Tour’s hosts present the city in the most dramatic theatres. Whether you choose a walking tour or a haunted trolley tour, the journey will take you amid the silence of the city and many of the haunted locations in Richmond.
Starting from the 17th Street Farmer Market (Main St. side), the tour will take you to the governor’s mansion, monumental church, Main St. Station, Canal walk, etc. Throughout the mysterious journey, these ghouls in Victorian characters will recite the most spooky stories tamed with history—focusing on the 1800-1900 era.
The lonely, dark-shielded streets looked different, almost eerie, throughout my tour. The town seemed deadly and scary under low-lit golden bulbs. Plus, the costume ghouls never left their characters and allowed us to dive in the ominous vibe as well, where everyone shared their spooky experiences.
The walking tour was an hour and a half long and left everyone wanting more! The spooky trolley ride was just as equally mischievous. These ghostly affairs start around October in Richmond.
10092 Hatton Ferry Rd // +14342862338
Providing 20+ miles of canoeing, kayaking, and rafting, James River is the treasure amidst this historic city for adventure lovers. James River Runner organizes multiple water activities, including smooth tubing, solo kayaking, group canoeing, fishing, and camping at night.
The organization offers various day trips; you can choose a part-day excursion covering three to nine miles of water with multiple picnic spots. The team also holds one-two days of water trips, including camping, long canoeing, rafting, fishing, and everything!
The wild James rapids will drench you in rough water and give you the bumpy ride of your life.
I loved my two-day trip with the team because it included resting under the stars after fierce canoeing and group rafting sessions. In addition, camping, bonfire, and stargazing opportunities had my earnest admiration for the services.
James River Runners provide fields for football, DJ parties, basketball and volleyball courts, etc., at night. Away from modern chaos, the rural base of the James River is a solace escape.
8300 Beaver Bridge Rd. // +18047395666
Metro Richmond Zoo is home to over 180 animal species and collectively 2000 exotic animals. Experience the fierce wildlife closely and be mesmerized with their colors, build, and diversity through mirror cabins, safari sky lifts, and safari train rides.
The zoo also preserves some of the most endangered species, including Bengal Tiger, Snow Leopard, Lemur, chimpanzees, Addra Gazelle, etc. In the Metro Richmond Zoo, I met giraffes, camels, kudu, kangaroo, zebra, gibbons (endangered), meerkat, and many other animals.
I had the privilege to witness the true majesty of the gray wolf, Asiatic black beer, cheetahs, and many other fierce animals up-close. On my tour, I also experienced the tree-top zipline adventure through the jungle, a kid-friendly carousel, penguin fall drop, and many other rides inside the zoo.
The zoo also offers amenities like cafes, sitting pavilions, picnic spots, restrooms, and playgrounds. If you plan to visit the Metro Richmond Zoo, don’t forget to meet and witness Kumbali’s (cheetah) and Kago’s (lab mix) friendship.
Art And Historical Places To Visit In Richmond, VA
Visit the famous St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry delivered his speech for freedom. The church was built in 1741 and still stands with all its glory.
There are multiple historical museums and locations in the city, including the American Civil War Museum, Hollywood Cemetery, Edgar Allan Poe Museum, the Fan District, etc.
That’s not all; the town is widely known for its unending list of museums and artifacts; Richmond has the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Valentine, Virginia State Capitol, etc. So if you enjoy art mixed with history, Richmond is full of museums, history, and art.
200 N Arthur Ashe Blvd // +18043401400
Dating back to 1936, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was built to overcome the Great Depression that plagued the country. Virginia’s leaders opened the museum as a hope of faith and a revolutionary future.
Starting its first display with Judge Payne’s collection, VMFA now has 5000+ popular and permanent exhibits, including Faberge and Russian decorative art, Degas, Cezanne, and Renoir collections, and the popular McGlothlin collections.
These ever-green collections also include the contemporary art display of African-American, Ancient, and East/South Asian art.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts also puts forth various temporary exhibits throughout the year. The museum holds Sir Frank Short, the Dirty South Contemporary Art, Requiems, and Egyptian gallery.
For the learners, VMFA hosts multiple event tours for kids and students with knowledgeable hosts. The museum also has open spaces, a green environment, cafes, restaurants, and shops.
My favorite at the museum was the E. Claiborne and Lora Robins sculpture garden with the latest installment of the King Neptune Statue.
1000 Bank St. // +18046981788
Established in 1788 by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia State Capitol is a historical monument and government property displaying early-republican and Palladian architecture.
For history and politics enthusiasts, this monument recites the Revolutionary War face of the state through old-framed photos of great Virginia leaders, soldier’s statues, posters, translations, transcripts of the history, and restored rooms.
Thomas Jefferson conceived a similar design to that of Maison Carre in France. Many architect enthusiasts visit the Capitol for its entire infrastructure, interior, and exterior design.
The building’s rotunda (dome) reflects upon the marble statue of George Washington. Other attractions that I came across were the Capitol Square, featuring the Mantle (Virginia Indian Tribute), and the Virginia Women’s Monument, called the Voice of the Garden.
The Virginia Women’s Monument features twelve brave women
(bronze statues) who brought changes in the state and represented Virginia fiercely.
Virginia State Capitol is free to visit, and you can self-tour the building anytime before the closing hours. It also hosts one-hour free guided tours for visitors.
428 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd. // +18043401800
Another famous destination to get acquainted with Virginia’s history is the eloquent Virginia Museum of History and Culture. Unlike the State Capitol that focuses on political concerns and antiquity, VMHC solely dedicates its exhibits, art, and presentation towards the history of Virginia as a founding state.
Featuring over 16000 years of history, VMHC will introduce you to the diversity of the state. The permanent exhibits include 500 artifacts, letters, maps, and diaries preserved all these years.
The museum presents its history through images, videos, voice records, and digital interactives. Starting from 16,000 BC, where civilization began, the Virginia Museum of History and culture takes you back to the “War Of Extermination” (1623-1763),
- Decolonization and Equality in 1764-1824,
- Economic and industrial expansion and debates on slavery in 1825-1860.
- Virginia’s Union was built in 1776 and broken down again 85 years later. As a result, the town abolished slavery, Black people got their rights, but the state still struggled with supreme equality.
- Women’s rights in 1919.
- Since then, Virginia developed and gradually transformed into what it is today.
But that’s not all. Visit the museum and learn what happened throughout this transformation journey followed by wars, bloodbaths, and revolutions.
Tour the library and attend the events hosted throughout the year. If you enjoy history, VMHC will be a peaceful venture.
A similar museum called Virginia Holocaust Museum narrates the dreadful destruction in Virginia around 1933-1945 and World War II in 1939-1945.
I also visited the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia the same day to learn more about Virginia’s antiquity, culture, and transformation.
412 S Cherry St // +18046488501
To escape the grid-like monotonous cemeteries in the town, John Notman designed this cemetery with an earthen and rural feel.
Authorized in 1847, this historic cemetery now comprises over 135 acres of land—covered in greenery, trees, roses, and various other blooms. The cemetery was called peaceful heaven because of its aura and earthly architect.
Visit the graveyard and pay your tributes to President James Monroe, John Tyler, and Jefferson Davis’s graves. This Hollywood cemetery resembles a green, open space available for the locals/travelers to visit. Open until 5 PM, it’s a resting spot for many hikers and bikers.
The cemetery blooms throughout the year; however, it’s exceptionally majestic during fall. The fall season paints the cemetery with sun tones. The leaves fall on the ground to pay nature’s tribute to some of the most influential men of Virginia.
Hollywood cemetery also features valleys, hills, and intrinsic tombstones to glorify its history. This museum is now a registered Arboretum of Richmond.
Other Historical Sites To Visit In Richmond, VA
480 Tredegar St // +18046491861
This museum is divided into Historic Tredegar, the White House of the Confederacy, and one more building, located 95 miles away from Richmond.
1914 E Main St // +18046485523
It’s dedicated solely to Edgar Allan’s life, childhood, previous work, the authentic tools Poe used, Edgar’s accommodations, original copies of his writing, and so much more. If you are a fan of his mysterious and macabre work, the museum will invite you to an eerie setting.
1015 East Clay Street Richmond // +18046490711
Another historical museum dedicated to preserving Richmond’s history, the. Valentine is, located in downtown’s historic district. It is a venue where residents and tourists can learn about the region’s rich history.
4305 Sulgrave Rd. // +18043534241
It’s a historic Tudor manor located near the James River. The mansion is open to the public for scenic picnicking and family-fun time.
Carytown is a small bohemian district promoting local businesses, delicious culinary, and great shopping boutiques.
Adjacent to the Museum District, Carytown features the famous Byrd Theatre and street murals throughout different alleys. I spent the night and ate hot cuisine at the location; it was serene.
Carytown is famous for its food and local shops. At nights, it shimmers with street lights and vehicles—the town has a homey vibe. The best way to explore Carytown would be on foot with searching eyes—you might land on some great antiques and homemade souvenirs.
While traveling the district, I came around the vintage Byrd Theatre and watched the inside scene. The theatre and its architecture mirror history beautifully. After enjoying the exhibition going on, we dined and enjoyed a beer in the town.
Wrapping Up Things To Do In Richmond VA
Richmond is a wholesome city, offering adventure, nature, fun, history, and art at its best. I enjoyed my one-week stay in Richmond, prospering around the town. Never once was the city dull or out of order.
You should visit Richmond during springtime; it’s simply amazing! Spring is a great time to catch up on all these exciting things to do in Richmond.