Things to do in Virginia

33 Perfect Things to Do in Richmond, Virginia

What’s not to love about Richmond!

It’s a city that embraces its history, celebrates its diversity, and revels in its culture.

It’s the perfect place to visit if you want a taste of real Virginia; with museums and galleries packed full of history, traditional Virginian food with a twist, and the great outdoors right on your porch!

With that in mind let’s take a trip through our top things to do in Richmond, Virginia!

If you’re looking for strictly indoor activities in Richmond, head here!

Or maybe you want a list of the best weekend getaways in Virginia, and if you’re looking for the best dining options in Richmond check these out!

WANT TO CONQUER THE ALL-AMERICAN BUCKETLIST?

Join 4,000 others in weekly guides to the most beautiful places and hidden gems in the USA.

Leave this field blank

If you’re looking for more Virginia content, check out these experts guides!

How to get around Virginia

Like most of Virginia, one of the best ways to get around is to explore on your own by car!

If you’re visiting and need to rent a car to get to your Richmond activities, we highly recommend Discover Cars where they find you the best car rental deals from all of the competitors (has saved us so much money!).

Click here to check out Discover Cars!

Where to Stay in Richmond

From renovated VRBOs to charming hotels, these are the best places to stay in Richmond.

  • (Hotel) Virginia Crossings Hotel: With downtown Richmond only 12 miles away, you can enjoy the quiet splendor of the Virginia Crossings Hotel. Take a dip in the pool or play a round of golf.
  • (VRBO) Cozy Renovated Home: This is the perfect place to unwind with a breezy rooftop deck and 3 spacious bedrooms. It’s also walking distance to some of the top restaurants around.

1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Image: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Jim. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Richmond is rightly proud of its famous fine arts museum; it has a huge collection of artwork – over 40,000 pieces – and is one of the largest museums in the country!

The collection takes in everything from Art Nouveau and Art Deco, American Art, Chinese and Asian Art, African Art, and, of course, their famous collection of Fabergé – including five Imperial eggs!

Once you’ve exhausted the inside, be sure to head out to the sculpture gallery in the garden!

2. Science Museum of Virginia

Science Museum of Virginia
Image: Science Museum of Virginia. Eli Christman. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Another museum with galleries both inside and out is Richmond’s Science Museum!

You’ll find plenty to do inside, with The Dome Theater giving you an immersive experience of life on this planet and beyond.

You can also time yourself running against a cheetah – and even a T-Rex!

Outside has a green theme – explore the Pollinator Gardens, and the Green Roof and learn about the importance of Irrigation Techniques.

There’s loads to see and do here for all ages, so bring the whole family!

3. Children’s Museum of Virginia

Kid playing at the children's museum
Image: 20141209-IMG_2856. Kelly Verdeck. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

We all know learning through play is the best for our little ones – and this is the perfect place to do it!

Make art in the Art Studio, or learn about trips to the doctor in the Hospitals section.

Head to the Little Farm and have fun Apple Picking!

And make sure you bring your swimmers – the splash park is always the most popular part!

And although it’s all good fun, the kids will be learning all about gravity, weather and density while they’re splashing around!

Your family will definitely agree that this is one of the most fun things to do in Richmond!

4. The Valentine

Named for Mann Valentine Jr, who bequeathed his family home to the city to use as a museum, The Valentine is a perfect place to go to find out all about Richmond.

Visit the Wickham House, where you’ll find a plethora of Richmond-related artifacts, memorabilia and photographs. The architecture is pretty spectacular too!

You’ll also be able to compare the living conditions of the residents of the house and the enslaved people who served them.

Not a happy part of Richmond’s history, but one that should be noted nonetheless.

Head next door to the Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio, one of the last remaining 19th-century sculpture studios still open to the public.

5. The American Civil War Museum and Historic Tredegar

Signs outside the Historic Tredegar
Image: ‘Historic Tredegar’ Richmond (VA) 2012. Ron Cogswell. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Richmond is the gateway to learning about the Civil War in Virginia, a state that was shaped by the conflict. A great place to start is at Historic Tredegar, the ironworks that were the heart of industrial production for the Confederacy.

Take a tour and hear from a knowledgeable guide about the role and ultimate fall of Richmond during the war.

The museum gives a refreshing exploration of history – showing the perspectives of all of the people caught up in the war, from confederate and union soldiers to the enslaved and free African Americans.

6. White House of the Confederacy

White House of the Confederacy sign
Image: White House of the Confederacy, Virginia Historic Marker SA-50, Richmond, Virginia. Ken Lund. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

The second part of the American Civil War Museum is located at the White House of the Confederacy, an impressive building in the Court End neighborhood.

Tour the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and find out about the lives of his family and the people who lived and worked in this National Historic Landmark.

7. Virginia Capitol Building

Richmond Capitol Building
Image: Virginia- Richmond Capitol Building 1. Alan & Flora Botting. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

The State Capitol is a special place to go for fans of democracy!

Not only because it was designed by none other than Thomas Jefferson!

First occupied in 1788 by Virginia’s General Assembly, it’s seen a whole lot of history!

Take one of the hour-long guided tours and enjoy the stately interiors.

Watch out for the statue of George Washington – it was modelled by the man himself!

If you’re in the mood to experience this landmark in a tour setting (and on wheels) book your tickets to the Richmond Landmark Segway Tour.

This professionally guided tour covers more sights in less time!

8. Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia

People at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center
Photo credit: Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia Facebook Page

You can’t go to Richmond and not visit the Jackson Ward neighborhood; it’s one of the most important bits of Richmond sightseeing that you’ll do.

The first stop has to be the Black History Museum, where you’ll find exhibits about inspirational black Virginians and interactive displays telling important stories about Desegregation and the Civil Rights era.

9. The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Maggie L Walker
Image: Maggie L Walker National Historic Site. National Parks Service. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Staying in Jackson Ward, head to the home of Maggie L. Walker, a civil rights activist and entrepreneur who devoted her life to the financial empowerment of the Black community.

Take a tour around the home, and several other buildings that make up the National Historic Site – you’ll learn so much about this pioneering Virginian woman.

10. Libby Hill Park

Sunrise at Libby Hill park
Image: Sunrise At Libby Hill Park. Peter Feddo. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

For the best few of Richmond, head to Libby Hill Park, one of the three original parks in the Richmond park system.

Rumor has it that when William Byrd II stood at the top of the hill in 1737 and looked out, the view reminded him so much of Richmond-upon-Thames in England that he gave the name to the new town!

Come here for that historic view (though we imagine it’s changed a bit in subsequent centuries!), and explore the ornamental fountain and Confederate monument installed in 1894.

Head over in the early morning, grab a coffee from one of the nearby coffee shops and watch the sunrise over the James River.

Beautiful!

11. Maymont Estate

Maymont Park
Image: Maymont Park Richmond Virginia. C Watt.s [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

One of the top things to do in Richmond is to explore the house and grounds of Maymont Park.

Discover the 100-acre estate, a prime example of a Gilded Age (pre-depression era) home.

From the 33-room mansion with the international memorabilia collected by the owners on their travels, to the Japanese gardens, there’s no wonder Maymont is one of the most popular things to do in Richmond!

If you’re visiting with kids be sure to check out the Children’s Farm; it gives kids the chance to get up close and personal with some farmyard friends!

12. Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery
Image: Hollywood Cemetery. Mike Fonseca. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

No, not that Hollywood!

Named for the Holly trees that grow there, this cemetery is one of the great historic Richmond attractions.

Opened in 1849 a number of famous Virginians are laid to rest here, including Presidents Monroe and Tyler and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Be sure to visit the Monument of Confederate War Dead – it’s an amazing 90-foot pyramid that needs to be seen to be believed.

A tour is advised to get the full history of the beautiful cemetery, and you have plenty of options – tour by foot, Tuk Tuk, electric car or Segway!

Just watch out for vampires…

13. Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Edgar Allan Poe Museum
Image: Elizabeth and Evan Hunt. Eli Christman. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Continuing along a gothic theme, pay a visit to Richmond’s only literary museum – dedicated to the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Housed in the oldest building in Richmond, the Old Stone House, the museum has a collection of manuscripts, artifacts and memorabilia that make it a must-see for any Poe fans.

Take a look at the pretty courtyard garden, and watch out for the museum’s resident black cats!

14. Belle Isle Historic Park

Join the locals in Belle Isle Park for some relaxation on a sunny day!

There’s a little bit of everything on this 54-acre island in the heart of Richmond.

History, action, adventure, sunbathing – you want it, you’ve got it!

Head over the suspension bridge and find a space to relax on one of the enormous flat rocks, or hike one of the trails that run over the island.

Take a turn on the granite rock climbing wall or fish in the James River.

Just be aware that the rapids make the water unsafe for swimming.

Look but don’t touch!

15. Carytown

Carytown sunset
Image: Carytown. Jason Saul. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

We’re all doing our best to shop local these days, and in Richmond the best place to do that is Carytown.

Try Bygones and Cee Blues for vintage clothes, or if you want to dress up Halcyon can help you live your Hollywood fantasies!

If you’re a foodie, join the Carytown Food Tour to sample dishes from some of the best-loved eateries in town.

This quirky district is one of the best things to see in Richmond, and whether you’re looking for a great place to eat, some vintage threads, or pre-dinner cocktails, Carytown has it all!

16. The Byrd Theater

The Byrd
Image: The Byrd in Richmond. Alan Levine. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

While you’re in Carytown, you’ll hear a lot about the Byrd Theater, and with good reason – this old-school cinema screams vintage glamor!

Time your visit with one of their renowned film festivals, or just head to a screening of the latest indie classic!

The Byrd has been a working movie theatre since the Golden Age of Hollywood and maintains that vintage feel.

Make sure to check out the Wurlitzer organ when you visit. It was originally used for the sound effects on silent movies, but now the house organist plays it every Saturday!

17. Fan District

Fan District
Image: Uptown Main Street Richmond. Taber Andrew Bain. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Named for the distinctive shape of the street layout, the Fan has absorbed the chic arty vibe from the neighboring VCU campus.

Visit during the day, grab a coffee from one of the many independent coffee houses, and then take a stroll to absorb the century-old buildings.

Or visit at night, which is when the Fan District becomes one of the most fun things to do in Richmond!

There are loads of restaurants to explore, and you can find plenty of places to dance the night away!

18. Richmond Beer Trail

The Richmond region is getting quite a reputation for itself as a destination for craft beers!

So much so that people are coming from all over the world to sample the wares of the 30 breweries in the region!

One of the best boozy things to do in Richmond, Virginia is the Richmond Beer Trail – a downloadable map of the craft breweries in the region.

Not all are in the city center, but there are certainly enough that are to keep even the most hardened tippler happy!

The best place to start is the neighborhood, Scoot’s Addition – there are 10 breweries there.

Visit 5 of them and get your beer trail map stamped and you’ll come away with some free Richmond beer merch!

19. Agecroft Hall

Agecroft Hall
Image: 20210918-IMG_2079_AuroraHDR-edit. Kelly Verdeck. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

This building may look as though it’s far too old to be standing in Richmond, but this is genuinely a 16th-century manor house!

It was brought over from England in 1936 and rebuilt here overlooking the James River.

Take a tour around the building, and enjoy the spectacle of the original 500-year-old paneling and stained glass window.

If you’re visiting in June or July, you’re just in time for the Richmond Shakespeare Festival, which Agecroft Hall hosts each year.

Bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket, and bask in an outdoor performance of the Bard’s finest work!

20. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Image: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Conservatory Richmond (VA) January 2019. Ron Cogswell. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

On the outskirts of Richmond sits a fantastical place, bursting with flowers and trees all year long.

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a must-see destination on your trip to Richmond, with something to enjoy for everyone!

Check out the giant Conservatory, with more than 200 orchids on display.

Or pay a visit to the rose garden when the plants are in bloom – sensory heaven!

If you have your family with you, pay a visit to the Children’s Garden, which boasts sand and water play areas plus a wheelchair-accessible treehouse!

Before your visit, go to the website to check their calendar – they often hold special-themed events for holidays.

21. Coffee Shops and Food Tours

Roastology
Photo credit: Carytown Roastology Facebook Page

When you’re on a sightseeing binge in a new place, sometimes it’s essential to know exactly where to get a piping-hot mug of the good stuff and try the local cuisine.

Richmond is full of independent coffee roasteries and shops, serving up delicious hot drinks to drink in or to fuel you on the go.

If you’re in Carytown Roastology is a good choice – cold brew, drip coffee, classic blends, plus seasonal flavours that break away from the standard PSL!

Shockoe Bottom offers Ironclad Coffee Roasters, known for their bagels and speciality coffees.

For something different, why don’t you try Lift Coffee Shop in the Arts District – their Lavender Latte is a customer favorite!

Once you’ve gotten your caffeine buzz at the coffee shops, book your tickets to the Richmond Arts District Food Tour.

During this walking tour you’ll get to experience the food, culture, sights and sounds of Richmond.

From coal-fired pizzas to Southern soul food, this tour has it all!

22. St. John’s Episcopal Church

St. John’s Episcopal Church

Stand in the place where our founding fathers gathered, and Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech. If only these walls could talk!

Every Sunday of the summer (and some other dates during the year) you’ll be able to catch live reenactments of the Second Virginia Convention, which is an exciting and rousing performance! Make sure to get your tickets!

The church remains open and welcomes visitors to its services on Sunday mornings.

23. The Richmond Murals

Wall murals
Image: I went through the desert . Tom Woodward. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Richmond is known for its street art, and now you can do a tour of the fantastic murals that adorn the walls of the city.

There’s even a Street Art Festival, run since 2012, which celebrates the talent of the artists and the growth of the street art scene in Richmond.

Download the self-guided tour map and head out into the city. It’s a great way to explore, and you will definitely find other stuff to do in Richmond on your journey!

24. Pocahontas State Park

Pocahontas State Park
Image: Pocahontas State Park Entrance. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Just outside of Richmond is the stunning Pocahontas State Park, perfect for an action-packed day trip on your visit to the city.

Take a quiet hike along the many miles of trails and see what wildlife you can spot along the way.

Or bring a bike and explore the 25 miles of mountain bike trails!

Visit in the Fall and you’ll wonder at the stunning foliage – truly one the of best things to do in Richmond.

25. The John Marshall House

John Marshall House
Image: The John Marshall House – Richmond – Virginia – USA. Adam Jones. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

A brilliant example of federal architecture, the home of Chief Justice John Marshall is well worth a visit while you’re in the Court End neighborhood of Richmond.

Marshall was key in making US democracy and government the way it is today, and a guided tour around his home is a must for anyone interested in political history.

The tour guides are knowledgeable and are happy to answer any questions you may have – no scripted tours here!

26. Virginia Holocaust Museum

Virginia Holocaust Museum
Image: Virginia Holocaust Museum. VSPYCC. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

An important visit in the same district as The Pow Museum is the Virginia Holocaust Museum.

Founded in 1997 by survivor Jay Ipson, the museum aims to educate the community about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

Explore the stories of the Ipson family and other survivors who relocated to the Richmond area.

In today’s times of increasing division, this small but powerful museum is an important reminder of the dangers of prejudice and turning a blind eye.

27. Virginia Museum of History and Culture

Virginia Museum of Culture and History
Image: Saturday: Virginia Museum of Culture and History. VSPYCC. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Founded in 1831, this is one of the oldest museums in the nation.

Browse through the massive collection of over 9 million items!

A mixture of permanent exhibits and special exhibitions make this a great activity to repeat on different visits to the city.

The Story of Virginia, the main exhibit, explores 1600 years of Virginian history.

You’ll be fascinated by the spotlight on the Native American Virginians, and at each stage of the state’s history up to the present day.

Check out the bronze sculpture of a horse outside the museum – it’s a memorial to all of the horses killed in the Civil War.

28. Water sports on the James River

Virginia State Park
Image: DSC01624. Virginia State Parks. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

How often can you say that a city offers white water rafting?

This is one of the best Richmond activities for thrill-seekers!

You can also hire kayaks and paddle your way down the James River.

Not all of the routes go via the rapids, so you have a more placid trip if you don’t fancy riding the waves!

If you’re not in the mood for water sports – book a private hiking tour on the James River!

This guided hike will show off the best sites the river has to offer, without having to worry about getting lost or missing something along the way!

The best thing about water sports in a city?

Once you’re done you can head straight to a bar or restaurant to refuel!

29. Metro Zoo

Metro Richmond Zoo
Image: Metro Richmond Zoo – Moseley Virginia – snow leopard. C Watts. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Every city should have a good zoo!

Great if you’re visiting with kids – or if you just happen to really like animals!

From giraffes to orangutans, tigers to rhinos, there are over 190 species of animals to see here. You can even feed the giraffes!

Some of the animals safely roam around too, so you’re guaranteed some up-close-and-personal time with a furry friend!

30. Virginia Capital Trail

Virginia Capital Trail
Image: Virginia Capital Trail. JohnFBoyle3. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Not for the faint-hearted, this scenic bike journey can be done in a day, but only if you’re up for a challenge!

The 52-mile trail goes all the way from downtown Richmond up to Jamestown, with all the stunning scenery along the way.

Why not hire a bike for a few days and camp along the way, combing your trip to Richmond with a visit to Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg?

31. Institute for Contemporary Art

Based at VCU, the Institute for Contemporary Art is made up of four galleries, all of which are free to visit – making it the perfect spot for some cultural appreciation!

Artists from all over the world are displayed here in rotating exhibitions, so you’re always guaranteed something new!

32. Dominion Energy Riverrock Festival

River rock
Image: Riverrock 2019. Mobilus In Mobili. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

If you happen to be visiting Richmond on a May weekend, check whether it will be hosting Riverrock! If so, then you’re in for a treat!

Branded as the Nation’s premier outdoor sports and music festival, there’s skateboarding, rock climbing, trail running, yoga, slackline, and so much more.

You can get involved, or simply watch the competitors and enjoy the live music!

33. Canal Walk

Canal Walk
Image: Canal Walk through Shockoe Bottom [01]. Ben Schumin. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

As always, the best way to learn about a city is by walking through it.

A gentle place to start with Richmond is the Canal Walk along the Kanawha Canal.

At just over 1 mile it won’t challenge most walkers, and you’ll get to see some of the highlights of Richmond along the way.

Best of all, the trail is paved which allows people with accessibility needs to explore too.

All in all, one of the great Richmond things to do!

Pin for Later!

Get the All-American Travel Secrets!

Don't miss out on America's hidden gems!

Leave this field blank

Leave a Comment