If you’re looking for fun things to do in Richmond, look no further! This vibrant Virginia capital city is bursting with rich history, beautiful architecture, fascinating museums, and endless amounts of exciting activities.
Richmond is one of America’s oldest and most fascinating cities. The city was originally a British settlement before the famous words “Give me liberty or give me death!” were spoken here signaling the start of the Revolutionary War. Less than 100 years later, Richmond served as the capital of the confederacy during the Civil War.
This city is full of interesting museums, fascinating historic sites, beautiful gardens, unique neighborhoods and so much more! There are so many incredible things to do in Richmond for every type of traveler, whether you are on a mission to see all of the fascinating historic sites or are looking to find the city’s unique hidden gems.
With so many exciting things to do and see, it can be difficult to decide where to start. Fortunately, we have narrowed it down to the best things to do in Richmond that you can’t miss!
14 Best Things to Do in Richmond VA You Shouldn’t Miss!
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Not only is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts one of the best things to do in Richmond, but it is also one of the largest comprehensive museums in the United States!
The museum first opened its doors in 1936 and today houses over 40,000 pieces that span over 6,000 years. Here you will find all different types of artwork from French Art Nouveau to African Art as well as modern contemporary pieces. There are also many special exhibitions and events throughout the year featuring different artists and types of art!
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is open year-round! There is also no general admission fee, making it one of the best free things to do in Richmond! However, there is an extra fee to view some of the special exhibitions so be sure to plan ahead!
Edgar Allen Poe Museum
Richmond has had its fair share of notable residents throughout history including the famous American poet, Edgar Allen Poe. Visiting the museum dedicated to his life and work is one of the most unique things to do in Richmond!
Although Poe never lived in the building, many parts of the museum have been constructed with artifacts from the author’s life such as a staircase that was salvaged from his childhood home and the bricks in the courtyard that were taken from the building where his journalistic career began.
Today, the museum houses the largest collection of Poe memorabilia in the entire world with a variety of items such as letters, manuscripts, and even his childhood bed. The museum is also located inside the oldest standing home in Richmond, “The Old Stone House”.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the city, head to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! This incredible botanical garden is one of the most popular Richmond attractions!
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is not only one of the best things to do in Richmond, it is consistently ranked as one of the top gardens in the entire country! There are 50-acres of lush landscaping to enjoy with many different species of flowers and plants.
Stroll through the stunning classical glass-domed conservatory or enjoy a meal at the tea house overlooking the gardens. There are plenty of fun things to do at the gardens and there are unique exhibitions and events offered throughout the year!
Did you know that Richmond’s trolley dates back to 1888 and was the first electric streetcar system in the world? Today, a ride on one of the RVA historic trolleys is one of the most fun things to do in Richmond!
Hop aboard the vintage trolley that has been meticulously restored and has kept all of its old-fashioned charm. The RVA historic trolley tour is perfect for history buffs or anyone who wants to learn about the city in a unique way. This tour runs daily and passes all of Richmond’s most important historic landmarks.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Richmond, many different trolley tour types are offered throughout the year, including brewery tours! The RVA trolley is the perfect way to get a quick overview of the city, especially if you are on a quick weekend getaway.
The Fan District
Exploring the city’s trendy Fan District is one of the best things to do in Richmond for adults who are looking for a local vibe! Here you find local restaurants unique shops, and picturesque historic streets perfect for a stroll.
The Fan District, often just called “The Fan”, is named after the way the streets fan out from the historic district. Rent a bike to explore tthe neighborhood and admire the streets lined with gorgeous 19th century homes. Be sure to stop by Monument Avenue, one of the most beautiful and historic streets in Richmond!
After wandering the pretty streets, check out some of the trendy shops and restaurants in the area. If you’re looking for thrift stores, cozy cafes. eclectic bookstores, and unique food options, The Fan is one of the best places to visit in Richmond!
A cemetery may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of exciting things to do in Richmond, but a visit to the historic Hollywood Cemetery is a must! This cemetery dates back to 1847 and is filled with history and natural beauty.
Hollywood Cemetery is known for the many important historical figures that have chosen it as its final resting place including two US presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler. Over 10,000 confederate soldiers were also buried here during the Civil War.
This cemetery also boasts stunning views over the James River and of the Richmond skyline. Nature lovers will appreciate that it is also a registered arboretum, with many beautiful native trees to admire!
This 100-acre historic estate and park is one of the best places to visit in Richmond and should be on your Virginia bucket list! Maymont is an extravagant showpiece left behind by one of Richmond’s most notable millionaire residents, James and Sallie Dooley.
Start your visit with a guided tour of the impressive 33-bedroom Maymont Mansion that was constructed in the late 1800s. This lavish mansion has been immaculately preserved, thanks to it becoming a museum in 1925, and boasts some of the finest examples of gilded age furniture and architecture.
Aside from the mansion, there is also a nature center, farm, arboretum, Japanese garden, and more! You can even take a peek at a collection of extravagant antique horse carriages. A visit to Maymont is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Richmond!
The Canal Walk
The Richmond City Canal runs right through the heart of downtown. Spending a few hours strolling along the Canal Walk is one of the best free things to do in Richmond!
The canal was constructed in the 1800s when Richmond was a major trade port. It snakes alongside the James River and is easily accessible from downtown. You can bike or walk along the canal walk to give yourself a self-guided tour or simpley enjoy a scenic walk between between visiting the city’s other attractions.
Be sure to look out for the gold medallions on the ground which each mark historic sites along the canal. There is street art along the way to admire and a few restaurants to enjoy a meal with a view. There is even a canal boat tour you can choose to take to get a different perspective of the city.
Carytown is Richmond’s bohemian district with a unique and quirky vibe. Exploring this neighborhood’s eclectic selection of shops, restaurants, and entertainment is one of the best things to do in Richmond!
Centered around West Cary Street, this district is lined with vintage shops, record stores, indie boutiques. There are also many unique locally owned restaurants serving up almost any type of cuisine you can imagine!
One notable landmark in Carytown is the historic Byrd Theater. This opulent theater first opened its doors in the 1920s and has kept all of its vintage art-deco charm over the years. Catching a movie here is one of the most romantic things to do in Richmond!
This 54-acre island is situated in the middle of the James River. Exploring Belle Isle is one of the best things to do in Richmond for outdoor lovers or for those looking to escape the city!
This small island has a surprisingly rich history including being first explored by Captain John Smith in the early 17th Century. Today, the island offers an outdoor recreation refuge within the city along with a few interesting historic sites to explore.
Belle Isle is easy to access via a footbridge that spans the river either on foot or by bike. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy including hiking the wooded trails, mountain biking, fishing at the quarry pond, and even rock climbing!
American Civil War Museum
The American Civil War Museum is actually 3 museums in one! History Buffs or anyone visiting the city for the first time can’t miss this museum as it is one of the best things to do in Richmond!
The museum is comprised of three historically significant sites throughout the city, The White House of the Confederacy, Historic Tredegar, and Appomattox which is 1.5 hours from Richmond. The White House of the Confederacy is the former home of the president of the confederacy, Jefferson Davis and now houses memorabilia from his life and the war.
The Historic Tredegar building is in downtown Richmond and is where half of the artillery for the confederacy was supplied. Today it is a 30,000 square foot museum with over 500 Civil War artifacts on display. Appomattox is where the confederacy surrendered and the war was ended and is a perfect stop on any Virginia road trip!
Virginia State Capitol
Taking time to visit the historic Virginia State Capitol is one of the best things to do in Richmond! The fascinating architecture and interesting history of this building make it worth the stop.
The Virginia State Capitol building was designed by Thomas Jefferson and was built in the late 1700s. The extravagant design is said to be modeled after Greek and Roman temples, which can be seen from the grand columns and intricate details.
This capitol building is also historically significant because it is home to America’s oldest elected legislative body, the Virginia General Assembly, which was first created in 1619! There are tours available if you would like to see the inside of the capitol and learn more about the building’s history.
St. John’s Church
History buffs will not want to miss out on St. John’s Church! Visiting this historic church is one of the most interesting things to do in Richmond!
St. John’s Church is the site where Patrick Henry spoke his famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death!”. This famous speech was given on in March of 1775 during a Virginia cinvention and signaled the coming of the Revolutionary War.
Today, St. John’s Church is open for tours a few days a week, complete with costumed guides who tell the fascinating story of Patrick Henry. During the summer, you can also catch a reenactment of Patrick Henry’s famous speech.
Did you know that you can visit a piece of 16th century England in the middle of the city? Touring the fascinating Agecroft Hall is one of the most unique things to do in Richmond!
This lavish mansion was originally built in Lancaster, England in the 1500s by a distinguished family who lived in the home during the Tudor and Stuart periods. In the 1920s, the building was purchased by a Richmond businessman and was shipped from England piece by piece before being put back together again.
Today, you can take a guided or self-guided tour of the opulent mansion and impressive gardens. Agecroft Hall is only open for tours a few days a week so be sure to check the hours before planning your visit!
As you can see, Richmond is a unique city with so many amazing things to do and see! We hope this article inspired you to visit some of the places that make this city so special. For more Virginia travel inspiration, check out our guide on the cutest small towns in Virginia!