Richmond, VA, officially founded in 1737, has a rich history that other US cities find hard to beat.
As the capital of Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy, and, at one point, one of the South’s most important cities, Richmond offers tons of history and learning opportunities.
The most famous historical locations include the Richmond National Battlefield Park, the Virginia State Capitol, and James Monroe’s tomb.
However, Richmond, Virginia, doesn’t only contain historical sites, and you can also find the Canal Walk along the trendy riverfront, the James River Park System, and Kings Dominion theme park.
Top 17 Tourist Attractions in Richmond, Virginia
1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is one of Richmond, Virginia’s free art museums and has an ever-rotating list of exhibits that includes contemporary American art, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Post-Impressionism works.
The museum also houses pieces from around the world, including those by artists of South Asian, Russian, and French heritage.
2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, just outside Richmond, VA, is a 50-acre property that includes gardens, shopping, and dining options.
Once inside the park, you can walk through world-class botanical displays and themed gardens, such as the Cherry Tree Walk, the Children’s Garden, and Asian Valley.
Also, after you’ve finished looking through the gardens, make sure to grab a delicious bite to eat at Robins Tea House or the Garden Cafe.
3. Richmond National Battlefield Park
Part of the US National Park Service, Richmond National Battlefield Park was the point of one of the most critical battles of the Civil War.
Today, guests can see fortifications, ironworks sites, and the Chimborazo Hospital, as well as learn about the battlefield in the visitor center.
Or, if you want to get some exercise while learning about Civil War history, take one of the park’s hiking trails.
4. American Civil War Museum
Located in the former capital of the Confederacy, the American Civil War Center in Richmond, VA, explores both the history of the war and the significance it holds today.
The main site of the center in the city is Historic Tredegar, which was one of the largest ironworks factories in the country.
However, the American Civil War Museum in Appomattox is also part of the larger museum, even though it is almost two hours away.
5. James River
The James River is the most important waterway in Richmond, VA, and runs down the city’s center.
Even in the nation’s early days, the river was a critical route for both passengers and cargo. Today, you can still see remnants of the James River and Kanawha Canal, whose construction was encouraged by George Washington and the Virginia General Assembly to facilitate movement.
Or, you can opt to visit beautiful Brown’s Island or Belle Isle in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The Riverfront Canal Walk is also an option, and there, you can see art, restaurants, and statues along the river.
6. Science Museum of Virginia
The Science Museum of Virginia is an interactive center that is great for people of all ages and often shows up on lists of the best science museums in the country. Since 2016, the museum has also housed the memorabilia, which once belonged to the now-closed Virginia Aviation Museum.
7. Virginia State Capitol
Designed by Thomas Jefferson and Charles-Louis Clérisseau, the Virginia State Capitol is a gorgeous Greek-style building housing the oldest elective legislative body on the continent.
Outside of the building, you can also explore Capitol Square, which contains statues of famous Virginians, like General Stonewall Jackson and Edgar Allan Poe.
8. Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia contains tons of exhibits dedicated to African American history.
Additionally, the building that contains the museum and center is actually an essential part of African American history as well. Maggie L. Walker, whose home is also in Richmond, bought the house for the Council of Colored Women in 1922. Ten years later, the African American branch of the Richmond Public Library operated the site.
9. John Marshall House
Home to the fourth Chief Justice of the United States, the John Marshall House is now a National Historic Landmark. Today, guests can take a guided tour of the home and learn about John Marshall, the Supreme Court, and the slaves who worked on the grounds.
10. Monument Avenue
At one time, a memorial to Confederate soldiers, today, Richmond’s Monument Avenue is a place of racial reckoning. In 2020, during the George Floyd protests, activists tore down Jefferson Davis’ monument. Soon after, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam demanded that the city remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
11. Hollywood Cemetery
Hollywood Cemetery, opened in 1849, is one of the most important cemeteries in the USA. Although it often gets overshadowed by Arlington National Cemetery to the north, Hollywood was the burial site of people such as James Monroe, John Tyler, Jefferson Davis, George Pickett, and J.E.B. Stuart.
12. Virginia House
If you want to see English architecture without leaving the USA, try out Virginia House.
Alexander Weddell, an American diplomat, and his wife, Virginia, created the historic residence after they had a 16th century home in Warwickshire dismantled and reconstructed in Richmond in the 1920s.
Virginia House is now one of the leading historic sites in the city.
13. Virginia Museum of History and Culture
The Virginia Museum of History and Culture is probably the best place in the state to learn about Virginia culture because the Virginia Historical Society, founded in 1831, operates the center to the best of its ability.
The building owns more than 500 artifacts and attempts to interpret 16,000 years of the state’s history.
14. The White House and Museum of the Confederacy
Once the White House for the Confederacy’s only president (Jefferson Davis), this historic home in Richmond’s Court End neighborhood is one of the principal buildings associated with the Civil War.
Today, the home is a museum where visitors can see exhibits full of Civil War memorabilia.
Maymont includes a historic estate, a park, a nature center to learn about local wildlife, Japanese and Italian gardens, and an arboretum. Guests can also feed the estate’s goats, try out some of Maymont’s many events, and look through the gift shop.
16. Real Richmond Food Tours
There are a few great food tours in Richmond, but the most popular by far is the Church Hill Food Tour, which visits several restaurants in the Church Hill neighborhood.
If you’re a real foodie, you can also explore some of the other food and drink tours that the city offers.
17. Kings Dominion
Only about 10 minutes from the city is Kings Dominion at Doswell, one of the best amusement parks in the state. The huge park even contains the Intimidator 305, which is the sixth tallest and sixth fastest roller coaster in the country.
Richmond, Virginia, contains so many fun and exciting tourist attractions that it’s hard to fit them all on one list. So, here’s a few more things that people love to do when they visit the city.
- The Fan District – Centered on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, the area is full of interesting architecture, restaurants, and other attractions.
- Metro Richmond Zoo – Just southwest of Richmond, the zoo houses more than 2,000 animals.
- Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – A top quality brewery that focuses on using locally grown resources
- Short Pump Town Center – Located in the Richmond suburbs, Short Pump is a local favorite for shopping.
- Wilton House Museum – A historic home constructed in the mid-18th century by William Randolph III
- Virginia War Memorial – A large memorial to honor Virginians who perished in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
- Virginia Holocaust Museum – This museum focuses on telling the individual stories of those affected by the Holocaust.
- L’Opossum – Voted the best restaurant in the South in 2018, L’Opossum’s chef, David Shannon, creates unique and delicious dishes.
Table of Contents
- Top 17 Tourist Attractions in Richmond, Virginia
- 1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
- 2. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
- 3. Richmond National Battlefield Park
- 4. American Civil War Museum
- 5. James River
- 6. Science Museum of Virginia
- 7. Virginia State Capitol
- 8. Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
- 9. John Marshall House
- 10. Monument Avenue
- 11. Hollywood Cemetery
- 12. Virginia House
- 13. Virginia Museum of History and Culture
- 14. The White House and Museum of the Confederacy
- 15. Maymont
- 16. Real Richmond Food Tours
- 17. Kings Dominion
- Honorable Mentions