The Top Attractions in Richmond For Locals or Tourists

The Top Attractions in Richmond For Locals or Tourists

  • Graham Johnson
  • 01/4/24

Richmond, Virginia, stands out as a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you're a local rediscovering your city or a tourist exploring for the first time, the attractions in Richmond offer something for everyone. From historic landmarks and outdoor adventures to unforgettable festivals and artistic wonders, Richmond is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be explored. In this blog, we'll highlight the top attractions in Richmond that are must-visits for anyone in the area.

Historical Landmarks and Museums

The Virginia State Capitol

A masterpiece of American architecture, the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, is more than just a building. It's a living museum that tells the story of Virginia's pivotal role in American history. The Capitol houses the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere, the Virginia General Assembly. Visitors can explore the public areas and view historical statues, including a life-sized statue of George Washington. The Capitol also offers guided tours that highlight its architectural history and the many significant events that have taken place within its walls.

The American Civil War Museum

Located in the heart of Richmond, the American Civil War Museum offers a multifaceted view of the Civil War era, encompassing the perspectives of soldiers and civilians, including enslaved and free African Americans. The museum's exhibits provide a comprehensive narrative that explains the causes of the war, the struggles during the period, and the enduring impact of the conflict on American society. The museum complex includes Historic Tredegar, a major iron works during the war, and the White House of the Confederacy, offering an immersive experience.


Maymont is a Victorian estate and public park that offers a glimpse into the opulence and social dynamics of the Gilded Age. The Maymont Mansion, a 33-room house museum, is furnished in the lavish style of the late 19th century, showcasing the lifestyle of James and Sallie Dooley, who resided there from 1893 to 1925. The estate's grounds are an attraction in themselves, featuring a Japanese garden, an Italian garden, a nature center, and a variety of wildlife exhibits. Maymont serves as a serene retreat in the city, where history, nature, and art intersect.

Outdoor Adventures

James River

The James River is not just a waterway; it's the heart of outdoor recreation in Richmond. It's one of the few urban settings in the country where you can enjoy class III and IV rapids, making it a prime spot for whitewater rafting. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular activities, with several access points along the river for different skill levels. The river isn’t limited to water sports; the James River Park System offers numerous trails for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. These trails range from easy, scenic walks to challenging, technical paths for experienced adventurers.

Belle Isle

Accessible by a pedestrian footbridge, Belle Isle is a unique island in the middle of the James River. It's a place rich with history, previously serving as a Native American fishing village, a Civil War prison, and an industrial site. Today, it's an urban oasis offering a variety of activities. Rock climbers enjoy the challenging granite walls along the water, while hikers and cyclists take advantage of the island's trails. The flat rocks along the river are perfect for sunbathing and picnicking, making Belle Isle a popular spot for both relaxation and recreation.

The Virginia Capital Trail

This 52-mile dedicated multi-use trail connects Richmond to Williamsburg, traversing a diverse landscape of urban and rural scenery. It's ideal for cycling, walking, and running and is dotted with historical markers and rest areas. The trail is a testament to Virginia's commitment to outdoor activities and historic preservation.

Cultural Attractions

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)

As one of the leading art museums in the country, the VMFA is a cornerstone of Richmond's cultural landscape. Its permanent collection includes more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. Highlights include an impressive array of European art, an esteemed collection of American art, an expansive display of African art, and notable collections of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Modern and Contemporary American art. The museum is not just a place to view art; it's an interactive cultural hub, offering art classes, studio programs, and frequent special exhibitions that bring in works from around the globe.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Richmond is home to the world's finest collection of Edgar Allan Poe's manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia, and personal belongings. The Poe Museum provides a look into the life and work of one of the most iconic American writers, best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. Located in the oldest building in Richmond, the museum is more than just a tribute to Poe's literary genius; it's a journey into the early 19th century, offering a glimpse into the period's culture and history.

The Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (ICA) is a non-collecting institution that presents art from across the globe. The ICA's exhibitions and programs are guided by a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social relevance. The striking modern building, designed by Steven Holl Architects, is an architectural landmark in itself and has become a pivotal part of Richmond’s cultural scene.

Annual Events and Festivals

Richmond Folk Festival

The Richmond Folk Festival is one of the city's most anticipated events. This free, three-day event celebrates the richness and diversity of America's cultural heritage through music, dance, traditional craft demonstrations, and food. The festival features more than 30 performing groups on seven live music stages, along with a Virginia Folklife Area, which showcases the best of the state's traditional artists. It's a family-oriented event that attracts visitors from all over the country, offering a unique opportunity to experience a variety of cultural traditions.

Richmond International Film Festival

The Richmond International Film Festival is an annual event celebrating the magic of film-making. The festival showcases a variety of films, from highly anticipated new releases to classic movies and independent films. It features a mix of screenings, panel discussions, and special guests, making it a haven for movie enthusiasts. The festival is known for attracting big names in the film industry as well as highlighting local filmmakers.

2nd Street Festival

This festival celebrates the rich culture of the historic Jackson Ward neighborhood, once known as the "Harlem of the South." The 2nd Street Festival features four stages of live music, food vendors, a marketplace, artists, and historical displays. This weekend teems with music, art, and community, honoring the area's African-American heritage and its influence on Richmond's culture.

Let's Find Your Dream Home in Richmond!

If you find yourself falling in love with Richmond and wish to make it your home, or if you're a local looking to relocate within the city, Graham Johnson is your go-to real estate expert. With deep knowledge of the area and a commitment to exceptional service, Graham can help you find the perfect home that aligns with your lifestyle and needs. Contact Graham today and take the first step towards making your Richmond dream a reality.

*Header image courtesy of Pixabay

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