The city of Richmond, Virginia is well-known for its role in the Civil War. Richmond was the capital of the South during most of the war, and was a major source of supplies and weapons for Confederate troops during the conflict. General Ulysses S.Grant and his Union soldiers captured the city in April 1865, and the war itself ended shortly thereafter.
Richmond is a popular tourist destination for these historical reasons and many others. Here are some of the fun things you can do while you’re there:
1. Visit the Poe Museum. This museum is dedicated to the works of legendary writer Edgar Allan Poe. It houses many of his famous works, including rare first editions, manuscripts and memorabilia from his life. The museum is open every day except Monday. Visitors can take either guided or self-guided tours as they learn a little more about what modern day life was in the city during the nineteenth century.
2. Honor veterans at the Virginia War Memorial. This memorial has been dedicated to over 10,000 soldiers who lost their lives during many of the world’s major battles. You can look for soldiers’ names from battles in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and World War II on the monument walls. The 23-foot tall Memory Statue is at the south end of the memorial, and stands as a living tribute to soldiers past and present. The Torch of Liberty is on the statue’s base, and flags from the various combat divisions fly proudly at the south end of the memorial. Admission is free to the public and guided tours are available.
3. Enjoy unique eats at L’Opossum. This restaurant in Oregon Hill offers retro decor from the 1970s and a rather eclectic menu. They offer a Southern twist on some traditional French delicacies. You can choose from skillet-seared foie gras springs a leak, les escargots a la ham biscuit, carpaccio de venison and many more diverse entrees. Worth the visit for something off the beaten path.
4. Spend a day at the Richmond National Battlefield Park. History buffs will find plenty to admire at this location. The park is home to many miles of battlefields and a Confederate hospital. Visitors can tour the grounds at their leisure and attend live history demonstrations and other special events throughout the year. They also offer many educational opportunities for students of all ages.
5. Breathe in natural beauty at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This garden sprawls across over 50 acres of land and offers a wide variety of flora and fauna to appreciate and admire. It hosts the Cherry Tree Walk, Cochrane Rose Garden, Asian Valley and even a children’s garden. You can also take in local cuisine at the garden’s Robins Tea House or Garden Cafe and get some handy gardening tips or buy some reference books or gardening supplies at the gift shop.
6. Take a relaxing tour of Carytown. One of Richmond’s most diverse neighborhoods, Carytown offers many specialty shops, live entertainment and dining options. It hosts the annual Carytown Watermelon festival, which is the largest watermelon celebration in the country. There are also different music and fashion events held here throughout the year.
7. Watch a movie at the Byrd. If you’re looking for a good rainy day activity, stop in at the Byrd Theatre. The movie house is open all year round, and movie tickets will only set you back $1.99 each. The theater, named after River City founder William Byrd III and has been open for over 100 years. It’s known as Richmond’s Movie Palace, and is one of the more popular tourist attractions in the city.
8. Wander around Belle Isle. The island on the James River is a beloved city park. The island was noted for housing a prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War. Nowadays, besides offering a fantastic view of the city skyline, Belle Isle is a favorite spot for hikers, rock climbers and nature enthusiasts. It’s a great place to spend a quiet, peaceful day.
9. Spend a day at Maymont. Maymont is home to an impressive mansion that was built over two hundred years ago. Here you can find a nature center, Italian and Japanese gardens and a children’s farm that is home to hundreds of animals. The property was donated to the city by former owners Sallie and James Dooley for future generations to admire and enjoy.
10. Tour the State Capitol. No visit to Richmond is complete without spending some time at the state capitol. The Virginia State Assembly has been meeting in this building for over three hundred years! Its classic architectural style has been the basis for many other buildings around the world.
These are just some of the most interesting things to do in Richmond, Virginia. This city offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff or looking for more modern art and entertainment, you simply won’t be bored while visiting this southern gem.