Richmond is one of the great Southern cities, rich with history and culture. Its unique character comes from a city-wide love of modern art and youthful counter-culture blended with a reverence of Richmond's long history and importance in the shaping of the modern United States. Visitors will enjoy breathtaking views of the James River from the architecturally stunning downtown area and delight in the incredible variety of museums and historical attractions that honor Richmond's past.
Must See in Richmond
One of the first things visitors notice about Richmond is its abundance of railroads, and the train bridges around the 17th Street Farmers Market are a marvel of industrial design. From there, take a stroll down the Canal Walk for a taste of downtown and easy access to many of the most popular landmarks in the downtown area. Richmond's museum district is outstanding and features nationally recognized museums like the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Holocaust Museum, and the Museum of the Confederacy. Warm, sunny days are perfect for a visit to the graves of US Presidents, The President of the Confederacy, and a variety of notable Virginians at Hollywood Cemetery, which was named for the grove of holly trees on the property (no relation to the California city) and is home to historic landmarks, beautiful paths for jogging, and several famous urban legends. As you drive through the city, be sure to note the phenomenal old mansions that have been preserved through the centuries, especially Agecroft Hall and Maymont.
Where to Stay in Richmond
Whether you're visiting for business or pleasure, Richmond's downtown hotels offer easy access to the Richmond Coliseum, The National, and the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. This is the place to experience Richmond's art culture and fantastic architecture. Be sure to try Kenn Tico Cuban Restaurant on Grace Street while you're there. For travelers who prefer the standard chain hotels and a more familiar setting, Short Pump is a more modern section of the city which offers several lodging options that are near malls, familiar and local restaurants, and easy access to the interstate. The Short Pump Town Center is one of the newest and most popular shopping destinations, including stores like Saxon Shoes and a Godiva Chocolate outlet. Off Staples Mill Road, Richmond tourists can find the usual hotels with easy access to Richmond International Airport and within a 15 minute drive of downtown.
Best and Worst Times to Visit Richmond
Like Washington D.C., Richmond is resplendent in the springtime with cherry blossoms. During the spring months, marathon races and city events are common, offering exciting diversions and attractions for locals and tourists alike. Autumn brings breathtaking views of changing leaves and comfortable weather for exploring locations like Browns Island and Belle Isle. Summertime in Richmond can be stifling, with heat frequently in the upper nineties and high humidity, so it's best to avoid June, July, and August in favor of the better weather in March, April, and late September.
Where to Get Lost in Richmond
Carytown is the absolute best place for an afternoon of exploring. Fantastic restaurants with local flair like Nacho Mamas and Bev's Ice Cream tantalize the taste buds, larger-than-life murals decorate the sides of buildings painted by local artists, and you'll find souvenirs at local shops like Bygones and One Eyes Jacques that you won't see anywhere else.
The Best Deal in Richmond
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of the top public gardens in the country, and you can access the sprawling gardens, conservatory, exhibit, and elegant Tea House restaurant with an admission of only $12 or less! Richmond is known for its astounding city gardens, and Lewis Ginter is the best, being equally suited for a family with small children or a romantic stroll through the roses with your sweetheart.
Transportation in Richmond
GRTC buses offer transportation between most of downtown and there are a few passenger trains, including lines that stop at the historic Main Street Station. However, Richmond is a sprawling Southern city, and like most big cities in the South, having your own car is the most practical method of transportation.
Getting In from Richmond International Airport
RIC is conveniently located for easy access to Interstates 64, 295, and 95, and it's a short distance from the downtown area. Rental car facilities are on site and there is always an abundance of paid transportation options available. RIC will assist you in getting to and from the airport if you call ahead.
Local Tip for Visitors to Richmond
Richmond takes its Southern Hospitality seriously. Feel free to chat with the locals, ask for directions or suggestions, and be friendly to shop owners. Locals will think you're rude if they wave or smile and you don't return the gesture. Don't be surprised if strangers talk to you in line for movie tickets at the Byrd Theater or passing cars wave a friendly hello. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
Author's bio: Kitty Lusby is an author and self proclaimed adventurer from the Richmond, Virginia area. She believes that travel is a necessity and does it as often as possible.