Richmond Things to Do Tips by Tom_Fields
Richmond Things to Do: 254 reviews and 388 photos
The Bell Tower
Surrounding the State Capitol is a lovely public square that has some of the state's finest monuments. An excellent starting point is the Bell Tower. Built as a guard house in 1824, it also served as the office of Governor Charles Robb from 1978-1982. Today, it is the Visitors Center.
Sculptor Thomas Crawford designed the equestarian statue of George Washington, which was cast in Germany and completed in 1857. Sadly, Crawford died just before it was set up.
Address: 9th and Main Sts
Directions: Downtown. From I-95, take the Hwy 33 exit and go west about three blocks.
Thomas Jefferson designed this historic building in 1788. It was also the capitol building of the Confederacy. The wings were added in 1904-05. This is a beautiful building with a variety of permanent and temporary exhbits. Be sure to visit both the House and Senate chambers. The latter has a fine statue of General Robert E. Lee.
Address: Bank and 10th Streets, Richmond, VA 23219
Directions: Just west of I-95. Take the East Broad St exit (route 250/33). It's on the left. Hours: 9:00 to 5:00 Monday-Friday.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (804) 698-1788
The SR-71 and F-14 Tomcat fighter
This is a must-see for any aviation buff who visits Richmond. This museum has a number of the more obscure, less-known aircraft that didn't get into the Smithsonian. The most famous is the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane. During the Cold War, this aircraft penetrated hostile airspace to perform high-priority missions.
There are some very fine dioramas of the history of aviation, especially World War II. And it's very conveniently located just off two highways.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-5:00 and Sunday noon to 5:00. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve.
Address: 5701 Huntsman Road, Sandston, VA 23150
Directions: From Interstate 64 take Exit 197A (Richmond International Airport) and follow South Airport Drive. Turn left to access Huntsman Road, following the brown signs. From I-295 take Exit 31B (RIC) follow S Airport Drive to access Huntsman Rd.
Phone: (804) 236-3622
Visitors enjoy the boat ride
The narrated canal cruise offers a good synopsis of Richmond's colorful history. Along the way, you'll see not just the canal but also part of the James River (the navigable part) and the old Tobacco Row. Maybe, if you're observant, you'll even get to see some local wildlife.
Tours run every weekend from early April until mid-November, plus Wednesdays and Thursdays in summer. Depatures are on the hour. Check the website for details.
Directions: At the Turning Basin, on Virginia St, between 14th and Dock Sts. It's on the north side of the canal, beneath the overpass.
Other Contact: (804) 788-6466
Phone: (804) 649-2800
The Canal Walk
The James River was clearly unnavigable, with its wild rapids and treacherous rocks. So the Haxall Canal was built. Today, you can explore this canal on foot or by boat. Best bet: Do both.
This is a relaxing stroll, that takes you through the history and architecture of the city. Historic monuments along the way tell of the major events in this city's past. The only drawback is the noise of the highway overpass that towers over the canal.
Directions: Accessible from 5th, 7th, Virginia, 14th, 15th, and 17th Streets, as well as Brown's Island at the western end.
Other Contact: Fax (804) 788-6477
Phone: (804) 788-6466
American Civil War Center
Tredegar was the site of the the largest ironworks in Virginia. The warship CSS Virginia, which fought the USS Monitor in the world's first clash of ironclad ships, was built here. Today, this is the home of American Civil War Center. Located inside the former cannon foundry, the Cause of Liberty is a collection of exhibits on the war. It follows the story from the Union, Confederate, and African-American view. No photos are allowed inside, but it's a great place to learn about the war, its causes, and its consequences. For any new Civil War buff, this is where you can get started finding out what happened.
Around the main building are the Pattern Building, which houses the National Park visitors center. Then there are the remains of old industrial equipment used to manufacture artillery and cannonballs.
Nearby, the remains of an old bridge offers a splendid vista overlooking the James River. It's dangerous here, with rapids and rocks. Here are plaques showing visitors the story of the fall of Richmond at the end of the Civil War in 1865. As the Confederate defenses gave way, the orders were given to raze the city so as to deny anything of value to the Yankee invaders. You can see where this all happened. As you walk out, look down at historical quotes etched into the planks of the old bridge.
Address: 500 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Directions: On the north bank of the James River. From Hwy 301, take East Byrd St, and go east. Take South 5th St south toward the river, and go right on Tredegar St. See website for more. Open daily, 9:00-5:00, except major holidays.
Other Contact: email@example.com
Phone: (804) 780-1865
The Confederate White House
Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a West Point graduate and hero of the Mexican War, had considerable military experience. President Lincoln did not. So at the outset of the Civil War in 1861, many Rebels believed that the Confederates had an advantage in leadership that would compensate for the Union's material advantages.
Davis made his home here for the duration of the war. Today, guided tours take visitors through this site. No photos are allowed inside the White House, but the museum itself offers photo ops aplenty. It's full of uniforms, weapons, flags, paintings, and other artifacts of the period. There is an art gallery of the time, whose most famed work is E.B.D. Julio’s painting, “The Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson.” It depicts the last time that they met, shortly before the Battle of Chancellorsville (in which Jackson was killed).
Address: 1201 E. Clay St, Richmond, VA 23219
Directions: Just south of East Leigh St, surrounded by the huge medical center. See website for parking directions.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (804) 649-1861
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