Richmond Things to Do Tips by b1bob Top 5 Page for this destination
Richmond Things to Do: 255 reviews and 389 photos
Richmond skyline at sunset from Jefferson Park
Jefferson Park is in a hilly area just east of downtown Richmond. This makes it a good place to view the Richmond skyline or just sit and watch the world go by. A word to the wise: don't stay in this park after dark. This part of Richmond is gentrifying, but there is still crime against people who let their guard down and especially after dark.
Directions: between North 19th Street and North 21st Street.
Virginia governor's mansion
The Executive Mansion is a short walk from the State Capitol and serves as the official residence of Virginia's governor. Three presidents of the United States resided here before moving on to bigger and better things. James Monroe and John Tyler were governors. William Henry Harrison lived there while his daddy was governor. The house was designed by Alexander Parris and is the oldest occupied governor's mansion in the United States. It has housed governors and their families since 1813. Towards the turn of the 21st Century, the mansion underwent major renovations restoring the public areas, the private residence, and made the building accessible to wheelchairs.
Address: On Capitol Square, Richmond, VA.
American Civil War Museum at Tredegar
The Center is located at the American Civil War Centre on a beautiful site on the James River. Richmond's new Canal Walk fronts the river here, and a foot bridge gives visitors access to Belle Isle, a park formerly a prison camp for captured Yankee soldiers. Here at Tredegar, five surviving buildings illustrate the ironworks era and the National Park Service operates the Richmond Civil War Visitor Centre. I found the exhibits and discussion at this museum to be a little preachy and one-sided- very P.C. I actually got more out of the grounds tour of the old ironworks. It's open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and admission runs $8 for adults as of October, 2008.
Address: 500 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 780-1865
civil rights monument (front)
The newest monument on Capitol Square commemorates a student strike in 1951 by Barbara Johns and several classmates protesting inferiour conditions at their segregated school near Farmville. Parents contacted NAACP attorneys to sue the school system. This lawsuit became part of the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) which banned school segregation on the grounds that separate educational systems are inherently unequal and unconstitutional.
old stone house entrance
The Edgar Allen Poe Museum is not located where the "American Shakespeare" lived and worked, but it is real close by. The museum has been in the old stone house, Richmond's oldest surviving building, since 1922. In the stone house and outbuildings are a larger preponderance of his works and possessions across his 40 years. There is a garden in the back, a shrine with a bust of the writer, and three outbuildings with exhibits and artifacts. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; closed Mondays. Tours are self-guided. As of October 2008, the price of admission was $6.
Address: 1914-16 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Directions: Scroll to the bottom of this page
Phone: (804) 648-5523
Virginia Aviation Museum
The Virginia Aviation Museum is located, quite fittingly, on the grounds of the Richmond International Airport. For those who are flying into Richmond, this can be the first thing you visit after you hire your car on the way to your hotel or my house. All sorts of aircraft are on display here from the kites the Wright Brothers used to experiment with the concept of flight through to the SR-71 spy plane which flew supersonically at heights of between 80000 and 95000 feet (24390 to 28960 m.)
Address: 5701 Huntsman Road, Sandston, VA 23150
Directions: From I-64: Take Exit 197A and follow the brown Virginia Aviation Museum signs. From Interstate 295 take Exit 31B and follow the brown signs.
Phone: (804) 236-3622
Its handsomely adorned false marble pillars support a 70 foot (22 m.) ceiling with a stain glass skylight. Leading town from the Palm Court to the Rotunda is the grand staircase, believed to be the model for the one in the movie Gone With the Wind. Distringuished guests include the Barrymore, Whitney, Vanderbilt, and Bush families. Famous individuals include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charlie Chaplin, Sarah Bernhardt, Charles Bronson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
In the Palm Court lobby, guests can relax with afternoon tea. As you enter, you see the life-sized marble statue of Thomas Jefferson and a 35' (10 m.) Tiffany stain glass skylight.
Lemaire Restaurant, the fanciest restaurant in the grand hotel, was designated as a 5-Diamond winner as well as the hotel at large. Once you enter, on the left you will find the library where many private lunches and dinners have been held. The fireplace is made of solid African mahogany.
On the rotunda level, left of the grand staircase, is a permanent historical exhibit which includes all manner of memorabilia from the hotels history.
The grand ballroom is the gathering point for formal and informal events. The Jefferson has hosted 9 U.S. Presidents, cotillions, weddings, and various corporate events. The grand ballroom has a gold detailed ceiling and a crystal chandelier.
Address: 101 W. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23220
current Senate chamber
The Virginia General Assembly convenes every January here on Capitol Square. Citizen legislators represent the interest of all Virginians. In even-numbered years the session lasts 60 days including crossover where bills introduced in one house are debated and voted on in the other. In April, they come back for a (usually) brief veto session. The governor can call the General Assembly back for special session at any time and for any reason.
OLD AND NEW LEGISLATIVE CHAMBERS
The old Senate chamber is used as a committee room. Most such rooms are decorated with statuary. This one has 2 paintings describing the settlement at Jamestown in 1607 and the Colonial victory over the British at Yorktown in 1781.
The Senate has met in this "modern" chamber since 1906. The signers tablet which commemorates the Virginians who signed the Declaration of Independence is displayed here. There are 40 state senators who serve 4-year terms (all of whom elected at the governor's mid-term). The last election for state Senate was 2003, the next will be 2007. The state senator who currently represents my district is Ryan McDougle, a Republican for Mechanicsville, and a friend of mine.
House of Delegates
The old House chamber is the largest room in the capitol. Its width was exactly that of the original capitol before the two wings housing the current house and senate chambers were added in 1904. It was here that the Bill of Rights was ratified into the U.S. Constitution, where Aaron Burr was tried and acquitted of treason, and where Robert E. Lee accepted the duty to lead the Confederate army in the War of Northern Aggression.
The current House chamber has met in the East Wing since 1906. There are 100 members of the House of Delegates, elected at every odd-numbered year for 2-year terms. My representative in the House of Delegates (97th district) is my friend Chris Peace, a Republican for Mechanicsville. At the time he was first sworn in (January, 2006) he was the youngest member, elected at age 29.
Old vs. New
The state capitol building of Virginia is the second oldest working capitol in the United States (in continuous use since 1788). It was designed by Thomas Jefferson who was inspired by the Maison Carré (Square House, for those from Roxboro) in Nîmes, France. The capitol is made of brick and covered with stucco. The six white columns on the south portico contain the original pine centre posts. The grounds are always open and folks choose to picnic on the grass. I have done it a number of times on school field trips to the capitol. In the photo, note the capitol, built in the 1780s in the foreground with the modern city hall (skyscraper) built in the 1970s in the background. On hot days, like when Mark and I were here, the water fountain on the south side of the capitol looked tempting. Inside the capitol, there is a two-storey rotunda with embedded dome and skylights is at the centre of the Capitol. This is the only statue for which George Washington actually posed. It looks so lifelike, it was almost like ol' George was living, breathing and watching all manner of tourists. Although there is not as much statuary on these capitol grounds as in Columbia, South Carolina, there are still some notable examples like...
George Washington monument
A grand and impressive monument dedicated to famous Virginians stands 60 feet (18 m.) high on the western portion of Capitol Square. The centrepiece of the statue is a sculpture of George Washington atop his horse encircled by other notable Virginians (Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, John Marshall, Thomas Nelson, and Andrew Lewis) together with several bald eagles. It took from 1850-1869 to complete the monument.
Address: Downtown Richmond
Maggie Walker House
Christian and I made the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site the first stop on our tour of Jackson Ward. It was the residence of the businesswoman and her family from 1904 to 1934. She started out as a teacher and opened up the first bank for the black community. The house, built in 1883 and expanded several times to its present 25 rooms, along with several adjacent buildings on Leigh and 2nd streets, is maintained by the National Park Service. It has been restored to its 1930s appearance and is furnished with Walker family pieces. It was state-of-the art for the time. In her later years, Maggie Walker was confined to a wheelchair due to diabetes and had to have a lift installed in the rear of the house. A park ranger gives a tour of the residence, and his knowledge of the area is that of a native Richmonder. Before the tour begins, there is a film that explains the life of Maggie Walker. Nine months later, Mark and I came here and we were guided by the same ranger as before.
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Address: 110-1/2 E. Leigh St., Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 771-2017
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