Richmond, Virginia: 11 adventures, activities, and attractions

The city of Richmond has no shortage of things to do. As the Virginia state capital, the city is rich in history and natural wonders. In recent years, however, a wave of young and ambitious residents have flooded in and a new Richmond is emerging. Local staples, classic diners, and 19th-century industrial warehouses are juxtaposed with modern boutiques and gastropubs. This “mish-mash” of new mixed with old, makes for an exciting destination where you can find an array of activities from the historical and educational to the artistic and artisanal. Being that this is an “adventure” website, this article will highlight only the best “adventures” and activities that you can find in the city.

Explore Maymont estate

Maymont - Thing to do in Richmond, VA
Photo Credit: http://www.maymont.org

If you are looking for something to do, you could probably spend an entire day exploring the grounds of Maymont. This 100-acre estate contains a museum, arboretum, Japanese gardens, carriage collection, wildlife exhibit, nature center and children’s farm. If you are looking for a romantic adventure, hop into a whimsical carriage for a tour of the grounds. If you are looking for an animal adventure, check out the farm and wildlife exhibits where you can see everything from goats and chickens to bison, black bears and red foxes. If you are looking for a historical adventure, marvel in awe at the Maymont mansion, a complete expression of Gilded Age luxury and opulence.

Website: https://maymont.org
Tele: +1 804 358 7166
Address: 1700 Hampton Street, Richmond, VA 23219 USA

Visit the Pygmy Hippo at Metro Richmond Zoo

If you didn’t get your fill of cute fuzzy animals at Maymont’s farm and wildlife exhibits, then a trip to the Metro Richmond zoo will definitely do the trick. Here you can meet the endangered pygmy hippo, feed giraffes, walk through a budgie aviary, and observe a number of other wild animals. The truly adventurous can take part in a Treetop Zoofari course which carries you 12-45 feet above ground, giving you a bird’s eye view of monkeys, kangaroos, giraffes, and more.

Know that your visit supports an organization which is playing an important role in animal conservation. Richmond’s zoo is the recipient of the ZAA Excellence in Breeding award for their work in cheetah conservation. In the past 4 years, they have had 40 cheetah cubs born!

Website: http://metrorichmondzoo.com/
Tele: 804-739-5666
Location: 8300 Beaver Bridge Rd. Moseley, VA 23120

Stroll down Monument Avenue

Monument Ave. - Thing to do in Richmond, VA

Monument Avenue is a historical landmark stretching from Lombardy Street to North Thompson Street. The strip is lined with leafy green trees, enormous mansions, and giant statues of notable historical figures. The word “notable” could also be replaced with “controversial” due to the fact that many of the historical figures are in fact Confederate veterans. While some say the statues symbolize white supremacy and call for their removal, others say they are a commemoration of an important part of American history and should be preserved.

The avenue is not limited to civil war figures however, stroll down the strip and you will also find tributes to oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, and tennis player Arthur Ashe. We learned on our recent trip to the Poe Museum, that the city once proposed erecting a memorial to the great author Edgar Allen Poe. Residents at the time, rejected the idea believing him to have a tarnished and unfavorable reputation. Although there is no giant statue commemorating Poe, he does have his own museum. See below.

Visit one of the Museums

Museums - Thing to do in Richmond, VA

Like most major cities, Richmond has a huge collection of museums. There is the free Virginia Museum of Fine Arts encompassing more than 33,000 works of art. The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia is a statewide resource on Black history through exhibitions, discussions, and celebrations. In Richmond you will also find the Virginia Holocaust Museum, the Valentine, and the Science Museum of Virginia.  

You can mix up the traditional museum experience by attending one of their special events. Notable among them is the Unhappy Hour at the Poe Museum, a special after-hours event with music, fine food, and libations. Although we did not make it to the Unhappy Hour, we did have the opportunity to tour the Poe Museum, snap a selfie in a life-size coffin, and cuddle with the resident Black cats. Read all about our experience in our article “Discovering Poe at Richmond’s Edgar Allen Poe Museum“.

Splash around with some water sports

White Water Rafting - Thing to do in Richmond, VA
Photo Credit: http://www.riversideoutfitters.net/

With several small lakes and a river running right through the heart of downtown, it’s no wonder that there are so many water-based activities in the area. During summer months you can go Paddle Boating at Fountain Lake, tubing at Pony Pasture, paddling (kayaking, canoeing, SUP, etc) at Huguenot Flatwater Park, or exploring at Belle Isle. Some places are not safe to swim in due to the current so do exercise caution in your pursuit of adventure.

Window shop in a quirky neighborhood

Carytown is mile long strip of quirky and colorful restaurants and shops. Stroll down the street as you listen to street performers. See if you can spot some of the different murals painted by local artists. Sip a latte while people watching inside of the extravagant Can-Can Brasserie. Hunt around for your favorite graphic novel inside the used bookstore Chop Suey.  If you are a chocolate lover, don’t miss For the Love of Chocolate where you can find any treat, delicacy, gift and novelty related to chocolate.

Try gory “intergalactic” cooking at GWAR bar

According to GWAR bar’s main chef “My mother taught me the secret of intergalactic cooking…then I ate her.” Catch your attention yet? The 80’s heavy metal band decided to open a GWAR themed restaurant in the middle of Richmond where you can order items such as the Baconecutioner, Demoned Eggs, Nachos Destructo, and Poppin’ Pustulus Mac n’ Cheese. As if the meal names aren’t theatrical enough, the bar is adorned with blood splattered walls and demonic babies suspended from the ceiling.

If gory food is not your thing, then try Fancy Biscuit. It is adorable, cute and everything that is opposite from GWAR bar.

Website: https://gwarbar.com
Tele: 804-918-9352
Location: 217 W Clay St., Richmond, VA 23220

Catch a classic movie at The Byrd

Byrd Theatre - Thing to do in Richmond, VA

The Byrd theatre was built in 1928 as one of the nation’s grand movie palaces. At the time, patrons paid 25 cents for a matinee and 50 cents for an evening movie. Since then, prices have soared and they now cost a whopping $4 a ticket! (Do you sense my sarcasm?) I do believe that the Byrd Theatre is quite possibly one of the only places that can you find $4 movies every day 365 days of the year!

Not only have they tried their best to stay true to reasonable prices, but they also have stayed true to the look and feel of the theatre. You will be instantly charmed by the bright red carpets leading up to the curtained stage, the marbled walls, gold leaf arches, mezzanine, and the 18 ft crystal chandelier suspended over the auditorium. Watching a movie in this theatre is certainly an experience to remember.

Website: http://byrdtheatre.com/
Tele: (804)353-9911
Location: 2908 W Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23221

Check out Richmond’s nationally recognized street art murals

Colette Miller's "Angel Wings" - Thing to do in Richmond, VA
Colette Miller’s “Angel Wings”

While wandering the streets of downtown Richmond, it won’t take you long to notice that the entire city is a canvas for art. Thanks in part to the Richmond Mural Project, brick alleyways and walls are adorned with colorful murals from artists all over the world. Highlights include “Moonshine” by Etam Cru, “Light of Human Kindness” by Patience Salgado, and “Angel Wings” by Collette Miller. There are several tours and festivals celebrating the city’s artwork, although you are always welcome to conduct a scavenger hunt and find the artwork on your own self-guided tour.

Explore the Canal

The canal stretches 1.25 miles along the James River through downtown Richmond. Along the canal you will find centuries of local history presented through monuments, medallions and art. The pathway is free to walk, or you can also purchase tickets to explore the canal by boat. Richmond Canal Cruises offer 40-minute guided tours aboard one of their canal boats. This however is a seasonal attraction, so be sure to check their website for updated hours.

Website: https://www.venturerichmond.com/experience/canal/rides.html
Tele: (804)649-2800
Location: 139 Virginia Street, Richmond, VA 23219

Race a NASCAR race car at the Richmond Raceway

Although the most expensive on this list, the Richard Petty driving experience is also one of the most unique and exciting. In this on-track experience, you drive a real NASCAR race car by yourself for an 8-minute racing session around one of the country’s premier speedways. Sound a little intimidating? There are two other ridealong options which allow you to ride shotgun with a professional racing instructor zooming around the course at top speed. Still not “feeling the need for speed”? You can experience the raceway from the safety of the stands as a spectator at one of the annual NASCAR Cup Series. Visit their main Richmond Raceway website for details.

Website: https://www.richmondraceway.com
Tele: 866-455-7223
Location: 600 E Laburnum Ave, Richmond, VA 23222


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Cecilia

Cecilia is a bubbly Filipino-American with an affinity for constant change...that or a 10 second attention span. Refusing to sit still, she travels the world, in pursuit of adventure, excitement and meaningful experiences. She holds a Masters degree in International Development and Public Policy, and a BA in Business Management.

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16 Responses

  1. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am glad that you just
    shared this useful info with us. Please stay us
    up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jane Dempster-Smith says:

    There is so much to do. Thanks for the article. The Maymont reminds me of a French Chateau. I enjoy street art when I travel and adored the angel wings.

  3. Anda says:

    Ah, lots of fun things to do in Richmond! I had no idea there are Pygmy Hippos. How cute! For me just strolling down Monument Avenue and taking pictures would be fun enough. I would also like to take a boat trip along the Canal and see Richmond from the water. Looks like fun.

  4. Shreya Saha says:

    Gwar bar looks creepy but I would love to try having a meal there – it’s like a challenge to me. Haha! The museums and monuments are beautiful places I would love visiting while in Richmond. It will be a memorable vacation.

  5. Daniel says:

    I never realized there are so many things to do in Richmond. The city sure seems to have some impressive museums and monuments. I would love to visit someday. Thank you for the lovely recommendations

  6. Lisa says:

    Gory intergalactic cooking is definitely a new one for me! Virginia is a state I’ve yet to visit when in the US and it’s clear there’s plenty to do. I’m surprised by the pygmy hippos there, that’s quite exotic! Will bookmark this for the future.

  7. Katie says:

    Wow what a beautiful place in Virginia! It actually reminds me of the Richmond area of london! Love the quriky neighbourhoods too – so picture perfect!

    • Lovicarious says:

      I didn’t realize there is a Richmond area of London! We visited London a few years back and stayed in Putney with a friend’s family. I feel like there is just so much to explore in that city!

  8. Paula says:

    This was very interesting to read since I have yet not been to Virginia. I think I would especially enjoy the canals at the downtown, and the museums. Looks like there is a lot to do and see in Richmond. The pygmy hippo is very cute too! I would definitely have to visit that.

  9. Thats a detailed andcrisp travel guide to a city not much blogged about. Richmond seems to have everything- monuments, museum, canals, zoo and even river rafting! The Gwar bar is the most unique thing i have heard about, but i am not going there to eat.

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  11. I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thank you again

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