Richmond, Virginia Travel Guide
The ultimate guide to the coolest things to do and see in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is a great small city with lots of street art, fine restaurants and plenty of entertainment options. It’s a college town as well, so you’ll find a lot of great activities for young people. During my recent visit to Richmond, I explored the vegan life, the coffee culture, the queer and drag shows and the peaceful (and colorful!) street life. From the empty streets and the dark corners that probably inspired some of the tales of Edgar Allan Poe to the colorful, hipster areas with alternative bookstores, vintage shops and museums, Richmond is both young and old. Even when the architecture is a reminder of the historical past of slavery and war, Richmond today celebrates its diversity and mixed population with pride, including LGBT families, migrants and hundreds of students from the United States and abroad. Start here with my basic Richmond, Virginia travel tips, or jump down below to read my latest Richmond travel blogs.
When to Visit
I visited Richmond during the winter time and I enjoyed cloud, cloudless days with a bright sun. You can visit the town any time of the year, but the summer will offer a better chance to enjoy the street life. Be sure to keep track of the special exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or the Valentine, as well as local festivals like the Richmond International Film Festival and the Richmond Jazz Festival.
Cool Things To Do
The cultural and artistic life in Richmond is vibrant and diverse. From museums to nightlife, the acceptance of difference and the pleasantness is evident. You can explore the many artistic exhibitions in its big museums and its small venues, cool music shows and alternative festivals. Here are some of Richmond highlights:
American Civil War Museum: This is a dream place for history lovers, especially because it tells the horrors of the Civil War from the perspective of the North, the South and the African-American. The museum depicts details of the military life—both on and off the battlefield—as well as the social and political life. All this through many artifacts, documents, photographs and temporary exhibitions.
Richmond Mural Project: With artists coming from graffiti meccas to those from Perú or The Netherlands, various locations around Richmond have become a living canvas. The Richmond Mural Project is a yearly event with the fantastic goal of creating over 100 murals by artists from all over the globe. The artworks are located in public streets in neighborhoods like Monroe Ward, Churchill Hill or the Museum District. You can explore the collection on foot or with a bike.
Edgar Allan Poe Museum: The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is a mysterious place (can you imagine that?!). You can walk around this little venue and wander the rooms filled with furniture and pictures belonging to Poe or to his family. The small museum tells the story of his favorite spots within the city and the tragic events that inspired many of his writings. Where do you expect to find both black cats strolling around and an open casket for selfies?
Richmond Tours & Activities
While many believe that small cities are easier to navigate, it’s common to discover that the best places—restaurants, shops, bars and more—are secrets well-kept among locals. One way to explore all that Richmond has to offer is by booking one of these tours. (Worth looking out for especially are the Richmond food and craft beer tours).
LGBT – Gay Richmond Travel Tips
As part of the campaign Virginia for Lovers, Richmond is a place that doesn’t hide its gay and queer influences. You can have a great brunch surrounded by lip-singing drag queens at Godfreys, enjoy a queer theater show—dramas and comedies—at the Richmond Triangle Players or enjoy a beer in one of Richmond's LGBT bars, including Barcode or Babes (of Carytown).
The Valentine museum also includes in its permanent collection the LGBT pride flag which once flew on the Virginia Capitol. Look for queer-themed exhibitions at Richmond's museums as well.
Virginia Pride takes place in Richmond in September with live music acts and local vendors. Since 2014, Richmond Region Tourism has actively promoted LGBT tourism to the city through the OutRVA program. On the Richmond is Out website, you'll find a comprehensive travel guide for LGBT tourisms with everything from the quirkiest hotels to the best nightlife. Keep an eye out for the OutRVA stickers which you'll find in many of Richmond's gay and LGBT bars.
More gay travel resources here.
Richmond Hotel Deals
There's a large variety of places offering accommodation in Richmond. You can choose, for example, an old-fashioned hotel where Edgar Allan Poe used to play as a kid—the Linden Row Inn—or a contemporary design hotel like The Quirk. Of course, prices vary according to your preference, and these are some of the best deals for hotel and accommodation. Try Booking.com or Agoda.com for last-minute deals.
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