Fun Things to Do Inside and Outside of Richmond Not many state capitals can claim to have also been the capital of a nation. As capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, arguably Richmond can, which is why many folks associate the destination with that divisive battle between North and South. What they might not know, however, is the role Richmond played in an earlier struggle—the war for American independence.
Richmond and the Revolutionary War
The rallying cry of the Revolution, Patrick Henry's stirring “Give me liberty or give me death” speech was delivered in 1775 at stately St. John's Church. In attendance were such patriots as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Richard Henry Lee. Henry's impassioned plea moved the Colonies closer to their inevitable split with England.
Many of the Revolution's respected names were also members of Virginia's senate and house of delegates that met in the state Capitol. Designed by Thomas Jefferson and in continuous use since 1788, “Mr. Jefferson's temple” sits majestically on a hill above the James River, its six columns reminiscent of traditional Roman design. In its elegant rotunda stands Houdon's life-size statue of George Washington. Another period icon, John Marshall, the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, built his home in Court End in 1790.
Historical Things to See in Richmond
Richmond's compact downtown is walkable and offers plenty of places to go. Historic 18th-century buildings coexist seamlessly with those from a more turbulent part of American history, the Civil War. The White House of the Confederacy served as the executive mansion of Jefferson Davis. The Davis family as well as Gen. Robert E. Lee and his wife worshipped at nearby St. Paul's Episcopal Church. The 1845 Greek Revival church is a perfect architectural complement to the Classical Virginia State Capitol across the street.
Richmond's early years were, indeed, a “who's who” of early American history. On the James River just outside downtown's historic district is Hollywood Cemetery, the city skyline intruding as a modern backdrop. Named for its profusion of holly trees, the burial ground is the final resting place of two U.S. presidents, James Monroe and John Tyler; Jefferson Davis; six Virginia governors; Confederate generals J.E.B. Stuart and George Pickett; and more than 18,000 Confederate soldiers.
The Civil War greatly impacted Richmond. A succession of Union generals tried but failed to capture the Southern capital, but it wasn't until Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's victory at Petersburg, a week before the South's surrender at Appomattox, that the city was evacuated.
Monument Avenue, the tree-lined avenue graced by restored historic gems, became central to the question over Confederate statues until removals, both by protestors and the city, in the summer of 2020. A more recent addition to the avenue is the statue of tennis legend and humanitarian Arthur Ashe, a Richmond native and the first Black man to win Wimbledon.
Things to Do in Richmond Today
Though the Revolutionary and Civil wars certainly helped mold Richmond, the city has built on its past to become a modern destination. New industries arose. The city's said to have been the first to sell beer in a can in 1935. Nowadays there are more than 30 breweries as well as a Richmond Beer Trail. Another beverage, wine, beckons on the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail.
Historic Richmond has undergone a revival. Once largely an industrial area, Scott’s Addition has become the center of nightlife and features breweries and beer gardens as well as local restaurants. Shockoe Slip, once a warehouse district, is small but features a few food places. Jackson Ward, a historically African American neighborhood, was home to Maggie Walker, the first woman to found a U.S. bank, and celebrated tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Just west is the Fan District, so-called because its streets “fan out” from the downtown core. The genteel residential area, a mix of affluent Richmonders and Virginia Commonwealth University students, is known for its Victorian homes, restaurants and bars.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Virginia levies a 5.3 percent sales tax, which includes a 1 percent tax levied by city or county governments. The Richmond area has a lodging tax of 8 percent.
Bon Secours-St. Mary's Hospital, (804) 285-2011; Henrico Doctors' Hospital, (804) 289-4500; VCU Medical Center, (804) 828-9000.
405 N. Third St. Richmond, VA 23219. Phone:(804)783-7450 or (800)370-9004
Richmond International Airport
Hertz, at Richmond International Airport, offers discounts to AAA members; phone (804) 222-7228 or (800) 654-3080.
Amtrak train service is available at 7519 Staples Mill Rd., (800) 872-7245, and at historic Main Street Station at 500 E. Main St., (804) 646-2041.
The Greyhound Lines Inc. bus terminal is at 2910 N. Boulevard St. across from The Diamond baseball field; phone (804) 254-5910.
Some of the larger cab companies include Galaxy, (804) 560-4408; Yellow, (804) 222-7300; and Richmond Taxi, (804) 439-0009. Base fare is $2.50 for the first one-fifth mile, 50c for each additional one-fifth mile and 50c for each 80-second period of delay, including traffic. Base fare rises $1 for each additional passenger over age 6 and for rides between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. A $2 access fee is added to fares originating at the airport.
The Greater Richmond Transit Co. (GRTC) operates buses throughout most of the city and parts of Henrico County. The base fare for local routes is $1.50. Transfers cost 25c. Transfers must be purchased at the time your initial fare is paid. Reduced rates are available for senior citizens and the physically impaired. Go Cards, used in lieu of cash by customers boarding GRTC vehicles, are available for advance purchase at retail locations throughout the Richmond area for $10. Phone (804) 358-4782.