Richmond is the capital of Virginia, one of the United States’ most underrated destinations, especially for art gurus, history buffs and foodies. Historically, the city played a major role in the early days of America. 21st-century Richmond, on the other hand, is known for college students, diverse restaurants, hipster coffee shops, and culturally enriching art galleries. We recommend embracing each aspect of this burgeoning city.
What you need to know when traveling to Richmond, VA.
To enjoy exploring a new city, you need to be able to get around easily without putting a major dent in your wallet. A city is only as good as the various modes of transportation it has to offer. Here are the best options for getting to and around Richmond.
Richmond International Airport: Seven major air carriers operate out of RIC, each offering non-stop flights to major domestic destinations and connecting service to points around the world. From RIC, take a cab, public transportation, rental car, private vehicle, or app-based ride service to your desired location.
Amtrak: Main Street Station, located in the heart of the city, provides Amtrak service on the Northeast Regional Train. Service goes from Richmond to DC, New York, Hartford, Providence/Springfield, Boston, Norfolk/Newport News and Virginia Beach.
Once you’re settled in and ready to explore, you can get around the city using these options:
GRTC Pulse (Bus Rapid Transit): This bus makes eight stops throughout downtown. Buses arrive every 15 minutes and run seven days a week. It’s the best option to navigate short trips throughout the city.
GRTC: This bus has 40 routes and runs every 15 minutes from surrounding neighborhoods.
App-based car services: It’s typically easy to find an Uber or Lyft ride in Richmond.
RVA Bike Share: With 20 stations and 220 bikes, these are perfect grab and go bikes for exploring.
Where To Stay
Here’s how to find the best accommodations for your visit to Richmond
Richmond is filled with a range of hotel options, from luxury modern hotels to historic boutique establishments. If you’re looking for specific suggestions, here are some we personally recommend.
Quirk Hotel: Built in 1916 as a dry goods store, Quirk has an Italian Renaissance design and features limestone arches. Exhibitions of creative work by both established and emerging artists are on display at Quirk Gallery. Guests can find striking jewelry and limited-edition work by designers in Quirk’s unique boutique. Located on West Broad Street, the area is home to some of Richmond’s most interesting art galleries, as well as a variety of restaurants, cafes, and independent boutiques.
The Jefferson: Dating back to 1895, The Jefferson was one of the best examples of Beaux Arts style in existence. Exotic palm trees from Central and South America were imported back in the day, along with valuable antiques from abroad. Locals and guests donated pet alligators to the hotel to live in the marble pools in the Palm Court. The last remaining alligator died in 1948. Today, there are whimsical references to the reptiles throughout the hotel. Luminaries such as FDR, Obama, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley have all graced the hotel with their presence. Today, the hotel is listed on the National Registrar of Historical Places.
Graduate Richmond: Graduate’s preppy theme is a tribute to past local tennis star, Arthur Ashe. Cable knit features and a collection of his signature glasses are displayed throughout the hotel in memory of Ashe. There’s plenty to do in the hotel such as play Ping Pong, Shuffleboard and Pool.
The Commonwealth: From a saloon in the 1840s to a 24-room hotel in the early 1900s, The Commonwealth’s walls have seen a lot. Today, the hotel celebrates furniture and artwork from local artisans and is within walking distance of major areas and landmarks such as Shockoe Bottom and the Virginia State Capitol.
The best restaurants and must-try dining experiences in Richmond, VA
It may come as a surprise that Richmond has a diverse food scene, but don’t skimp on these restaurants that should be on every foodie’s bucket list. Keep reading for the best dining recommendations.
The Mantu: Speaking of diversity, broaden your palate by trying Afghan cuisine. Chef Hamidullah Noori began his chef’s career at age 18 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since then, he has been featured on the culinary competition show, “Beat Bobby Flay.” A menu favorite is the Vegetarian Mantu: Homemade pastry shell stuffed with shredded butternut squash, chopped onion, cilantro and mint, topped with yogurt, sprinkled with dried mint and served with red kidney bean and tomato sauce.
L’ Opossum: This quirky restaurant is idolized for its French-inspired cuisine. Don’t let the colorful light fixtures and thrift-store art-adorned walls fool you, the meal will be nothing short of decadent. Outstanding entrees include roasted rack of lamb atop a chimichurri sweet potato salad, garlicky kale, edamame succotash, grilled plum and a big round blackberry barbecue bordelaise.
The Boathouse: When the city’s waterfront views collaborate with locally-sourced cuisine, The Boathouse is birthed. Situated right on the James River, house specialties include Mediterranean sea bass with couscous and Boathouse crab cakes with Yukon gold mashed potatoes.
Soul Taco: A blend of fast, casual dining with an upscale, full-service experience and a fusion of traditional Latin American flavors and Southern comfort food is the heart of Soul Taco. The menu is constantly evolving to represent the landscape of the country, but with dishes such as cornmeal crusted catfish tacos and hush puppy nachos, the restaurant’s goal is to bring people together through a deep love of food and an admiration for cultures and their traditions. Everything is made in house and fresh to order.
La Grotta Ristorante: Owner and Chef Antonio Capece was born in Potenza, Italy and has had a passion for fine cuisine since the age of 15. From homemade ravioli to homemade potato dumplings, Chef Antonio hand makes pastas and bakes breads all in the back of the house.
Your go-to list of activities for your Richmond vacation
Richmond has more to it than what meets the eye. The city has a rich history which has led to the creation of several remarkable museums and historical landmarks. Whether you’re looking for an enriching trip, a shopping getaway or an outdoorsy excursion, Richmond has a little bit of it all. Here are some of the must-do activities and must-see sights for your Richmond trip.
Carytown: Historic buildings and colorful murals make this avant-garde district so charming. From bookstores to vintage shops to record stores to local clothing boutiques, there is a plethora to explore by roaming the streets of Carytown.
Carpenter Theatre: This fully renovated historic theatre from 1928 makes watching a performance a real treat with its Old-World ambiance. Visitors can watch orchestras, plays, concerts and comedy shows in an auditorium with stars and clouds overhead, creating an atmosphere of being outdoors.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: Home to artifacts dating back over 3,000 years (think Ancient Egypt) as well as works from the art deco period, visitors can easily spend a day perusing through all this museum has to offer. African American, South Asian and Russian art can be found within the museum walls. The museum’s most prized possession is its collection of Fabergé jeweled Easter eggs, enameled boxes, trinkets and precious stones by talented Russian artists. Check the calendar and events section of this museum as they offer unique exhibitions and activities that bring the community together.
Riverfront Canal Walk: This 1.25 mile walk along the James River and two canals takes visitors through history. Bronze medallions found implanted along the path mark historic sites. Stroll along the banks of the waterway and walkers will find statues, sculptures and art that tell the history of the city as well as the American Civil War. Insider’s tip: Veer off onto a secret path, accessible by a short ladder, to the Pipeline Trail, a walkway that sits a few feet above the James River.
Important information to take into consideration before traveling to Richmond
With the James River as a mainstay, Richmond basks in natural beauty that regardless of the season, offers a unique charm. Keep reading for need-to-know advisories before visiting.
Weather Advisory: There’s not a bad time to visit Richmond. Here is a breakdown of the seasons in this city.
January – March
These months are considered the quieter months in the city. Tourist season is slow and there are few crowds. Highs will be in the 50s and lows will be in the 20s. Snow is also a possibility during these months.
April – June
During these months, the city’s trees and gardens are in bloom. Festivals are scheduled on the weekends during these months. Highs are in the 70s and lows in the 50s. Hotel rates begin to increase mid-May and early June due to college ceremonies and the start of summer tourist season.
July – August
These months are prime tourist season in Richmond. Hotel rates will be high, and temperatures will be high. Highs can get up to 90 and lows will be in the 70s. These months can also be the rainiest. There are a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy during these months.
September – December
Hotel rates will begin to drop during these months and remain low throughout the holidays seasons. Temperature highs will range from 50s to 70s with lows ranging in the 50s and 40s. Late October is a great time to visit to see peak fall foliage as well as during December for holiday light viewings throughout the city.