Richmond Travel Guide
Richmond, is the capital of Virginia and one of its largest cities, with a population of over 200,000 and a metropolitan area of around one and a quarter million. The city is located at the last navigable point along the James River before the “fall line” and in the rolling hills of the Piedmont Region. Richmond is a tourist hub for many reasons, but its historic sites are clearly the most powerful draw.
The site on which Richmond now sits was once the location of a Powhattan Indian village. Between 1609 and 1611, there were temporary English settlements, but the city was not truly founded until 1737 and not officially incorporated until 1742. In 1780, it became the capital of Virginia. Richmond has been the scene of numerous important events in U.S. history, including Patrick Henry’s famed “Liberty or Death” speech. It also became the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War and was badly burned before war’s end. After the war, Richmond became manufacturing center, a railroad hub, and a tobacco storage area. It became a center of African American culture during the Civil Rights Movement. Today, it is also a major tourist town.
Things to see and do in Richmond
Visit the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where you can see a wide variety of floral gardens in full bloom and where, in late November, you can witness the dazzling Dominion Garden Fest of Lights. Also visit Maymont, a Victorian style mansion from the 1800’s, where you will find beautiful gardens and a wildlife center. Finally, another good place to “get back to nature” even in the midst of a big city is Belle Isle, an island park in the James River, where you can walk, bike, catch a great view of the city skyline, and on a limited scale, rock climb.
Tour the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which holds over 20,000 works of art and is among the largest and most “comprehensive” collections in the U.S. You will find everything from ancient Egyptian art to the works of Pablo Picasso.
Visit two parts of the American Civil War Museum: the Museum and White House of the Confederacy, where you can see the sword of General Robert E. Lee and peruse a vast array of Confederate-era documents; and the Tredegar Iron Works, which was an important iron factory of the Confederacy.
Also stop by the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Poe never lived there, but the museum introduces you to his life and his time spent in Richmond.
Richmond has a “humid subtropical” climate, with hot, humid summers and somewhat cold winters. The Blue Ridge Mountains to the west block much cold air during winter, while Chesapeake Bay to the east moderates temperatures during winter and increases humidity during summer. July highs average 90 degrees, however, so summer tourists need to be prepared for heat waves.
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