As the capital of Virginia and a former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond is both a current hub and a historical one. Recently the city, the third largest in Virginia, has become known as an up-and-coming urban area of the south, making this the perfect time to visit. You’ll find what you might associate more with Portland than the South there with artisan craft shops, breweries, and many coffee shops. The city, which is beautifully located along the James River, is full of plenty of historic and cultural sites — as well as more recreational activities — to fully pack a weekend or week-long visit.
Spend a good part of your time in Richmond exploring the multitude of museums and other historical and cultural centers the city has to offer. If you’re feeling adventurous walk the 6.2-mile Liberty Trail, which takes you to 15 national historic monuments as well as other attractions and neighborhoods. Afterward, cool down in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Black History Museum, Edgar Allan Poe Museum, or Science Museum. If it’s a nice day out, take a turn around the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden or Maymont, a large estate with beautiful gardens including a river that is home to otters. And after that huge history lesson, treat yourself to some shopping in Carytown, a neighborhood full of eclectic boutiques.
Richmond is close to a host of other important cities, one being the nation’s capital, less than two hours away, where you can see the White House; Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln monuments, one of the many Smithsonian museums, and the national mall. Just under an hour away is Colonial Williamsburg, a living historical site where workers bring colonial life to present times. About 1.5 hours away is Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home. Another nearby towns worth seeing are yorktown, Charlottesville, and Jamestown.
As a large city, Richmond is full of distinct neighborhoods. Carytown, the best shopping area of the city, has many 1920s-era homes. It’s perfect if you want to leave your rental and immediately be able to walk around a bustling neighborhood full of shops and restaurants. The Fan District is a little quieter, but home to a lot of history. In addition to the historic homes that dot its streets, the Fan District is where Monument Avenue, which is lined with statues of Civil War figures, is located. Other areas of the city include Shockoe Bottom, where the best nightlife of the city is, and Jackson Ward, a historic black cultural area of the city.
The Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) provides bus service within the city and some surrounding areas. The bus will take you close to just about any major site in the city and its website has a useful trip planner that will help you navigate routes and schedules. The standard local fair is $1.50 for one ride, but if you plan to be jumping all over the city, spring fro the $3.50 day pass.
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