Top 10 Things to Do in Richmond (And then Some!)

May 10, 2022 | By: Rebecca Rowe, Associate Director, Community Revitalization Office, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development |

Paddleboarders on the James River, Richmond, Virginia. Courtesy of Riverside Outfitters.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Virginia Main Street (VMS) program are incredibly excited to co-host the 2022 Main Street Now Conference alongside Main Street America in Richmond, Virginia, May 16-18. Get to know our state, host city, and Main Street communities through this special blog series! As you are building out your itinerary on the Conference App, make sure to also make some time to explore our amazing host city.

As of May 10, Conference registration is sold out and the waitlist has been closed.
Check out the conference website and follow conference's Facebook and Twitter accounts for the latest updates.

In advance of the 2022 Main Street Now Conference coming to Richmond, Virginia next week (maybe you’ve heard…), I have been (self) assigned the herculean task of narrowing down, writing up, and promoting the Top 10 Things to do in Richmond. Why herculean, you may be asking…because how do I narrow it down? Mercy! Where do I start?

First, I am starting by assuming that y’all have registered for the Mobile Tours already. No? Well, you’d better hurry! I’ll wait...

Second, we are going to have to do this by category, rather than by individual things. How do I choose my favorite museum or craft beverage or ice cream or walking trail? I simply can’t.

Third, I’m going to have to approach this alphabetically so that I am not subconsciously showing any favoritism. Let’s go!

1. Arcades and Gaming

Have you ever played miniature golf in a historic hotel? Now is your chance at the Hotel Greene! If arcade games are more your speed Circuit and Bingo have what you want. Games of skill? Try your hand at axe throwing, bowling, or shuffleboard!

2. Carytown

For some quirky shops, delicious food, craft beverages, and a historic theatre make the trek to Carytown. If you want some Richmond flavor be sure to visit Chop Suey, Mongrel, and the World of Mirth. For actual flavor Can Can Brasserie is a must if you like French food and seafood, Mom Siam’s is a local institution for Thai, the Daily Kitchen and Bar is the spot to see and to be seen dining al fresco, and the Jasper serves up great food with a side of amazing cocktails. Top off your visit with a stop at the Byrd Theatre and take in a live performance on the organ before the show starts!

3. Craft Beverages

From breweries to wineries, cideries and meaderies, distilleries to kombucha, Richmond can accommodate your tastes! With more than 40 breweries in the region alone there are truly too many for me to list them individually – but Visit Richmond VA has us covered with their Beer Trail map and links to individual tap rooms. If you want a great designated driver call Discover Richmond Tours and take a look at their curated brewery tour options. (Pro tip: they also have awesome neighborhood food tours!)

4. Cemeteries

As a city steeped in Native American, African American, Colonial, Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Civil Rights heritage, we are home to a myriad of historic cemeteries that are a part of the tale. Founded at the end of the 19th century, Evergreen and East End are two historic African American cemeteries right next to one another. From their inception, the African Burial Ground and the Shockoe Bottom African Burial Ground both had sections for freed and enslaved people of African heritage. Hollywood Cemetery is a lovely spot to walk with a beautiful view of the river and the cemetery at St. Johns Church is one of the oldest in the city.

5. Food!!!

Not to brag (ok, totally to brag) but, Forbes called Richmond a “Hidden Culinary Gem” and Garden and Gun (don’t judge, it’s a Southern thing) called us the “South’s best kept culinary secret.” Well, the cat is out of the bag, y’all, because National Geographic also named Richmond as one of the Top Ten Places to Travel for Food! Come and taste for yourself at modern Jewish Delicatessen Perlys, experience James Beard nominees Mama J’s or Metzgers Bar and Butchery, or try Virginia oysters at Rappahannock. Wanna satisfy your sweet tooth? Get a slice of cake from Shyndigz or ice cream at Gelati Celesti or Ruby Scoops, and pair it with hot-of-the-presses waffle cones at Charm School. This is a just a start because there are truly too many to name!

6. The James River

Richmond + May = River Weather and there are so many ways to enjoy the James. Start with a hike over to historic Belle Isle or take in views of the city from the T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge. Get in the river for some kayaking, white water rafting, or paddle boarding with RVA Paddle Sports or Riverside Outfitters.

7. Museums

We have a whole Museum District, y’all! Want history? Check out the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, the American Civil War Museum, and the Valentine. The Maggie Walker House and the Poe (as in Edgar Allan) Museum highlight important Richmonders. If you prefer the arts, there is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Did you bring the family? The Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum of Virginia are full of educational activities.

8. Museums > Mansions

Ok, I had to go with a subset of museums in order to send you to some of the historic, architectural treasures in Richmond. The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design is not only a 1917 masterpiece, but a gallery with rotating exhibits while Agecroft Hall and the Virginia House were both disassembled in England and reassembled in Richmond. Talk about seeing how the other 1% lives!

9. Maymont

One stop in Richmond that deserves its own listing is Maymont, the 100-acre historic estate and park that features formal gardens, a nature center, and farm and wildlife habitats. Bring a picnic and explore the grounds and gardens for free, but be sure to save time to tour the 1893 mansion that tells the tales of those who lived both upstairs and downstairs.

10. Tours

There are so many ways to see Richmond and so many ways to tailor the experience to your preferences. RVA Tuk Tuks is a unique way to get around and offers custom, historical, or breweries based options. Not your speed? Try a Segway, trolley, electric bike, or gem car with RVA on Wheels tours. For a completely different view of the city, try Venture Richmond’s Riverfront Canal Cruise.

Richmond and Virginia are steeped in beauty and history, are exceptionally hospitable and looking forward to welcoming Main Streeters from across the country. The Virginia Main Street Crew can’t wait to see y’all in Richmond! We all have our favorite places to eat, drink, and play so if this list someone leaves you wanting more – just hit us up!

Author Bio

Whether it's espresso and tiramisu in upstate NY, margaritas and barbecue in central Texas, or bourbon and banana pudding in Virginia, Rebecca Rowe loves to dive deep into experiencing the places that she has lived. With degrees from SUNY Geneseo and Texas A&M and more than twenty years of preservation, placemaking, and planning experience Rebecca can't believe that she gets to do this for a living. She lives on the Northside of Richmond with her husband, Foster, and rescue dogs Finnegan, Otis, and Hank.