A Three-Day Itinerary For A Perfect Visit To Richmond, VA
So you’re coming to Richmond? Great! And you’ve got three full days to explore everything the River City has to offer? Even better! There’s a lot see, do, eat, and discover here, so let’s not waste any time – follow this itinerary for a perfect three days of things to do in Richmond, VA.
Day One – History
Start your visit by getting to know Richmond through it’s history. There’s no better place to begin than where it all began for Richmond – Church Hill. It’s where the settlers from England stopped sailing up the James, and is the city’s oldest neighborhood.
Take breakfast to go from WPA Bakery (WPA stands for Well-Made Pastry Alliance, and is not wrong) and head over to Libby Hill Park for the view that named Richmond. It’s said that William Byrd II, upon whose land the city was founded, stood atop Libby Hill and noted how similar the landscape was to Richmond on the River Thames back in the UK. Thus, the new city was given the same name. After soaking in the view yourself, stroll the streets of Church Hill, and be sure to end up at St. John’s Church. Guided tours take place almost every day, and on Sundays you can catch a reenactment of Patrick Henry’s famed “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech.
All that walking probably worked up an appetite, so visit Pop’s Market downtown for legendary sandwiches, and then amble down the hill on 5th St. to make your way to historic Tredegar. Here, you’ll find the American Civil War Museum, who’s mission is to display the war from multiple perspectives: Union and Confederate, enslaved and free African Americans, soldiers and civilians. It’s a fascinating way to learn about this period of American history, and Richmond’s role in it.
While in the area, be sure to walk across the James on the recently-opened T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge. Not only is the bridge a beautiful way to reach the river’s south side, but the path is engraved with important dates, quotes, and anecdotes from the Civil War.
Dinner on day one should be a Richmond institution – Mama J’s. You may have to wait for a table, but this southern, family restaurant is worth it. Don’t leave without at least trying the fried catfish!
Day Two – Food & Culture
Today, let’s get to know present-day Richmond. Biscuits are a big deal around here, so fuel up in the morning at The Fancy Biscuit in The Fan District. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but the Big Poppy, with fried chicken, is a popular choice.
Once you’ve filled your belly, make your way to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond’s very own world class museum. Open all 365 days of the year, entrance to the museum is free, though there is almost always a special exhibit with a small fee. In the past, these have included the famous Terra Cotta Army, Faberge Eggs, Rodin’s The Thinker, and more. Should you need a break during your visit, Best Cafe (casual) and Amuse (upscale) offer two different dining options.
Next, head over to Carytown, which begins just four blocks from the VMFA’s entrance. The Mile of Style is Richmond’s eclectic, local shopping district, and it’s not just for tourists – you’ll find that locals spend as much time in Carytown as anywhere else in the city. Shopping highlights include World of Mirth for its quirkiness, Virginia Diner Shoppe for its variety of local flavor, and Orange for its selection of locally made artisan products and decor.
For a late lunch, stop at Can Can, and authentic French Brasserie that anchors the historic Cary Court Park & Shop. Alternatively, experience all the best of Carytown with Richmond’s top-rated, most delicious walking tour – The Carytown Food Tour!
If somehow you’re hungry again this evening, Stella’s is a can’t miss restaurant not too far from Carytown. Serving Greek food in family style, this restaurant is a favorite among so many Richmonders, even if it doesn’t get the national acclaim of some other spots in town. After dinner, end the day with a movie at the historic Byrd Theatre, back in Carytown. Built in 1927, the Byrd is just about the coolest place you’ll ever catch a flick (and maybe cheapest – tickets are just $4!).
Day Three – Outdoors
On your last day in Richmond, explore the city’s outdoors. Did you know Richmond is the only place in North America with Class IV rapids located within city limits? Nowhere else will you find challenging river conditions in the shadow of downtown. Experience those rapids firsthand during a rafting or kayaking tour with RVA Paddlesports or Riverside Outfitters.
After your river adventure, grab lunch at Goatocado, a popular Richmond food-cart-turned-food-truck-turned-restaurant that serves fresh, healthy, fun meals in a fast-casual setting. It’s delicious and will give you the necessary energy for a strong finish to your visit.
Finally, no visit to Richmond is complete without a stop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Featuring over 80 acres of themed gardens and 5,000 unique species, this place is heaven for plant-lovers, and just simply delightful for anyone else who likes to be outside.
If you aren’t heading home until the next morning, have dinner at the elegant Maple & Pine restaurant inside the Quirk Hotel, and follow it up with a drink on the roof for a final glimpse of Richmond before the sun sets on a perfect trip!
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