Richmond, Virginia, has been named one of the Best Places to Live by multiple media outlets, and not without reason. This city has a lot to offer in terms of history, dining, outdoor activities, and entertainment – but if you don’t live there and you want to feel like you do, it can be hard to know where to start! Here are 10 things every Richmond resident does, whether they’re aware of it or not. These things will help you blend in like a local!
1) Visit Virginia Historical Society
The Virginia Historical Society is a historic house museum and research library located in Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 1831, it is one of America’s oldest cultural institutions. The society collects preserves and promotes an understanding of history, especially Virginian history. As part of its mission, the society operates four historic houses: Arlington House, White House of the Confederacy, Westover Plantation and Stratford Hall. It also provides assistance to private owners of historic properties within its area, including those along Monument Avenue and throughout Shockoe Bottom.
It publishes reference books on state history as well as scholarly journals (including The Virginia Magazine of History & Biography). Its facilities are used as a location for period films and television programs.
The society recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of Virginia history with awards such as The Jefferson Cup, presented annually by First Lady of Virginia Teresa Heinz Kerry. In 2011, it became affiliated with nearby Randolph-Macon College and together they have formed an academic center known as Historic Richmond. On February 5th 2017, Anita Diamant was named CEO following Jeff Walpole who left in May 2016 after serving two years.
The Society has over 8500 members from across the country who shares a common interest in all aspects of Virginia life – past and present.
2) Visit Ukrop’s Monument Avenue
One of Richmond’s most famous streets, Monument Avenue contains five statues of some of our city’s most notable figures, including J.E.B. Stuart, Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas Stonewall Jackson and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The parade ground-style architecture is unique among American cities; take a walk down Monument Avenue to soak it all in—and remember not to drive on it! If walking doesn’t suit your fancy, hop onto one of many trams (yes, trams) available through RVA Trolley Works and Virginia’s Finest Tours. You will get the best Spirit Airlines Deals on a flight for your Virginia trip.
There are several tours of varying lengths to choose from: I recommend the Main Street & Midtown Tour or Monument Avenue + Cemetery Tour. Both tours allow you to ride back downtown with ease at no extra cost once your tour is over! Want more? The Presidents tour lets visitors see both homes and workplaces for nine U.S. presidents; homes include those belonging to James Monroe (who lived here before he was president), Ulysses S.
3) Visit Maymont
Maymont is one of my favorite places in Richmond. It is a beautiful 100 acre estate and nature preserve that has lots of amazing walking trails, animals and beautiful scenery. You can learn about its history by visiting their museum and taking a guided tour. If you visit during certain seasons there are even programs where you can get up close with some of Maymont’s famous inhabitants such as goats, llamas or deer. The best part is it is free, so why not take advantage of one of RVA’s hidden gems?
The next time I am craving some fresh air I know exactly where I am going! Maymont-free parking available at Byrd Park (5 blocks north) or streetside on 6th Street near Maymont Lane/Ward Avenue entrance. Entrance fee: $8 adults (discounted rates for seniors, college students with ID & youth 17 & under). Seasonal passes available.
4) Go Bowling at Alley Katz
Alley Katz Lanes offers 18 lanes of bowling, arcade games, and pool tables. The heated alley makes it comfortable to play year-round. With shoes included and open bowling times until 2:00 am on weekends, Alley Katz has become one of Richmond’s most popular places for birthday parties and corporate events.
Alley Katz is also conveniently located across from Rocketts Landing, so it’s easy to spend your evening there after grabbing dinner at Continental Divide or meeting friends at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. You’ll want to plan ahead though—Alley Katz fills up quickly! For bowlers under 21 years old, note that they can only bowl before 9:00 pm. Alley Katz occasionally hosts fundraisers and tournaments where adults are allowed in; sign up for their newsletter to stay informed about upcoming events.
5) Read The Collegian newspaper
The local newspaper is a great place to start. It’s typically free and always has what’s going on in town information. Just take a few minutes every day to read what’s happening where you live, and while you’re at it, look into any events or activities coming up. You might find something fun happening soon! After all, one of the best ways to get involved in your community is by participating in local organizations and social groups. Want some suggestions?
Try starting with these top 10 places to meet new people! If you have a little more time and want something even more structured than reading an online paper, pick up real-life paper too! Here are our top 8 picks for best weekly papers across America.
This can be especially helpful if you want some help planning out your week ahead of time or need recommendations on how to spend some free time – even if just for entertainment purposes! Simply pick up a copy of whatever interests you most from these awesome publications (or all!)
6) Watch the Flying Squirrels play baseball
There’s not much more Richmond than watching your home team play ball. Head on down to The Diamond during any Squirrels game, as there are generally affordable options for families. The Flying Squirrels’ mascot is even named Chip, which can only add to your general feeling of RVA-ness. Plus, you get free hot dogs on Sundays! There is no better way to show someone from out of town what it means to be from here than by taking them out for some Sunday afternoon baseball.
Get up and come on down! Remember – Let’s go flying (squirrels) – take me out to the ballgame! Let’s go flying (squirrels) – win or lose we always cheer! Let’s go flying (squirrels) – Wooooo squirrel power!!!!!!! One final piece of advice: don’t try selling peanuts at games anymore. People have been doing that for decades, but when was last time a peanut vendor came back from an away game? It’s all about bugles these days, sonny.
7) Go to Historic Strawberry Hill
Strawberry Hill is one of Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods and also home to an early 19th century brick house which overlooks most of downtown. The museum features exhibits from its rich history, as well as hosting special events throughout the year such as their annual Strawberry Festival.
Free tours are offered every Thursday at 12:30pm for those interested in learning more about Historic Strawberry Hill. Besides being historic, Strawberry Hill is also located in one of Richmond’s oldest and most vibrant districts. Make sure you visit these places while visiting Historic Strawberry Hill Carytown, Maymont Park, Bryan Park, and Forest Hill Park.
The Museum of Fine Arts houses some 60,000 works of art ranging from Antiquity to contemporary art- including masterpieces by Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh. There are many different types of museums besides art museums around town: Science Museum Of Virginia; Children’s Museum Of Richmond; Tredegar Iron Works – Civil War Site; State Capitol Building & Capitol Square
the James River – gorgeous views along with incredible places to eat or just walk along it (Stone Brewery is a fun place to stop!); Byrd Theater Movie Palace – It’s not only a beautiful historical building but they play classic movies there! It was actually where I went on my first date with my now husband! Save an additional 30 bucks by using our Spirit Airlines Coupons code on Virginia trip.
8) Eat Gelato on Cary Street
When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing better than an ice cream cone or cup of gelato. Fava Italian Kitchen & Gelato offers some of the best gelato available anywhere. The flavors are diverse and rotate frequently; if you can, get there when they first open to take advantage of their special first taste deal. Just be aware that when it comes to ice cream and gelato, we are all suckers for a bargain! That means lines form early and often so go early or plan on waiting in line.
Either way, it’s worth it! Don’t forget to also stop by Side Porch Deli on your way out — they serve up breakfast items and killer mimosas as well as lunch items like great sandwiches and pimento cheese! It would be easy to spend your entire afternoon just eating your way through Cary Street. Add one last treat at La Grotta before heading back home — La Grotta is known for their excellent pizza but don’t miss out on dessert…their homemade cannolis are unreal!! (Courtesy: Elizabeth Melancon)
9) Drink coffee at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Skip Starbucks and head to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, where they roast their own beans and brew fresh cups of joe on site. But get there early because their coffee is best when it’s hot! If you can’t make it down before 10 am, try one of their delicious craft beers. (You can even get your own beer mug engraved with your name or initials.) Hardywood Park also offers an awesome outdoor patio for enjoying great views of downtown. You can thank us later.
10) Walk along the James River
After you’ve been in town for just a couple of days, take a long walk along downtown’s beautiful waterfront. Admire architecture, watch cargo ships enter and exit canals and, as evening approaches, gaze up at downtown’s impressive skyline. Once you hit 20th Street, follow it north until it intersects with Boulevard. Take your first right onto Riverfront Parkway—it leads straight to Belle Isle, an idyllic urban park on an island in the middle of the James. There’s no better place to end a day than with some fish tacos from Sweet Relish Restaurant & Bar on Belle Isle. This is one of those moments when feeling like a true Richmonder matters little—you earned these tacos!