Top 10 tourist attractions in Richmond

Richmond, the capital of Virginia, associated with the slave trade, the American Revolution, and the Civil War, has a lot to unpack when it comes to history. The city is home to numerous museums, monuments, and landmarks. Add to this its diverse architecture, beautiful gardens, fine arts, and industrial heritage — and you'll see why it wasn't easy to narrow down our list of the best attractions in Richmond to just ten places.

Virginia Museum of History & Culture

One of the first places to visit for first-timers in Richmond is the VMHC. Founded in 1831, it seeks to explore America's past and introduce it to its visitors via the unique story of Virginia. Its neoclassical building has a collection of more than 9 million items that encompass pretty much the whole of Virginia under one roof and cover all historical contexts, geographical areas, and topics.

The museum hosts a range of permanent and temporary exhibitions and organizes educational events. The major long-term exhibit, The Story of Virginia, portrays 16,000 years of Virginia's history via over 500 artifacts, documents, and maps. Find George Washington's diary and Robert E. Lee's lap desk among the exhibits.


American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar

Part of the multi-site American Civil War Museum, this museum occupies the Tredegar Iron Works that dates back to 1836. During the Civil War, it was the biggest ammunition factory in the Confederacy and played a critical role in the decision to make Richmond its capital. More than half of the cannons used by the Confederate army were produced here, as well as the ship armor plating.

The museum has two floors of exhibits focused on the period from the beginning of the Civil War to Reconstruction and beyond. Original artifacts, multimedia exhibits, and dramatic images displayed chronologically form a comprehensive collection dedicated to the Civil War, with a particular focus on the city's place in it. By the way, the walking tour of Richmond's Civil War legacy starts right here!

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

You can't go sightseeing in Richmond without visiting one of the largest art museums in the country — the VMFA. It opened in 1936 in its English Renaissance-style headquarters building and has amassed an impressively diverse collection of art since then, including objects and works from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Among the highlights of the collection are masterpieces by European artists such as Goya, Delacroix, and Monet, including original waxes and bronzes by Edgar Degas, and works by American masters such as John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer. There's Indian and Himalayan art and an unrivaled selection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco furniture, ceramics, glass, and jewelry. Our favorite? The largest collection of Fabergé eggs outside Russia that was bequeathed to the museum in 1947.


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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

One of the most stunning places to see outside of downtown Richmond, this spacious botanic garden located to the north of the city boasts more than 50 acres of gardens, dining venues, and shops. Once a hunting ground of the local Indians, a cycling club, and a site of a children's sanatorium, the award-winning green space is currently one of the most-visited places in the Richmond area.

It has over a dozen themed gardens, including a Children's Garden, Rose Garden, Asian Valley, and Cherry Tree Walk. We particularly love that there's always something blooming here — in any season, even in midwinter. The real architectural gem of the garden is its classical domed conservatory, a unique structure of its type that exists in the mid-Atlantic.

Virginia State Capitol

Back downtown, head over to Capitol Square, the area with quite a high concentration of tourist attractions in Richmond. The square surrounds the Virginia State Capitol, the seat of the state government of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Designed by Thomas Jefferson together with French architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau and modeled after an ancient Roman temple based in France, the building was complete by the end of the 18th century and expanded and renovated later.

Next to the Capitol, you'll see the only George Washington statue created in his lifetime. Also, check out the 2008 Virginia Civil Rights Memorial that commemorates protests against school desegregation in the state. Our walking tour offers a comprehensive guide to the area.

White House of the Confederacy

Another part of the American Civil War Museum, this historic building dates back to 1818. Its historical role was that of a counterpart of the White House in Washington, DC. During the Civil War, it was the main executive residence of the only President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis.

Currently, this elegant restored house furnished with period furniture — some of it original — offers guided tours to explore the context of the tumultuous period while you walk through its two floors of exhibits. This is an immersive experience that aims to introduce visitors to the diverse backgrounds of different individuals and groups affected by the war.



This 100-acre Victorian estate and public park overlooking the James River is a symbol of the opulence of the so-called Gilded Age. It was named after the wife of the original owner, a wealthy Richmond lawyer and philanthropist. Soon after her death in 1925, Maymont opened as a public park and museum and has remained almost intact.

The complex includes a Romanesque-style mansion, beautiful gardens, and over 25 original buildings and garden structures, including the Doric-style mausoleum of the owners and a Normandy-style Carriage House with a collection of period horse-drawn vehicles. The luxurious gardens include the Italian Garden, Arboretum, and the gorgeous Japanese Garden with a koi carp pond, red maples, and a waterfall — the owners actually purchased a section of the local canal and hired a Japanese garden master to create this garden. Maymont is also home to hundreds of animals: bears, foxes, American bald eagles, river otters, and goats.

Hollywood Cemetery

What could count as one of the top attractions in Richmond, a city with a somewhat controversial history that included major political events and armed conflict? Obviously, the city's cemetery: when you're done exploring the downtown monuments with our tour, head eastwards straight over there.

Hollywood Cemetery is a large burial ground located on the bank of the James River. It is a gorgeous site full of natural beauty and masterpieces of sepulchral architecture, offering great views of the city and the river. Most importantly for history buffs, it is the final resting place of two United States Presidents (James Monroe and John Tyler) as well as the only Confederate States President, Jefferson Davis. Confederate generals and soldiers and dozens of notable residents are also interred here.

And specifically for the fans of cemetery tourism: the cemetery is associated with an urban legend of a resident vampire — wanna check it out?


Well, you've had your share of serious historic landmarks and politically charged monuments. How about some fun activities for a change? We know of some Richmond attractions that don't require too much of an intellectual effort.

Carytown, a bohemian district along Cary Street at the southern end of the Museum District, is a quirky neighborhood full of independent boutiques, hip cafes, cool craft bars, and vibrant murals. It's one of the best places to wander around, snap some photos, do some shopping, have a cocktail (or three), and unwind.

The district is also home to the landmark Byrd Theatre, an opulent movie theater that opened in 1928 with a lot of fanfare, and keeps being the locals' favorite, showing second-run movies in an atmosphere of grandeur. The tickets are quite cheap, too!

Science Museum of Virginia

One of the coolest things about this science museum is its location: it occupies the neoclassical building of the former Broad Street railroad station that was built in 1917 and had been destined to be demolished before the museum moved in. Currently, it hosts permanent and rotating exhibitions focused on science, technology, space, the natural world, and whatnot — pretty much anything from live animals to locomotives!

The museum's program is chock full of exciting events (rat basketball or tricks with liquid nitrogen, anyone?) that make it one of the best places to visit with kids of almost any age. Another great thing about the museum? The Dome, with its famed theater that boasts the largest screen in Virginia. A truly immersive experience is guaranteed, we're sure of it!

  • 1
    What is Richmond most famous for?
    • Virginia Museum of History & Culture
    • American Civil War Museum
    • Capitol Square
    • Hollywood Cemetery
  • 2
    What are the best outdoor attractions in Richmond?
    • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
    • Maymont
    • Carytown
    • Hollywood Cemetery
    • Capitol Square
    • Agecroft Hall & Gardens
  • 3
    What are the best indoor attractions in Richmond?

    • Virginia Museum of History & Culture
    • American Civil War Museum
    • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
    • The Edgar Allan Poe Museum
    • St. John's Episcopal Church
    • The John Marshall House
  • 4
    What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in Richmond?
    • Science Museum of Virginia
    • Virginia Museum of History & Culture
    • Maymont
    • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
    • Children's Museum of Richmond
    • The Edgar Allan Poe Museum

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