Richmond is a city on the rise that continues to receive national accolades for its progressive development. Residents who move to Richmond from elsewhere in the US or abroad frequently comment on the city’s welcoming nature and the collective and contagious pride that its residents take in the various treasures the city has to offer.
Richmond's craft-beer culture is famous, and the city's become something of a foodie capital too. New residents will take great delight in trying out the host of culinary and brew offerings. Art buffs will also be well catered for with a trove of galleries and museums. Avid shoppers and nature-loving newcomers will feel right at home, too.
Arts and culture in Richmond
Richmond has a rich and storied history, celebrated through the multitude of museums and monuments in the city. Monument Avenue, which is rated one of the top 10 most beautiful streets in the US, is a tree-lined mall originally named for its slew of statues honouring those who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. But with Richmond keen to shake its reputation as the erstwhile confederate stronghold, Monument Avenue now includes a mix of structures, including beautiful architectural churches.
Newcomers who enjoy the arts will discover that the city offers plenty, including a wonderful symphony orchestra, galleries celebrating visual and performing arts, ballet theatres and more. Residents can catch a show at the Altria Theatre, check out downtown's impressive selection of galleries during an art walk on First Fridays, or peruse the stunning collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The kids will also have a lot to enjoy at the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children's Museum of Richmond.
Sports and outdoor activities in Richmond
New arrivals in Richmond with an affinity for the outdoors will be in their element. Fondly known as the 'River City', Richmond is the only place in the US where river rafters can experience Class 3 and 4 rapids in urban surroundings. Those less keen to get wet can enjoy the acres of secluded forest trails that straddle the James River, where they can choose between mountain biking, hiking or a stroll through tranquil forest environs.
The city also has several local sports and hobby clubs that newcomers can join – social networking sites are a fantastic place to find these and sign up to meet new people. Those more interested in following sports rather than playing can get behind the Flying Squirrels, the city's baseball team, or the Richmond Kickers for those who are into soccer. The Virginia Commonwealth University boasts one of the best college basketball teams in the country. Petrol heads can get their fix at the NASCAR track at the north end of the city.
Shopping in Richmond
New arrivals in Richmond will want to head straight to Short Pump (the city's most fashionable neighbourhood) or Stony Point Fashion Park to shop all the latest chain store trends. For a more original and bespoke experience, newcomers should explore the quaint and quirky boutiques, bookshops, antique shops and vintage emporiums of downtown, Carytown and Broad Street.
Eating out in Richmond
Thanks to the recent explosion of the city's culinary scene, Richmond is now considered one of the East Coast foodie hotspots. New arrivals will be able to experience anything from Southern soul food and moreish Mexican fare to Mediterranean cuisine and world-class fine-dining establishments.
Richmond is also a beer lover's dream destination as it is home to several excellent craft breweries, favourites among them being Hardywood, The Veil and Ardent.
Nightlife in Richmond
Richmond might not have as raucous a nightlife scene as some bigger East Coast cities, but there is still plenty for night owls to do. Revellers can choose between bespoke wine bars, breweries, or dive bars; they can check out a live gig or dance the night away at one of the numerous big clubs or get in a few laughs at a stand-up comedy club.
See and do in Richmond
Newcomers to Richmond will soon learn that the city has a wealth of activities and attractions to engage art lovers, history buffs, and adventurists alike. Below is a selection of the best things to see and do in Richmond.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Newly arrived aesthetes in Richmond will want to put this right at the top of their to-do lists. Boasting impressive German Expressionism and French Impressionism collections by great artists such as Matisse, Picasso and Braque, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a wonderland.
Perfect for a family day out, the estate of Maymont has something for everyone to enjoy. Left to the city of Richmond by the Dooley family in the late 19th century, the estate sports a 100-acre park, many gardens, a kids’ petting farm and a carriage collection. The mansion was converted into a museum, furnished in the overly lavish style typical of the late 1800s.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Not your typical botanical garden, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has plenty to offer kids and adults. The children’s garden is perfect for exploring, climbing, checking out the CWDKids Tree House and cooling off in the water-play area. Meanwhile, mum and Dad can marvel at the views from the 63ft (19m) tall domed conservatory, which houses plenty of spectacular floral exhibits, a model-train display, a butterfly experience and hosts seasonal events.
Constructed on the advice of George Washington, the James River-Kanawha Canal features a charming 1.25 mile (2km) promenade. The promenade is home to significant sights, markers and monuments that tell Richmond’s history. Along the walk are Brown’s Island and the American Civil War Center, while guided historical river cruises are also available.
American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
Along the James River are the five original buildings of the former Tredegar Iron Works, now a National Historic Landmark. The American Civil War Center is also here, where visitors can browse the fascinating Civil War exhibits.
Virginia State Capitol
Another landmark not to be missed is the imposing State Capitol, built in 1785 and designed by Thomas Jefferson. The impressive structure was modelled on the Maison Carree, a Roman temple in Nimes, France, and houses the 1813 Governor’s Mansion, an 1824 bell tower and two statues of George Washington.
What's on in Richmond
There is never a dull moment in Richmond, and newcomers will discover that the city's calendar is chock-full of fun events for revellers of just about every persuasion. We have listed our favourites below.
The Virginia Wine Expo (March)
Virginia has become a wine destination in recent decades, and the Virginia Wine Expo celebrates all the exquisite wines and winemakers of the area. Visitors get to meet the owners and sommeliers, and of course, sample their wares while enjoying live performances and delicious local cuisine.
Dominion Energy Riverrock (May)
Held at the Historic Tredegar Ironworks and on Brown’s Island, this is the ultimate outdoor, adventure and music event. Events include rock climbing, slackline competitions, mud running, trail running, yoga on river boulders, and live music.
Juneteenth: A Freedom Celebration (June)
Richmond’s Juneteenth festival commemorates Virginia’s history of enslavement and honours the resilience and strength of African-Americans. Poignant and important, the Freedom Celebration has grown yearly.
Richmond Jazz Festival (August)
One of the biggest jazz fests on America’s East Coast, the Richmond Jazz Festival attracts the best musicians from all over the country, with adoring crowds in tow. The festival is held at the beautiful Maymont Park and sees star-studded line-ups of jazz, blues and funk artists.
2nd Street Festival (October)
Often referred to as ‘the Harlem of the South’, Jackson Ward has a rich history as the heart and soul of Richmond’s African-American community and hosts the 2nd Street Festival. The festival features four stages of live music performances, along with food trucks, shopping stalls, walking tours and even a Kidz Zone.
Fire, Flour & Fork (November)
It’s been called one of the country’s top food festivals, and not without reason. Fire, Flour & Fork is a fascinating gastronomic journey of more than 40 dinners, food events, tours, talks and workshops.